Merit Badges are the fun part of scouting. While the lower ranks of scouting are somewhat characterized by having a check-off list of things that must be accomplished, the more advanced ranks (Life, Star, and Eagle) are achieved through earning merit badges, service projects, and leadership. A scout that is working on any rank can earn merit badges.
Merit badges fall into two general categories, Eagle Required and non-Eagle Required. Troop 8787 goes to great lengths to make available the opportunity for all scouts to earn the Eagle Required merit badges. This is done at monthly campouts, summer camp, special classes, etc. The non-Eagle Required merit badges may be earned at any time the scout desires. The Troop will also make available many of these during the year. Scouts that are aiming toward earning their Eagle rank should pay particular attention to earning the Eagle Required merit badges.
The parents and friends of the troop should make themselves available to counsel the Scouts on particular merit badges. This may be done by registering your commitment with the Merit Badge Chairperson of the Troop Committee. The Merit Badge Chairperson will provide the instructions on how to go about counseling a merit badge, particularly the procedures required to make sure that the Scout is approved to work on the badge and that this progress is tracked.
The Scout wishing to work on a merit badge should approach the Scoutmaster to get a “blue card” and determine the merit badge counselor with whom the Scout will work. The objective is for the Scout to work with a counselor other than the Scout’s parents, so as to foster the Scout’s communicative skills.
The Merit Badge Counselor must have the merit badge pamphlet. The pamphlet can be checked out from the Troop library. If lost or destroyed, the Scout and/or Counselor will be expected to reimburse the Troop or replace the pamphlet.
The steps for earning a Merit Badge are as follows:
- The Scout decides on which badge he wants to work on. This decision is usually based on the scout’s interests.
- Obtain a copy of the merit badge book. Read the requirements and information about that badge. Note that a list of merit badge requirements may also be found in the Boy Scout Requirements book.
- Secure permission from the Scoutmaster to work on the badge. Permission is in writing on the blue, 3 part, merit badge record form. The Scoutmaster will identify the proper counselor to be consulted on this form.
- The Scout will contact the Merit Badge Counselor and arrange a mutually convenient meeting to discuss the badge. The Scout and counselor will discuss the requirements for the badge to ensure that the Scout understands what the counselor requires.
- The Scout completes the requirements for the badge and arranges another meeting. Once the counselor is satisfied that the Scout has completed the requirements for the badge, he will sign the blue merit badge record, retaining his part of the card.
- The Scout then returns the card to the Advancement Chairperson of the Troop Committee who retains the Troop’s part of the card and returns the Scout’s portion to the Scout. The Scout retains his portion of the card for his records.
- It is the Scout’s responsibility to make and keep the proper appointments to earn the badge.
- Occasionally boys will work on merit badge requirements during Troop meetings and some campouts are oriented toward earning particular merit badges.
The combination of merit badges, leadership activities, and service projects qualify a Scout for various ranks. This begins with Tenderfoot, and proceeds through Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and finally to Eagle. A Scout may not earn any merit badges or rank advancement after he becomes 18 years of age.
In order to allow time for Scoutmaster Conferences, Boards of Review, and purchasing of the awards, there is a minimum of two to three weeks lead time for obtaining an award once all merit badges and service projects are complete. The procedure is to complete the merit badge and service projects, then schedule a Scoutmaster conference. After the Scoutmaster conference, please allow one week to have a meeting with the Board of Review. If the Board approves the advancement, the Scout will be awarded his rank badge at the next Court of Honor.
Other Merit Badge Notes:
Advancement through First Class requires that a scout learn and demonstrate specific skills. No merit badges are required. After First Class, merit badges play an important role. Various numbers of required and non-required badges are needed for Star, Life and Eagle. For Eagle, 12 are specific required badges.
We know that a scout can earn many of the 21 badges for Eagle just by being a part of the Troop 8787 program and finishing the work. Each scout taking advantage of the merit badge workshops and summer camps will find that it goes quickly. The following is a list of the required merit badges and some hints on how they may be earned. The requirements for each badge are listed in the BSA Scout Handbook.
The following is a brief summary of the “Eagle Required” merit badges and suggestions as to how to best earn them.
- Camping is best started at the first summer camp. Due to the amount of troop camping experiences required, this badge requires a long time to complete. It is usually one of the last badges a scout earns prior to becoming an Eagle Scout. Camping is not a good badge to attempt to complete for Star Rank since a scout will generally not have required camping experience
- Citizenship in Community, Nation and World (a total of 3) by workshop every 12 to 18 months.
- Communications by workshop or through merit badge counselor.
- Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving the scouts second trip to summer camp is the ideal time to earn these, after the Swimming badge is earned.
- Environmental Science summer camp is good; the council also typically offers a workshop in the fall.
- Family Life is required as of 9/01/94. the troop will offer a workshop every 12 months.
- First Aid summer camp is the ideal time to earn this.
- Personal Management this badge takes at least 90 days to complete. This badge is usually done in very small groups with the troop counselor.
- Safety by workshop every 12 to 18 months.
- Swimming or Sports or Personal Fitness – swimming is best done with the troop prior to summer camp or at the scout’s first summer camp. Sports may be done in conjunction with school or community athletic programs. Personal Fitness is sometimes offered at camp.