One-hundred and thirty-five is a lot of merit badges.
In fact, it’s so many that you’re bound to be approached by a Scout wanting to earn one for which you aren’t qualified to be a counselor. Worse yet, it might be one where nobody comes to mind who could teach that merit badge.
What’s a Scouter to do?
For starters, I’d advise you to ask around your district and council.
There’s a good chance someone in your council can teach the merit badge. Help your Scout by connecting him with those resources. It might take some legwork on your part, but the results could be life-changing for the Scout. Just think, he might be introduced to a field that becomes his career some day.
On the other hand, I’d advice against doing what one Scoutmaster did. Which brings us to today’s Ask the Expert question and answer.
From a Scouter who will remain anonymous:
More than a year ago, this young man in our troop asked his Scoutmaster for a blue card so he could start working toward earning the Music merit badge. His Scoutmaster told him he couldn’t give him a blue card for Music because our troop doesn’t have a Music merit badge counselor, but the Scoutmaster did agree to try to find one. Our intrepid young Scout has asked for a blue card several times since his first request, and he’s gotten the same answer each time. What recourse, if any, does this boy have?
A complicating factor is that this Scoutmaster doesn’t recommend a counselor, he “assigns” a counselor, so this boy doesn’t have any options. The new(er) language of the current Advancement Guide only makes the matter worse; “The unit leader and Scout should come to agreement as to who the counselor will be.” In this case, “should” means the same as “will,” and it’s the “will” of the Scoutmaster that prevails. Any thoughts?
From Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team:
The Guide to Advancement Section 188.8.131.52, topic 184.108.40.206 says any registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any merit badge at any time. He is to have a discussion with his unit leader before he begins working with a counselor. The signature of the unit leader on the merit badge application indicates this discussion took place.
It goes on to say that it is the unit leader’s responsibility to see that at least one merit badge counselor is identified from those approved (this may be any approved counselor in the council, it does not have to be one from the Scout’s unit).
However, the Scout may have one in mind with whom he would like to work. Lacking agreement, the Scout must be allowed to work with the counselor of his choice, so long as the counselor is registered and approved.