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Introduction to Merit Badges

You can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as you earn merit badges. There are more than 125 merit badges. Any Boy Scout may earn any merit badge at any time. You don’t need to have had rank advancement to be eligible.

Here is a short, but important, tutorial on how to go about starting a merit badge.

Pick a Subject. Talk to your Scoutmaster about your interests. Read the requirements of the merit badges you think might interest you. Pick one to earn. Your Scoutmaster will give you the name of a person from a list of counselors. These counselors have special knowledge in their merit badge subjects and are interested in helping you.

Scout Buddy System. You must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor. This person can be another Scout, your parents or guardian, a brother or sister, a relative, or a friend.

Call the Counselor. Get a signed merit badge application from your Advancement Chair. Get in touch with the merit badge counselor and tell him or her that you want to earn the merit badge. The counselor may ask to meet you to explain what is expected of you and to start helping you meet the requirements. You should also discuss work that you have already started or possibly completed.

At the first meeting, you and your merit badge counselor will review and may start working on the requirements. In some cases, you may share with your counselor the work that you have already started or accomplished.

Unless otherwise specified, work for a requirement can be started at any time. Ask your counselor to help you learn the things you need to know or do. You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject. Troop 482 has an extensive collection and school or public libraries have them also.

Show Your Stuff. When you are ready, call the counselor again to make an appointment to meet the requirements. When you go, take along the things you have made to meet the requirements. If they are too big to move, take pictures or have an adult tell in writing what you have done. The counselor will ask you to do each requirement to make sure that you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required.

Get the Badge. When the counselor is satisfied that you have met each requirement, he or she will sign your application. Give the signed application to your Scoutmaster so that your merit badge emblem can be secured for you.

Requirements. You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated — no more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the requirements. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what you must do. Just telling about it isn’t enough. The same thing holds true for such words as “make,” “list,” “in the field,” and “collect,” “identify,” and “label.”

The requirements listed in this book are the official requirements of the Boy Scouts of America. However, the requirements on the following pages might not match those in the Boy Scout Handbook and the merit badge pamphlets, because this publication is updated only on an annual basis.

If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge when a new edition of the pamphlet is introduced, he may continue to use the same merit badge pamphlet and fulfill the requirements therein to earn the badge. He need not start all over again with the new pamphlet and possibly revised requirements.

— Boy Scout Requirements pp.22-23

blue_card-2012

How to fill out a Blue Card!

Click on the Merit Badge Blue Card above for a simple explanation about how to get this important document filled out properly. Every Merit Badge effort will go much more smoothly if the scout takes the time to complete this document and track his progress. Remember: The Blue Card is the responsibility of the scout – not the Counselor!

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Everything you always wanted to know about the Merit Badge sash.

A merit badge sash is like a trophy case you can wear.

Each tiny circle represents one of the 136 interest areas a Boy Scout has conquered.

But what restrictions are placed on merit badge sashes? In what order should they be sewn on? Is there a minimum or maximum number of merit badges a Scout may wear on a sash? Can a Scout with a ton of merit badges wear two sashes? What about wearing a sash folded over a belt? And can anyone help mom or dad sew these things on?

I’ve got the answers — well, to all but that last question.

These answers come from the expert, Christopher Hunt, head of the BSA’s advancement team.

Where to put merit badges

You have two options for where to sew merit badges.

Right sleeve: The first, less common option, is to sew up to six merit badges onto the right sleeve of a long-sleeved uniform shirt. Long-sleeved uniforms aren’t seen very often these days, but if a Scout owns one, he may put up to six patches, in rows of two, above his right cuff (see below). Long-sleeved uniforms were much more common in past generations.
Merit badge sash: Most Scouts will choose this option. The Guide to Awards and Insignia says you’re limited to a “maximum of three per row as shown, no limit.” You couldn’t fit more than three in a row anyway. As for the badges’ order on the sash, there’s nothing specified. Most Scouts will simply add them as they earn them. Others like to separate the Eagle-required ones (those with a silver border) in some way.
merit-badge-sash-placement

No minimum number

Chris Hunt says, “I’m taking ‘no limit’ to mean just that. The Scout isn’t limited to wearing a minimum number of badges on his sash.”

So right when a Boy Scout earns that first merit badge or three, I say go ahead and get him a sash so he can show off his new “trophies.”

Only one merit badge sash

Some Scouts earn way more merit badges than the 21 required for Eagle. A handful even earn every available merit badge.

While you may come across a Scout wearing two merit badge sashes in a criss-cross pattern, that’s not permitted. That rule is straight from the Guide to Awards and Insignia: “Boy Scouts may wear only one merit badge sash at a time.”

Essentially, there’s no official maximum number of merit badges a Boy Scout may wear, “unless he’s got more merit badges than will fit three across on the front and back of the sash,” Hunt says.

Where to wear the sash (and where not to)

There’s only one right place for a merit badge sash: over the right shoulder. It can be worn over or under the epaulet (shoulder loop).

And keep in mind “a merit badge sash is never worn on the belt,” according to the Guide.

Who may wear the sash

“Merit badge sashes are worn only by Boy Scouts and Venturers who are earning Boy Scout advancement.”

Varsity Scouts may wear the merit badge sash, too, of course.

Miscellaneous patches

Patches that aren’t merit badges, including camporee or event patches, may be worn on the sash, but only on the back.

Merit badge sash and OA sash

This one’s pretty clear: “The merit badge sash and the Order of the Arrow sash may not be worn at the same time.”

(Courtesy of Bryan Wendell/Bryan on Scouting)