Frequently asked ​questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Merit Badge University

Where can I find the Registration link to sign up?  You will find it posted in several locations. On our Facebook page, on www.threefirescouncil.org and on www.tfcmeritbadgeuniversity.org.

What is the date and location of MBU? February 15th at York Community High School - 355 West St. Charles Road, Elmhurst, IL 60126.

Who may attend? Any Scouts BSA or Venturer may attend MBU.

Where’s the Flyer? We’ve gone digital! Please forward folks to our Facebook page and our Three Fires Council website.

What is included in the $49 fee? All the merit badges and other activities you can squeeze into a single day! Plus, a hot lunch and a limited edition MBU 2019 commemorative patch.

Can I sign up via my <mobile device>? Sure. Our registration page may be used on any platform, but it’s best viewed on a desktop computer or larger pad or tablet.

Why do you put age and rank restrictions on Eagle badges? We have a limited number of Eagle badge classes and we want our more senior Scouts (1st Class and above) to have the opportunity to choose these classes – as they typically need them to advance to Eagle in the short term. Our younger Scouts have plenty of time to earn these badges – plus, the content of the badges may be too advanced for our younger Scouts.

The cost of MBU has gone up – why? The cost has gone up slightly because our operating costs have increased. We are required to rent our classroom space, provide busses for transportation, pay for janitorial crews, etc. We think MBU is a great value – particularly compared to other merit badge courses offered by Park Districts and Commercial venues. Some of these can be as high as $60-$70 per badge! A Scout – who’s done his prerequisites - may earn up to 4 merit badges in a single day at MBU.

The cost includes a Lunch. What’s for lunch? We provide a quality lunch through a local Caterer. It will include a salad, bread, pasta and a protein (usually chicken) along with a drink.

Can you accommodate my special dietary needs?My Scout has allergies to xxx ingredientWe can’t possibly anticipate every allergen, cultural, religious, or personal preference. We don’t serve peanut products at lunchtime. Please be aware that we do have a snack table with drinks, candy, chips and other products for sale. These products may contain allergens. Please ensure that your Scout is properly prepared for his particular allergies. Due to allergies, my Scout needs to bring a sack lunch. That’s fine. Please don’t pack peanut or peanut butter-based products as a courtesy to others.

My Scout doesn’t want to eat in the cafeteria. May my Scout leave and come back to MBU? Classes are spaced so that lunch is 20 mins only. There’s no time to leave campus and return. Parking is restricted for security purposes and you may not return to campus once you leave. There are no food choices within walking distance of the school.

My Scout doesn’t want to eat at MBU. Is there a reduced price? No. Lunch is included in his registration fee.

I’m an adult volunteer at MBU (not an Instructor or Staff). May I eat lunch at MBU? Sure! We’ll have a line for you to purchase lunch for a small fee.

May I wait for my Scout while he attends classes? No. Due to limited parking, and the lack of space – every inch of York HS is being used for our classes – we ask that Parents drop their Scouts off in the circle in front of the high school and return and pick them up at the end of the day. There’s no wifi, no extra outlets and no Starbucks – we’d prefer that you drop off your Scout and return to pick him later. You may register as a Staff Volunteer for the day – we always need help – and you may stay at the high school. Please go to tfcmeritbadgeuniversity.org to pre-register as a volunteer. Your registration must be received and approved prior to the day of the event.

It’s my Scout’s first MBU. Can I walk him/her to class? For Security purposes, Adults are not allowed past the Commons. Scouts with special needs may be accompanied by a parent; however, they must check-in, register as a companion/aid, pay for lunch and be issued a wristband. There are a ton of Security volunteers posted around the School who will direct your Scout to classes. We haven’t lost one yet!

I have lots of questions about the content of the classes and what will be taught that day. Where do I get the details? Start with the Event Class Catalog on the registration page. The Catalog provides a description of the merit badge being taught, any prerequisites required by the Instructor and any class notes. Over the years, our Instructors have developed ways to efficiently teach the classes in our 90-minute format. Most of our Instructors will send a preparatory email out to their students a few days ahead of the class as a reminder to bring required materials and work to class. Please remember that nearly all of our classes have prerequisites and that most Scouts will not earn the merit badge in a single day unless those prereqs have been completed in advance. 

