Merit Badge Counseling and Resources

Helpful Resources

merit badge sash

Introduction to Merit Badges

All Merit Badges A-Z, and their requirements

–  Eagle Required Merit Badges

A Guide to Merit Badge Counseling

What are the requirements to be a merit badge counselor?

Counselors must be men or women of good character who are 18 or older with skills and education in the subjects they cover. They must register as an adult BSA leader, apply for the position of Merit Badge Counselor (position code 42), and have already completed Youth Protection Training within the last 24 months. 

What training and expertise must a counselor have?

There are no specific requirements for most badges, although the counselor must be knowledgeable about the topic. (Oftentimes this means involvement in the field as a career or hobby.) For a handful of badges, mostly in aquatics and shooting sports, special qualifications and/or current certifications are required; these are listed in section 7.0.1.1 of the Guide to Advancement. (See below for an excerpt of 7.0.1.1)

How to Become a Merit Badge Counselor

(Scoutmasters cannot sign-off on a merit badge unless they are also registered as a merit badge counselor for that merit badge.)

The application process to become a Merit Badge Counselor is as follows:

  • Submit the following items to the Jefferson Service Center (US Mail or email is acceptable.)
    • Adult application with position code 42 Merit Badge Counselor. (Please make sure your Youth Protection Training is up to date!)
    • Merit Badge Counselor Information formBe sure to list qualification(s) that support your request for EACH merit badge. Qualifications could include college degrees, formal training certificates, positions held, and specific life experiences. For more than 8 merit badges, please use additional copies of the Information form.
  • Once your application is received, it will be screened and submitted for final approval.
  • When final approval is obtained, you will be notified by the council via email.
  • Complete the online training for a Merit Badge Counselor on my.scouting.org 
    1. From Home page, click on My Training
    2. Under "Training Courses by Program", click on Scouts BSA
    3. Click on Merit Badge Counselor

 

Youth Protection

youth protection start with youYouth Protection training is required for all BSA registered volunteers, including Merit Badge Counselor. Youth Protection training must be completed every two years. If a volunteer does not meet the BSA’s Youth Protection training requirement at the time of recharter, the volunteer will not be reregistered.

To find out more about the Youth Protection policies of the Boy Scouts of America and how to help Scouting keep your family safe, see the Parent’s Guide in any of the Cub Scouting or Boy Scouting handbooks, or go to http://www.scouting.org/Training/YouthProtection.aspx.

 


Excerpt of Guide to Advancement (2021), Section 7.0.1.1:

The following merit badges have special qualifications or certifications for either the merit badge counselor or the supervisor of certain activities that may be involved. Counselors and advancement administrators should consult the merit badge pamphlets for details and to maintain awareness of changes and updates as pamphlets are revised. All certifications listed ... must be current.

Archery Canoeing Climbing Kayaking Lifesaving
Motor Boating Rifle Shooting Rowing Scuba Diving Shotgun Shooting
Small Boat Sailing Snow Sports Swimming Water Sports Whitewater

Climbing & Snow Sports

Climbing. All climbing, belaying, and rappelling exercises and activities must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult rock-climbing instructor, age 21 or older, who has completed BSA Climb On Safely training and who understands the risks inherent to these activities. Training as a BSA climbing Level 2 Instructor is highly recommended. Someone with certification in First Aid/ CPR/AED from the American Red Cross (or equivalent) must be present at these activities. Current policies are found in the Guide to Safe Scouting at www.scouting.org/ health-and-safety/gss/gss08/#a and supersede any other publications or literature.

Snow Sports. Activities in the field must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult 21 years or older who is committed to compliance with BSA Winter Sports Safety. Current policies are found in the Guide to Safe Scouting at www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/ gss12/#b.

Aquatics-related

The qualifications below for aquatics-related merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Current policies are found at www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/ gss02 and supersede any other publications or literature.

Canoeing. Those supervising canoeing activities must have either BSA Aquatics Instructor or Canoeing Instructor certification from the American Canoe Association, American Red Cross, or equivalent; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such or trained by an instructor so qualified.

