BSA Troop 147

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Scouting in Monrovia, California

Merit Badges

Merit Badges are a key component of the BSA program. Merit badges are an opportunity for a boy to explore future vocations and avocations, as well as learn essential scouting skills.

Scouts can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as they earn any of more than 120 merit badges. Any Boy Scout of any rank may earn any merit badge at any time (though some may be physically and mentally challenging for younger scouts). Merit badges are not required for advancement through the early ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. A total of 21 merit badges are required for advancement through the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks.

An excellent source for information and merit badge worksheets is meritbadge.org. In addition, merit badge pamphlets are available for purchase at Smiser Scout Center. Troop 147 also keeps a small library of pamphlets – please see our scout librarian to borrow these (he brings them to every troop meeting).

Eagle-required merit badges

A selected group of merit badges are called “Silver” or Eagle-required merit badges. There are 17 Eagle-required badges, from which boys must choose a minimum of 13. Some are absolute requirements, and some are “either/or” badges, such as cycling, hiking, or swimming: all of these count towards Star and Life ranks, but only one can count towards the Eagle rank. To be clear, if a scout earns more than one of the “either/or” badges, all are credited toward the 21 total required for Eagle, but only one counts toward the 12 “Silver” badges required for Eagle.

Merit badge time requirements

Boy Scouts may work on merit badges from the time they join a Scout troop until they turn 18 years old. There is no time limit for completion of merit badges other than reaching the age of 18. Incomplete badges can occur; for example, a boy may finish most requirements at summer camp yet need to do one or two requirements back home. These incomplete badges are called “partials”, and it is solely the scout’s responsibility to finish the work and present it to his merit badge counselor.

How to earn merit badges

Pick a Subject. Read the requirements of the merit badges you think might interest you. Pick one to earn. Get a signed merit badge application (“blue card”) from your Scoutmaster. Your Scoutmaster will give you the name of a person from a list of BSA-approved counselors; this might be an adult associated with Troop 147 or another local expert on this badge. These counselors have special knowledge in their merit badge subjects and are interested in helping you.

Contact the Counselor. 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. You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject before meeting with your counselor.

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.

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.”

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. Don’t forget to make a copy first! Your badge will be awarded at the next Court of Honor. Sew the badge onto your merit badge sash and wear the sash with pride at ceremonial Troop events. You will also receive one part of the blue card as proof that you have earned the merit badge. Keep this card stub very safe, in the unlikely event that the badge is not properly recorded with our local council and national BSA.

Opportunities to earn merit badges

Although all merit badges can be worked on independently as described above, many popular badges are taught locally in classroom and camp settings. Resources for this include the extremely popular “Trail to Eagle” and other merit badge classes held conveniently at Camp Trask, Arcadia Wilderness Park, etc. Easier merit badges (not Eagle badges) can also be earned at the annual San Gabriel Valley Council Scout Expo at Santa Anita Racetrack. Please note that merit badges are intended to be earned individually by the scouts. Although we may work on some requirements at troop meetings, they are generally not completed in the troop setting. Scouts are expected to show the initiative to work on badges independently or in the classroom and summer camp settings above. Occasionally, opportunities to earn merit badges are provided by the troop on campouts and other outings. One example is the Cycling MB, which is quite intensive – by working on this one together, the scouts can support each other on the long rides required.