The BSA Merit Badge Process:
“In Scouting, a boy is encouraged to educate himself instead of being instructed.”
- Sir Robert Baden-Powell- the founder of scouting
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A scout may start a merit badge at ANY TIME. There is no need or reason to wait for summer camp or a merit badge college. The scout has until his 18 birthday to complete the badge.
- A scout decides that he would like to earn a specific merit badge
- The scout obtains approval to begin the merit badge from his Scoutmaster
- The Scoutmaster issues the merit badge card (blue card)
- The Scoutmaster identifies possible merit badge counselors
- The scout identifies another scout or adult that will be his partner to attend meetings with the counselor (youth protection guideline, no one on one contact between youth and adult)
- Scout contacts the counselor to begin badge work
- The counselor reviews the requirements with the scout and they decide on projects to complete and a completion schedule. The counselor provides expertise, advice, guidance as needed until the scout has completed the requirements
- The merit badge counselor certifies completion of requirements and signs the blue card
- The scout returns the signed card to the scoutmaster.
- The merit badge patch is presented at a court of honor or troop meeting
Such as merit badge colleges, summer camp, troop level merit badge
Blue cards may or may not be issued in some cases in effort to streamline paperwork and avoid duplicity of effort. Prerequisites should be completed beforehand whenever possible. The scout is responsible to complete the merit badge work. Partial completed merit badges from group work will pick up with step number 4, assignment of a merit badge counselor to help complete the merit badge.
General Information Regarding Merit Badges:
Troop level merit badge opportunities may present themselves on occasion; however, the Boy Scout program is not about a merit badge focus, and the program is not intended to be like school with formal sit down class room type instruction. On the contrary, it is important that scouting is NOT like school. Advancement is one of the methods of scouting. If a scout is motivated and wants to earn more and more, that is wonderful thing and the troop will support that. Remember, collecting the most merit badges will not get your son to Eagle quicker. There are 13 Required merit badges and 8 elective merit badges needed to earn the Eagle Award. It takes a little planning and some work! In total there are over 130 different merit badges that a scout can earn!
The Trail to Eagle:
21 merit badges are required to achieve the Eagle Award. 13 must come from the list of REQUIRED merit badges below. The remaining 8 are considered electives and can be any merit badge (like mammal study, Indian Lore, etc).
The 13 Eagle required merit badges are:
- Citizenship in the Community
Citizenship in the Nation
Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving
Environmental Science OR Sustainability
Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
You may ask why the scoutmaster must approve a merit badge before it can be started (It didn't work this way in Cub Scouts):
The reasons for this are many, but the 3 most important are:
1. To be sure that the merit badge that the scout wishes to start is in line with his level of maturity and scouting experience
2. The merit badge is in line with the scout’s long term advancement needs and trail to Eagle
3. Completion of the badge can be monitored, and partially completed merit badges can be tracked and followed.
The Scoutmaster and/or the advancement chairperson will monitor which merit badges have been completed and which are partially completed, and will remind the scout from time to time on partial completions. The troop will assist the scout in helping the scout to help himself to complete the merit badge; however, it is not the responsibility of the scoutmaster or the troop to make a scout complete the requirements of a merit badge.