Merit badge (Boy Scouts of America)
- For history regarding merit badge types, see History of merit badges (Boy Scouts of America).
Merit badges are awards earned by youth members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), a U.S.-based organization, based on activities within an area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements. The purpose of the merit badge program is to allow Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to further pursue them as a career or avocation. Originally, the program also introduced Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they hadn't met before, arranging a meeting and then demonstating their skills, similar to a job or college interview. Increasingly, though, merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps.
Each merit badge has a pamphlet published by the Boy Scouts of America associated with it; the pamphlet contains information on completing the requirements for the badge. There are designated merit badge counselors for each badge, and a Scout would meet with a counselor to demonstrate that he's completed the requirements. The counselor would then 'sign off' on each one.
Certain merit badges are required in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America. There are 10 of these, and two sets of either-or choices. (Cycling, Hiking, OR Swimming and Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving). In addition, to fulfill the Eagle Scout merit badge requirement, the Scout must also earn nine or more merit badges from the list of badges that are not specifically required for Eagle.
The award of a merit badge is represented by circular patch with an image representing the badge's topic. The patches for the Eagle-required merit badges are distinguishable by the silver ring on the outside edge. Merit badges are displayed on a sash which can be worn with the Boy Scout uniform on formal occasions.
The current merit badge system began in 1979; three merit badges have not been updated since that time – Athletics, Mammal Study and Pulp and Paper. The most recent new merit badges are Nuclear Science, created in 2005 as a redesigned Atomic Energy badge; Snow Sports, created in 1999 as a redesigned Skiing merit badge; and Fly Fishing, split off from the Fishing merit badge in 2002. The most recent completely new merit badges are Composite Materials, created in 2006;
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Archaeology and Climbing, both created in 1997; and Entrepreneurship, created in 1998. The Boy Scouts of America are, as of 2005, field-testing a Hunting merit badge.
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Besides the BSA, these Scouting organizations are known to issue or have issued merit badges: Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Austria has a program similar to merit badges for certain age groups.
List of current merit badges
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|Name||Created||Last updated||Notes||Further reading|
|25pxAmerican Business||1967c||2003||Business, economy of the United States|
|25pxAmerican Cultures||1979||2005||Culture of the United States|
|25pxAmerican Heritage||1975||2005||History of the United States|
|25pxAmerican Labor||1987||2006||Trade union|
|25pxAnimal Science||1975||2007||Animal Science|
|25pxAuto Mechanics||1992||2001||Auto mechanic|
|25pxBugling||1911||2004||Shares a pamphlet with Music||Bugle (instrument)|
|25pxCitizenship in the Community||1952||2005||Eagle-required||Citizenship|
|25pxCitizenship in the Nation||1951||2005||Eagle-required||Citizenship|
|25pxCitizenship in the World||1972||2006||Eagle-required||Global citizenship|
|25pxCoin Collecting||1938||2003||Coin collecting|
|25pxComposite Materials||2006||2006||Composite material|
|25pxCrime Prevention||1996||2006||Crime prevention|
|25px25pxCycling||1911||2005||Eagle-required (this or Hiking or Swimming)||Cycling|
|25pxEmergency Preparedness||1972||2005||Eagle-required (this or Lifesaving)||Emergency management|
|25pxEnvironmental Science||1972||2006||Eagle-required||Environmental science|
|25px25pxFamily Life||1991||2005||Eagle-required, takes at least 90 days||Family values|
|25pxFarm Mechanics||1928||1998||Agricultural machinery|
|25pxFire Safety||1995||2005||Fire safety|
|25pxFirst Aid||1911||2005||Eagle-required||First aid|
|25pxFish and Wildlife Management||1972||2005||Wildlife management|
|25pxFly Fishing||2002||2003||Fly Fishing|
|25pxGraphic Arts||1987||2006||Graphic Arts|
|25px25pxHiking||1921||2000||Eagle-required (this or Cycling or Swimming)||Hiking|
|25pxHome Repairs||1943||2003||Home repair|
|25pxIndian Lore||1931||1995||Native American mythology|
|25pxLandscape Architecture||1967||2003||Landscape Architecture|
|25pxLifesaving||1911||2001||Eagle-required (this or Emergency Preparedness)||Lifesaving|
|25pxMammal Study||1985||prior to 1979||Mammal|
|25pxModel Design and Building||1963||2004||Scale model|
|25pxMusic||1911||2004||Shares a pamphlet with Bugling||Music|
|25px25pxNuclear Science||2005||2005||Atomic nucleus|
|25pxPersonal Fitness||1952||2006||Eagle-required, takes at least 90 days||Physical fitness|
|25pxPersonal Management||1972||2004||Eagle-required, takes at least 90 days||Personal finance, time management|
|25pxPets||1958||2005||Takes at least 4 months||Pet|
|25pxPublic Health||1911||2005||Public health|
|25pxPublic Speaking||1932||2003||Public speaking|
|25pxPulp and Paper||1972||2006||Pulp and Paper Merit Badge|
|25pxReptile and Amphibian Study||1993||2005||Reptile, amphibian|
|25pxRifle Shooting||1988||2002||Was originally part of the combined Rifle and Shotgun Shooting merit badge.||Rifle, shooting|
|25pxShotgun Shooting||1988||2006||Requirements predate merit badge because it was formerly part of Rifle and Shotgun Shooting||Shotgun, shooting|
|25pxSkating||1973||2006||Ice skating, roller skating|
|25pxSnow Sports||1999||1999||Winter sport|
|25pxSoil and Water Conservation||1952||2005||Soil conservation, water conservation|
|25pxSpace Exploration||1965||2005||Space Exploration|
|25pxStamp Collecting||1932||2001||Stamp collecting|
|25pxSwimming||1911||2002||Eagle-required (this or Cycling or Hiking)||Swimming|
|25pxTraffic Safety||1975||2002||Road-traffic safety|
|25pxVeterinary Medicine||1995||2005||Veterinary medicine|
|25pxWater Skiing||1969||1999||Water skiing|
|25pxWilderness Survival||1974||2002||Wilderness, survival skills|
|25pxWood Carving||1923||2002||Wood carving|
Merit Badge Colleges
Merit Badge Colleges (or Merit Badge Universities), which are also called Merit badge weekends or Merit badge midways when held at a camporee or jamboree, are events held where several troops or merit badge counselors come together and focus on teaching merit badges. There is some controversy whether Eagle-required merit badges should be available. Some believe that Scouts wishing to earn the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout should be able to seek out counselors for those badges themselves and do the requirements solo. Others believe all merit badges should be available to all Scouts.
- Discontinued merit badges (Boy Scouts of America)
- Eagle Scout rank
- History of merit badges (Boy Scouts of America)
- Scout merit badge (Ireland)
- "Requirements for new Composite Materials merit badge". US Scouts.org. http://www.usscouts.org/advance/boyscout/advchanges06.html#Composite. Retrieved January 18.
- "Helping Scouts Advance". Merit Badge Research Center. http://www.meritbadge.com/home.htm. Retrieved September 26.
- "Merit Badge Requirements". US Scouts.org Advancement section. http://www.usscouts.org/advancementTOC.asp#merit. Retrieved February 09.
- "Current Merit Badge Pamphlet and Merit Badge Requirement Revision Dates". US Scouts.org. http://www.usscouts.org/mb/mbbooks.html. Retrieved September 26. (dates of revision)
- "Merit Badges, Past and Present". Scouters' Pages. http://home.earthlink.net/~scouters/mb.html. Retrieved September 26. (dates of creation)