Kayaking. Those supervising kayaking activities must have formal training in kayaking and paddle craft instruction, evidenced by either BSA Aquatics Instructor or Paddle Craft Safety Instructor certification, or kayaking instructor certification from the American Canoe Association, British Canoe Union, or American Red Cross, or equivalent; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such or trained by an instructor so qualified.

Lifesaving. Demonstrations or activities in or on the water must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult, age 21 or older, with certification in Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED or equivalent, and as a BSA Lifeguard or Aquatics Instructor or equivalent.

Motor Boating. Motor boating activities must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult, age 21 or older, who has completed Safety Afloat training. Appropriate credentials include current or previous certification by an organization (such as the National Safe Boating Council, the United States Power Squadrons, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, or the US Powerboating component of US Sailing) that meets the voluntary National On-Water Standards for Powerboating or the NASBLA national boating education standards for powerboating; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such, or trained by an instructor so qualified.

Rowing. Those supervising rowing activities must have either BSA Aquatics Instructor certification or equivalent; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such or trained by an instructor so qualified.

Scuba Diving. All phases of scuba instruction— classroom, pool, and open-water training—are limited to instructors trained and certified by one of the BSA’s recognized scuba agencies as found in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

Small Boat Sailing. Those supervising sailing activities must have completed Safety Afloat training. They must be mature and conscientious adults age 21 or older. Appropriate credentials include instructor certification with a recognized sailing agency or school, US Sailing, or the American Sailing Association for sailing experience with different hull types including the rig being used for instruction; OR local councils may approve individuals previously certified as such, or trained by an instructor so qualified.

Swimming. Demonstrations or activities in or on the water must be conducted according to BSA Safe Swim Defense and BSA Safety Afloat.

Water Sports. Demonstrations or activities in or on the water must be conducted according to BSA Safe Swim Defense and BSA Safety Afloat.

Whitewater. Those supervising whitewater activities must be certified as whitewater canoeing or kayaking instructors by the American Canoe Association or have equivalent certification, training, or expertise.

Shooting Sports

The qualifications below for shooting sports-related merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Current policies are found at www.scouting.org/health-andsafety/gss/gss08/#a and supersede any other publications or literature. See the Guide to Safe Scouting and the BSA National Shooting Sports Manual for further details on shooting sports.

Archery. Archery activities must be supervised by a BSA National Camping School-trained shooting sports director or USA Archery or National Field Archery Association instructor, or by someone who has been trained by one of the three; or alternatively, the activities may be supervised by someone with at least Level 1 training in the operation of an archery range from USA Archery, NFAA, or an equivalent.

Rifle Shooting. The merit badge counselor is responsible for ensuring that all instruction or other activities involving any handling of firearms or live ammunition is consistent with state and federal law and supervised by a certified BSA National Camping School (NCS) shooting sports director, or National Rifle Association (NRA) Rifle Shooting Instructor or Coach. Instruction or other activities involving handling muzzleloaders must be supervised by an NCS shooting sports director or NRA/National Muzzleloader Rifle Association (NMLRA)-certified muzzleloader firearms instructor. Shooting must be supervised by an NRA certified Range Safety Officer (RSO). If instruction and shooting are to occur at the same time, both the RSO and qualified instructor must be present. The supervisor and instructor may not be the same person. Note that commercial shooting ranges may provide RSOs.

Shotgun Shooting. The merit badge counselor is responsible for ensuring that all instruction or other activities involving any handling of firearms or live ammunition is consistent with state and federal law and supervised by a certified NCS shooting sports director or NRA Shotgun Instructor or Coach. Instruction or other activities involving handling muzzle-loading shotguns must be supervised by an NCS shooting sports director or NRA/NMLRA-certified muzzleloading shotgun instructor. Shooting must be supervised by an NRA-certified Range Safety Officer. If instruction and shooting are to occur at the same time, both the RSO and qualified instructor must be present. They may not be the same person. Note that commercial shooting ranges may provide RSOs.