Radio Merit Badge Activity Planner

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From its birth early in the 20th century, broadcast radio astonished and delighted the public by providing news and entertainment with an immediacy never before thought possible. From about 1920 to 1945, radio developed into the first electronic mass medium, monopolizing “the airwaves” and defining, along with newspapers, magazines, and motion pictures, an entire generation of mass culture. Come learn how to have fun with technology of Radio.

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

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

Exploring Radio 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 GREAT Require presenter shares radio in virtual meeting
Family Activity POOR Requires access to Radio Transmitter
Service Activity FAIR Useage in Emergency Preparedness Drills
S.T.E.M. Activity GREAT Learn how to use Modern Digital Technology
Field Trip FAIR Find a remote broadcast location
Duty-to-God POOR N/A
MB Day GREAT But only if you broadcast equipment. Many special Radio MB Day groups abound.
Overnighter GREAT Find a remote broadcast location
Summer Camp GREAT Pre-requisite: Scout Camp has their own broadcast transmitter

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.

Radio is a classic example of a patrol sized activity. When you have too few scouts it is hard to finish the projects, and if you have too many scouts then there is not enough space or equipment and many end up just standing around. But for the typical patrol (4-10 scouts) you should find that there is plenty for everyone to become fully immersed in the activity and have fun.

News Flash

  • JOTA Video Tour
  • ORANGE PARK –The North Florida Council of the Boy Scouts is creating an amateur radio station, KB4SA. KB4SA encourages, equips and prepares young people to be vibrant citizens and dynamic community leaders through the use of amateur radio and the practice of emergency communication guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

C. Homework / Prerequisites

Radio Scout.png

Assign one or more requirements that the scout can do at home, perhaps as a family activity. Radio Technology has very few pre-requisites - mostly just for the boys to study how Radio works.

D. Study Hall Patrol Night

Boys Life Amateur Radio Station.jpg

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.

Discuss with your MBC the following :

  • Req #1: Explain What Radio Is
  • Req #2: Explain How Radio Works
  • Req #3: Diagram of Radio
  • Req #4: How Does Radio Carry Information
  • Reg #5: Block Diagrams of a Radio

Discussion Resources:

Pre-Open Gathering Activity

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

E. Field Trip


A related field trip with the MBC will be a great time to do the second half of this merit badge activity:

Ham Radio Station

There are Ham Radio Operators in every community that would love to demonstrate their equipment and skill. Ask your MBC for help to find one near you.

Ham Radio Campout

A few years ago, one of the "Roadkill Patrol" scout leaders brought his Ham Radio on a campout where there was electrical supply. He then hung his radio antenna high up in the trees where he got pretty good reception. His radio operation there was a success.

Scout Camp Radio Station

This merit badge works well for those scout summer camps that operate their own weak frequency radio stations.

Broadcast Station Tour

Some commercial radio stations have a visitors gallery for guests.

Virtual Field Trip

Many MBC for this subject have an amateur radio station at home with which they can do a virtual tour with your patrol. Even better if their radio has a computer interface / share screen feature.

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.

Jamboree on the Air


JOTA gives you the chance to experience the joys of amateur radio by conversing with other Scouts in your community, across the country, and, just maybe, around the world. Scouts of any age can participate, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Venturers. Contact your local Scout council and see what may already be planned in your area.

Jamboree on the Air, known by its acronym JOTA, is an international Scouting and Guiding activity held annually; it is on the third full weekend in October. First held in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of Scouting in 1957, it was devised by Leslie R. Mitchell, a radio amateur with the callsign G3BHK. It is now considered the largest event scheduled by the World Organization of the Scout Movement annually.

Amateur radio operators from all over the world participate with over 500,000 Scouts and Guides[4] to teach them about radio and to assist them to contact their fellow Scouts and Guides by means of amateur radio and since 2004, by the VOIP-based Echolink.[3] This provides the Scouts and Guides with a means of learning about fellow Scouts and Guides from around the world. Scouts and Guides are also encouraged to send paper or electronic confirmations known as "QSL cards", or "eQSLs[5]" when they are sent electronically. In recent years, a parallel Jamboree on the Internet (JOTI) has developed. It is an adjunct to the World Scout Jamboree.

The event is recognized as one of international participation by the various Scout and Guide organisations, and supports several awards which are a part of Scouting and Guiding programmes. The Boy Scouts of America recognizes this as an international Scouting event for Citizenship in the World Merit Badge.

Related Merit Badges

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

1920s Boy Scout Radio Set

  • OneTubeRadio - A hundred years ago this month, the February 1920 issue of Boys’ Life asked the boys of America if they had a wireless station, and offered these two receivers. Both tuned 200 – 2500 meters (120 – 1500 kHz). Each included the loose coupler, radiometer, headphones, and hardware for the antenna and ground.