Backpacking Merit Badge Activity Planner

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This Merit Badge activity will guide you through five fun-filled outdoor backpacking adventures. Best to start this activity several months ahead of major backpacking trek. Look also at related outdoor activities - historic trails, 50-miler, camping, cooking, etc.


'Patrol Leader Merit Badge Planning Guide for the Backpacking Merit Badge

*** Activities for the Youth Lead Patrol ***

Exploring Backpacking can be a fascinating youth adventure when done right. Here are a few tips to help the patrol leader get started.

  • Scouts may never add or subtract from the actual merit badge requirements
  • This Planner is only a suggestion of different ideas to make working this Merit Badge both fun and easy.
  • While doing the Worksheet is not a requirement for earning this badge, in many cases it can help you learn key concepts and track your progress.

A. Make Your Plan

Sample Patrol Activity Flyer
  1. Merit Badge Activity Planning Tips - 14 tips for a successful patrol activity. Read carefully before you start your plan!
  2. Share Your Plan - Meet ahead of time with your patrol, scout leaders, parents and especially with the Merit Badge Counselor. Make changes to the plan as needed.
  3. Prepare Activity Flyer - Keep your fellow scouts informed - events, activities, pre-requisites and more.
Patrol Activity GREAT Awesome MB to work as a patrol / Max Size 12 scouts
Virtual Field Trip POOR Requires physical presence in forests
Family Activity POOR Unless doing family vacation at Philmont
Service Activity FAIR Forest/Trail Conservation Project
S.T.E.M. Activity GREAT Outdoor STEM Activity
Field Trip GREAT Five cool field trip activities
Duty-to-God POOR N/A
MB Day POOR Five outdoor field trips req'd
Overnighter GREAT Outdoor STEM Activity
Summer Camp GREAT Summer hi-adventure trek

Online Resources

B. Introduction Meeting


Most merit badge activities do best to have a "introduction" meeting where the patrol can discuss how to get started and to plan out their field trips. Send out the activity flyer in advance to use as an meeting agenda. Your scouts will then know what to expect.

Backpacking merit badge is a great merit badge to work as a patrol in the outdoors. It includes four major outdoor activities that be done as part of summer camp, hi-adventure, or a major weekend expedition.

News Flash

C. Homework / Prerequisites

Assign one or more requirements that the scout can do at home, perhaps as a family activity.

D. Study Hall Patrol Night

While some scouts may be adept at self-study, others may do better in a small group setting and taking notes on worksheets. Make an agenda. You can facilitate discussion by asking them why each of the principles introduced here would be relevant. Schedule one or more patrol meetings to work this merit badge.

Pre-Open Gathering Activity

A gathering activity before the official meeting start is a great way to set a fun theme for the meeting.

MBC Discussion Group

  • Req #1: Discussion - Safety and First Aid
  • Req #2: Discussion - What to pack -
  • Req #3: Discussion - Organizing a Trek Crew
  • Req #4: Discussion - Leave No Trace and Outdoor Code
  • Req #7: Discussion - Inclement Weather Prep

Discussion Resources:

Backpacking Preparation Exercises

  • Req #6: Demonstration - Water Treatment
  • Req #7: Demonstration - Maps, GPS & Orienteering

E. Backpacking Treks

Five Backpacking Adventure Hikes are required for this merit badge:

Shakedown Hike

Req #9 - Do the following:
a. Write a plan that includes a schedule for a patrol/crew backpacking hike of at least 2 miles.
b. Conduct a prehike inspection of the patrol and its equipment.
c. Show that you know how to properly pack your personal gear and your share of the crew's gear and food.
d. Show you can properly shoulder your pack and adjust it for proper wear.
e. While using the plan you developed for requirement 9a, carry your fully loaded pack to complete a hike of at least 2 miles.

Three Full Backpack Treks

Req #10 - Using Leave No Trace principles, participate in at least three backpacking treks of at least three days each and at least 15 miles each, and using at least two different campsites on each trek. Carry everything you will need throughout the trek.

Master Backpacking Trek

Req #11 - Do the following:
a. Write a plan for a backpacking trek of at least five days using at least three different campsites and covering at least 30 miles. Your plan must include a description of and route to the trek area, a schedule (including a daily schedule), a list of food and equipment needs, a safety and emergency plan, and a budget.
b. Using Leave No Trace principles, take the trek your have planned and, while on the trek, complete at least one service project approved by your merit badge counselor.
c. Keep a daily journal during the trek that includes a day-by-day description of your activities, including notes about what worked well and thoughts about improvements that could be made for the next trek.

F. Extra Credit

While none of these are actual requirements for this merit badge - they are terrific opportunities to show Scout Spirit, Do a Good Turn Daily and to have FUN!

  1. Activity Reflection: Use this meeting for scouts to ask questions and to reflect on what they gained personally from this adventure. You can also have a discussion on what future opportunities are here.
  2. Court of Honor Exhibit: Pictures, handiwork and other memorabilia from this adventure will make for a great presentation at the next Scout Troop Court of Honor.

Historic Trails of America


The Historic Trails of America Award brings appreciation to the ideals, principles, and traditions that have made our country strong. Requirements emphasize cooperation between historic societies and Cub Scout, Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scout units, which should establish a close relationship with a local society as soon as possible when planning a historic activity—most communities have such societies. Their are many options to earning this Award.

BSA Hiking Guide

  • The Scouting Guide to Basic Hiking (2020-Paperback): An Officially-Licensed Book of the Boy Scouts of America: 200 Essential Skills for the Great Outdoors. Current Scouts, Scout alumni, and readers interested in the outdoors are provided with time-tested advice on hiking and backpacking in the wilderness.

Related Merit Badges

Sometimes it is easier by doing two or more merit badges together as a joint activity:

See Also

  • 9 Things to Know about Merit Badges - - There are more than 135 merit badges. By earning them, you can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers. Here’s how to get the most out of your merit badge experience.