There are lots of resources on Merit Badges once you know what you are doing, but it can seem a little daunting at first.
In fact the hardest part about the badges is keeping track of progress...
And for us parents, having to remind our Scouts to finish what they started.
Merit Badges are the Scouting World's way of exposing scouts to skills, sports and career paths.
Each Badge has a set of requirement to be fulfilled by the scout, under the supervision of a counselor. Once the requirements are fulfilled the scout turns in the paperwork and receives an embroidered token--Badge, to wear on the Uniform (see below.)
Most of the Scouting Rank advancements require a certain number of badges to be completed.
To earn Eagle Rank a scout must have completed a minimum of 21 badges. There is a special group called the Eagle-Required Badges - 13 of these are specifically required for Eagle Rank. The ranks below Eagle, require Eagle badges to be completed, so a scout is always making progress towards Eagle.
There is no minimum rank for a scout to be allowed to work on Merit Badges.
A scout may (and usually does) work on more than one badge at a time. (More than a handful is discouraged.)
The first badge may be worn on the sleeve of the "Class A" uniform, after that, Merit Badges are sewn onto a sash which may be worn during ceremonies.
There are handbooks for every current Merit Badge available.
The Troop has a library of these books to borrow, and they may be purchased at the scout store.
- Chief Seattle Council - website
- Mount Baker Council - website
Online information and worksheets are available, but the workbooks have most of the information you need to know, and lots of additional tips and resources.
- Scouting.org - Merit Badge info
- meritbadge.org - Worksheets
The Merit Badge process is really for the Scout. It can be hard to stand back instead of getting directly involved, but that's what we parents have to do.
- Work on each badge begins with the BLUE-CARD, these can be gotten from your Scoutmaster or the Advancements Chair. This card keeps track of your progress and once completed serves both as the paperwork to submit and the receipt.
- The scout must get permission from the Scoutmaster by getting the card signed,
--- assistant scoutmaster or advancement chair can sign if the scoutmaster is not available.
--- It is best to have the card filled out properly before asking for the signature.
- Then a Counselor must be found to help with, monitor, and eventually sign-off on the completion of the badge. The troop has an adult leader who keeps track of all the Merit Badge counselors.
- As the scout completes each requirement the counselor initials the blue-card.
- Once all requirements are completed the counselor signs the card, keeps on part to record the completion. The scout keeps one part as proof of that completion in case paperwork gets lost between Troop and Council. The third part is given to the Advancement Chair to submit to the council so the Badge can be Awarded (at the next Court of Honor.)
A notebook with clear sleeves, like those used for collecting baseball cards, or trading cards, comes in very handy for keeping track of paperwork before and after the badge is completed. These also serve well to track Rank advancement and keep segments and other patches until they get sewn onto the uniform.
- My recommendation is to train the scouts to always put anything they get handed (badges, cards, tokens) during a ceremony, into the right hand shirt-pocket of the uniform. Things are less likely to get lost or sent through the wash this way.