The merit badge program is part of the advancement plan of the Boy Scouts of America.  It has guided the interests and energies of Boy Scouts for over 85 years and is one of the most unusual educational programs ever devised.  A merit badge is an award that is presented to a Boy Scout when he has completed the requirements for one of more than 115 subjects in a wide variety of art, craft, hobby, sport, trade, profession, agribusiness, service, or self-improvement areas.  The badge is only a small piece of cloth with a design embroidered in color -- but its significance is as large as the interest of the merit badge counselor who helps a Scout earn it.

A Scout earns a merit badge by working with a registered adult counselor, an expert in the chosen subject.  The Scout, along with a buddy, makes an appointment with the counselor and works on the merit badge with the counselor during one or more visits.  When the counselor approves the Scout's application, the Scoutmaster submits it to the council service center and obtains the badge.  As with rank awards, the Scout is awarded the merit badge at the next troop court of honor.

Any registered Scout, regardless of rank, may work on any merit badge and receive the award when he earns it.

The merit badge program is one of Scouting's basic character-developing tools.  Earning merit badges gives boys the kind of self-confidence that comes only from overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal.

Through the merit badge program, boys learn career skills that might help them choose their lifework.  Some merit badges help boys develop physical fitness and provide hobbies that give a lifetime of healthful recreation.

Working with a merit badge counselor gives the Scouts contact with an adult with whom they might not be acquainted.  This is a valuable experience.  The Scouts could be shy and fearful in this new situation, so the counselor must see that the counseling session is relaxed, informal, and friendly.

Although at times two Scouts will be working as buddies on the same merit badge, each Scout is judged on his own performance of the requirements and should receive the maximum benefit from the knowledge, skill, character, and personal interest of the counselor.  Group instruction and orientation are encouraged where special facilities and expert personnel make this most practical or when Scouts are dependent on a few counselors for assistance.  However, this group experience should include individual attention to each candidate's projects and his ability to fulfill all requirements.


The merit badge counselor's role is to bring about learning on the part of the Boy Scout.


A Scout must have a buddy with him at each meeting with a merit badge counselor.  A Scout's buddy could be another Scout, or be a parent or guardian, brother or sister, relative or friend.


These are the steps that a Scout takes to earn a merit badge, as outlined in the Boy Scout Handbook:

1. Determine what merit badge he wants to earn.

2. Identify who the merit badge counselor will be.  The counselor may be a registered merit badge counselor from the Troop level, District level, or Council level.  The counselor may be someone in the community who has agreed to participate in the Boy Scouts of America merit badge program.  Except in rare cases, the parent(s) of the Scout should not be the merit badge counselor for their son.  It is the Scout’s responsibility to identify, contact, and make arrangements to meet with a qualified merit badge counselor.

3. Get an Application for Merit Badge (“Blue Card”) from his Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, or the Troop Committee’s Advancement Chairman, get it signed by either his Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster, and find a buddy who can attend the merit badge counselor meetings with him.  (Note - work done on a merit badge BEFORE the Application for Merit Badge (“Blue Card”) has been approved and signed by the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster will not be allowed.)

4. Get the merit badge pamphlet on his subject.  His patrol or troop may have one he can borrow.  So may the local library.  Or he may purchase one from the local council service center or other authorized distributor of Scouting materials.

5. Contact the merit badge counselor and explain that he would like to earn the badge.  Along with his buddy, meet the counselor and discusses how he can get the most out of the time he spends working on the badge.  The merit badge counselor sets the date and time for the Scout and his buddy and suggests the Scout bring the following:

a. Merit badge pamphlet
b. Application for Merit Badge (“Blue Card”)
c. Any projects he may have started
d. Any other indication of preparedness

6. The number of counseling sessions depends on the difficulty of the subject and the presentation and ability of the Scout.  At the first interview, the merit badge counselor and the Scout decide upon:

a. Projects
b. Short-term and long-term goals with dates of completion in mind
c. Dates and times for future sessions

7. Learn and do the things that the pamphlet requires.  Go as far as he can to fulfill the requirements on his own.  The Scout is expected to meet the requirements as stated -- no more and no less.  Furthermore, he is to do exactly what is stated.  If it says "show or demonstrate," that is what he 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."

8. When he is ready, he and his buddy make another appointment with the counselor.  The counselor will spend time with him going over the important parts of the subject.  A good counselor will also help him see beyond the requirements and discover ways to continue learning about the subject.  If the counselor is satisfied that the Scout has completed the requirements, he will sign the merit badge form.  If not, the counselor will explain what he still must do.

9. After he has completed all the merit badge requirements and the merit badge counselor has signed that the work has been completed, present the completed form to the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster for their review and signature.  Give the signed form to the Troop Committee’s Advancement Chairman.  The Advancement Chairman will get the badge for him and have it presented to him during a troop ceremony.

Back to Merit Badge Procedures