My Scout has a ‘partial’ from MBU last year. The work’s now completed just needs the final requirement signed off. Does he/she have to register for the class just to get a few requirements signed off? Yes. Our Instructors are teaching tons of Scouts in a single day across multiple classes. It’s best to sign up for the class and review the requirements and present the work in class for sign off. You may also contact the instructor via the contact information on the blue card you received last year to make arrangements to meet/discuss the completion of the requirements. You may also contact any merit badge instructor (for that particular badge) in your home district to review the work and obtain signoff. 

What time does MBU end? All formal classes are finished 4:30pm. Please coordinate a pickup time with your Scout. Many Scouts remain after class to demonstrate their work and to meet individually with their instructor.

Can my Scout register and take only a single class? Is there a reduced fee? A Scout may take a single class at MBU but there's no reduced fee. Your Scout must check in when he/she arrives and may depart after taking the class. Please coordinate in advance so that you meet your Scout outside in the traffic circle. You won’t be allowed into the high school to collect your Scout.

My Scout has some classes at Elmhurst College. How will he get there and back? Many of our Eagle classes are taught around the corner at EC. We will provide school buses to shuttle Scouts to/from EC throughout the day. There will be adult volunteers to provide directions to classes at EC.

My Scout’s classes are all at Elmhurst College. Why can’t I just drop off there in the morning? For safety and security purposes we want EVERYONE to check-in at York HS and obtain a wristband. Security volunteers will direct EC Scouts to our buses for transport. 

Why are some classes at York and some at Elmhurst College? We’ve outgrown YHS and we find that we can teach many of our longer Eagle classes at EC.

Why do I have to choose a Lunch Period? Crowd control. We need to move nearly 3,000 people through a 20-min lunch period efficiently as possible. Can my Scout sit with his buddies? Can we choose a lunch period by unit? You can coordinate lunch period choices and have everyone pick the same period. If a period is closed, it will not appear in the list of available choices. Because schedules vary – we can’t make group ‘reservations’ for lunch.

What are the ‘Midway’ and ‘Auditorium’ in the lunch period choices? We rotate Scouts through the Lunchroom, the Midway and the Auditorium. There will be lots of exciting things to see and do in our Midway – learn about High Adventure, Canoeing opportunities, summer camp, visit the Scout Shop – and more! We’ll have announcements and raffle off an Xbox. 

Are there any Adult Classes at MBU? No. Visit the calendar page on www.threefirescouncil.org for more information on adult leadership classes.

How do I enter the drawing for prizes? For 20 years, we’ve been asking our Scouts to ‘do a good turn’ at MBU – by bringing a grocery bag of non-perishable food to donate to our local Food Bank. Visit the MBU Registration Page and download the ‘wish-list’ from the Food Bank. Bring in a bag of food and receive a raffle ticket! We’re giving away an Xbox, a $250 Summer Camp voucher and a shopping spree at the Scout Shop. Plus, there are always sports tickets to give away too. Let’s fill up a semi-truck again this year!

I need to make a change to my Scout’s classes. I need printout of the schedule. How do I do that? When you registered, you received an email with a registration number and a link back to your Scout’s registration. Simply go back in using that number and make schedule/class changes right up to our cut off a few days before the event. You may also print a copy of your Scout’s schedule from the registration page.

If my Scout takes the BSA Swim Test at MBU can it be used for Summer Camp or for our high adventure trip? Most Troops and Crews will allow the test to be counted towards camp and other activities for the year. Please check with your Scoutmaster or Advisor.

Do I have to have the BSA book for my merit badge? Please remember that the official source for requirements for a particular merit badge is the BSA Merit Badge Pamphlet. These are available at any Scout Shop and via BSA. Worksheets downloaded from various sources are for organizing and presenting your work. The official BSA pamphlet will take precedent over worksheets when it comes to requirements. Many of our Instructors use the worksheets as a tool in class. If you’re tracking your work in the official BSA Pamphlet, you may bring it with you to class. Official BSA merit badge requirements may be found at here. MBU Instructors do NOT modify BSA requirements. 

