Merit Badges

Merit badges signify the mastery of certain Scoutcraft skills, as well as helping boys increase their skill in an area of personal interest. Of the more than 100 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout. Of this group, 12 badges are required, including First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and Family Life. In addition, a Scout has a choice between Emergency Preparedness and Lifesaving and a choice among Cycling, Hiking, and Swimming. A merit badge is an award that is presented to a Scout when he completes the requirements for one of the merit badge subjects. The badge is only a small piece of khaki cloth with a design embroidered in color, but its significance is as large as the interest of the merit badge counselor who helps a Scout earn it.

Millions of Scouts "browse" among the more than 100 subjects, choosing those that seem most interesting to them. Some subjects are in craftwork, some in vocational fields, some in service to others, and many in cultural or self-improvement areas. In addition, certain merit badges are required for the Eagle Scout rank.

It is in the career fields that adults can make a vital impact on the life of a Scout by helping him with merit badges. Badges such as Entrepreneurship, Graphic Arts, Engineering, Chemistry, and many others provide the finest kind of orientation toward a possible career for the Scout.

Service clubs, unions, and professional societies often support the merit badge program through their vocational guidance committees. Members offer their services as counselors, and the group as a whole may help recruit and train counselors for districts or councils.

Merit badge counselors provide the means for Scouts to explore many subjects that may not be available to them otherwise. The Scout who has earned a number of merit badges gains confidence, finds greater purpose in life, and becomes a better person from his experience. This cannot happen without the service of thousands of merit badge counselors expert in particular subjects and interested in helping Scouts grow into men of character who are ready to take their place in the world of work as participating citizens.

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."

Note: There is no deadline for earning merit badges, except the Scout's 18th Birthday. Once a Scout has started working on a merit badge (i.e. obtained a signed "blue card" application for merit badge from his Scoutmaster, had an initial discussion with a merit badge counselor, and started working on the requirements), he may continue using those requirements until he completes the badge or turns 18. There is no one year limit on the so-called "partials".

In contrast to the rule for rank advancements, which imposes a specific deadline for using the old requirements, The rules for merit badges are as follows:

If the requirements change while a Scout is working on the badge, he may continue to use the old requirements until he completes the work, or he may use the new requirements if he wishes. It is his choice, and his alone.

If a merit badge is discontinued, Scouts working on the badge when it is removed from the Boy Scout Requirements booklet may continue to work toward completing the badge, and get credit for earning the badge, until they turn 18. However, it may not be possible to obtain an actual merit badge patch, once the local council's supply is exhausted.

If a discontinued merit badge is replaced with one or more other merit badges covering the same or similar topics (such as Rifle and Shotgun Shooting MB which was replaced by Rifle Shooting MB and Shotgun Shooting MB), a Scout that has earned the discontinued badge may also earn the new badge or badges. If the badge is simply renamed (such as Firemanship MB which was changed to Fire Safety MB), Scouts may not earn the badge again. If the badge number in BSA's numbering system is the same before and after the change, it is a renaming. If a new number is assigned, it is a replacement.