The merit badge program is a key part of the advancement in the upper ranks of Boy Scouting (Star, Life, and Eagle). The program builds self-confidence through achieving a goal; provides interaction with knowledgeable adults; provides the opportunity for a Scout to learn scoutcraft skills, be exposed to various careers, develop physical fitness, participate in hobbies, and develop citizenship.
Earning merit badges gives a Scout the self-confidence that comes from overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal. The steps to follow in the merit badge program are:
- A Scout expresses an interest in a merit badge
- The Scoutmaster (or designee) provides the name of a counselor from the approved merit badge counselor list and signs the Merit Badge Application (aka blue card) indicating the Scout has approval to work on the merit badge.
- The Scout contacts the counselor
- The Scout works with the counselor on completing the requirements
- The counselor signs the application in the appropriate locations and retains his/her portion of the card.
- The Scout turns in the complete application and the Scoutmaster (or designee) signs in the appropriate location acknowledging the merit badge has been earned and returns the Scout’s portion of the card to the Scout.
- The unit turns in the completed Unit Advancement Report and obtains the merit badge
- The Scout receives the merit badge.
The qualifications of a merit badge counselor are:
- Be 18 years or older
- Have knowledge and proficiency in the subject through vocation, hobby, or special training,
- Have knowledge of BSA Guidelines
- Have an ability to work with Scouts
- Take youth protection training
- Be approved by the district advancement committee
Each district, working with the Council Registrar, maintains a list of merit badge counselors. Only those on the official list are allowed to sign off that a Scout has completed the merit badge. Each district has a merit badge counselor coordinator (aka Dean). The dean for each district is listed below.