Ask the Expert: The rapid-fire FAQs edition

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?So far, Ask the Expert posts have offered one often-lengthy answer to one complicated Scouting question. You can read past posts here. Perhaps a question you have is answered there.

But now it’s time for the lightning round.

Here’s a collection of questions I’ve received along with the short answer: 

Blue Cards

Question from Ramona: Are blue cards now required?

Answer: They are still required, yes. A Scout should have one before beginning merit badge work.

Source: Guide to Advancement, 

Family Ties

Question from Dale: We have a practice of trying to avoid having Scouts work with their merit badge-approved dad. Is that OK?

Answer: You can suggest that a Scout diversify his merit badge counselor selection, but as long as Mom or Dad is a registered merit badge counselor, he or she can teach the merit badge to his or her son.

Source: Guide to Advancement,

Counselor Limit

Question from Susan: I am wondering if it is acceptable that a Scout have several merit badges completed with the same counselor. And if so, how many merit badges with the same counselor becomes “too many”?

Answer: There is no limit on the number of merit badges a youth may earn from one counselor. But, the Advancement Team suggests Scouts “broaden their horizons.” So use your judgment about when to suggest a Scout find someone new.

Source: Guide to Advancement,

Eagle Position of Responsibility

Question from Jerry: Life and Star have the following requirement: “While a First Class/Star Scout, serve actively in your unit for 6 months in one or more of the positions of responsibility listed in Requirement 5 for Star Scout (or carry out a unit leader-assigned leadership project to help your unit.)” Eagle does not allow the “leader-assigned leadership project” under the serve actively in an position requirement. Why?

Answer: The Eagle Scout rank is considered so important that there can be no alternative to showing the ability to lead or to accept responsibility in a position with your unit.

Source: BSA Advancement Team official response

Flora and Fauna

Question from Joe: There has been much debate in our troop in regards to requirements “Second Class Requirement 5: “Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of wild animals (birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, mollusks) found in your community.” & First Class Requirement 6: “Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of native plants found in your community.”  Some leaders in our troop want very specific “proof.” What is the BSA policy for this requirement?

Answer: There’s no official BSA policy, but I would think a written description, pencil sketch, or photo would suffice.

Eagle Project Permanency

Question from Brian: For Eagle projects is there anything that requires it to have some kind of permanency? Like if a blood drive is done, does there need to be a plaque or something put up at the location?

Answer: There is no such requirement. But this is an important reminder that blood drives and similar projects shouldn’t be rejected outright because they don’t have something permanent to leave behind.

Source: on the Eagle Scout rank BSA page

Eagle Scout Age Requirement

Question from Kimberly: Why do Scouts have to complete their Eagle requirements by their 18th birthday rather than by the time they graduate from high school?

Answer: At the age of 18, in the Boy Scout and Varsity Scout programs, a young man is considered an adult, and thus no longer eligible to earn a youth member’s rank. At that age he may register as an assistant Scoutmaster, and assist in providing adult-level supervision at meetings and on outings.

Source: BSA Advancement Team official response

Sneak a Peek

Question from Linda: I’m a counselor for Cooking MB. Can I see the new, revised requirements so I can prepare?

Answer: The BSA’s Innovation Team typically doesn’t release merit badge requirements early, I’m told. If that changes for a specific badge, I’ll blog about it!

Source: BSA Innovation Team official response

Ask the Expert your question

I can’t find an answer to every question, but I’m taking a select few to our BSA experts to provide some insight. Right now I’m focusing on questions that are asked frequently or would apply to a large group of Scouts or Scouters.

If you have an Ask the Expert question, email it to me.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.