Posts Tagged ‘merit badge’

Merit BadgesDuring the last seven months we have seen three new merit badges introduced to the Boy Scout merit badge program (Scuba Diving, Geocaching, and Scouting Heritage). We have also seen the return of four merit badges for this year only (Signaling, Tracking, Pathfinding, and Carpentry). But did you know that the BSA is not done yet? Two more merit badges should be introduced this year, the Inventing and the Robotics merit badges. Yes, that is right, two merit badges for the tech savvy Boy Scout.

According to the Lake Huron Area Council’s Website:

These badges are being introduced because they received positive feedback in a youth interest survey.  If five new merit badges seems like a lot, it is. By comparison, the BSA introduced just six new merit badges between 1992 (Collections) and 2006 (Composite Materials).  But the new badges aren’t the only innovation. In the past it took three years to create a merit badge. Now, that time has been cut to just less than a year, helping to keep the badge topics and content fresher than ever.

Sounds the like BSA has stepped up their game a bit, don’t you agree? What do you think about all these new merit badges in such a short time period?

I almost wish I young enough to be a Boy Scout again. The merit badge I have been waiting for has finally arrived. Scouting Heritage is has been approved and is ready for Boy Scouts to begin earning. Since I am too old to earn it myself, I will be signing on as a merit badge counselor.

The merit badge requirements have been posted at It is not going to be an easy merit badge for a boy to earn. A Scout is going to have to interview at least three different people. He needs to create a Scouting memorabilia collection. Some research will also need to be done on Scouting’s history.

When I first read the requirements I thought that requirement #4 would be one that would limit many boys from earning the badge. It states:

  1. Do ONE of the following:
    1. Attend either a BSA national jamboree, OR world Scout jamboree, OR a national BSA high-adventure base. While there, keep a journal documenting your day-to-day experiences. Upon your return, report to your counselor what you did, saw, and learned. You may include photos, brochures, and other documents in your report.
    2. Write or visit the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.* Obtain information about this facility. Give a short report on what you think the role of this museum is in the Scouting program.

I missed in 4b where it states “WRITE or visit” the national museum. Good thing I read it a second time.

What do you think about this merit badge? Are you as excited about it as I am? Leave a comment.

Are you a Boy Scout? Would you like to do something different this year, the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America? How about earning a merit badge from the early days of Scouting that have been off the books for years? The BSA is bringing back four merit badges that you earn this year only. The badges include Signaling, Tracking, Pathfinding, and Carpentry.

These badges must be completed before December 31, 2010, or you lose out on your chance to earn something from Scouting’s history.

For more information checking out the blog of Scouting Magazine, the Cracker Barrel, at

Have you heard about the Scouting Heritage Merit Badge yet? No? Well, that is probably because there is no such merit badge… yet. On the BSA Innovation Engine (found at ) there are a lot of ideas thrown around for new merit badges. This one happened to catch the eye of Cubmaster Chris and I as we recorded a new episode of the Leader’s Campfire podcast last night. During this episode we discuss some of the ideas found on the BSA Innovation Engine, along with Jerry from The Scoutmaster Minute podcast.

The idea for a Scouting Heritage Merit Badge was posted by alobdell. He, or she, gave this merit badge some serious thought before submitting it to the engine. Here is what he/she wrote:

Include Scouting Heritage as a Merit Badge. Many of our Scouts do not know about the movement of Scouting. Requirements could include some of the following.
1. Write an essay about one of the Founders of Scouting. Make a presentation about the origin of Scouting to a non-Scout group such as a Church or civic organization.

2. Learn about Careers in Scouting.

3. Exchange letters with a Scout in another Scout Council.

4. Learn about the World Scouting Organization

5. Conduct an interview with a Veteran Scouter

6. Meet a Scouting Professional

7. Visit your Scout Council Headquarters

8. Learn about the BSA’s Adventure Bases
9. Attend a District Rountable or District Meeting
10. Make a display of Scouting information and material for your community to be open to the public for at least one week.

Chris and I agreed that this would be an excellent merit badge idea and a great idea for some sort of Cub Scout level award. To tell the truth, I thought this was one of the best ideas for a new merit badge listed on the idea engine. Chris thought this was a good idea with the 100th anniversary of Scouting coming up in 2010. Jerry had to leave us for a family function before we discussed this during the podcast, but knowing Jerry, he would give his thumbs up to this merit badge also.

