The merit badge program is part of the Advancement program of the Boy Scouts of
America. A merit badge is an award that is presented to a Boy Scout or Varsity
Scout when he has completed the requirements for one of more than 100 subjects
in a wide range of art, craft, hobby, sport, trade, profession, service or
The merit badge program is one of Boy Scouting's basic measurement tools.
Earning merit badges gives a Scout the kind of self-confidence that comes from
overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal. Through the merit badge program, a Scout
also learns career skills, develops socially, and may develop physical skills
and hobbies that give a lifetime of healthful recreation.
This program cannot succeed without the service of unit and district
volunteers who serve as Merit Badge Counselors. Each Merit Badge Counselor is
expert in a particular subject and interested in helping Scouts grow into men of
character, ready to take their place in the world of work as participating
The steps to follow in the merit badge program are outlined in the current
Boy Scout Requirements. This book also lists the requirements a Scout meets to
earn each of the more than 100 merit badges that are available. Several
unofficial websites have current requirements for all Merit Badges, such as
www.usscouts.org on its Merit Badge
Requirements pages, and www.meritbadge.com
for a complete list of authorized merit badges and a worksheet to aid scouts in
the completion of the requirements.
There are really three simple rules to remember as a Merit Badge Counselor:
- Scouts must be tested individually but must always have a
- Scouts must meet all of the requirements
- No one has authority to change any of these requirements
Accessing the Merit Badge Counselor List
The all awaited Westchester/Putnam Merit Badge Counselor List is now online. This list will be updated monthly by the Council Merit Badge Dean with counselors that have been registered, have current Youth Protection, have an expertise in the subject matter and are approved by the Dean. This list will allow units to have access to the most current list and be able to effectively choose a counselor for their scouts. This list is ONLY available to the Scoutmaster, Committee Chair and Advancement Chair.
This site can only be accessed with a google account entered by the council Merit Badge Dean. Each Troop will be asked to send one Gmail address that the troop will use to access the site-only one email for each troop will be permitted. It may be the scoutmaster or advancement chair's personal email, or a troop Gmail account. The email must be either a Gmail address or any other email address (e.g., yahoo) so long as it is linked with a Google account. Troops can open a Gmail account (e.g., Troop1MountKisco@gmail.com) and then can provide the password to whomever in the troop they want to be able to get access to the lists. As a reminder, only the Scoutmaster, committee chair or advancement chair may log in to this website. It is not to be published or given to scouts or parents.
If your troop is not currently signed up, please contact the Dean at:
Recruiting and Training Merit Badge Counselors
The essence of quality Scouting is having sufficient qualified adult leaders.
Nowhere does this become more apparent than in the recruitment of adults to
serve as Merit Badge Counselors. Because Merit Badge Counselors must be
knowledgeable in specialized area as well as able to have a good rapport with
Scout-age boys, the Council and District Advancement Committees have a
challenging task in seeking, recruiting, and training Merit Badge Counselors.
To be certified as a Merit Badge Counselor in Westchester-Putnam Council for
a particular merit badge, an adult must be qualified by job, profession,
business, hobby or special training in that subject. Having earned a Merit Badge
as a Scout or previously serving as a Merit Badge Counselor for a badge does not
automatically qualify someone as a qualified Counselor.
All Merit Badge Counselors must have an understanding of their role in Scout
advancement. The Council and District Advancement Committee are responsible for
making the appropriate training available to Merit Badge Counselors. Training
materials can be found on the this website.
to Merit Badge Counseling
Merit Badge Counselor
What's The Job of a Merit Badge Counselor?
The primary responsibility of the Merit Badge Counselor is to certify that each
Scout who applies himself meets all the requirements for the particular merit
badge. However, the larger job is as a coach who helps the Scout over the
different hurdles of the requirements and making him aware of the deeper aspects
of the subject from the Merit Badge Counselor's knowledge and experience.
Requirements For Merit Badge Counselors
To qualify as a valid Merit Badge Counselor in Westchester-Putnam Council, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be proficient in the merit badge subject by vocation or avocation.
- Be able to work with Scout-age boys.
- Be registered with the Boy Scouts of America
- Complete and submit the WPC Merit Badge Counselor Form indicating which
Merit badges you wish to counsel.
- Merit Badge Counselors MUST complete Youth Protection Training and renew
it every 24 months. Visit myscouting.org and sign in to On-Line training.
Complete the YPT and electronically save the trained certificate and print a
copy for submission with your application.
As a Merit Badge Counselor, you must agree to:
- Follow the requirements of the merit badge, making no deletions or
additions, ensuring that the advancement standards are fair and uniform for
- Have a Scout and his buddy present at all instructional sessions.
