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 (2019)[11] Related subjects
American Business 1967 2020 2008 1,468 Business, Economy of the United States
American Cultures 1978 2005 2008 3,089 Ethnic groups in the United States
American Heritage 1975 2020 2019, 2020 5,454 History of the United States, Historic preservation
American Labor 1987 2006 2008 1,298 Trade unions
Animal Science 1975 2020 2008 4,155 Animal husbandry
Animation[12] 2015 2015 2015 7,193 Animation
Archaeology 1997 2008 2008 5,722 Archaeology
Archery 1911 2012 2008 31,934 Archery
Architecture 1911 2008 2008 4,016 Architecture
Art 1911 2013 2013 23,074 Art
Astronomy 1911 2013 2013 16,473 Astronomy
Athletics 1911 2006 2008 2,844 Track and field athletics
Automotive Maintenance 2008 2008 2012 10,489 Auto mechanics
Aviation 1952 2006 2008 14,227 Aviation
Backpacking 1982 2007 2008 4,079 Backpacking
Basketry 1927 2003 2008 14,216 Basket weaving
Bird Study 1914 2005 2008 5,629 Ornithology
Bugling 1911 2020 2008 453 Bugle
Camping 1911 2005 2008 52,328 Camping
Canoeing 1927 2004 2008 22,734 Canoeing
Chemistry 1911 2020 2008 11,745 Chemistry
Chess 2011 2011 2011 25,999 Chess
Citizenship in the Community 1952 2005 2013 46,750 Citizenship
Citizenship in the Nation 1951 2005 2008 48,182 Citizenship
Citizenship in the World 1972 2005 2008 50,700 Global citizenship
Climbing 1997 2006 2008 17,305 Climbing
Coin Collecting 1938 2008 2008 4,822 Coin collecting
Collections 1991 2008 2008 4,060 Collecting
Communication 1968 2003 2008 48,117 Communication
Composite Materials 2006 2006 2008 1,383 Composite materials
Cooking 1911 2016 2014 49,039 Cooking
Crime Prevention 1996 2020 2008 6,517 Crime prevention
Cycling 1911 2003 2008 5,503 Cycling
Dentistry 1975 2006 2008 2,433 Dentistry
Digital Technology 2014 2014 2014 7,096 Technology
Disabilities Awareness 1993 2005 2008 5,933 Disability
Dog Care 1938 2003 2008 3,151 Dogs
Drafting 1965 2008 2008 1,364 Technical drawing
Electricity 1911 2004 2008 9,383 Electricity
Electronics 1963 2004 2008 7,204 Electronics
Emergency Preparedness 1972 2008 2016 39,022 Emergency management
Energy 1976 2005 2008 2,727 Energy
Engineering 1967 2008 2008 12,184 Engineering
Entrepreneurship 1997 2006 2008 3,410 Entrepreneurship
Environmental Science 1972 2020 2008 46,202 Environmental science
Exploration 2017 2020 2017 3,107 Exploring
Family Life 1991 2005 2013 47,788 Family values
Farm Mechanics 1928 2008 2008 2,500 Agricultural machinery
Fingerprinting 1938 2003 2008 36,510 Fingerprinting
Fire Safety 1995 2004 2008 11,045 Fire safety
First Aid 1911 2007 2008 62,352 First aid
Fish and Wildlife Management 1972 2004 2008 10,676 Wildlife management
Fishing 1952 2002 2008 23,589 Fishing
Fly Fishing 2002 2002 2008 5,005 Fly fishing
Forestry 1911 2005 2008 10,299 Forestry
Game Design 2013 2013 2013 14,424 Game Design
Gardening 1911 2002 2008 1,440 Gardening
Genealogy 1972 2005 2008 4,096 Genealogy, Family history
Geocaching 2010 2010 2010 11,271 Geocaching
Geology 1953 2020 2008 16,041 Geology
Golf 1976 2002 2008 2,959 Golf
Graphic Arts 1987 2006 2008 3,178 Graphic design
Hiking 1921 2007 2008 6,865 Hiking
Home Repairs 1943 2002 2008 3,193 Home repairs
Horsemanship 1911 2011 2008 9,515 Equestrianism
Indian Lore 1931 2008 2008 13,530 Native American culture
Insect Study 1985 2008 2008 2,392 Entomology
Inventing[13] 2010 2010 2010 3,259 Invention
Journalism 1927 2006 2008 1,283 Journalism
Kayaking 2012 2020 2016 28,093 Kayaking
