Merit Badge Blue Card Change

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The old merit badge blue card;


The new merit badge blue card;bluecard

This announcement from the latest Advancement News is self explanatory:

Merit Badge Blue Card Revised
A new version of the “Application for Merit Badge,” No. 34124, commonly referred to as the “blue card,” is being released later in January 2013. The
availability of the new card will vary locally, and the  old cards are still acceptable as councils exhaust their inventories. The new version will remain the old familiar
blue and the change is a small one, but as it takes effect it will make a significant difference in the process.

On the front side (first tri-fold portion) above the unit leader’s signature line, the statement with the word “qualified” is being changed to: “I have discussed this merit badge with this Scout and recommended at least one merit badge counselor.” The wording change has been made due to confusion over the interpretations of “qualified,” “approved,” and “approval,” as applied to when a Scout could begin work on a merit badge. With  the new statement, the unit leader’s signature indicates that he or she and the Scout have talked about the Scout’s desire to work on the merit badge and that a merit badge counselor has been recommended.

The intent of the modification is to give the unit leader the chance to offer counseling as to whether or not the merit badge is a good choice for the Scout, based on his abilities and any prerequisites. The terms “qualified” or “approved” were never meant to indicate that the Scout needed to pass some sort of pre-qualifying test  before pursuing a merit badge, or that the unit leader had pass/fail authority to allow—or to not allow—the Scout to undertake work on a badge.

Other than this single change, the good old “blue card” is the same as before. Unit leaders are requested to use  this new approach now. With release of the revised Guide to Advancement 2013 during the first half of the New Year, the practice will become mandated.

I certainly applaud removing the ambiguity of the widely misunderstood term ‘qualified’. This actually does not represent a change in policy, just better wording to reflect existing policy. Scoutmasters were never intended to decide what merit badges a Scout could challenge or when and this change to the wording makes that clear.