Q: What are Merit Badges?
A: Merit Badges (MB) play a major role in the Scouting advancement program, and are awards earned by scouts based on activities within a specific area of study (Citizenship, Orienteering, Cooking, First Aid, etc.). Earning merit badges should be Scout initiated, Scout researched, and Scout learned. It should be hands-on and interactive, and should not be modeled after a typical school classroom setting. Instead, it is meant to be an active program so enticing to young men that they will want to take responsibility for their own full participation. They give scouts an opportunity to investigate over 135 different areas of knowledge and skills and allow scouts to examine subjects and determining if they would like to further pursue them as a career or vocation. Plus … they're just FUN to earn! Awarded MB's are worn on the Merit Badge sash over the scouts uniform at formal events.
Q: My scout wants to earn a particular merit badge, what do I do?
A: First off, the parent should remember to support their scout, but NOT try to do the work for him! Once the scout has determined which badge he'd like earn, he should research its requirements in its Merit Badge book (available at the Scout Shop, Troop Library or Public Library), HERE (for the most up to date requirements) or HERE (for workbooks). Once he's done that, he should follow these Steps to Earning Merit Badges …
- PLAN IT! – Find a District or Council sponsored MB event, check the qualified Merit Badge Counselor lists below, or select approved MB's from the Summer Camp offering list.
- APPROVE IT! – BEFORE starting the merit badge, the scout should communicate with the Scoutmaster about working on a MB with a particular counselor or attending a MB event. Please be aware that not all merit badges (especially Eagle-required ones) offered outside the troop at other locations/events are accepted by the Troop due to how they are taught. Please see the Scoutmaster in advance before considering any merit badges outside of the Troop. This includes Cabrillo MB weekends and Summer Day Camps.
- If both the badge and counselor are approved by the Scoutmaster, he will issue a Blue Card to authorizing the beginning of the MB. Do not start work on a MB until you have been given the go ahead by the Scoutmaster and have met with your approved counselor to understand his requirements. The exception to this rule is working on Summer Camp MB prerequisites for badges already approved by the Scoutmaster.
- DO IT! – The scout should contact the MB Counselor to confirm that person is willing to work with him, and if so, then start meeting with the counselor and working on the requirements. The counselor will usually collect the Blue Card before allowing the scout to start the MB. If meeting with a counselor in a counselor’s home, the counselor should require that another scout (buddy-system!) attend with your scout and/or that a parent remain in the immediate area.
- COMPLETE IT! – After the merit badge is completed, the Blue Card completely filled out in ink, and signed by the MB counselor - the scout should present it to the Scoutmaster for signature. This is to verify completion of all requirements before the Blue Card is turned into the Troop Advancement Chair for recording. Remember, each scout is held responsible for the material relating to the merit badge, and program quality checks take place to ensure that the merit badge counselor has covered all of the material with the scout. The scout will not be retested on his Merit Badge.
Summary of Merit Badge Facts
- Not required for advancement until going for Star Rank
- Once issued by the Scoutmaster, an open Blue Card is good indefinitely - so DON'T lose it!
- May be earned at any rank - subject to the maturity level of the scout
- Eagle required MBs are usually earned from Troop Counselors or at Summer Camp
- No Merit Badge may be started without Scoutmaster approval and a signed Blue Card!
Approved Merit Badge Counselor Lists
- Scout Parent Collective - This is a Facebook page that has Merit Badge and activity ideas for the Boy Scouts in our families. Please be aware that these are just ideas and information submitted by page members, not necessarily Troop-sanctioned events.
- MB Requirements - Keep in mind, scouts are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated — no more and no less. You must do exactly what is stated in the requirements. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what you must do. Just telling about it isn’t enough. The same thing holds true for such words as “make,” “list,” “in the field,” and “collect,” “identify,” and “label.” MB information can be found online – or as is more highly recommended – in the BSA Merit Badge Books that can be purchased at the Scout Store or checked out from the Troop Library. The requirements posted in this link are the most current, accurate and official. This will always be the best place to find the most up-to-date requirements.
- MB Worksheets - The MB Worksheets help scouts keep their badge information organized, so they can track what they still need to complete. They also make it easy for the scout to provide the requirement information to the Counselor.