WE'RE OPEN! Free Domestic Shipping With Your Order!

Don't Sing the Merit Badge Blue Card "Blues"


Scouts BSA Blog
IN THE SAME BOAT: a blog for Scouts BSA parents (subscribe)

Not long ago, I ran into the parent of a Boy Scout who was attending a merit badge forum with my son. I asked if her Scout had his merit badge Blue Cards ready to take with him, and she looked at me blankly. Even though she had been an active mom in the troop for over a year, she still knew very little about these important pieces of paper.

Now, I understand that it is the Scout’s job to “Be Prepared,” and that goes for theMerit Badge Blue Card merit badge Blue Card as well. But Scouts need guidance sometimes, so as parents we should have at least a basic understanding of the more significant aspects of rank advancement, and that includes earning merit badges.

I once saw a complicated diagram of how the Blue Card works. It seemed rather daunting, and had me thinking how it could have parents “singing the blues” trying to figure it all out. While I love listening to blues music, I certainly don’t want to be singing it when it comes to merit badges.

In this article, I’m going to lay out what you need to know about the Blue Card in a very straightforward way.

What It Is

“Blue Card” is the simplified term for the “Application for Merit badge” blue card. When all the card’s fields have been completed for a specific merit badge, and all signatures affixed, it is proof that your Scout has completed that merit badge.

What It Looks Like

The Blue Card is divided into 3 perforated parts, and has a front side and a back side. When I talk about the front of the Blue Card in this article, it is the side that has the bar code at the bottom left.

You can view the front and back of the Blue Card at http://www.scoutstuff.org/merit-badge-application-card-100-pack.html#.WlqRLzcrPIU by clicking on the product images.

You might want to view the card online or have one in front of you as you read this article.

Where You Get Them

Your Scout’s troop should have some blue cards available to hand out.

You can also purchase them at Boy Scouts of America (BSA) retail stores ($2.50 for 25 cards), or at the BSA’s online retail store at https://www.scoutshop.org ($2.39 for 25 cards; $8.49 for 100 cards; or $0.39 to download a single sheet of 3 cards you can print).

I recommend that your Scout always have a few Blue Cards available with him at troop meetings or other events. He needs the Scoutmaster’s signature on a Blue Card before starting a merit badge, so this way he’ll be ready to take care of that. If your Scout has one of those BSA Handbook covers with a zipper pocket, that’s a perfect place to keep a few.

The 3 Parts & Who Keeps What

The 3 parts of the Blue Card correspond to the 3 separate records that will be kept, as follows:

  1. Troop’s record: This is the right column (when looking at the front of the card), with the header “Application for Merit Badge” at the top. There is information to fill in on both sides of the card. When completed, your Scout gives this portion to the troop (either to the Scoutmaster, or the person responsible for tracking rank advancement). This is the troop’s proof your Scout competed the merit badge.
  2. Merit Badge Counselor’s record: This is the left column (when looking at the front of the card), with the header “Information for Applicant” at the top. There is information to fill in on both sides of the card. When completed, the Counselor retains this portion for at least 1 year.
  3. Applicant’s record: This is the middle column (when looking at the front of the card), with the table. (The Scout is the applicant.) There is information to fill in on both sides of the card. When completed, your Scout will keep this portion until he is out of Boy Scouts, in case there are any questions later.

What to Do Before Starting the Merit Badge

Troop’s Record – Front Side

The Troop’s record is the right column of the Blue Card when facing the front of the card.

The Scout will fill out all the information on the front side of this column, and ask the Scoutmaster to sign at the bottom.

The Scoutmaster’s signature is his permission for your Scout to work on the merit badge. There may be times when permission is not given. The troop may want Scouts to have achieved a certain rank or be a certain age before taking a certain merit badge (e.g., Citizenship in the World or Personal Management may be better suited to an older Scout); have already achieved one merit badge before taking another (e.g., have earned Swimming before Life Saving); or wait to take a merit badge at Boy Scout summer camp.

As a parent, you might consider whether or not your Scout is ready to tackle a particular merit badge after looking over the requirements, and advise him on that. Here is a great resource (dated June 26, 2016) to help you: http://usscouts.org/advance/docs/Mr_DsReview.pdf. For each merit badge, the table includes the number of requirements, level of difficulty, estimated duration to complete, and comments.

Counselor’s Record – Front Side

The Counselor’s record is the left column of the Blue Card when facing the front of the card, with the header “Information for Applicant” on the front. The Scout should read this information.

What to Do When the Merit Badge Is Completed

Troop’s Record: Back Side

The Troop’s record is the right column of the Blue Card when facing the front of the card.

The Counselor will complete and sign the top of the back side of this column when the badge has been completed.

The Scout will give this part of the Blue Card to his Scoutmaster for initialing and recording by the troop.

Counselor’s Record: Back Side

The Counselor’s record is the left column of the Blue Card when facing the front of the card. The counselor will complete the back side of the column after the badge has been completed.

The counselor will keep this part of the Blue Card for at least 1 year in case there are any questions later.

Applicant’s Record: Front and Back Sides

The Applicant’s record is the middle column of the card.

On the front side of this column (the table), the counselor will input the badge requirement number and letter; the date of approval; and initial when completed by the Scout.

The Scout will fill out the back side of this column; and get signatures from both the Counselor and the Scoutmaster.

The Scout will keep this part of the Blue Card until he is out of Boy Scouts in case there are any questions later. It is especially important that your Scout keep these records of completed merit badges if he has set his sights on earning the Eagle rank, in case there is a mistake in rank advancement recordkeeping by either the troop or the Council. He does not want to find out at the last minute, when it is too late, that there is no record by anyone of a required merit badge.

What Else to Know

Here are a few other things you should keep in mind.

Sometimes a merit badge class or forum will not use Blue Cards, and Scouts will receive a printed completion report instead. Your Scout will turn in this report to his troop after making a copy for his own records.

Also, it is okay if your Scout does not complete a merit badge when expected and ends up finishing it later with the same or a different Counselor. He should make sure the Counselor fills out and signs any relevant parts of the Blue Card (including the table for any requirements completed by the Scout), and then hold on to the entire card for when he starts working on the badge again.

That's it! With this knowledge, you'll be whistling a happy tune instead of singing the blues.

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll share it with a friend!


P.S. Do you wish being a Scouts BSA parent was a breeze? It is with the Smooth Sailing eGuide, Planner and Organizer for new and continuing Scout parents! Updated January 2020.

Smooth Sailing Through Scouts: Guide, Planner & Organizer for Scouts BSA Parents

Subscribe

Leave a comment

x
x