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Merit Badge Applications "Blue Cards" not replaced by Scoutbook software

Technology is a great thing but sometimes what we think it will do for us is not exactly the way things turn out. Take for example the wonderful world of Scoutbook (the BSA-owned, record-keeping program). This extremely useful software tool was developed to help units, parents, and Scouts to monitor advancement progress.  Scoutbook offers numerous applications, however there are limitations and restrictions to what Scoutbook can and should do. Most importantly, Scoutbook is not an official advancement document nor is it a replacement for the “Application for Merit Badge”, aka- the “Blue Card” (No. 34124). 

The Blue Card is the Scout’s official record for keeping track of merit badge advancement. Blue Cards provide information beyond the data stored on Scoutbook. Blue Cards show when the Scout met with their unit leader to discuss the badge and received acknowledgement to pursue the merit badge. Blue Cards list when various requirements have been completed as verified by the counselor’s initials as well as provide helpful information for the merit badge counselor.

More importantly, Blue Cards are the documented record needed for any historical proof that a merit badge was earned. Thus, if it ever became necessary, the Blue Card is the source of proof that a merit badge was indeed earned. Should a dispute arise such as a rank appeal, including for the rank of Eagle Scout, the Blue Card could decide the issue.  Though some might suggest Scoutbook can do the same, note that digital platforms change over time, occasionally get corrupted and cannot provided proof that all the steps in earning a merit badge (Unit Leader discussions and signature, Merit badge counselor final signature) have been completed.   

In essence, though it is useful to use the Scoutbook platform for entering information, it does not replace the required signed 3-part Blue Card, which must be retained by the Scout, the Scoutmaster, and the Merit Badge counselor.  More information on “Blue Cards” can be found in the Guide to Advancement, Section 7, or in the past issue of BSA Advancement News, July/August, 2017.  The Blue Card is the Scout’s official record for keeping track of merit badge advancement.  Blue Cards provide information which is not a part of the data stored on Scoutbook.

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