Become a Merit Badge Counselor
Three (3) documents must be submitted in order to begin the process of becoming a Merit Badge Counselor. Registration as a Merit Badge Counselor (position code 42) does NOT require an application fee.
- Adult Application (even if you are already registered as a leader in a unit to become a merit badge counselor requires a separate or new application). The "Signature of unit committee chairman" or "Signature of chartered organization head or representative" are NOT required....however all other signatures and information is, including your Social Security Number. You have two (2) signature blocks to sign. Place "42" in the Position Code and "Merit Badge Counselor" in the Scouting position (description). If you fail to compete the application it WILL NOT be processed, you CANNOT become a Merit Badge Counselor unless the 2 application documents and 1 training document are complete, accurate and a background check is performed. This is a District level position, Unit Signatures are NOT required.
Please remember to sign the page that asks:
My signature below indicates that I have read, understand, and accept the accompanying disclosures and acknowledgments.
- Merit Badge Counselor Information form 34405. Please include all information asked for on this form as well.
- A copy or proof of your current Youth Protection Training certificate. Youth Protection Training is available online http://myscouting.org. Volunteers MUST NOT work with boys in any capacity WITHOUT current/valid Youth Protection Training.
When you have completed all the documents, turn them into the Ephraim or Richfield Scout Stores or to the District Executive (Mark Baldwin 435-314-0201). All three documents are required to become a Merit Badge Counselor within the Arapeen District. Youth Protection Training is required every two years and Merit Badge Counselor Orientation is a one time requirement within first 90 days of approved registration.
If you already have a logon account with myscouting.org and are having trouble logging on (your email address on the account is no longer active, etc) you can email the national office (firstname.lastname@example.org) requesting help with your account. You can also contact the National Office and ask for tech support for MyScouting at 972-580-2489. The main phone number for BSA is 972-580-2000. It is recommended you attempt email contact prior to calling.....
- All Merit Badge Counselors must be
- Qualified: "They must be men and women of good character, age 18 or older, and recognized as having the skills and education in the subjects for which they are to serve as merit badge counselors, as well as the ability to work with Scout-age boys. - Advancement Policies #33088, p. 13
- Registered: "as a merit badge counselor" - Advancement Policies #33088, p. 13
- Approved: "for each specific merit badge." - Advancement Policies #33088, p. 13
- Trained: "in the aims of Scouting and in advancement procedures." - Advancement Policies #33088, p. 13
- Each Scout is individually tested
- "In the end, the Scout must be reviewed individually by the counselor to ensure completion of the badges requirements." - Advancement Policies #33088, p. 26
- "You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated -- no more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the requirements." - Boy Scout Requirements p.23
- "The Scout’s merit badge counselor teaches and tests on the requirements for merit badges. Advancement Policies #33088, p. 24
Each Scout demonstrates the skills and knowledge for each requirement. Many merit badge events use Merit Badge Worksheets to allow Merit Badge Counselors to offer group instruction but still test each Scout individually. The counselor can see who is understanding and who will need more time. Optional worksheets require the Scout to be an active listener, not just hearing words, but showing understanding of concepts.
220.127.116.11 About Merit Badge Counselors
18.104.22.168 Qualifications of Counselors
People serving as merit badge counselors, including those working at summer camp, must maintain registration with the Boy Scouts of America as merit badge counselors and be approved by the local council advancement committee for each of their badges. See “Counselor Approvals and Limitations,” 22.214.171.124.
There are no exceptions. For example, Scoutmasters must be approved for any badge they wish to counsel or sign off in their troop. Before working with Scouts, counselors must have completed Youth Protection training within the last two years. They must be men or women of good character, age 18 or older, and recognized as having the skills and education in the subjects they cover. It is important, too, they have good rapport with Scout-age boys and unit leaders.
It is acceptable for a counselor registered in one council to approve merit badges for Scouts in another. This is an important consideration, especially in areas where counselors are scarce, or when Scouts are away from home and want to continue advancing.
Several badges involve activities for which the Boy Scouts of America has implemented strategies to improve safety, enhance the Scouts’ experiences, and manage risk. These activities often require supervision with specialized qualifications and certifications. Merit badge counselors who do not meet the specific requirements may use the services of helpers who do. Additional details can be found below, and also in the Guide to Safe Scouting and the merit badge pamphlets.
General Supervision Requirements
- Swimming and watercraft activities must be conducted in accordance with BSA Safe Swim Defense or BSA Safety Afloat, respectively, and be supervised by mature and conscientious adults at least 21 years old and trained in the program applicable. Counselors for merit badges involving swimming or the use of watercraft must be so trained, or use helpers who are.
- All physical activities presented in any Scouting program must be conducted in accordance with “The Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety.” These 16 points, embodying good judgment and common sense, can be found at http://www.scouting.org/HealthandSafety/Sweet16.aspx.
- CPR instruction, wherever it is required, must be taught by instructors currently trained by a nationally certified provider. Several such providers are mentioned in the Guide to Safe Scouting. The following merit badges have special qualifications or certifications for either the merit badge counselor or the supervisor of certain activities that may be involved. Counselors and advancement administrators should consult the merit badge pamphlets for details and to maintain awareness of changes and updates as pamphlets are revised.
Archery activities must be supervised by a BSA National Camping School–trained shooting sports
director or USA Archery or National Field Archery Association instructor, or by someone who has been trained by one of the three; or alternatively, the activities may be supervised by someone with at least Level 1 training in the operation of an archery range from USA Archery, NFAA, or an equivalent.
Those supervising canoeing activities must have either BSA Aquatics Instructor or Canoeing
Instructor certification from the American Canoe Association, American Red Cross, or equivalent;
OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such, or trained by an instructor so qualified.