Landscape Architecture 1967 2008 2008 1,395 Landscape architecture
Law 1974 2003 2008 5,681 Law
Leatherwork 1951 2002 2008 31,397 Leather crafting
Lifesaving 1911 2008 2008 19,444 Lifeguarding
Mammal Study 1985 2003 2008 17,799 Zoology
Medicine 1991 2002 2008 3,758 Medicine
Metalwork 1927 2007 2008 12,586 Metalworking
Mining in Society 2014 2014 2014 3,929 Mining
Model Design and Building 1963 2020 2008 2,770 Scale models
Motorboating 1961 2008 2008 8,298 Motorboat
Moviemaking 2013 2013 2013 9,738 Filmmaking
Music 1911 2003 2008 12,882 Music
Nature 1952 2003 2008 14,150 Nature
Nuclear Science 2005 2011 2008 6,623 Nuclear physics
Oceanography 1964 2003 2008 8,460 Oceanography
Orienteering 1973 2003 2008 12,249 Orienteering
Painting 1911 2020 2008 4,486 Paint
Personal Fitness 1952 2020 2008 49,802 Physical fitness
Personal Management 1972 2003 2008 48,464 Personal finances, time management
Pets 1958 2003 2008 5,130 Pets
Photography 1911 2016 2015 14,057 Photography
Pioneering 1911 2006 2008 12,282 Pioneering
Plant Science 1974 2005 2008 2,041 Botany
Plumbing 1911 2004 2008 4,743 Plumbing
Pottery 1927 2008 2008 8,566 Pottery
Programming 2013 2013 2013 4,717 Computer programming
Public Health 1911 2005 2008 2,507 Public health
Public Speaking 1932 2002 2008 6,695 Public speaking
Pulp and Paper 1972 2006 2008 5,973 Pulp, Papermaking
Radio 1923 2008 2008 5,519 Radio
Railroading 1952 2003 2008 6,818 Rail transport
Reading 1929 2020 2008 4,495 Reading
Reptile and Amphibian Study 1993 2005 2008 6,009 Herpetology
Rifle Shooting 1988 2001 2008 34,049 Rifle, Shooting
Robotics 2011 2011 2011 13,827 Robotics
Rowing 1933 2006 2008 7,189 Rowing
Safety 1927 2020 2008 3,208 Safety
Salesmanship 1927 2003 2008 6,813 Sales
Scholarship 1911 2004 2008 5,442 Scholarship
Scouting Heritage 2010 2010 2010 6,285 History of the Boy Scouts of America
Scuba Diving 2009 2009 2009 1,912 Scuba Diving
Sculpture 1911 2007 2008 9,383 Sculpture
Search and Rescue 2012 2012 2012 9,764 Search and rescue
Shotgun Shooting 1988 2005 2008 18,576 Shotgun, shooting
Signs, Signals, and Codes 2015 2015 2015 7,854 Signs, signals, codes
Skating 1973 2005 2008 1,979 Ice skating, Roller skating
Small-Boat Sailing 1964 2004 2008 13,202 Sailing
Snow Sports 1999 2007 2008 7,375 Skiing, Snowboarding
Soil and Water Conservation 1952 2004 2008 8,242 Soil conservation, Water conservation
Space Exploration 1965 2020 2008 18,432 Space exploration
Sports 1972 2011 2008 6,133 Sports
Stamp Collecting 1932 2007 2008 919 Stamp collecting
Surveying 1911 2004 2008 987 Surveying
Sustainability 2013 2020 2013 7,328 Sustainability
Swimming 1911 2014 2008 59,074 Swimming
Textile 1973 2003 2008 2,523 Textiles
Theater 1967 2005 2008 2,745 Theatre
Traffic Safety 1975 2020 2008 6,477 Road traffic safety
Truck Transportation 1973 2005 2008 2,469 Truck driver
Veterinary Medicine 1995 2005 2008 3,103 Veterinary medicine
Water Sports 1969 2007 2008 2,762 Waterskiing
Weather 1927 2006 2008 12,311 Weather
Welding 2012 2012 2012 11,129 Welding
Whitewater 1987 2020 2008 2,890 Whitewater rafting
Wilderness Survival 1974 2007 2008 25,863 Wilderness, Survival skills
Wood Carving 1923 2006 2008 28,599 Wood carving
Woodwork 1923 2003 2008 4,503 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. ^ Wendell, Bryan (February 17, 2020). "2019 merit badge rankings: Which were the most popular?". Bryan on Scouting. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  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]