The text of this article is taken verbatim from the National Council’s Advancement Newsletter December 2012-January 2013, page 6.

A new version of the “Application for Merit Badge,” No. 34124, commonly referred to as the “blue card,” is being released later in January 2013. The availability of the new card will vary locally, and the old cards are still acceptable as councils exhaust their inventories. The new version will remain the old familiar blue and the change is a small one, but as it takes effect it will make a significant difference in the process.

On the front side (first tri-fold portion) above the unit leader’s signature line, the statement with the word “qualified” is being changed to: “I have discussed this merit badge with this Scout and recommended at least one merit badge counselor.” The wording change has been made due to confusion over the interpretations of “qualified,” “approved,” and “approval,” as applied to when a Scout could begin work on a merit badge. With the new statement, the unit leader’s signature indicates that he or she and the Scout have talked about the Scout’s desire to work on the merit badge and that a merit badge counselor has been recommended.

The intent of the modification is to give the unit leader the chance to offer counseling as to whether or not the merit badge is a good choice for the Scout, based on his abilities and any prerequisites. The terms “qualified” or “approved” were never meant to indicate that the Scout needed to pass some sort of prequalifying test before pursuing a merit badge, or that the unit leader had pass/fail authority to allow—or to not allow—the Scout to undertake work on a badge.

Other than this single change, the good old “blue card” is the same as before. Unit leaders are requested to use this new approach now. With release of the revised Guide to Advancement 2013 during the first half of the New Year, the practice will become mandated.