All climbing, belaying, and rappelling exercises and activities must be supervised by a rock climbing instructor who is a mature and conscientious adult at least 21 years old, and who is trained in BSA Climb On Safely and understands the risks inherent to these activities. Training as a BSA climbing Level 2 Instructor is highly recommended. Someone with certification in First Aid/CPR/AED from the American Red Cross (or equivalent) must be present at these activities.
Those supervising kayaking activities must have formal training in kayaking and paddle craft instruction, evidenced by either BSA Aquatics Instructor or Paddle Craft Safety Instructor certification, or kayaking instructor certification from the American Canoe Association, British Canoe Union, or American Red Cross, or equivalent; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such, or trained by an instructor so qualified.
Demonstrations or activities in or on the water must be supervised by an adult at least 21 years old with certification in Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED or equivalent, and also as BSA Lifeguard or Aquatics Instructor or equivalent.
The merit badge counselor is responsible for ensuring that all instruction or other activities involving any handling of firearms or live ammunition is consistent with state and federal law and supervised by a certified BSA National Camping School (NCS) shooting sports director, or National Rifle Association (NRA) Rifle Shooting Instructor or Coach. Instruction or other activities involving handling muzzleloaders must be supervised by an NCS shooting sports director or NRA/National Muzzleloader Rifle Association (NMLRA)–certified muzzleloader firearms instructor. Shooting must be supervised by an NRA-certified Range Safety Officer (RSO). If instruction and shooting are to occur at the same time, both the RSO and qualified instructor must be present. The supervisor and instructor may not be the same person. Note that commercial shooting ranges may provide RSOs. See the Guide to Safe Scouting and the BSA National Shooting Sports Manual, No. 30931, for further details on shooting sports.
Those supervising rowing activities must have either BSA Aquatics Instructor certification or equivalent; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such, or trained by an instructor so qualified.
All phases of scuba instruction—classroom, pool, and open-water training—are limited to instructors trained and certified by one of the BSA’s recognized scuba agencies as found in the Guide to Safe Scouting.
The merit badge counselor is responsible for ensuring that all instruction or other activities involving any handling of firearms or live ammunition is consistent with state and federal law and supervised by a certified NCS shooting sports director or NRA Shotgun Instructor or Coach. Instruction or other activities involving handling muzzle-loading shotguns must be supervised by an NCS shooting sports director or NRA/NMLRA certified muzzle-loading shotgun instructor. Shooting must be supervised by an NRA-certified Range Safety Officer. If instruction and shooting are to occur at the same time, both the RSO and qualified instructor must be present. They may not be the same person. Note that commercial shooting ranges may provide RSOs. See the Guide to Safe Scouting and the BSA National Shooting Sports Manual, No. 420029, for further details on shooting sports.
Activities in the field must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult 21 years or older who is committed to compliance with BSA Winter Sports Safety as defined in the Guide to Safe Scouting.
Demonstrations or activities in or on the water must be conducted according to BSA Safe Swim Defense and BSA Safety Afloat.
Those supervising whitewater activities must be and certified as whitewater canoeing or kayaking instructors by the American Canoe Association or have equivalent certification, training, or expertise.
All certifications listed above must be current.
The required qualifications above for merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Scouts will see them as people of importance they can look up to and learn from. A well-qualified counselor can extend a young person’s attention span: More will be heard and understood, discussions will be more productive, and true interest developed. The conversations can lead to a relationship of mutual respect where the Scout is confident to offer his thoughts and opinions and value those of his merit badge counselor. Thus it is that social skills and self-reliance grow, and examples are set and followed.
In approving counselors, the local council advancement committee has the authority to establish a higher minimum, reasonable level of skills and education for the counselors of a given merit badge than is indicated in “Qualifications of Counselors,” 126.96.36.199. For example, NRA certification could be established as a council standard for approving counselors for the Rifle Shooting or Shotgun Shooting merit badges.
Merit Badge Counselor Resources (BSA MBC Resource webpage)
Merit Badge Counselor Orientation (BSA MBC Orientation PDF flyer)
Merit Badge Counselor Orientation (BSA MBC Orientation PPT presentation)
Guide for Merit Badge Counselors (BSA MBC Guide webpage)
The Merit Badge Program (YouTube - Video is developed by BSA)
The Merit Badge Program (BSA webpage)
PowerPoint Presentation or Presenter's Notes PDF (The Essentials of Merit Badge Counseling)
Merit Badge Worksheets (MeritBadge.org may be an unofficial BSA website but it is very informative and up-to-date)
Merit Badge Counselor Information (34405)
Guide To Advancement (Merit Badge Counselor Section 7)
Advancement News Archives (BSA webpage)
Counselor’s Compass Newsletter
The National Advancement Committee now provides a new information resource entitled “Counselor’s Compass.” This publication, issued as an e-newsletter, supports merit badge counselors in four ways:
- Things to Do. What new counselors should do prior to counseling a merit badge, such as become familiar with Guide to Advancement and the educational presentation, Essentials of Merit Badge Counseling, available under “Advancement Educational Presentations” at scouting.org/advancement.
- Steps for Success. Tips that can be helpful for both new and experienced counselors as they work with Scouts, such as a reminder about the importance of using the latest pamphlet and requirements.
- Glad You Asked. Articles that address commonly asked questions sent to email@example.com.
- News You Can Use. Merit badge fun facts, and information on new badges.
The inaugural edition is available at scouting.org/advancement under the “Merit Badge” section. To receive future issues of Counselor’s Compass, please subscribe using the procedure below.
Managing Subscriptions to Counselor’s Compass
Subscribing to Counselor’s Compass is similar to subscribing to Advancement News: Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “SUBSCRIBE” in the subject line. Indicate your name, email address, and council in the message text.