Merit badge (Boy Scouts of America)

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Merit badges
Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge, type J front.png
Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge
OwnerBoy Scouts of America
Created1910
 Scouting portal

Merit badges are awards earned by members of the Boy Scouts of America, based on activities within the area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements.[1] The purpose of the merit badge program is to allow Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to further pursue them as a career or vocation. Originally, the program also introduced Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they had not met before, arranging a meeting and then demonstrating their skills, similar to a job or college interview. Increasingly, though, merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps.[2]

Each merit badge has a pamphlet or booklet associated with it, which contains information on completing the requirements for the badge. Before starting to work on a particular badge, Scouts must meet with their Scoutmasters and obtain a signed application card for it. They must then contact an adult who is registered as a counselor for that badge in order to arrange a meeting and determine which requirements (if any) must be completed ahead of time. The counselor initials the card to indicate the Scout's progress in meeting the requirements, then signs it once they have all been fulfilled. After turning in the completed card to the Scoutmaster, the Scout can receive a patch representing the badge.[3]

The award of a merit badge is represented by a circular patch with an image representing the badge's topic. The patches for the Eagle-required merit badges are distinguishable by the silver ring on the outside edge. Merit badges are displayed on a sash which can be worn with the Boy Scout uniform on formal occasions. Every year the National Council reviews and updates a certain number of merit badges. There are over 100 merit badges (137 as of April 2020).

Scouting organizations in other countries issue or have issued merit badges, including Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Austria has a program similar to merit badges for certain age groups.

A sample merit badge sash: From left to right, starting at top; 1 Swimming, Mammal Study, Environmental Science; 2 Basketry, Wood Carving, Dog Care; 3 Wilderness Survival, Emergency Preparedness, Bird Study; 4 Public Speaking, Scholarship, Law; 5 Rifle Shooting, Archery, Metalwork; 6 Fish and Wildlife Management, Citizenship in the Nation, Orienteering; 7 Citizenship in the Community, Communications, Personal Management; 8 Soil and Water Conservation, Reptile Study, Lifesaving; 9 Forestry, Citizenship in the World, Safety

Required for Eagle Scout[edit]

The current requirements for Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouting, involve earning a minimum of 21 merit badges. The following 13 are required:[4]

As of June 2020, the BSA has also announced plans to introduce a "diversity and inclusion" merit badge that will be required for Eagle Scout in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.[8][9]

Current badges[edit]

