“Merit Badge Counselor”, taken literally, describes someone who counsels a bit of cloth called a merit badge.
I know nobody actually counsels inert bits of cloth, but it makes you think doesn’t it?
We don’t counsel merit badges, we counsel real, live, individual Scouts.
Scouts may have a lot in common, but each deserves individual attention.
Merit badges are much more than a great way to learn about a given field of endeavor. Scouts and counselors alike get the opportunity to relate to people outside their normal circle of friends and acquaintances, they get to expand their world a little.
A lot of questions and complaining I hear about merit badges would be resolved if we all just stopped counselling merit badges and started counselling Scouts.
If merit badge counselors focused on individual Scouts complaints about the quality or thoroughness of instruction would stop. If merit badge counselors insisted on counselling Scouts merit badge “classes” at troop meetings, merit badge fairs, summer camps, and other mass gatherings where Scouts were treated like a herd rather than an individual would be a thing or the past.
Merit badges are symbolic, inert little bits of cloth; identical, mass produced, products. If we all stopped counselling merit badges and focused on counselling Scouts we’d better understand how that lifeless bit of cloth takes on real meaning in the life of a Scout.