Introduction 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 or other 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. You should also discuss work that you have already started or possibly completed.
Unless otherwise specified, work for a requirement can be started at any time. 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."
The requirements listed in this publication are the official requirements of the Boy Scouts of America. However, the requirements on the following pages might not match those in the Boy Scout Handbook and the merit badge pamphlets, because this publication is updated only on an annual basis.
If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge when a new edition of the pamphlet is introduced, he should continue to use the same merit badge pamphlet and fulfill the requirements therein to earn the badge. He need not start all over again with the new pamphlet and possibly revised requirements.
Experience the History of Scouting!
Here are four merit badge pamphlets that a Scout many years ago would have used to earn merit badges. Two versions of pamphlets have been used here to show that the earlier version had little color and used illustrations while later, color and photographs were added. It is also interesting to note while reading these older merit badge pamphlets how language has changed and how some elements of Scouting have adapted to keep Scouting relevant with the times.
These also list the original requirements as written in 1910–1911. Think about how times have changed as you complete the requirements a Scout your age would have done a hundred years ago.
As the Boy Scouts of America celebrates 100 years of Scouting in the United States, today’s youths will have the opportunity to experience a piece of the past.
The four vintage merit badges that will count toward rank advancement are being released for the centennial year only, giving Boy Scouts a hands-on opportunity to experience the exciting past of the BSA.
Earning these historical merit badges should be more than just earning another merit badge. By reading these merit badge pamphlets and completing the requirements as close to how a Scout of 1910 would have done them will be your true growth experience.
Below is a list, in alphabetical order, of all of the current merit badge subjects. Click each subject to see the requirements for that merit badge.