Introduction to Merit Badges
Intro to Merit Badges
You can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as you earn
merit badges. There are more than 100 merit badges. Any Boy Scout may earn any merit badge at any time. You don't need to
have had rank advancement to be eligible.
Pick a Subject - Talk to your Scoutmaster about your interests.
Read the requirements of the merit badges you think might interest you. Pick one to earn. Your Scoutmaster will give you the
name of a person from a list of counselors. These counselors have special knowledge in their merit badge subjects and are
interested in helping you.
Scout Buddy System - You must have another person with
you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor. This person can be another Scout, your parents or guardian, a brother
or sister, a relative, or a friend.
Call the Counselor - Get a signed merit badge application
from your Scoutmaster. Get in touch with the merit badge counselor and tell him or her that you want to earn the merit badge.
The counselor may ask to meet you to explain what is expected of you and to start helping you meet the requirements.
When you know what is expected, start to learn and do the things required. Ask your counselor
to help you learn the things you need to know or do. You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject. Many troops
and school or public libraries have them. (See the list here.)
Show Your Stuff - When you are ready, call the
counselor again to make an appointment to meet the requirements. When you go take along the things you have made to meet the
requirements. If they are too big to move, take pictures or have an adult tell in writing what you have done. The counselor
will ask you to do each requirement to make sure that you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required.
Get the Badge - When the counselor is satisfied that you have
met each requirement, he or she will sign your application. Give the signed application to your Scoutmaster so that your merit
badge emblem can be secured for you.
Requirements - You are expected to meet the requirements as they
are stated—no more and no less. You are expected to 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."
Merit Badge Primer Movie
Merit Badge Requirements
Boy Scout Advancement & Awards
Merit Badge Library
Merit Badge Research Center @ MeritBadge.com
Individual Boy Scout Record
Application for Alternate Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges
Introductory Guide for Merit Badge Counselors
Intro for Merit Badge Counselors
The merit badge counselor is a key player in the Boy Scout advancement program. Whatever
your area of expertise or interest—whether it is a special craft or hobby (basketry, leatherwork, coin collecting),
a profession (veterinary medicine, aviation, engineering), or perhaps a life skill (cooking, personal management, communications)—as
a merit badge counselor, you can play a vital role in stirring a young man's curiosity about that particular topic. By serving
as a merit badge counselor, you offer your time, knowledge, and other resources so that Scouts can explore a topic of interest.
If you are not yet a merit badge counselor, it is easy to become a volunteer. You will need
to register with the Boy Scouts of America, through your BSA local council. This entails contacting the local council, then
obtaining, completing, and turning in the "Adult Application." The council will then process the application. (Every applicant
Upon approval to serve as a volunteer, individuals are expected to complete BSA Youth Protection
training within 90 days of assuming a leadership position. This training can be done through the BSA's Online Learning Center
at olc.scouting.org. The Boy Scouts of America seeks to create a safe environment for young people and adult leaders
to enjoy the program and related activities. BSA Youth Protection training helpspreserve that environment.
Understanding the Scouting Program
The Scouting program emphasizes helping young men develop character, citizenship, and mental
and physical fitness. Among the handful of methods used to build on these aims of Scouting are adult association, leadership
development, and advancement.
Besides parents and relatives, schoolteachers, religious leaders, and possibly coaches, most
Scout-age youth don't have much contact with many other adults or professionals. A Scout's association with his merit badge
counselors provides an excellent way for him to grow and gain confidence through exposure to quality adults who serve as positive
role models and mentors to him. Meeting people from business and community leaders to trained specialists and enthusiastic
hobbyists, a Scout can experience a chance for personal growth and a positive life-altering experience while in pursuit of
a merit badge.
A Merit Badge Counselor Is...
As a merit badge counselor, your mission is to join fun with learning. You are both a teacher
and mentor to the Scout as he works on a merit badge and learns by doing. By presenting opportunities for growth via engaging
activities like designing a Web page (Computers), performing an ollie and a wheelie (Snowboarding), or fabricating rope (Pioneering),
you can pique a young man's interest in the merit badge subject. Just think: Your hands-on involvement could inspire a Scout
to develop a lifelong hobby, pursue a particular career, or become an independent, self-supporting adult.
A Scout first expresses an interest in a particular merit badge by letting his unit leader
know. To get him started, the leader may give him a signed Application for Merit Badge (blue card) along with the name and
telephone number of a district/council approved merit badge counselor. The Scout then contacts the merit badge counselor and
makes an appointment. The merit badge counselor sets a date and time to meet with the Scout and his buddy, and may suggest
the Scout bring the merit badge pamphlet along with the blue card.
Most local councils (including summer camps) use the Application for Merit Badge, or blue card,
although it is not required. This tool just makes the recordkeeping easier for the Scout, the merit badge counselor, and the
unit leader. At summer camp, a Scout may receive partial credit for completion of a merit badge on the blue card, which goes
to the Scoutmaster at week's end. Back home, the Scout would need to contact a merit badge counselor for assistance with completing
the rest of the requirements.
At the first meeting, the Scout and his merit badge counselor review and start working on the
requirements. In some cases, the Scout may share with the merit badge counselor the work he has started or accomplished. As
the merit badge counselor, you and the Scout work out a tentative schedule for completing the requirements. You should consider
both short-term and long-term goals, keeping other obligations (school, Scouting, sports, and so on) in mind, and set dates,
times, and a location for future meetings. The number of meetings will depend on the difficulty of the requirements and the
preparation and ability of the Scout.
Your duty is to be satisfied that each Scout who comes to you meets all the requirements for
the merit badge you are coaching. You do this by helping Scouts overcome the different hurdles of the requirements and making
them aware of the deeper aspects of the subject through their learning experience. You may tell about your own experiences
to help positively reinforce the subject matter. However, you may not tack on new requirements or extra work. While you may
guide and instruct a Scout on the subject matter, he must do the work himself.
As each requirement is completed, you will test the Scout individually, with his buddy present.
If you are using a blue card, update this card as the Scout completes each requirement. When the young man has completed all
the requirements, you sign off on the blue card and the Scout returns the completed card to his unit leader.
Here are some simple tips that every merit badge counselor should keep in mind.
- Make the Scout feel welcome and relaxed.
- Stimulate the Scout's interest by showing him something related to the merit badge subject,
but don't overwhelm him; remember, he is probably a beginner.
- Carefully review each requirement, start with easy skills or questions, and encourage practice.
- Insist that the Scout do exactly what the requirements specify. Many of the requirements involve
hands-on activities that call for a Scout to show or demonstrate; make; list; discuss; or collect, identify, and label—and
he must do just that.
- Don't make the requirement more difficult—or any easier—than stated. A Scout may
undertake more activities on his own initiative, but he cannot be pushed to do so.
- During testing, the Scout might need help in a particular area or with a certain skill, and
may need to be retested later to ensure the requirement has been fulfilled.
- Encourage self-evaluation and self-reflection, and establish an atmosphere that encourages
the Scout to ask for help.
- Take a genuine interest in the Scout's projects, and encourage completion.
Merit Badge Counselor Application.