There are 120 merit badges. Each Scout needs to earn 21 merit badges including 12 in particular (see Eagle required merit badges below) as one of the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout. See the Boy Scout Handbook for details about required merit badges. Merit Badges are significant bodies of work. Some take weeks or months to finish. Some merit badges the troop has had classes for like Swimming and First Aid. Other merit badges the scouts have earned at summer camp like Environmental Science, Emergency Preparedness or mammals. These types of merit badges go outside the normal flow of the process and may be all your Scout has done up to the point he earned his the rank of First Class.
The typical progression is this:
A Scout decides he wants to earn a merit badge. He can find specific information about merit badges at meritbadge.org or the current year Boy Scouts of America Requirements book. (More about merit badge resources below)
He tells the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster that he wants to work on the merit badge.
He will be given a signed blue card and the name and contact information of a counselor for that merit badge. Typically, scouts work in groups of two or more on merit badges. Merit badge counselors are instructed that the Scouts should be using the buddy system when they meet with them. All Merit Badge counselors are background checked by The Great Trail Council.
The Scouts meet with the counselor who talks with them about why they are interested in the merit badge and clarifies any requirements that may need extra attention. Counselors will typically meet with Scouts in public places like libraries or in the scout’s home. To my knowledge, there has never been any trouble with Merit Badge counselors and Scouts. To be safe you should never leave your child to meet with a counselor alone at the counselor’s home.
Once past the initial meeting the Scouts then start working on the requirements.
They can contact the counselor at anytime to ask questions.
When the requirements are completed, the Scouts then contact the counselor and make arrangements to review all that has been done. The Scouts should be sure they have fulfilled the requirements before they make the appointment to see the counselor again. The Scouts should pay close attention to the verbs used in the requirements.
Demonstrate or Show- Be prepared to do in front of the counselor.
List - Write a list or memorize the information.
Discuss, tell or explain - Be well prepared to talk about the topic.
Describe can be either verbal or written. If written be ready to discuss it verbally.
If the work is complete, the counselor signs the Blue Card and returns it to the Scout.
If there is additional work required, the Scouts do the work and go back to the counselor again until all is completed.
Once the Scout has the signed blue card he returns it to the Scoutmaster. The Scout will receive the Merit Badge as soon as is convenient in front of the troop. He will then be recognized at the next Court of Honor with his family present.
When the Scout gets his merit badge, he should also get the "Applicant" portion of the Blue Card. This is the only proof he has that he has completed the merit badge. Treat it as you would any other valuable, irreplaceable document.
Merit Badge Resources
Every merit badge has a pamphlet available for it. Each merit badge pamphlet costs about $4.00. The troop has a good library of merit badge pamphlets. Every merit badge is updated from time to time. It is important that your Scout have the current pamphlet. You can find out what the most recent printing of any merit badge pamphlet is by looking at meritbadge.org or in the requirements guide. The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters typically have one which can be looked at during any scout meeting. The Scout may even borrow the requirements guide for a week if he wants to. The merit badge pamphlet goes through each of the requirements and is the best source of information. You may find handy worksheets on meritbadge.org that will help.
Merit badge counselors can require no more than is written. They should not accept anything less.
The Boy Scouts of America would like to have each boy use each merit badge counselor only once. For instance, most Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters are signed up to council many of the Eagle required merit badges. Though it is possible that one adult could council a Scout for all 12 required merit badges we will try hard to make sure that does not happen. Sometimes a scout will work with the same leader more than once because of circumstances. We want to help the scout grown into a well-rounded individual and so it is good for them to see as many examples of adulthood as possible.
Some useful Information on Eagle Required Merit Badges
Requires 20 days and nights of Scout camping in a tent or under the stars
We sleep in cabins at summer camp these nights do not count. If a Scout goes to summer camp as a provincial camper and sleeps in a tent at summer camp he can count that week. Only one week ( seven nights ) of long term ( summer camp or high adventure ) can be used.
We sleep in a cabin at our February campout it does not count.
Only nights spent camping with a troop or patrol count. Family camping does not.
In a typical year if a Scout attends all the campouts other then the ones described above he will have spent at least 12 nights camping. Therefore, it will likely take close to two years to get enough camping. Additionally there are activity requirements that go along with some of the campouts which include things like cycling, hiking or boating.
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