Becoming a Merit Badge counselorHelping Scouts Be Prepared. For Life.
Merit Badge Counselor Guide
The merit badge counselor is a key player in the Boy Scout advancement program. Whatever your area of expertise or interest—whether it is a special craft or hobby (basketry, leatherwork, coin collecting), a profession (veterinary medicine, aviation, engineering), or perhaps a life skill (cooking, personal management, communications)—as a merit badge counselor, you can play a vital role in stirring a young man’s curiosity about that particular topic. By serving as a merit badge counselor, you offer your time, knowledge, and other resources so that Scouts can explore a topic of interest.
To become a Merit Badge Counselor requires three steps.
- Register as a Merit Badge Counselor with your district using the current adult application. The Merit Badge Counselor is not a unit position. It is a district position. This ensures all counselors have taken youth protection and have had a background check. Each district has a Merit Badge Counselor Coordinator to help guide you on this process.
- Create a Merit Badge Counselor Profile on Scoutcommunity.com. This website allows easy access for the approval and registration renewal of Merit Badge Councelors. See a how to video for set up of your Scoutcommunity profile here. VIDEO.
- Once you are registered with the BSA as a merit badge council your status will change from Pending to active. After you select merit badges you wish to teach, your district merit badge counselor coordinator will approve you for your merit badges.
- Once you are registered and your merit badges are approved, you can start merit badge counseling. We reccomend you complete Merit badge counseling training. This training can be done through The BSA’s Online Learning Center
A Merit Badge Counselor Is …
As a merit badge counselor, your mission is to join fun with learning. You are both a teacher and mentor as the Scout works on a merit badge and learns by doing. Your hands-on involvement could inspire a Scout to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent, self-supporting adult.
A Scout first expresses an interest in a particular merit badge by letting their unit leader know. To get a Scout started, the leader gives them a signed Application for Merit Badge (blue card) along with the name and contact information for a district/council approved merit badge counselor. The Scout then contacts the merit badge counselor and makes an appointment. The merit badge counselor sets a date and time to meet with the Scout and their buddy, and may suggest the Scout bring the merit badge pamphlet along with the blue card.
At the first meeting, the Scout and their merit badge counselor review and set expectations for completing the requirements. In some cases, the Scout may share with the merit badge counselor the work they have already started or accomplished. As the merit badge counselor, you and the Scout work out a tentative schedule for completing the merit badge. You should consider both short-term and long-term goals, keeping other obligations (school, Scouting, sports, and so on) in mind, and set dates, times, and a location for future meetings. The number of meetings will depend on the difficulty of the requirements and the preparation and ability of the Scout. Remember, the Scout must always have a buddy with them at these meetings.
Your duty is to be satisfied that each Scout who comes to you meets all the requirements for the merit badge you are coaching. You do this by helping Scouts overcome the different hurdles of the requirements and making them aware of the deeper aspects of the subject through their learning experience. You may tell about your own experiences to help positively reinforce the subject matter. However, you may not tack on new requirements or extra work. While you may guide and instruct a Scout on the subject matter, they must do the work themself.
As each requirement is completed, you will test the Scout individually, with their buddy present. Update the blue card as the Scout completes each requirement. When the young man has completed all the requirements, you sign off on the card and the Scout returns the completed card to their unit leader.
You may wish to seek additional training from your local council/district on local policies and procedures for merit badge counselors.