Merit badge done, but no blue card?

expertlogo1Four years ago, Boy Scout Aaron, now 15, began working on Theater merit badge.

He acted in school plays and worked backstage at school musicals.

There’s just one problem: nobody told his Scoutmaster.

That means Aaron didn’t have a blue card. Or a merit badge counselor, for that matter.

So are the curtains closed on Theater merit badge for Aaron? Or can he still count some of that experience toward the badge requirements?

The basic answer is this: It’s up to the merit badge counselor, not the Scoutmaster, to determine whether the requirement was fulfilled. The Scout will have the burden of providing evidence that he indeed did the work — in this case we’re talking about requirement 3 for Theater. But this rule can apply to other merit badges and other requirements as well.

See Aaron’s question and the expert’s full response after the jump.

The question

My name is Aaron, and I am a 15-year-old Boy Scout. My question is regarding when I was in sixth grade (I am now going into 10th) when I was a Boy Scout.

I was working on the Theater merit badge without a blue card, and my Scoutmaster didn’t have knowledge of me working on it.

We now have a different leader, and she says that I can’t use my acting and help with the musical or anything involved with it for fulfilling the requirement because the old leader didn’t have knowledge about my work, and I didn’t have a blue card.

Is she right, or am I allowed to use this as fulfilling requirement 3 for this merit badge? Any help here would be very appreciated. Thank you so much.

The expert’s response

Frank Ramirez with the BSA’s Content Management Team offers this official response:

In all likelihood, the Scoutmaster would have issued the Scout a blue card to take to his counselor if the Scout had asked.

Section 7.0.0.3 in the “Guide to Advancement” states the Scout must discuss the merit badge with his unit leader and get a signed blue card from him or her. The leader then proceeds to give the Scout contact information of a registered, approved merit badge counselor. The new leader is probably using this policy to justify her decision.

However, we live in the real world where some motivated young men do begin working on merit badges without first having had the initial discussion with their unit leader. However, they run the risk of meeting with people who may or may not be currently registered, approved counselors.

The real issue here is the Scout is saying he has completed the three required options that satisfy requirement 3 of Theater.

The new Scoutmaster, taking the role of an understanding coach, should discuss her concerns with the Scout, i.e. merit badge goals must first be discussed with the Scoutmaster before blue card is issued, then proceed contacting an approved merit badge counselor to begin working on the merit badge.

Then, issue him the blue card with appropriate merit badge counselor contact information.

Ultimately, it will be the counselor’s decision whether the requirement was fulfilled, or not. The Scout will have the burden of providing evidence that he indeed did the work. For example:

  • 3A: video showing him acting in a full-length play
  • 3B: video of him directing a play, or a script he wrote showing which character does what
  • 3C: showing his counselor the model of the set he designed
  • 3D: pictures of costumes he designed of five characters in the play
  • 3E: showing his counselor a video or pictures of him applying stage make-up
  • And so forth

See also

From 2013: Ask the Expert: Can merit badge progress begin before a Scout gets his blue card?

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