Merit Badges and Counselors

The merit badge program is a key part of the advancement in the upper ranks of Scouts BSA (Star, Life, and Eagle). The program builds self-confidence through achieving a goal; provides interaction with knowledgeable adults; provides the opportunity for a Scout to learn scoutcraft skills, be exposed to various careers, develop physical fitness, participate in hobbies, and develop citizenship.

Earning Merit Badges

Earning merit badges gives a Scout the self-confidence that comes from overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal. The steps to follow in the merit badge program are:

  1. A Scout expresses an interest in a merit badge
  2. The Scoutmaster (or designee) provides the name of a counselor from the approved merit badge counselor list and signs the Merit Badge Application (aka blue card) indicating the Scout has the approval to work on the merit badge.
  3. The Scout contacts the counselor
  4. The Scout works with the counselor on completing the requirements
  5. The counselor signs the application in the appropriate locations and retains his/her portion of the card.
  6. The Scout turns in the complete application and the Scoutmaster (or designee) signs in the appropriate location acknowledging the merit badge has been earned and returns the Scout’s portion of the card to the Scout.
  7. The unit turns in the completed Unit Advancement Report and obtains the merit badge
  8. The Scout receives the merit badge.
Merit Badge Counselor List

The most convenient and user-friendly way to access a list of merit badge counselors in your area for a specific badge is through Scoutbook.

Becoming a Merit Badge Counselor
  1. Adult application completed and signed, including National Criminal Background Authorization Page – available at  (Registrations Fee are required if not currently registered with the BSA, effective August 1, 2023)
  2. Merit Badge Counselor Information Form – fully completed and signed – including all badges and why you are qualified to be a Merit Badge Counselor for each badge
  3. Youth Protection Training
  4. Merit Badge Counselor Position Specific Training
    1. If applying as a Citizenship in Society Merit Badge Counselor additional training is required:
      1. Citizenship in Society Counselor specific training (provided roughly quarterly by COLBSA) and
      2. National DEI training (available on my.scouting)
  5. All three PA State clearances to be a volunteer working with children ( have been uploaded into the council portal and verified.

Note – the applications can be uploaded at, mailed to the council office or dropped off in person. No application should be emailed – it contains a Social Security Number!

The guiding principle is to ensure integrity of personal information! No application should be emailed (even internally!). All council staff should know the location and status of an application at all times!

Once the application is received at the council office it is reviewed by a member of the Support Team for completeness – all fields on the application, the Additional Disclosures & Background Check Authorization form, Youth Protection Training, Merit Badge Counselor training and state clearances.

The Membership Specialist from the appropriate Service Team should arrange for approval by the District Merit Badge Dean or Advancement Chair, or if a District does not have this by the Council Merit Badge Dean or Advancement & Recognition Chair. The Merit Badge Counselor Information sheet ONLY is then signed as approved by the appropriate District or Council volunteer or by the Membership Specialist following consultation.

Once approved and signed the support team will process the application in the national membership registration system. The Merit Badge Counselor will then appear in the search feature of Scoutbook for those badges approved withing 24-48 hours.

Some of the merit badges have specific certifications or other qualifications required to be a counselor; these are Canoeing, Climbing, Lifesaving, Rifle Shooting, Rowing, Scuba Diving, Shotgun Shooting, Snow Sports, Swimming, Whitewater. There are other special requirements for swimming, watercraft activities, and CPR instruction.  See Section of the Guide to Advancement.

Comments, Questions, Concerns?

Email –

The Firestone Scouting Resource Center Summer Hours, Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Please visit

The Firestone Scouting Resource Center and Valley Forge Scout Shop will be closed on Thursday, July 4th.