Merit badge (Boy Scouts of America)
|Owner||Boy Scouts of America|
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. 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.
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.
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.
Required for Eagle Scout
- Personal Fitness
- Personal Management
- Swimming, Hiking, or Cycling
- First Aid
- Citizenship in the Community
- Citizenship in the Nation
- Citizenship in Society (As of July 2022)
- Citizenship in the World
- Family Life
- Emergency Preparedness (E-Prep) or Lifesaving
- Environmental Science or Sustainability
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. This has been named Citizenship in Society and was released on November 1, 2021.
- 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).
|Number earned (2020)||Number earned since creation (through 2020)||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|
|Athletics||1911||2006||2008||1,557||1,081,697||Track and field athletics|
|Automotive Maintenance||2008||2008||2012||7,108||225,956||Auto mechanics|
|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 Society||2021||2021||2021||Diversity and Inclusion|
|Citizenship in the World||1972||2005||2008||42,738||2,593,491||Global citizenship|
|Coin Collecting||1938||2008||2008||4,639||524,111||Coin collecting|
|Composite Materials||2006||2006||2008||1,011||22,472||Composite materials|
|Crime Prevention||1996||2020||2008||5,628||174,749||Crime prevention|
|Emergency Preparedness||1972||2008||2016||24,733||2,082,381||Emergency management|
|Environmental Science||1972||2020||2008||23,571||3,016,109||Environmental science|
|Family Life||1991||2005||2013||48,408||1,455,287||Family values|
|Farm Mechanics||1928||2008||2008||1,424||233,871||Agricultural machinery|
|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|
|Fly Fishing||2002||2021||2008||2,439||52,650||Fly fishing|
|Game Design||2013||2013||2013||7,740||92,506||Game Design|
|Genealogy||1972||2005||2008||6,020||261,683||Genealogy, Family history|
|Graphic Arts||1987||2006||2008||2,228||69,365||Graphic design|
|Home Repairs||1943||2002||2008||3,442||2,435,429||Home repairs|
|Indian Lore||1931||2008||2008||7,240||1,292,119||Native American culture|
|Landscape Architecture||1967||2008||2008||1,400||90,412||Landscape architecture|
|Medicine (being retired 12/31/21, replaced by Healthcare Professions)||1991||2002||2008||3,278||94,597||Medicine|
|Mining in Society||2014||2014||2014||3,789||29,397||Mining|
|Model Design and Building||1963||2020||2008||1,359||235,108||Scale models|
|Nuclear Science||2005||2011||2008||3,493||210,965||Nuclear physics|
|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|
|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|
|Reptile and Amphibian Study||1993||2005||2008||3,526||682,587||Herpetology|
|Rifle Shooting||1988||2001||2008||11,081||1,533,240||Rifle, Shooting|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Stamp Collecting||1932||2007||2008||1,278||395,283||Stamp collecting|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
- Discontinued merit badges (Boy Scouts of America)
- History of merit badges (Boy Scouts of America)
- Original 57 merit badges (Boy Scouts of America)
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- Steve Henning (July 20, 1999). "Merit Badges, Past and Present". Henning's Scouters' Pages. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
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- Badge Program: Boy Scouts of America at Curlie
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