- Renew your registration annually if you plan to continue as a Merit Badge
To Register As A Merit Badge Counselor
For administrative purposes, Boy Scouts of America requires all merit badge
counselors to register with their local council, by submitting a BSA Adult
Application, No. 28-501. If you are registering solely to serve as a merit badge
counselor, there is no fee. You may also become a full member of the Boy Scouts
of America by paying the current annual registration fee, which includes a
subscription to Scouting magazine. This bimonthly publication will keep you
updated on developments in the merit badge program and many other aspects of
Scouting. Simply call for an application from Westchester-Putnam Council at
(914) 773-1135 to have one mailed to you, or print out the form
Adult Registration Form
Badge Counselor Information Form
Merit Badge Counselors should send both of these completed forms to their
appropriate District Advancement Chairman to begin processing.
Written acknowledgement of approval will be mailed to the counselor to
inform them when they are permitted to begin counseling Scouts.
National Office Merit Badges Policies and Procedures
Article X. Program (Advancement) - Rules and Regulations
Clause 13. The responsibility for merit badges shall rest with the Merit Badge
Counselor approved by the local council and district advancement committee.
Merit Badge Counselors shall be registered adult members of the Boy Scouts of
America. The Merit Badge Counselor shall prepare and qualify the youth members.
There shall be no board of review. … No council, district, unit or individual
has the authority to add to or subtract from advancement requirements.
Westchester-Putnam Council Merit Badge Policies and Procedures
The Advancement Committee of the Westchester-Putnam Council explicitly adheres
to all Policies and Procedures set by the National Office. To assist Scouts and
unit leaders with interpreting these policies and procedures, the following
guidelines are offered to address questions that have been asked in the past:
- A Merit Badge Counselor is an adult member who is registered for the
current year through the National Office specifically as a Merit Badge
Counselor, has been approved by the Council Advancement Committee through
the District Advancement Committee for a particular merit badge or badges,
and has agreed to adhere to all National and Westchester-Putnam Council
policies and procedures.
- All work on a merit badge must begin when the merit badge process, as
described below, is started for each particular merit badge. This means that
the Scout has a signed blue card and initiates contact with a Merit Badge
- Any registered Scout, regardless of rank, may work on any merit badge and
receive the award when he earns it.
- A Scout may work on multiple merit badges at the same time.
- A Merit Badge Counselor may work with a Scout who is a relative.
- Summer camp does not offer any exceptions to the Advancement policies or
- Partial work, usually documented at summer camp, does not expire until the Scout's 18th birthday.
- If the requirements change after a Scout has already started working on a
merit badge, continue to use the requirements in effect when the Scout
began, unless the SCOUT desires to use the new requirements. However, if he
wishes to use the new requirements, he must use ALL of the new requirements.
He may not pick and choose a selection from the old and new requirements.
- The Merit Badge Counselor is responsible for making sure what the
requirements are before certifying a Scout has earned a merit badge.
- Merit Badge Counselors are encouraged to spot check work certified to them
from partials, but Scouts should not be retested on these completed
- The approval of a merit badge by a valid Merit Badge Counselor cannot be challenged. However, any failure to follow the National and
Westchester-Putnam Council policies and procedures (as described here),
especially with regard to requirements, will likely invalidate their
position as a valid Merit Badge Counselors and possibly invalidate the approval for
a badge in question. Andy challenges to merit badge validity should be immediately presented
in writing to the appropriate District Advancement Chairman, who will
investigate the matter.
- Every possible opportunity shall be given to the Scout to properly earn
the merit badge if invalidation occurs, within National policy.
- Registered unit leaders certify that the Merit Badge Counselor is currently
approved when they fill out Advancement Reports
Earning A Merit Badge
These are the steps that a Scout in Westchester-Putnam Council takes to earn a
merit badge, as outlined in The Official Boy Scout Handbook:
1. The Scout gets a Merit Badge Application from his unit leader. This
"blue card" must be signed by the unit leader on the front of the form
indicating that the Scout has approval to work on the merit badge. The unit
leader will sign the card again after the Scout has completed the requirements
and the Merit Badge Counselor has signed the card. The unit leader will give the
Scout the name of one or more qualified Merit Badge Counselors for the merit
badge the Scout wants to earn.
2. The Scout contacts the Merit Badge Counselor, usually by telephone or
email, and introduces himself. The Merit Badge Counselor should explain the
requirements to the Scout. The Scout and his buddy then meet as appropriate with
the Merit Badge Counselor until the Scout completes the badge's requirements.