The ‘blue card’ handed out at MBU is not on the official BSA form. Will my Scoutmaster and Scout Shop accept it? Most units and Council Scout Shops will recognize a requirements sheet from and event like MBU. The logistics of printing the BSA form have caused us to develop our own version of the blue card. We track and maintain information on every Scout who attends a particular class. We track what Instructors teach what classes and we keep meticulous records – by unit, District and Council. If your organization has a question regarding your attendance or our format for teaching merit badges, please refer them to us at ptdmbu@gmail.com.

How many merit badges do you teach at MBU? We teach over 90 individual merit badges. If you add in the number class periods – that’s over 300 classes taught in a single day!

Do you need Merit Badge Instructors? Absolutely. We’re always looking for qualified Instructors! We need primary and assistant instructors – running over 1,500 Scouts through in a single day takes a ton of effort to teach and check off on requirements. Email us at ptdmbu@gmail.com and join the team! You may also visit www.tfcmeritbadgeuniversity.org and apply to join our team.

Can my Webelo attend MBU? Only Scouts registered in a Scouts BSA unit may attend MBU.

Does my Scout have to wear a uniform? MBU is a uniformed event. All Scouts and Venturers must wear their uniform for the entire day. We represent Scouting and can expect local Press and dignitaries throughout the day. I’m an adult volunteer/committee member/volunteer parent. I don’t have a uniform. If you are a non-uniformed volunteer participating as Staff or on our Registration or Lunch team – you don’t need to wear a uniform.

What merit badges do you recommend for New Scouts? Just our opinion, but we think newer Scouts should load up their merit badge sash! Take some fun merit badges that can be earned in a single day – Railroading, Transportation, Art, Collections, etc. You’ll need to check out the pre-reqs, but you can come home with 4 badges - if you budget your time. If your Scout is 10, he’s got plenty of time to earn those Eagle badges!

How many merit badges can my Scout earn in a single day? There are 4 periods throughout the day. Most Eagle badges take 2 periods. A Scout can earn 2-4 badges in a day – provided he completes the pre-requisites ahead of time. Most Scouts DO NOT earn their merit badges in a single day; however, your Scout will keep in touch with our Instructor and continue to work on the badge. Once the work has been completed, the Instructors and your Scout will meet/talk and review the requirements. His Instructor will then sign off on the completion of the badge. 

How does check-in and arrival work? Parking is at a premium at the high school. We want you to drop your Scout off in the circle up front and have a nice day – then pick him back up from the circle. There will be lots of Security Staff to direct your Scout to Registration. If you absolutely need to come in, do your best to find a parking spot and make your way to Registration. Find the line with your last name initial and check in. Registration begins at 7:30am. You’ll get an updated room assignment sheet and a wristband indicating your lunch period. As a reminder, Parents may not accompany Scouts to class. Parents may not stay at the high school – you must depart after you register your Scout – we just don’t have the room for everyone to stay.

I don’t see <insert merit badge here>? Why don’t you teach it? We do our best to teach as many badges as possible. We’re also limited by our classroom space and the number of Instructors. Drop us a line at ptdmbu@gmail.com with your suggestions for next year.

My Scout needs <insert merit badge here> and the class is closed. Is there a waitlist? Can’t you fit just one more in the class? Registration is on a first-come first-served basis. Eagle classes fill quickly, but we offer multiple classes throughout the day. Unfortunately, we don’t maintain a wait list.

Will you be adding additional classes before registration closes? Not usually. Occasionally we'll announce openings in a particular badge - either we've added an instructor or classroom space has become available. We announce additional classes on our Facebook page. 