Unfortunately, the BSA Innovation Engine is only open to professional Scouters to vote on the various ideas, so Chris, Jerry, and I could not leave a vote for this merit badge. However, Chris has installed a simular engine on the PTC Media site that is open for all of us non-professional Scouters to use.

Shortly after I began my tenure as a scoutmaster at the age of 21 in 1981 I was told during a training event that an adult could serve as a merit badge counselor for up to six merit badges, but a Boy Scout could only earn two merit badges with a counselor. This was to prevent the problem of one counselor, such as a scoutmaster or parent, signing off a lot of merit badges for any one Boy Scout or their own son. After all, the merit badge program is designed for the boys to get out and work with a variety of people. It made sense to me so I never questioned it.

Until this month when the subject of merit badges came up during the roundtable meeting. Since we were talking about merit badges I asked if that rule was still in effect. By the puzzled looks on everyone’s face, including the roundtable staff, I knew I was the only one who had ever heard of this rule. That was not surprising since I think I was the only one in the room who was a Scout leader back in the 1980’s.

No one in the room could answer my answer. When the district executive came in at the end of the meeting for the announcements we asked him the same question, and got that puzzled look again. He had not heard of that rule, but he would look into it and get back to us with an answer.

I received his answer on Monday by email. According to the National office there is no limit to the number of merit badges for which a person may be a counselor. However, the counselor must be approved by the council after filling out the proper paperwork. There is no limit to the number of merit badges a Boy Scout may earn with any one counselor, but he must follow BSA guidelines when meeting with the counselor.

Well, this will change the ballgame slightly in our troop. For nearly twenty-five years I have limited the boys to earning no more then two merit badges with any one counselor, except for summer camp. Even though I am a counselor for five merit badges, I only worked on two with any Scout. Now I can help the boys earn all five badges. Plus, I think I will add two more to my list that are subjects I am quite comfortable with.

You know, sometimes I think I may need to take scoutmaster basic training all over again.

Here is a great story from MSNBC that you should read. It features Boy Scout, James Calderwood, who has attained all 122 merit badges. When only two to four percent of all Scouts ever reach the rank of Eagle Scout, finding a Boy Scout who attains all the merit badges is a rare thing indeed. You can read the article at:
(The picture is from the MSNBC article.)

Update – The article has been removed from the website.

The Boy Scout advancement program was quite different in the 1970’s from what it is today. Earning skill awards was a standard requirement for the first three ranks. The skill awards were a metal belt loop, similar to some of today’s Cub Scouting awards. There was twelve skill awards designed to introduce Scouts to skill areas such as camping, citizenship, first aid, and other basic Scouting skill areas.

Another change in the rank requirements was that A Scout needed to earn at least one merit badge for every rank. Yes, you read that correctly. A Scout needed to earn a merit badge for the rank of Tenderfoot, in addition to two skill awards.

Things sure have changed since then. Merit badges are no longer needed for the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. Skill awards were discontinued in the late 1980’s. The BSA seems to change portions of the advancement program every few years to keep it relevant to today’s world, while still trying to maintain the traditional Scouting values and ideals.

I have nothing to brag about when I talk about my advancement while a Boy Scout. I was a Scout for three and a half years, but I only reached the rank of Second Class. The rank of Eagle Scout was not even in my sights. I did earn several skill awards and three merit badges, including Pioneering and Reading.

The worst thing about the advancement program when I was a Scout is that I do not remember receiving the awards. I earned them, I still have them, but I do not remember a single court of honor during my years as a Scout. I honestly could not tell you if we even held a court of honor back then. I certainly do not have any pictures from such a ceremony.

Today, I am the scoutmaster of the troop in my hometown. We now hold courts of honor four times a year, whether we have 20 merit badges and ten ranks to present, or if we only have one merit badge to hand out. We try to add some humor to the ceremony and make it fun for the Scouts and the parents while still maintaining the dignity and solemnity of the actual presentations.

As a Scoutmaster, I want the Scouts to look back and to remember their award presentations as a positive moment of their Scouting years. I hope they will not think back and have no memory of such an important Scouting event as, unfortunately, I do.