Anytime a Merit Badge Counselor meets with a Scout, the Merit Badge Counselor
must follow the Scout Buddy System
Without exception, a Scout must have a buddy with him at each meeting with a
Merit Badge Counselor.
A Scout's buddy can be another Scout, a parent or guardian, a brother or
sister, or a relative or friend.
Remember, the Scout brings the extra person, not the Merit Badge Counselor.
If the merit badge subject relates to a job or profession, then the Merit
Badge Counselor's place of work is probably the best place to meet with the
Scout. Subjects related to hobbies usually will be handled in the home. For a
few subjects, coaching will happen in the field or where special equipment is at
hand. Rowing, Rifle Shooting, Swimming and Astronomy are good examples. The
Scout Buddy System must always be followed.
The Scout should bring a signed merit badge application to the first time
meeting. There is space on the application to track the Scout's completion of
requirements. A Scout has from the time he begins working on a merit badge until
he reaches his 18th birthday to complete the merit badge. Any requirements
approved by a Merit Badge Counselor can be used by the Scout with another Merit
Badge Counselor towards completion of the badge before his 18th birthday.
3. The Scout is encouraged to get the merit badge pamphlet on his subject,
although it is not required. He may be able to borrow a copy from his unit
library or from a local public library. The Scout may also buy a copy from the
Westchester-Putnam Council Scout Shop.
4. The Scout learns and does the things that the pamphlet describes as being
required for the badge.
5. When he is ready, the Scout calls the Merit Badge Counselor again to make
an appointment. He brings along the things he has made to meet the requirements
or proof of what he has done such as a photograph of the project or adult
certification. His unit leader might, for example, certify that a satisfactory
bridge or tower has been built for Pioneering, or that the required meals were
prepared for the Cooking merit badge. Remember the primary job, in addition to
coaching, of the Merit Badge Counselor is to certify that the requirements have
been met. When proof such as these are presented, the Merit Badge Counselor is
encouraged to question the Scout, and necessary, to contact the adult or unit
leader who signed the statement.
6. The number of counseling sessions depends on the difficulty of the subject
and the preparation and ability of the Scout. When the Merit Badge Counselor is
satisfied that the Scout has done what is required, the Merit Badge Counselor
signs the Scout's merit badge card.
Each Merit Badge Counselor must maintain the exact standard as outlined in
the merit badge requirements with nothing deleted and nothing added. 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 is not enough.
The same thing holds true for such words as "make," "list,"
"in the field," and "collect, identify and label." On the
other hand, the Merit Badge Counselor cannot require more of a Scout than is
If the requirements as stated are the limits, what there is for the Merit
Badge Counselor to do other than help the Scout with the specifics of these
requirements? Actually, the Merit Badge Counselor can go far beyond them in the
Merit Badge discussions with the Scout. He probably will welcome the Merit Badge
Counselor's willingness to share with him the real world knowledge well beyond
the requirements, and the Merit Badge Counselor will be making a real
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
Many merit badge subjects can acquaint a Scout with the job opportunities in
various fields. In these cases the merit badge work is a real exploration in an
adult work experience, showing him whether or not he has the interest or ability
along such lines. His activity can also show him what educational requirements a
subject area has. The final choice - the selection of what he is going to do
with himself in life - is up to one person; the Scout himself. However, he will
appreciate the Merit Badge Counselor's help in showing him the relationship of
his merit badge work to his life as he goes to school, into business or a trade,
and on into adult life.
7. The Scout gives the signed form to his unit leader who will get the badge
for him and will present it to him at an appropriate time such as a Court of
You may work with many Scouts each year as they earn merit badges.
The Merit Badge Counselor assists the unit leaders in the program of
advancement which the unit leader helps each of his Scouts plan. Often, the unit
leader will help the Scout select the merit badges he will earn for a particular
award. Whether he does or not, he is always interested in the Scout's progress.
You should feel free to discuss his work with the unit leader at any time.
Group Instruction of Merit Badges.
The question arises as to whether it is permissible to have Scouts earn merit
badges in groups. Many subjects may be presented to groups of Scouts without
defeating one of the purposes of the merit badge plan, working closely with a
Frequently the skills of a subject can be taught to several Scouts at one
time. This has a time advantage for the Merit Badge Counselor. However, the
completing of the requirements always must be done on an individual basis.
Scouts may not qualify for merit badges by just being members of group that is
instructed in skills. They must qualify by personally satisfying the Merit Badge
Counselor that they can meet all the requirements.
