Get All of Your Boy Scout Merit Badges
Boy Scout merit badges are a great way to introduce yourself to a variety of sports, crafts, sciences, trades, business, and future careers as you advance in rank. They are meant to teach you a variety of skills that will be useful and interesting to you beyond your time in Scouts. A small number of Scouts have accomplished the lofty goal of earning every single merit badge. Once you start planning how to work on these badges, you can get started on filling up your sash.
Scheduling Your Badges
- Figure out how much time you’ll need. Every merit badge has different requirements, which includes the amount of time you’ll need to complete all of them. Some badges you can finish in an afternoon, while others take several months of tracking information before you have fulfilled the requirements.
- For example, Personal Management (an Eagle-required badge) requires you to track your income, expenses, and savings for 13 consecutive weeks, which is about 3 months.
- Your parents or Scoutmaster are good resources for discussing a merit badge schedule. They will be able to help you figure out the best times to do certain badges, and help you stay on course for your Scouting goals.
- Build a schedule. The best way to accomplish any goal, like earning every available merit badge, is to give yourself a schedule. Rather than thinking about earning every badge at once, focus on earning a couple at a time. Breaking your quest into smaller, more manageable goals, will help you chip away at it while keeping a feeling of real progress.
- When you look at setting a schedule, consider what kinds of equipment or settings you will need to complete each badge. A badge like Water Sports will probably need to be completed in warmer months, when you can be on the water, while winter might be better for a badge that involves more indoor work like Reading.
- Badges that require a lot of time for their requirements, like Personal Management, don’t necessarily ask that you spend a lot of time each day on it. You can work on multiple badges at once, so look for other, shorter badges to work on while you do longer requirements for others.
- As of the start of 2016, there are currently 136 merit badges offered through the Boy Scouts. If you work at a pace of 5 badges per month, you can complete all badges in a little more than three years.
- Check prerequisites. Some badges will require you to have completed other requirements before you begin working on the badge. Look for badges that require you to know information from other ranks, and wait to start working on those badges until after you have achieved that rank.
- First Aid (an Eagle-required badge) asks that you have knowledge of all first aid requirements for ranks up through First Class. You don’t necessarily need to be First Class to get it, but it can help to check off one of the requirements once you get started.
- Look for badges your troop isn’t working on. Most troops will spend time working on badges to help Scouts advance. If your troop is going to be working on specific badges, it would be best not to spend time on those on your own.
- In 2014, Eagle-required badges made up the top 13 merit badges earned. Other high-ranking badges included Rifle Shooting, Fingerprinting, Archery, Leatherwork, and Wilderness Survival. These are badges your troop will probably work on, either as a group or at summer camp.
Earning Lots of Badges Quickly
- Do a little badge work every day. Earning every merit badge will take some time. To help you get through that, set aside a little bit of your time. Establishing a daily routine is a good skill to learn, as it will help you push through the days when you feel less like working, and make it more likely that you will accomplish any goal you set.
- You can be flexible with how much time you spend each day. Some requirements will take more than your allotted time, others less. The important thing is that you get into the habit of carving out at least some time every day.
- Don’t let badge work get in the way of other important things like school and family time.
- Finish multiple requirements at once. Look for requirements that are the same or similar between badges. Many requirements and regulations allow you to double count activities if there is significant overlap.
- Be aware of subtle differences between requirements. Both Communication and Citizenship in the Community have you attend a local public meeting and listen to different opinions on an issue. Communication then asks you to carefully report on each point of view, while Citizenship in the Community asks you to take a side on the issue. The same meeting can start both requirements, but each needs a slightly different end result.
- A number of badges have some kind of reading or writing piece to them. If you can find ways to make your school assignments fit into your merit badge requirements, that’s a great way to check off requirements while also getting your schoolwork done.
- The Scout Guide asks you to consider why you are double-counting activities. Checking off requirements is important, but you should also consider the possibility that the extra effort may make a greater difference in the lives of others. It is ultimately a personal decision, but something that you should at least think about.
- Attend camps and jamborees. A big part of Scouting events is the opportunity to earn several merit badges quickly. Camps and jamborees will provide a variety of classes for earning your badges during the week you are there.
- When thinking about what badges you want to earn, look for things that you can’t easily do at home. An outdoor camp is a great opportunity for something like Wilderness Survival or Pioneering. You may find more unique opportunities to work with people in specific areas like Nuclear Science or Pottery that you won’t necessarily meet at home or through your troop.
- If the camp gives prerequisites for any of merit badge courses you want to take, make sure you do them before you go. Also keep an eye out for anything the course says you will need to complete after camp is over.
- If your troop doesn’t attend a regular summer camp, talk to your Scoutmaster about finding one nearby that you can go to. Even if you and the other scouts don’t earn merit badges, summer camp is a great time for building troop spirit and doing other fun activities.
Earning a Badge
- Read the pamphlet. Every merit badge has a pamphlet that includes the requirements and lists a number of resources you can consult to learn more. Make sure the badge is something you can, and want to, accomplish. Talk to your Scoutmaster, or check the BSA’s website, to get pamphlets for the badge you want to earn.
- The national organization will make changes to the requirements for badges, as well as create new ones and retire old ones. Make sure you have the most up-to-date requirements for when you start trying to earn the badge.
- Find a merit badge counselor. For each badge, you will need someone trained or experienced in the field who can help teach you the badge’s skills. The counselor will try to figure out what you do or do not know about the topic, and teach you the skills you need. He will also be the one to sign off that you have completed the requirements to earn the badge.
- If you are trying to earn a badge that requires particular equipment, like Astronomy or Rifle Shooting, the counselor should have access to that equipment, and a place to use it correctly.
- While your troop will probably have, or know, a number of qualified people to help, you may need to track down counselors for some of your badges.
- Work with a buddy. Your buddy can either be a family member, friend, relative, or better yet, another scout. You are not required to have another scout with you, as stated in 184.108.40.206 of the 2015 BSA Guide to advancement. Some of your work may need to be done independently, but it is always good to have someone else there to watch you doing the work.
- While you really only need one buddy, it can always be more fun with a larger group. Getting a few Scouts together to learn a new skill or earn a merit badge can be a fun activity for a troop or patrol.
- Fulfill the requirements. After you have read the requirements, get to work! Complete every step required for the badge, and show your work to the merit badge counselor. If you think you have already completed several steps before meeting with the counselor, bring that stuff as well so he can decide if it counts.
- Depending on the badge, you may need the counselor to explain how something works before you go about doing your project, or you may need his approval to get started. For Photography, for example, your counselor must approve the story you intend to tell with pictures before you get started. You don’t want to do all that work only to find out it won’t count.
- Once you are finished, your merit badge counselor will sign off on your merit badge application. Turn that in to your Scoutmaster, and you will have earned the merit badge. Congratulations!
- You can work on multiple merit badges at once, so don’t feel like you need to completely finish all the requirements for one before starting on another.
- There is no reward for earning all 136 merit badges. After you reach the rank of Eagle, however, you can earn palms, extra awards for each 5 badges you earn beyond the requirements. 5 badges beyond Eagle gets a bronze palm, 10 gets gold, and 15 for silver.
- Sell Boy Scout Popcorn
- Join the Boy Scouts
- Join Sea Scouts
- Become an Eagle Scout
- Sew a Patch on a Uniform
- Determine the Proper Place to Place Badges on a Cub Scout (Boy Scout) Shirt
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