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Please note - per SUNY and Fredonia Campus Guidelines, all staff and instructors will need to take a brief Youth Protection course that is IN ADDITION to the BSA Youth protection. More information will come to you via email, or reach out to for into. 

Merit Badge Counselor Guidelines

Merit badge counselors are the key to success in the merit badge plan. They offer their time, experience, and knowledge to help guide Scouts in one or more of the merit badge subjects.

The counselor's responsibility is to

  1. Assist the Scout as he or she plans the assigned projects and activities to meet the merit badge requirements.

  2. Coach Scouts through interviews and demonstrations on how to do the required skills of the craft, business, or hobby.

  3. Certify the Scout after determining whether he or she is qualified for the merit badge.

Merit Badge Plan

A part of the advancement program of the Boy Scouts of America, the merit badge plan is one of the most unique educational tools ever devised.

What Is a Merit Badge?

A merit badge is an award that is presented to a Scout when he completes the requirements for one of the merit badge subjects.


The badge is only a small piece of khaki cloth with a design embroidered in color, but its significance is as large as the interest of the merit badge counselor who helps a Scout earn it.


Millions of Scouts "browse" among the more than 100 subjects, choosing those that seem most interesting to them. Some subjects are in craftwork, some in vocational fields, some in service to others, and many in cultural or life skills areas. In addition, certain merit badges are required for the Eagle Scout rank.


It is in the career fields that adults can make a vital impact on the life of a Scout by helping him with merit badges. Badges such as Entrepreneurship, Graphic Arts, Engineering, Chemistry, and many others provide the finest kind of orientation toward a possible career for the Scout.


Merit badge counselors provide the means for Scouts to explore many subjects that may not be available to them otherwise. The Scout who has earned a number of merit badges gains confidence, finds greater purpose in life, and becomes a better person from his or her experience. This cannot happen without the service of thousands of merit badge counselors expert in particular subjects and interested in helping Scouts grow into men and women of character who are ready to take their place in the world as participating citizens. 

What's My Responsibility?

Your task is to satisfy yourself that each Scout who comes to you meets all the requirements for the merit badge. In this sense you are an examiner, though your larger opportunity lies in coaching and helping the Scout meet the challenge of the requirements and making him or her aware of the deeper aspects of the subject through your knowledge and experience.

What Do I Agree to Do?

As a merit badge counselor, I agree to

  • Follow the requirements of the merit badge, making no deletions or additions, ensuring that the advancement standards are fair and uniform for all Scouts.

  • Have a buddy present with each Scout at all instructional sessions.

More or Less?

The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated - no more and no less. Furthermore, he is to do exactly what is stated. If it says "show or demonstrate," that is what he must do. Just telling about it isn't enough. The same thing holds true for such words as "make," "list," "in the field," and "collect, identify, and label."

On the other hand, you cannot require more of a Scout than stated. You must not, for example, say, "I want to be sure you really know your stuff, so instead of the 20 items in your collection, you must have 50 to get my signature." You can suggest, encourage, and help the Scout to get 50 things, but you must not require it.

You might wonder, then, if the requirements as stated are the limits, what there is for you to do other than help the Scout with the specifics of these requirements. Actually, you can go far beyond the requirements in your discussions with the Scout. The Scout  probably will welcome your willingness to share your knowledge well beyond the requirements, and you will make a sincere contribution to him by doing so. But it isn't required. That's the key. The Scout does not have to show his knowledge of those things beyond the requirements.

You might stress the fact that while knowledge is necessary, whether the Scout can put his knowledge to work is the important thing in life. As you work with the Scout you can give him or her indirect career guidance. Many merit badge subjects can acquaint a Scout with the career opportunities in various fields. In these cases the merit badge work serves as an exploration in an adult work experience, showing whether or not the Scout has the interest or ability along such lines.


The Scout's activity also can expose him to the educational requirements of a subject area. You can provide the Scout with valuable information on career possibilities, show him or her what is most interesting to you and what is difficult. 



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