The National Executive Board has approved this policy statement on group
merit badge counseling:
To the fullest extent possible, the merit badge counseling relationship is a
Merit Badge Counselor-Scout arrangement in which the Scout is not only judged on
his performance of the requirements, but receives maximum benefit from the
knowledge, skill, character and personal interest of his Merit Badge Counselor.
Group instruction and orientation are encouraged where special facilities and
expert personnel make this most practical, or when Scouts are dependent on only
a few Merit Badge Counselors for assistance. However, this group experience
should be followed by attention to each individual candidate's projects and his
ability to fulfill all requirements.
In summary, a Merit Badge Counselor can coach more than one Scout at a time,
but only one Scout at a time can satisfy the Merit Badge Counselor that he can
meet the requirements.
Advertising Within the District
Scout units are constantly seeking program material for meetings. If the Merit
Badge Counselor would like to expand interest in the Merit Badge Counselor's
subject and to attract more Scouts to earn the merit badge, contact unit leaders
at a District Roundtable and offer to come to a troop or team meeting to
"sell the Merit Badge subject." All Scouts won't be interested in the
subject so plan to present an exciting 10 to 15 minutes designed to capture the
Merit Badge Counselor's audience then offer contact information to those Scouts
who are really interested in working in the Merit Badge to start the process (as
Merit Badge Pamphlets
The information in the pamphlet is probably familiar to the Merit Badge
Counselor, but it will help the Merit Badge Counselor to know what the Scout is
learning. The pamphlets are written for Scout-age boys. They also contain
suggestions for projects that might give the Merit Badge Counselor helpful
ideas. Be sure to use the most recent printing of the pamphlet. It will contain
the latest requirements and information on the Merit Badge and the printing date
is on each pamphlet. A complete list of merit badge pamphlets is printed on the
inside back cover of all pamphlets with the latest revision date by each. By
checking this list in any current year's pamphlet, the Merit Badge Counselor can
find out whether a pamphlet is updated. Most pamphlets are reprinted each year,
but the contents are not always revised. If the Merit Badge Counselor has
suggestions for improvements in the requirements or pamphlet, please send these
comments to the Boy Scout Division, Boy Scouts of America, 1325 Walnut Lane,
Irving, TX 75038-3096.
The Westchester-Putnam Council Advancement Committee is responsible for
approving Merit Badge Counselors, and delegates their appointment to the
District Advancement Committees.
The Council Advancement Committee reviews the District merit badge lists and
has a council list published each year.
Advancement in Summer Camp
Camp Merit Badge Counselors must be fully qualified in the subject they are
counseling. Camp staff members who are qualified in the subject and are younger
than age 18 may assist the Merit Badge Counselor with instruction. Each Merit
Badge Counselor or camp staff member must maintain the exact standard as
outlined in the merit badge requirements - nothing deleted, nothing added - and
make himself or herself available at the time most convenient to the Scouts.
Partial completion of merit badges should be credited to a Scout on the
Application for Merit Badge and given to the unit leader at the end of the week.
Separate training materials have been prepared for Merit Badge Counseling at
Summer Camp and are presented annually by the Council Advancement Committee.
Suggested Merit Badge Counseling Techniques
For the Scout to get the most benefit from the counseling session, he must feel
welcome and relaxed. One way for the Merit Badge Counselor to put him at ease is
to ask a simple question. For example, "How long have you been in
Scouting?" or "What got you interested in the Astronomy merit badge?
Another way to put a Scout at ease is to show him some-thing related to the
merit badge subject. For example, a Coin Collecting Merit Badge Counselor might
show the Scout his coin collection. However, don't overwhelm the Scout.
Remember, he is probably a beginner.
A third way to put a Scout at ease is to ask him to do a simple skill. For
example, a Woodwork Merit Badge Counselor might say, "Would you sand this
piece of wood while I get some tools ready?"
At the first meeting with the Scout, the Merit Badge Counselor should
carefully review each requirement to be sure the Scout understands what he must
Before the Merit Badge Counselor signs the Scout's Application for Merit
Badge, he must insist that the Scout do exactly what the requirements call for.
If it says, "show or demonstrate," that is what he must do. Just
telling isn't enough. The same things hold true for words such as
"make," "list," "in the field," and "collect,
identify, and label."
On the other hand, the Merit Badge Counselor 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 you need for your collection, you
must have 30 to get my signature."
It is, of course, acceptable for a Scout on his own initiative to do more than
the requirement calls for.
When reviewing the requirements with a Scout or testing him, the Merit Badge
Counselor may find that the Scout needs help in learning a particular skill. One
of the jobs of a Merit Badge Counselor is to teach the Scout the skills
The most effective way to teach a skill is to get the Scout to practice while