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, self-supporting adult.
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:
The session can be downloaded and viewed from www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/resources/advancement-presentations/.
Another resource is the Guide for Merit Badge Counseling, No. 512-065. This resource can be found online at www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/resources/.
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.
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 188.8.131.52, "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.