The last revision date indicates the date of the latest requirement changes; the copyright or printing dates of merit badge pamphlets may have a different date. The Eagle Scout required merit badges are shaded in gray (see above paragraph for details).[10]
Name Created Requirements
revision
Pamphlet
revision
Number earned (2020)[11] Number earned since creation (through 2020)[11] Related subjects
American Business 1967 2020 2013 4,967 61,953 Business, Economy of the United States
American Cultures 1978 2006 2013 2,906 83,032 Ethnic groups in the United States
American Heritage 1975 2020 2019, 2020 6,700 192,552 History of the United States, Historic preservation
American Labor 1987 2006 2015 1,892 29,926 Trade unions
Animal Science 1975 2020 2020 2,778 83,893 Animal husbandry
Animation[12] 2015 2015 2015 4,445 29,817 Animation
Archaeology 1997 2021 2008 2,671 192,293 Archaeology
Archery 1911 2012 2008 10,487 1,797,351 Archery
Architecture 1911 2008 2008 2,734 237,322 Architecture
Art 1911 2013 2013 13,953 1,436,561 Art
Astronomy 1911 2013 2013 7,474 727,495 Astronomy
Athletics 1911 2006 2008 1,557 1,081,697 Track and field athletics
Automotive Maintenance 2008 2008 2012 7,108 225,956 Auto mechanics
Aviation 1952 2006 2008 8,064 684,527 Aviation
Backpacking 1982 2007 2008 1,640 233,724 Backpacking
Basketry 1927 2003 2008 7,388 2,523,871 Basket weaving
Bird Study 1914 2005 2008 3,950 612,616 Ornithology
Bugling 1911 2020 2008 476 172,979 Bugle
Camping 1911 2005 2008 30,490 4,954,170 Camping
Canoeing 1927 2004 2008 9,853 3,166,116 Canoeing
Chemistry 1911 2020 2008 7,166 412,187 Chemistry
Chess 2011 2011 2011 15,454 239,164 Chess
Citizenship in the Community 1952 2005 2013 41,987 3,753,138 Citizenship
Citizenship in the Nation 1951 2005 2008 43,247 3,517,139 Citizenship
Citizenship in the World 1972 2005 2008 42,738 2,593,491 Global citizenship
Climbing 1997 2006 2008 7,228 521,055 Climbing
Coin Collecting 1938 2008 2008 4,639 524,111 Coin collecting
Collections 1991 2021 2008 6,429 168,524 Collecting
Communication 1968 2003 2008 36,675 2,352,069 Communication
Composite Materials 2006 2006 2008 1,011 22,472 Composite materials
Cooking 1911 2016 2014 36,473 4,648,594 Cooking
Crime Prevention 1996 2020 2008 5,628 174,749 Crime prevention
Cycling 1911 2003 2008 5,247 610,301 Cycling
Dentistry 1975 2006 2008 1,924 152,381 Dentistry
Digital Technology 2014 2021 2014 8,812 54,274 Technology
Disabilities Awareness 1993 2021 2008 6,334 156,539 Disability
Dog Care 1938 2003 2008 4,136 449,515 Dogs
Drafting 1965 2008 2008 1,026 231,905 Technical drawing
Electricity 1911 2021 2008 6,235 859,444 Electricity
Electronics 1963 2021 2008 4,063 259,193 Electronics
Emergency Preparedness 1972 2008 2016 24,733 2,082,381 Emergency management
Energy 1976 2005 2008 2,162 96,783 Energy
Engineering 1967 2008 2008 7,800 213,737 Engineering
Entrepreneurship 1997 2006 2008 3,284 42,254 Entrepreneurship
Environmental Science 1972 2020 2008 23,571 3,016,109 Environmental science
Exploration 2017 2020 2017 1,464 10,012 Exploring
Family Life 1991 2005 2013 48,408 1,455,287 Family values
Farm Mechanics 1928 2008 2008 1,424 233,871 Agricultural machinery
Fingerprinting 1938 2003 2008 18,898 1,891,477 Fingerprinting
Fire Safety 1995 2004 2008 7,918 2,675,073 Fire safety
First Aid 1911 2007 2008 31,636 7,370,988 First aid
Fish and Wildlife Management 1972 2021 2008 4,874 718,006 Wildlife management
Fishing 1952 2021 2008 13,601 2,126,476 Fishing
Fly Fishing 2002 2021 2008 2,439 52,650 Fly fishing
Forestry 1911 2005 2008 4,269 1,213,719 Forestry
Game Design 2013 2013 2013 7,740 92,506 Game Design
Gardening 1911 2002 2008 2,782 397,570 Gardening
Genealogy 1972 2005 2008 6,020 261,683 Genealogy, Family history
Geocaching 2010 2010 2010 5,811 149,929 Geocaching
Geology 1953 2020 2008 7,484 747,259 Geology
Golf 1976 2002 2008 2,369 185,837 Golf
Graphic Arts 1987 2006 2008 2,228 69,365 Graphic design
Hiking 1921 2007 2008 5,977 1,370,957 Hiking
Home Repairs 1943 2002 2008 3,442 2,435,429 Home repairs
Horsemanship 1911 2011 2008 4,798 693,845 Equestrianism
