Boy Scouts of America offers over a hundred different merit badges. Each merit badge is an introduction to a particular life skill, potential career, or just an interesting or fun subject area.
How Can a Scout Earn Merit Badges?
The national Scout organization publishes a booklet to go with each merit badge. At the front of each booklet a number of “requirements” are listed. To earn the badge, the Scout must complete each of the requirements. Merit badges can only be earned by working with an adult with knowledge or experience regarding the subject matter of the badge who is a registered merit badge counselor. The counselor will “sign off” each requirement as completed by the Scout on a “blue card” which is obtained from the Troop (and must be signed by the Scoutmaster) before beginning work on the merit badge.
- The first step is to obtain a copy of the relevant merit badge pamphlet, either by purchasing at the Scout Shop or borrowing from the Troop library (one of the older Scouts serves as Troop librarian and is the person to see about this!)
- Another excellent source of merit badge requirements and study guides is the website www.MeritBadge.com
- Most Troop 850 adult leaders are also merit badge counselors for one or more badges. Scouts may work directly with them. You can find a list of the Troop’s own merit badge counselors at its Troopmaster Web database.
- Numerous counselors outside the Troop are registered with our District; Scouts may contact them directly and work with them. Click here for a link to the Dan Beard Counsel merit badge site. To access the list of these counselors you will be asked to register for a separate username and password for the Dan Beard Council website.
- Summer Camp is probably the best opportunity for earning merit badges, especially the outdoors-related badges.
- Every winter the Council sponsors a Merit Badge Challenge at which Scouts can earn up to three badges, primarily indoor-type badges.
Why Earn Merit Badges?
In addition to the pleasure of learning new things that the Scout might otherwise never be exposed to, merit badges are part of the Boy Scout rank advancement system. To advance beyond the rank of First Class, a Scout must earn a certain number of merit badges: five for the Star rank, another six (for a total of 11) for the Life rank, and another 10 (for a total of 21) to earn the rank of Eagle.
What Are “Required” Merit Badges?
Of the 21 total merit badges necessary to advance to Eagle, 12 specific badges are designated as “required” and must be earned. The remaining badges are entirely elective, and any merit badges of interest to the Scout will be acceptable. The required badges involve subject matter central to the fundamental Scouting values: Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, First Aid, Emergency Preparedness, Family Life, Swimming, Lifesaving, and Environmental Science.