What is First Class Trail? Do you earn merit badges in FCT? One of the best (and most popular) classes at MBU! Recommended for all New Scouts. Learn and practice the requirements for map & compass, the Scout Oath & Law. Learn to properly fold our Flag. Take the BSA Swim Test, learn the basics of first aid and practice your knots and lashings. You won’t earn a merit badge, but learning these skills will prepare you for when you return to your unit and need to demonstrate these skills so you can get that sign-off in your Handbook! Will your Instructors sign off in my Scout’s Handbook for what he learns in FCT? Our Instructors cannot sign-off on a requirement at MBU – that’s the Scoutmaster’s job. We will provide a sheet that shows what skills you learned in FCT at MBU.

Do you have a website? We do. Visit www.tfcmeritbadgeuniversity.org. Like Us on Facebook for all the very latest info and updates (www.facebook.com/meritbadgeuniversity)

I don’t have a credit card. Can I mail in my payment? We can’t accept mail-in payments. We accept credit card payments only.

Can I register and make a payment at the Scout Shops? No.

I’m booking my Troop/Crew from out of State. Will you take a check for registration via mail? No mail-in payments. 

My schedule’s pretty busy. I’m not sure if I can make it yet. Can I sign up at MBU on the day of the event? Unfortunately, we can’t take walk-up registrations. All of our classes are sold out prior to the day of the event. This is a once-a-year event and our Scouts look forward to it every year and make it a priority to attend.
I’m having trouble registering through your system. I need help! Don’t worry we can assist. Send an email to ptdmbu@gmail.com and one of our volunteers will contact you within 24 hours.

Our plans have changed. I need a refund. We rent the high school, cater the food and drink, and staff for our max number of students. Unfortunately, we cannot offer refunds. You may transfer your registration to another Scout. Contact us at ptdmbu@gmail.com to arrange a transfer. You may also donate your registration fee. 

I really need to talk to a human. Can I speak to someone in authority at MBU? Sure. Please email us at ptdmbu@gmail.com and one of our volunteers will contact you within 24 hours. Please remember, we’re all volunteers and lead full and productive lives outside of MBU. We do our best to get back to folks as quickly as possible. Please recognize that the volume of requests gets really high just prior to the event. Always start by reviewing our frequently asked questions list.

My Scout lost the MBU blue card. My Scout went to MBU 2 years ago and lost the blue card. Help! I need a copy of a blue card. This is the number one issue we encounter as a volunteer team with MBU. Here’s how blue cards work at MBU:
     a. We print your Scout’s MBU blue card in advance. It contains his/her name and instructor’s contact information. Your Scout’s individual blue cards are handed to him/her at check in on the morning of the event. We do not accept blue cards from outside of MBU. 
     b. During class, our instructor (or an assistant) will review your Scout’s pre-work (if he’s done any prerequisites ahead of class) and sign off on those requirements as necessary. For example, the Personal Fitness merit badge cannot be earned in a single day at MBU. There is a requirement to track and measure fitness goals over a multi-week period. If your Scout has done the work ahead of time, then our instructor will review and sign off on that work. 
     c. If your Scout hasn’t done the pre-work – don’t panic! Your Scout will go home, continue to work on the badge, staying in contact with our instructor until the work is completed. The Scout will then arrange to review the work with the instructor – via email, in person, via photographs, etc. to get the final approval for completion of the badge. 
     d. In fact, your Scout doesn’t even need to have our instructor sign off on the work. Any other merit badge instructor, qualified in the particular badge – in your district or council – may work with your Scout to complete the rest of the work.
     e. If the work IS completed at MBU, your Scout will receive a signed, completed blue card sheet with the instructor’s signature showing that all the requirements have been met. The instructor keeps the bottom 1/3 of the sheet for his records.
     f. If SOME of the work is completed in class, our instructor will list and initial the requirements completed the day of the event. Our instructor will hand your Scout the entire blue sheet at the end of class. It is the responsibility of the Scout not to lose this partially completed blue card. MBU does NOT maintain copies of blue cards – completed or partial. Nor do we track who’s completed what badges. We only maintain records of who attended a particular class on the day of the event. 
     g. If a blue card is lost, we can look up your Scout’s registration, determine who the instructor was and put you in contact. Given that an instructor sees hundreds of Scouts on event day, he may or may not remember your individual Scout. Please ensure that your Scout holds tight to his completed or partial blue cards.