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Social Distancing and Merit Badge Counseling – T23 Procedures for Scouts

Three Fires Council has identified a number of Merit Badges that can be worked on at home (See Merit Badges at Home);  and Troop 23 Leaders believe now is a great time to for Scouts to work on Merit Badges from home. Here’s how:

(1) Scouts should rank First Class or higher. As background, a longstanding tradition which differentiates Troop 23 from other troops is that Scouts must earn the First-Class rank before working on Merit Badges. This allows Scouts to develop a solid foundation of Scout Skills before expanding their focus to include Merit Badge work. Exceptions to this policy can be made with Scoutmaster approval. Scouts who have not yet reached First Class who wish to work on Merit Badge should contact our Scoutmaster, Mr. Jeffers at frankejeffers@yahoo.com to discuss his readiness for beginning work on Merit Badges.

(2) Pick a Subject. Visit Merit Badges at Scouting.org to explore the Merit Badges available. Consider your interests and read the requirements of the merit badges you think might interest you.

(3) Pick a Merit Badge Counselor. Troop 23 Scouts ranking First Class and above have or will receive in a separate e-mail with a list of Merit Badge Counselors affiliated with Troop 23. Counselors are listed by subject matter and then by name. Scouts who have not yet reached First Class who have Mr. Jeffers’ approval to begin Merit Badge work should forward their approval e-mail to Mrs. Zapf to receive their copies of the Merit Badge Counselor List. Additional Merit Badge Counselors are available. If a Scout wishes to pursue a Merit Badge where we do not currently have a Troop 23 Affiliated Counselor in place, he should contact Mrs. Zapf for a list of Three Fires Approved Merit Badge Counselors. Scouts, please remember to always include TWO adults on any emailed communications to Troop 23 Leaders. The second adult can be your parent or another leader.

(4) BEFORE PROCEEDING, earn or recharge your Cyber Chip. Once your Cyber Chip requirements have been completed, Scouts should email our advancement coordinator Mrs. Nordhoek-Carlson. Scouts, please remember to always include TWO adults on any emailed communications to Troop 23 Leaders. The second adult can be your parent or another leader.

(5) Secure your virtual Blue Card. Once you have identified the Merit Badge you wish to work on and the Merit Badge Counselor you’d like to work with, email Mr. Jeffers requesting his approval. His approval will constitute your “Virtual Blue Card.” Once meetings resume, Scouts will need to complete actual blue cards. Further instruction on doing so will be provided once meetings resume.

(6) Once you have Mr. Jeffers’ approval/your virtual blue card, contact the Merit Badge Counselor. Explain that you want to earn the badge. The counselor may ask to schedule a separate time to explain what is expected and to start helping you meet the requirements. You should also discuss work you have already started or possibly completed. Be sure to Scout Safely.
• If contacting the Counselor by phone, the call should be made on speaker phone with your parent within earshot of your call.
• If contacting the Counselor using video conferencing tools, such as Zoom or Facetime, be sure to do so WITHOUT the use of earphones and WITH parents nearby.
• If contacting the Counselor by email please remember to always include TWO adults on any emailed communications. The second adult can be your parent or another leader.

(7) Work on Merit Badge Requirements. Unless otherwise specified, work on a requirement can be started at any time. Ask your counselor to help you learn the things you need to know or do.

You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated—no more and no less. You must do exactly what is stated in the requirements. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what you 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.”

Merit badge requirements are revised as needed to reflect updated information and technology. Refer to Merit Badges at Scouting.org for the current and official requirements. The online requirements may not match those in printed materials because of the timing of their printing schedules. If requirements are revised, a Scout who is starting the badge may choose to follow either set of requirements until the end of the year of the revision. At the start of the new year, Scouts who are beginning must use only the new requirements. If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge when a new edition of the pamphlet is introduced, they may continue to use the same pamphlet and fulfill the requirements therein to earn the badge. They need not start over again with the new pamphlet and revised requirements.

There is no time limit for starting and completing a merit badge, but all work must be completed by the time a Scout turns 18.

(8) Show your Stuff. When you are ready, contact the counselor again to make an appointment. We anticipate these meetings will be a Zoom meeting, a Facetime call, or some other video conferencing option. When you prepare for your virtual meeting,

have ready the things you have made to meet the requirements, pictures of your completion of the requirements and/or copies of an adult telling in writing what you have done. The counselor will test you on each requirement to make sure you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required.

(9) Get the Badge. When the counselor is satisfied you have met each requirement, he or she will virtually sign your application/Blue Card. Counselors will be provided with ready-to-print versions of their sections of the blue cards; and will provide them to Scouts and the Troop 23 Advancements Coordinator upon completion. Once meetings resume, Scouts will need to assemble the components into actual Blue Cards, secure signatures from Mr. Jeffers and then turn in the Blue Cards to the Troop 23 Advancements Coordinator. Once processed, the Badge will be provided to you during Troop Meeting Announcements and your accomplishment will be recognized at the next Troop Court of Honor.

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