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Merit Badge Myths

There are a number of myths floating around about merit badges and merit badge counselors.  Here are a series of myths and the facts.  The reference for merit badges is Guide to Advancement, Section 7

Myth: A merit badge counselor may only be a counselor for four Merit Badges.

Fact: There is no limit to the number of merit badges for which someone may be a counselor. However, the counselor must still be qualified by training, vocation, or avocation for each of the merit badges.

Myth: A merit badge counselor may not counsel his own son or close relative (i.e., nephew) unless he is part of a group of Scouts all working on the same Merit badge.

Fact: There is no official BSA prohibition against a parent or other relative as a merit badge counselor. However, the merit badge program is not just about the specific knowledge learned; there are benefits to the scout of working with another adult on a merit badge. As such, it is desirable that use of close relatives as counselors be minimized.

Myth: A merit badge counselor who works only with a single unit needs only the unit committee chairman's and chartered organization representative's approval before being approved by the Scout Executive.

Fact: All persons serving as merit badge counselors must be registered as a merit badge counselor with the Boy Scouts of America.

Myth: Registered Scoutmasters, assistant scoutmasters, and committee members who also serve as merit badge counselor do not need to separately re-register as a merit badge counselor.

Fact: All persons serving as merit badge counselors must be registered as a merit badge counselor with the Boy Scouts of America. This includes submitting a new BSA Adult Application and the Merit Badge Counselor Information Form.

Myth: A Scout may earn no more than six merit badges from the same merit badge counselor.

Fact: There is no limit to the number of merit badges earned from the same counselor. However, there is benefit in working with various adult counselors, so it is recommended that a variety of counselors be used.

Myth: Once a Scouter is approved as a merit badge counselor, he is approved for life and never has to be re-approved again.

Fact: Just as other adult leaders, merit badge counselors should re-register each year. The district representative responsible merit badge counselors should contact each counselor each year to renew their registration.

Myth: A unit board of review may approve the awarding of a merit badge in lieu of an approved merit badge counselor.

Fact: No one other than an approved counselor for that merit badge may approve the awarding of a merit badge.

Myth: A Scout must complete all the requirements for a merit badge within 12 months or he must start over.

Fact: There is no time limit for completing the requirements of a merit badge, other than it must be completed prior to a Scout’s 18th birthday. However, if the requirements have changed and the counselor may determine that so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements should be used.

Myth: A counselor may require additional activities or knowledge, to provide a greater depth of understanding.

Fact: A merit badge counselor may take the Scout beyond the specific requirements of the merit badge so he may discover more about the subject and learning process. But he cannot require this for the passage of the merit badge.

Myth: A unit board of review, at the option of the advancement coordinator, may examine a Scout on any part of a completed merit badge.

Fact: A board of review is not a re-test of either rank requirements or merit badge requirements.

Myth: If weather, locale, or some other condition makes meeting all of the conditions of the merit badge requirements impractical, the merit badge counselor, with his greater pool of skill and knowledge in the area, may substitute requirements for those stated for the merit badge.

Fact: No one may add, modify, or delete requirements of any merit badge.

Myth: If the requirements in the merit badge pamphlet differ from those in Boy Scout Requirements, current edition, the Scout may use either set of requirements

Fact: The requirements in Boy Scout Requirements are the current ones and should be the ones used when starting a new merit badge. If a Scout has begun working on a merit badge under a set of requirements and the requirements change, he has the choice of continuing to work under the old requirements OR switching to the new. He may not mix and match the old and new requirements. If new requirements are issued in a new pamphlet during the year, the Scout may use either set when starting before January 1.

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