Indian Lore 1931 2008 2008 7,240 1,292,119 Native American culture
Insect Study 1985 2008 2008 1,734 180,460 Entomology
Inventing[13] 2010 2010 2010 1,833 29,178 Invention
Journalism 1927 2006 2008 1,516 113,468 Journalism
Kayaking 2012 2020 2016 11,083 261,710 Kayaking
Landscape Architecture 1967 2008 2008 1,400 90,412 Landscape architecture
Law 1974 2003 2008 5,962 218,325 Law
Leatherwork 1951 2002 2008 10,855 2,637,286 Leather crafting
Lifesaving 1911 2021 2008 5,842 3,150,759 Lifeguarding
Mammal Study 1985 2003 2008 7,845 1,302,419 Zoology
Medicine 1991 2002 2008 3,278 94,597 Medicine
Metalwork 1927 2007 2008 4,273 1,202,235 Metalworking
Mining in Society 2014 2014 2014 3,789 29,397 Mining
Model Design and Building 1963 2020 2008 1,359 235,108 Scale models
Motorboating 1961 2021 2008 2,638 635,883 Motorboat
Moviemaking 2013 2013 2013 5,779 61,305 Filmmaking
Music 1911 2003 2008 10,069 1,388,218 Music
Nature 1952 2003 2008 6,056 1,737,920 Nature
Nuclear Science 2005 2011 2008 3,493 210,965 Nuclear physics
Oceanography 1964 2003 2008 4,442 336,423 Oceanography
Orienteering 1973 2003 2008 5,337 888,402 Orienteering
Painting 1911 2020 2008 3,163 584,778 Paint
Personal Fitness 1952 2020 2008 40,355 2,793,990 Physical fitness
Personal Management 1972 2003 2008 40,897 2,100,383 Personal finances, time management
Pets 1958 2003 2008 8,333 690,228 Pets
Photography 1911 2021 2015 11,618 590,968 Photography
Pioneering 1911 2006 2008 6,129 2,492,888 Pioneering
Plant Science 1974 2005 2008 1,653 58,456 Botany
Plumbing 1911 2004 2008 2,761 417,612 Plumbing
Pottery 1927 2008 2008 2,842 427,803 Pottery
Programming 2013 2013 2013 4,473 29,163 Computer programming
Public Health 1911 2021 2008 11,510 1,539,459 Public health
Public Speaking 1932 2002 2008 5,570 684,343 Public speaking
Pulp and Paper 1972 2006 2008 4,054 150,884 Pulp, Papermaking
Radio 1923 2008 2008 3,550 205,747 Radio
Railroading 1952 2003 2008 4,105 275,919 Rail transport
Reading 1929 2020 2008 5,635 1,508,324 Reading
Reptile and Amphibian Study 1993 2005 2008 3,526 682,587 Herpetology
Rifle Shooting 1988 2001 2008 11,081 1,533,240 Rifle, Shooting
Robotics 2011 2011 2011 5,452 123,337 Robotics
Rowing 1933 2021 2008 2,118 1,763,164 Rowing
Safety 1927 2020 2008 6,305 2,959,333 Safety
Salesmanship 1927 2003 2008 5,121 362,051 Sales
Scholarship 1911 2004 2008 7,287 1,307,274 Scholarship
Scouting Heritage 2010 2010 2010 6,517 62,290 History of the Boy Scouts of America
Scuba Diving 2009 2009 2009 1,323 24,100 Scuba Diving
Sculpture 1911 2007 2008 3,188 350,848 Sculpture
Search and Rescue 2012 2012 2012 4,082 79,782 Search and rescue
Shotgun Shooting 1988 2005 2008 5,631 627,238 Shotgun, shooting
Signs, Signals, and Codes 2015 2015 2015 4,580 38,454 Signs, signals, codes
Skating 1973 2005 2008 1,700 184,647 Ice skating, Roller skating
Small-Boat Sailing 1964 2004 2008 3,142 725,921 Sailing
Snow Sports 1999 2007 2008 5,860 493,109 Skiing, Snowboarding
Soil and Water Conservation 1952 2004 2008 5,067 1,174,015 Soil conservation, Water conservation
Space Exploration 1965 2020 2008 8,750 667,365 Space exploration
Sports 1972 2021 2008 3,557 1,184,127 Sports
Stamp Collecting 1932 2007 2008 1,278 395,283 Stamp collecting
Surveying 1911 2004 2008 603 157,073 Surveying
Sustainability 2013 2020 2013 8,477 49,748 Sustainability
Swimming 1911 2014 2008 21,220 6,659,181 Swimming
Textile 1973 2003 2008 1,929 157,902 Textiles
Theater 1967 2021 2008 1,592 97,833 Theatre
Traffic Safety 1975 2020 2008 5,758 194,271 Road traffic safety
Truck Transportation 1973 2005 2008 1,991 151,364 Truck driver
Veterinary Medicine 1995 2005 2008 2,552 92,251 Veterinary medicine
Water Sports 1969 2007 2008 1,064 266,295 Waterskiing
Weather 1927 2006 2008 9,215 651,891 Weather
Welding 2012 2012 2012 4,709 86,233 Welding
Whitewater 1987 2020 2008 1,508 105,245 Whitewater rafting
Wilderness Survival 1974 2007 2008 11,604 1,805,803 Wilderness, Survival skills
Wood Carving 1923 2006 2008 9,430 2,462,368 Wood carving
Woodwork 1923 2021 2008 3,066 999,863 Woodworking

