Merit Badge Policy and Guidelines
Items of emphasis:
1. It is troop policy that parents will not sign off their own son on any requirement, regardless of the position they hold in the troop
2. Requirements that specify "show" or "demonstrate" mean exactly that - the scout must show or demonstrate by actually doing the skill to be signed off. Talking about it is not sufficient. Scouting is usually "hands-on;" a skill mastered by doing is a skill learned for life.
3. Although rare, requirements or other items that require a signature from the Scoutmaster will be approved or signed only by the Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster’s signature will not be stamped or copied. The only exceptions to this rule are that the troop's advancement chairman, with concurrence of the Scoutmaster, may use a signature stamp for advancement cards distributed at a Court of Honor or for blue merit badge cards distributed at a merit badge lockin where approval has been authorized.
Merit badges are earned by working with a BSA registered merit badge counselor. To earn a merit badge, here are the required steps as outlined in the Boy Scout Handbook:
1. Scout obtains a blue merit badge card from the Scoutmaster and obtains approval to begin working with a counselor. Only the troop's Scoutmaster, or Primary Assistant Scoutmaster(s), may sign blue cards authorizing that a scout can begin to work on a specific badge.
2. SM will give the scout the name of a merit badge counselor from a list of approved merit badge counselors maintained by the council.
3. Scout will obtain the merit badge book through either private purchase or by checking one out from the troop Librarian
4. Scout will find a buddy to work with.
5. Scout will read the merit badge book and then contact the pre-approved merit badge counselor.
6. The scout will, along with a buddy, meet with the merit badge counselor and begin working on the badge, completing the requirements at his own pace. (A buddy is required to insure the scout does not place the adult counselor in a one-on-one situation. In the absence of another scout, the boy’s own parent(s) may serve in the buddy capacity.)
7. When the requirements are completed, the blue merit badge card will be signed by the merit badge counselor and the scout will then return it to either the Scoutmaster or Troop Advancement Chairman.
Troop policy is that scouts will earn all requirements for the ranks they seek. While parent participation is important and encouraged, all registered adults must carefully insure that the scouts themselves are accomplishing the requirements they are earning. Occasionally, over zealous parents may begin to do for their son what the scout needs to be doing for himself. Typical danger signs are when the parent makes appointments, arranges merit badge counselors, sets up outings specifically for their son, or on rare occasion pressures registered adults to do something unique for their son only. Usually, when their behavior is pointed out by the SM, an ASM, or a Troop Committee member, they realize that they are defeating the very tenets of the Boy Scout Program. As Baden Powell, scouting’s founder put it, "never do for a boy what a boy can do for himself."
***Thanks to Troop 230 in Eagle River for the source document!