The day a boy signs his BSA application, he is eligible to start working on Merit Badges.
Completing a Merit Badge involves 4 people... The Scout, the Scoutmaster, the Merit Badge Councilor (MBC), and the troop's Advancement Chair.
1. Scout chooses a badge (or badges) that he'd like to work on (alone or with another Scout).
2 He informs the Scoutmaster of his intention to work on a badge, and is issued a "blue card" and given the contact information for a registered Merit Badge Counselor (MBC). A MBC can be ANY registered MBC in any Council. He is not obligated to work with councilors in his home unit or Council. CONTRARY TO URBAN MYTH, the Scoutmaster can NOT deny any Scout the opportunity to work on any badge, nor can he delay the badge being awarded once the MBC signs the "blue card" showing that it is complete. Judgment as to whether a Scout successfully completed the badge requirements rests solely with the MBC.
3. The Scout(s) contacts the MBC and make arrangements to meet as often as necessary to complete the badge requirements (following Youth Protection guidelines at all times). Upon the first meeting, the Scout presents the MBC with the blue card, which the counselor keeps so that he can update completion dates and keep track of the Scout's progress.
4. Upon completion, the MBC will sign all 3 segments of the blue card, and return it back to the Scout who in turn, presents it to the Scoutmaster for final signature indicating final recognition that all work is complete. Again, the Scoutmaster does NOT have the authority to deny, "retest", or delay the formal completion of any MB work.
5. The Scoutmaster will pass the signed segments along to the troop's Advancement Chairperson who will record the work on the Troop and Council levels, and ensure the Scout is presented with his badge on the next possible opportunity. *
* While NOT mandatory that a badge be presented right away, the BSA strongly encourages "instant recognition" for effort. The typical model is to present the badge by the next meeting, and present the "pocket card" during a formal presentation at the next Court of Honor.
6. The Scout will be given 1 segment of his blue card which he must keep so that it can be produced when applying for his Eagle Rank. The Troop should also retain a segment for their records.