"Colleges"[edit]

Merit badge colleges, which are also called fairs, weekends, midways, ‘’trail drives’’, or jamborees, are events where several troops and counselors meet and focus on teaching merit badges. Larger events are held on college campuses.

Workbooks[edit]

Into the 1990s, a number of merit badge counselors developed worksheets as a way for Scouts to document their work. Counselors could teach to a group but still verify each Scout's progress. More recently, worksheets have given way to workbooks with added graph paper, blank maps and diagrams, logs, charts, checklists, links, and other resources as needed. Merit badge workbooks are used by counselors, summer camps, and merit badge colleges. Workbooks have also been developed for ranks, Cub Scout belt loops, and Webelos activity pins.[14]

Historical program[edit]

Offered only in 2010, the Historical Merit Badge program, part of the Boy Scouts of America centennial, allowed Scouts to earn the discontinued Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signalling, and Tracking (originally called Stalking) merit badges. The patches for these historical merit badges are distinguished by a gold ring on the outside edge. All were based on merit badges that were among the original 57 issued in 1911.[15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Merit Badges – Boy Scouts of America". www.scouting.org.
  2. ^ "Merit Badge Day - MeritBadgeDotOrg". meritbadge.org.
  3. ^ "USSSP: Merit Badges". www.usscouts.org.
  4. ^ "Eagle Rank Requirements" (PDF). scouting.org.
  5. ^ "Camping". MeritBadgeDotOrg. February 10, 2014. Archived from the original on June 15, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  6. ^ "Camp Minsi 2015 Merit Badge Opportunities". Camp Minsi. 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Wendell, Bryan (October 17, 2012). "Cooking, Sustainability merit badges to become Eagle-required". Bryan on Scouting. Scouting.
  8. ^ Siemaszko, Corky (June 16, 2020). "Boy Scouts of America backs Black Lives Matter, will require diversity merit badge for Eagle Scouts". NBC News. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  9. ^ Rothfield, Ariel (June 24, 2020). "Boy Scouts to require a diversity and inclusion merit badge". KSHB. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  10. ^ "Merit Badge Requirements". US Scouts.org Advancement section. Retrieved February 9, 2006.
  11. ^ a b Wendell, Bryan (February 24, 2021). "2020 merit badge rankings: A list rewritten by the pandemic". Bryan on Scouting. Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  12. ^ "Boy Scouts of America Introduces Animation Merit Badge". PR Newswire. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  13. ^ "Boy Scouts and Lemelson-MIT Program introduce Inventing merit badge". Scouting. June 17, 2010. Archived from the original on June 20, 2010. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  14. ^ "Merit Badge Requirements". www.usscouts.org.
  15. ^ "Historical merit badges help Boy Scouts celebrate Scouting's past". Scouting. Boy Scouts of America. January 12, 2010. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  16. ^ "Historic Signaling Merit Badge". www.usscouts.org.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]