What’s It All About?
The merit badge counselor is a key player in the Scouts BSA advancement program. Whatever your area of expertise or interest—whether it is a special craft or hobby (basketry, leatherwork, coin collecting), a profession (veterinary medicine, aviation, engineering), or perhaps a life skill (cooking, personal management, communication)—as a merit badge counselor, you play a vital role in stirring a Scout’s curiosity about it. By serving as a counselor, you offer your time, knowledge, and other resources so Scouts have the opportunity to broaden their horizons. And in doing so, your mission is to combine fun with learning.
You are both teacher and mentor as the Scout learns by doing. By presenting opportunities for growth via engaging activities like designing a webpage (Computers), performing an ollie and a wheelie (Snow Sports), or fabricating rope (Pioneering), you may pique a Scout’s interest and inspire a Scout to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent, self-supporting adult.
Applying to be a Merit Badge Counselor
A merit badge counselor is a council-level position, not a troop position, which means prospective counselors must register online or submit a new adult leader application even if already registered in another capacity. If not already completed, you must complete the Scouts BSA – Merit Badge Counselor Position Specific Training, either online on My.Scouting.org or at an in-person course (see below).
There is a $25 fee for new counselors who are not currently registered in a Unit, District, or the Council.
Registration can be completed in one of two methods: online registration or a paper application.
To register online, click here for the online registration.
- If not already completed, you must complete Youth Protection Training found on the my.scouting.org home page. The online process automatically checks for YPT currency.
- If you are already registered in Three Fires Council in some position, you will likely get a warning screen after starting the process that you are already registered in the Three Fires Council. Hit continue and then continue with filling out the application.
- Additional information that is not included in the online registration must be emailed (.pdf preferred) to TFCRegistrar@Scouting.org:
To register as a merit badge counselor manually, complete the following:
- BSA Adult Application
- Background Check Authorization form (from the BSA Adult Application)
- Merit Badge Counselor Information Form
- Proof of completion of Youth Protection Training (e.g. a copy of the completion certificate found at My Training in your my.scouting.org account)
- Proof of completion of Merit Badge Counselor training (see below)
- Any required certifications for high risk merit badges.
The forms may be mailed or dropped off at the Three Fires Council Norris Service Center, 415 North 2nd Street, St. Charles, IL 60174 (or they can be dropped off at the Naperville Scout shop for forwarding to the Norris Service Center). They may also be faxed to 630-584-8598 or scanned (pdf preferred) and emailed to the TFC registrar: TFCRegistrar@Scouting.org.
You may use Scoutbook.com (same login and password as my.scouting.org) to verify you are registered and to see the list of badges you are registered for (My Dashboard->My Account->My Positions). Once your application is accepted, you will appear in Scoutbook and my.scouting.org as a merit badge counselor. Your approved merit badges will be listed in Scoutbook once the MBC registrar has reviewed the qualifications on the Merit Badge Counselor Information Form and verified the certifications for the high-risk merit badges.
Merit Badge Counselor training is available in person at the annual Three Fires Council Training Academy or on-line:
- Login to your my.scouting.org account (that you used to complete YPT)
- Click on the My Training box (or My Training in the pull down at the upper right corner)
- Click on the Scouts BSA box/link
- Click on the Merit Badge Counselor Box ("Scouts BSA - Merit Badge Counselor Position Specific Training")
The on-line training consists of two sections ("Before First Meeting" with three segments and "Position Trained" with one segment) for a total of about 35 minutes. Some of the segments overlap with those for Scoutmaster & Assistant or Committee training, so all 4 segments may not be required if completed previously.
Proof of completion may be a copy of the trained card, in the case of the in-person class, or screen shot showing completion (the page displayed after clicking on the Scouts BSA box above.)
The qualifications listed on the Merit Badge Counselor Information Form must be applicable to the badges requested. “General interest” is not acceptable. Review the requirements for the badges being requested to make sure you are qualified: cooking requires camping and backpacking cooking experience; painting is utility painting not artistic painting; bugling requires experience with a brass instrument and is a separate badge from music.
The council limits the overall maximum number of badges for a counselor to 15 and the maximum number of eagle required badges to 8.
Counselors wishing to make changes to the badges they counsel must submit a Merit Badge Counselor Information Form to the TFC registrar TFCRegistrar@Scouting.org (or one of the locations noted above) with the (A)dditions and (D)eletions indicated (you do not need to list unchanged badges.) The BSA adult application/background authorization/proof of YPT & MBC training are not required to update badges for an existing counselor. Merit Badge Counselor registration is renewed annually May 1 for counselors with current YPT and High Risk Certification (where applicable).
Counselors who wish to resign should email this fact to the TFC registrar TFCRegistrar@Scouting.org .
Citizenship in Society requires completion of the BSA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion online course as well as attendance at a Three Fires Council training course for the badge. To sign up for the training course consult the Three Fires Council Calendar. For more details on the requirements for this badge see the Citizenship in Society Counselor Checklist .
Counselors for certain “high risk” merit badges (archery, canoeing, climbing, kayaking, lifesaving, motorboating, rifle shooting, rowing, SCUBA, shotgun shooting, snow sports, small boat sailing, swimming, water sports, welding, and whitewater) require specific certifications and that the counselor be at least age 21.
Three Fires Council does not recognize “troop-only” or “district-only” counselors. Unit leaders (scoutmasters, assistant scoutmasters, and committee members) have access to the list of all council merit badge counselors through Scoutbook (My Dashboard->select troop/crew->MB Counselor List). While it is possible for a counselor to choose not to counsel a particular scout, declining must always be done respectfully.
Reminders about Merit Badge Counseling:
- Follow the requirements as stated – no additions, deletions, or changes – the wording matters.
- Scouts must be tested individually, even if group instruction is used.
- All interaction must be done in view of a second registered leader or the scout’s parent.