INSTRUCTIONS FOR MERIT BADGE COUNSELORS
What’s It All About?
The merit badge counselor is a key player in the Scouts BSA advancement program. Whatever your area of expertise or
interest—whether it is a special craft or hobby (basketry, leatherwork, coin collecting), a profession (veterinary medicine, aviation,
engineering), or perhaps a life skill (cooking, personal management, communication)—as a merit badge counselor, you play a
vital role in stirring a Scout’s curiosity about it. By serving as a counselor, you offer your time, knowledge, and other resources so
Scouts have the opportunity to broaden their horizons. And in doing so, your mission is to combine fun with learning.
You are both teacher and mentor as the Scout learns by doing. By presenting opportunities for growth via engaging activities like
designing a webpage (Computers), performing an ollie and a wheelie (Snow Sports), or fabricating rope (Pioneering), you may
pique a Scout’s interest and inspire a Scout to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent,
Learning to Be a Merit Badge Counselor
All merit badge counselors should seek training. It is important that they have a full understanding of their responsibilities and
also of the recommended practices for quality counseling. The presentation “The Essentials of Merit Badge Counseling” has been
designed for this purpose and covers the following topics:
A Scouting overview: mission, aims, and methods Merit badge program role and beneﬁts
Merit badge counselor qualiﬁcations How to become a counselor
The merit badge counseling process Merit badge requirements
Effective counseling Group instruction and camp settings
The session can be downloaded and viewed from www.scouting.org/programs/boy-scouts/resources/
Another resource is the Guide for Merit Badge Counseling, No. 512-065. This resource can be found online at www.scouting.org/
Processing This Application
Merit badge counselors must register as adult Scouters and be approved by the council advancement committee for each merit
badge listed on this Merit Badge Counselor Information form. A merit badge counselor does not have to pay a registration fee, but
must complete an Adult Application for position code 42, ﬁll out this form, and complete BSA Youth Protection training. Submit
the Adult Application with the Merit Badge Counselor Information form to your council. Counselors may wish to associate with a
particular unit but are encouraged to serve any Scout from any unit.
Special Qualiﬁcations and Guidelines for Merit Badge Counselors
A number of merit badges involve activities that are restricted or require certiﬁcation or special training for those supervising
these activities. See the Guide to Advancement, topic 184.108.40.206, “Qualiﬁcations of Counselors.” Merit badge counselors may
personally meet these required qualiﬁcations, or they may use others so qualiﬁed. Additionally, the BSA Guide to Safe Scouting
has speciﬁc requirements and procedures for shooting sports and for aquatics, winter, and other activities. These policies apply
to all BSA activities, including merit badge instruction. For other merit badges where speciﬁc BSA requirements do not exist,
counselors should have sufﬁcient depth of knowledge and experience to understand how to safely present the material.
Instructions to Counselors
• The unit leader (Scoutmaster, crew Advisor, or Skipper) recommends and provides the name and contact information of at least
one merit badge counselor to each Scout desiring to work on a merit badge. Before beginning to work with a youth, counselors
should check the Scout’s merit badge application (blue card) to ensure it is signed by the unit leader.
• Every Scout must have another person with them at each meeting with a merit badge counselor. This person can be their
parent or legal guardian or another registered adult. There is no one-on-one contact allowed with Scouts and counselors.
• Counselors may not add to or delete any merit badge requirements. Group instruction is allowed where special facilities and
expert personnel make this most practical, or when Scouts are dependent on a few counselors for assistance. However, any
group experience must provide attention to every individual candidate’s projects and progress, and assure each has actually
and personally fulﬁlled all the requirements. If, for example, a requirement uses words like “show,” “demonstrate,” or “discuss,”
then every Scout must individually do so. It is unacceptable to award badges on the basis of Scouts sitting in classrooms and
watching demonstrations or remaining silent during discussions.
• When a Scout begins working on a merit badge, the current-year Scouts BSA Requirements book lists the ofﬁcial requirements
in effect at that time. If requirements change after a Scout has started working on a merit badge, the requirements that were
in effect when the Scout began working on the badge can still be followed unless the BSA’s National Council places a speciﬁc
timeline on the implementation of new requirements.
2019 PrintingRevised May 2019