Guidelines for Obtaining Merit Badges

BSA TROOP 401 - Steubenville, Ohio

Through the Boy Scout merit badge program, many Scouts have been introduced to a life long hobby or even a rewarding career. They have discovered new abilities, increased their self-confidence, and become expert in subjects that have enriched their lives and their ability to serve their community.

The requirements for each badge appear in the current BSA merit badge pamphlet for that award and in the Boy Scout Requirements book. When a Scout has decided on a badge he would like to earn, he follows these steps:

1. The Scout obtains from his Scoutmaster a signed merit badge application and the name of a qualified counselor for that merit badge. (A counselor must know a subject well, have the ability to work effectively with Scouts, and be currently registered as a merit badge counselor by the BSA local council. - See "Information & Guidelines for Merit Badge Counselors")

2. Along with a buddy (another Scout, a relative, or a friend), the Scout sets up and attends his first appointment with the merit badge counselor. (No one-on-one contact is permitted. A Scout must have a buddy with him at each meeting with a merit badge counselor.) The counselor will explain the requirements for the merit badge and help the Scout plan ways to fulfill them in order to get the most out of the experience.

3. The Scout works on the badge requirements until he completes them, meeting with the counselor (and his buddy) whenever necessary.

Scouts may work on any merit badge at any time, assuming they have the approval of their Scoutmaster. While merit badges are not required for the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class, Scouts moving toward those ranks also may work on merit badges, again with their Scoutmaster's approval.

(The merit badges required for the ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle are listed at the end of this document. They can also be found in the Boy Scout Requirements book and the Boy Scout Handbook.)

Merit Badge Counselors

Scouts wishing to earn a merit badge do so with the guidance and approval of a merit badge counselor. As mentioned earlier; counselors must possess a technical grasp of a subject and also have a solid understanding of the needs, interests, and abilities of Scouts.

Where can Scouts find merit badge counselors? Scouts should contact the Troop leaders for possible resources. Our troop has assembled a list of approved counselors in the area who have indicated a willingness to work with Scouts. In addition, the district advancement committee may have a merit badge counselor list.

Ordinarily parents should not be merit badge counselors for their own sons. Parents shall not be merit badge counselors for their own sons for eagle required merit badges.


A. Selecting Merit Badges and Counselors

    1. The Scout selects merit badges from the Scout Handbook, requirements book, or from individual merit badge pamphlets.

2. The Scout indicates his interest in a merit badge to his Scoutmaster (SM) who gives him:

a. An interview to determine interest, enthusiasm, and preparedness.

b. A signed Application for Merit Badge.

c. The name and phone number of a council or district approved MBC. (If available - scouts may find their own counselor with approval of SM)

d. Encouragement to wear the official uniform when he visits the Merit Badge Counselor with a buddy.

B. The Scout gets the merit badge pamphlet on his subject from the troop library, public library (also inter-library loan), purchase from the Scout office (800-365-8028) or purchase through the national BSA Catalog.

C. Read the merit badge pamphlet to become familiar with the subject and requirements.

D. The Scout calls the counselor and makes an appointment.

E. The counselor sets a date, time, and place for the meeting, making sure that the Youth Protection guidelines are followed. The scout and buddy bring the following:

1. Merit badge pamphlet.

2. SM signed application for MB.

3. Any projects he may have started (approval should be obtained prior to starting).

4. Any other indication of preparedness.

F. At the first interview the counselor and Scout decide upon

1. Projects.

2. Short-term and long-term goals with dates of completion in mind.

3. Dates, times, and places for further interviews (bring your calendar with available dates).

G. The scout learns and does the things that the pamphlet explains, going as far as he can to fulfill the requirements on his own. The number of sessions you have during this period depends on the difficulty of the subject and the preparation and ability of the Scout. Youth protection guidelines continued to be followed.

H. When the Scout has finished all required projects and learned all relevant material, he arranges with the counselor for examination. At the testing

1. Each Scout is tested individually.

2. Scouts are expected to meet the requirements as stated in the handbook - no more and no less.

3. Individual requirements for a merit badge may be signed off and recorded on the Application for merit badge as they are completed. Re-testing of these completed requirements is not necessary. If a partial was done by another counselor, the new counselor may review these requirements to determine that the Scout has indeed completed the project or learned the material.

4. The Merit Badge Counselor assists the Scout to meet the requirements and certifies when he has completed them.

5. The Merit Badge Counselor keeps counselor's record of the Application for Merit Badge. Scout returns Unit copy to SM and keeps Applicant's copy.

6. The scout is awarded the merit badge at the next Troop Court of Honor.

Eagle Rank Required Merit Badges - Effective April 1, 1999


Citizenship in the Community

Citizenship in the Nation

Citizenship in the World


Environmental Science

Family Life

First Aid

Personal Fitness

Personal Management

Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving

Cycling OR Hiking OR Swimming

Reference Source: BSA Scoutmaster's Handbook, 1998

Merit Badges Usually Taught at ORVC Summer Camp

Aquatics Area







Ecology Area


Environmental Science

Fish and Wildlife Management *



Mammal Study


Reptile Study *

Soil and Water Conservation

Weather *

Handicraft Area



Indian Lore





Health Lodge Area

Communications *

Emergency Preparedness *

First Aid *

Ranger Area

Farm Mechanics

Scoutcraft Area

Backpacking *

Camping *




Space Exploration

Wilderness Survival

Shooting Sports


Rifle Shooting




* Denotes merit badges which require work prior to or after summer camp in order to complete.

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This page last updated by Troop 401 on March 27, 2002