- Troop 456 Merit Badge Counselors
- Official Merit Badge Requirements
- Merit Badge Worksheets (Optional)
Merit Badges are a main area of advancement in Boy Scouting, together with ranks. A Scout can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as he earns merit badges. Earning merit badges allows you to explore many fields, helps you round out your skills, and introduces you to subjects that may become lifelong interests or a rewarding career.
There are more than 135 merit badges, and a Scout may earn any of these at any time, starting from the time he joins the Troop. There is no time limit for completing a merit badge (other than age 18). You don’t need to be a certain rank, and no merit badges are required for rank advancement until after First Class. To reach Eagle rank, you must complete a total of at least 21 merit badges, including 13 from the “Eagle-required” merit badge list.
Requirements for each merit badge are found online. These online requirements should always be used as the official requirements for each merit badge, since requirements are periodically revised to reflect updated information and technology.
Blue Cards are the written record of your progress and completion of a merit badge. It has three perforated parts: one for the Troop records, one for the merit badge counselor’s records, and one for your records. The completed Blue Card serves as the sole proof that a Scout completed a given merit badge. You must have a signed Blue Card before beginning work on a merit badge. Since the Blue Card is the sole record of your progress, you may need to restart the badge if you lose it, unless your counselor is willing to vouch for what you’ve completed.
Merit Badge Counselors are district-approved adult volunteers (unit leaders, parents, community members, friends of the Troop) who are knowledgeable in a merit badge topic and guide you through the requirements. A counselor’s background in a merit badge subject might be professional or as a hobby. Troop 456 has a sizeable list of counselors who a Scout may contact to pursue a merit badge or complete a partial. If you are interested in becoming a merit badge counselor, please contact the webmaster.
Merit Badge Pamphlets are written for the BSA by topic authorities for each merit badge. They contain requirements and supplemental reference information. The requirements may not reflect changes made after their printing, but the pamphlets remain valuable references for you as you work on a badge. Troop 456 has a large library of merit badge pamphlets for loan from the Scout Room (see the Troop Librarian or Quartermaster). These pamphlets are also available at the Baltimore Area Council Scout Shops or at ScoutStuff.org.
Merit Badge Worksheets are optional tools, prepared by a third party, that can help you as you work on a merit badge. They are not required for completing merit badges. A counselor may recommend use of the worksheet to help you organize your work, or may suggest or require a different approach.
Merit Badge Process:
- Choose a Merit Badge. Check the list of merit badges in your handbook or online, and read the requirements of badge(s) that interest you. Sometimes a trip or activity presents an opportunity to work on a merit badge.
- Get a Blue Card. Ask a unit leader for a blank Blue Card. Fill in your name and information on both sides, and have any unit leader sign it.
- Find a Merit Badge Counselor. Check the Troop 456 Counselor List, or ask an adult leader about the District counselor directory. Get the counselor’s contact information from a unit leader, and ask the counselor if he or she will work with you. Set up how and when you will work on the badge. This may be at any time and place that is suitable for both of you. Meet with the counselor, who will explain what is expected, discuss the requirements, and help you get started. In some cases, you may share work you have already started or completed. You must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor (Scout, parents or guardian, sibling, friend).
- Work on the Requirements. If necessary, ask your counselor to help you learn the things you need to know or do. Your counselor may wish to meet regularly or not until you have completed all the requirements. You must keep your Blue Card until you have completed the badge.
- Show Your Stuff. When you are ready, meet with your counselor again, bringing the things you have made to meet the requirements (or, if they are too big to move, pictures or a written note from an adult). The counselor will test you on each requirement to make sure you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required. You are expected to meet exactly what is stated in the requirements – no more and no less. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what you must do; simply telling about it isn’t enough.
- Get the Badge. When you finish all the requirements and your counselor is satisfied with your work, your counselor will sign your Blue Card and keep the counselor’s section. Take the rest of the Blue Card to any unit leader, who will sign it as well. Give the Troop section to the Troop Advancement Chair and save your section in a safe place. A popular method of saving Blue Cards is the plastic sleeves for trading cards.
- Keep Good Records! It is VERY important keep your Blue Cards safe and not lose them. The Troop Committee maintains a record of your achievements, but it is crucial that you keep records yourself, until you receive your Eagle Scout Award, in case there is ever a discrepancy or missing Troop records.
Special Cases. If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge (i.e. obtained a signed Blue Card and met with a counselor) when new or revised requirements are introduced, he may continue to use the old requirements to earn the badge. He need not start over with the revised requirements; however, he may use the new requirements if he chooses. It is HIS choice. If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge and it is discontinued, he may continue to work toward completing the badge; however, a Scout may not begin work on a merit badge once it is discontinued.
Adapted from www.scouting.org, usscouts.org, and www.boyscouttrail.com