Merit Badge Guide

About Merit Badges:

  • Earning merit badges gives a Scout the kind of self-confidence that comes from overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal. Merit Badge Sash Through the merit badge program, a Scout also learns career skills, devmeritbadgesashelop socially, and may develop physical skills and hobbies that give a lifetime of healthful recreation.
  • The steps to follow in the merit badge program are outlined in the current Boy Scout Requirements. This book lists the requirements a Scout meets to earn each of the more than 100 merit badges that are available and is updated every January. Scouts must be tested individually, and they must meet all the requirements.
  • No additional requirements may be added.
  • A merit badge cannot be taken away once it has been earned, provided the counselor is a registered counselor for the merit badge.
  • Each year the requirements for roughly 20% of the merit badges change. A Scout should begin work using the current requirements for that badge found in the current year Boy Scout Requirements. If he does not complete those requirements prior to any changes, he may continue his work using the "old" requirements. Certain exceptions may apply as directed by the National Advancement Committee.
  • Merit badge counselors MUST be aware of any changes that occur with the requirements of the merit badge that they counsel.
  • During the year several opportunities are available within the NEGA Council for group instruction. These events include summer camp, Advance-A-Rama, and other situations. While group instruction is permissible, it must be discouraged as the sole method of earning merit badges. To the fullest extent possible, the merit badge counseling relationship is a counselor-Scout arrangement in which the boy is not only judged on his performance of the requirements, but receives maximum benefit from the knowledge, skill, character, and personal interest of his counselor. Group instruction is encouraged where special facilities and expert personnel make this the most practical or when Scouts are dependant on only a few counselors for assistance. However, this group experience should be followed by attention to each individual candidate's projects and his ability to fulfill all requirements.
  • Steps for earning merit badges:
  1. Scout selects a merit badge of interest
  2. Scout finds a buddy to be present when meeting with a counselor.
  3. Scout obtains a signed merit badge application (Blue Card) from his Scoutmaster
  4. Scout and Scoutmaster select an approved merit badge counselor to work with the Scout
  5. Scout makes an appointment to work with the counselor
  6. Scout keeps his appointments
  7. Scout attends all meetings with his buddy
  8. Counselor approves all requirements as completed, approving the application when all requirements have been done
  9. Counselor tears off his portion of the card and retains for his records
  10. Scoutmaster approves the application and returns the Scout's portion
  11. Scoutmaster submits the application to the unit advancement coordinator who completes an advancement report
  12. Unit advancement coordinator submits advancement report to the council service center and purchases merit badge and certificate
  13. Scoutmaster presents merit badge at next regular unit meeting
  14. Scout is presented his certificate at the next unit Court of Honor
  • The counselor should NEVER meet with a Scout unless his buddy is present.

Common Myths About Merit Badges:

  • A Scout must complete a merit badge within one year. False. A Scout can continue to work on ant merit badge until he reaches age 18.
  • At least two Scouts must work together on a merit badge. This is called the "Buddy System". False. A Scout must present himself to a counselor with a buddy being present; however, his buddy can be a friend or relative, male or female, adult or youth.
  • A Scout can only work on "X" number of merit badges at one time. False. He can work on as many as he desires beginning the day he joins the troop.
  • A parent cannot be their son's merit badge counselor. False. While one of the purposes of earning a merit badge is to expose the Scout to association with other adults, it is possible for a parent to counsel their son (as long as he/she is a registered counselor for that badge).
  • Similar tasks performed for one merit badge or rank advancement cannot be used for another. False. As long as the Scout has completed the task as stated in the requirements, he has completed the task, unless specific requirements prohibit state otherwise.
  • A Scout must have approval from his Scoutmaster prior to meeting with a merit badge counselor. True. The Scoutmaster should provide a list of valid counselors that have committed to working with the Scouts of his troop. The Scoutmaster must approve the application prior to this meeting.
  • Merit badge counselors have a lot of leeway as to deciding if a requirement has truly been completed. True. No tasks should be added to or deleted from the national requirements, however, the counselor must show discretion when accepting or rejecting a Scout's task completion.
  • Merit badge counselors are subject to the decisions of the troop committee or Scoutmaster when in doubt concerning a requirement. False. If a merit badge counselor has a question concerning his understandings of a merit badge requirement, he should contact the council advancement chairman. No unit has the authority to change or modify any requirement for any reason.
  • If the unit advancement coordinator suspects that the counselor did not follow the guidelines and approved an application, the merit badge can be withheld. False. If a registered merit badge counselor approves a merit badge, it must be awarded. There is no unit review process for merit badges. If a counselor is suspected of not following the guidelines, the council advancement chairman should be notified immediately. Merit badge counselors serve at the council level, even if they only work with Scouts from a single unit.

Additional information