How to Start a Merit Badge
Once you have completed Tenderfoot, Second Class and are on your way with First Class, you might start earning merit badges. Here’s a step-by-step guide for a Scout who is new to merit badges.
Step 1 – Choose a badge - Visit the BSA Merit Badge page by clicking here to see all the merit badges. Scouts need to earn a total of 21 merit badges to achieve Eagle Scout. Thirteen of these badges are specified.
Step 2 – Request to borrow a merit badge book from the Troop Librarian – This is optional but it is a GREAT resource. It can help you decide if you want to work on this badge. The book outlines what you need to do – and sometimes gives the “answers” to requirements. Note that the librarian role changes from year-to-year. You can also purchase your own copy at the Scout shop for $5 each.
Step 3 – Request a Blue Card from the Scoutmaster – At a Monday night meeting, visit with the Scoutmaster and tell him you are interested in working on a certain merit badge. He will ask you questions and advise you about it. He might encourage you to wait to work on certain badges which are designed for older Scouts. For example, the Personal Management badge is best for a Scout who is earning an income.
Step 4 – Find a merit badge counselor – Ask the Merit Badge Counselor coordinator for the names of merit badge counselors that counsel your chosen badge. This request should come from the Scout, not a parent. You can talk to the Merit Badge Counselor Coordinator at a Monday meeting or via email. If a Scout doesn’t have a personal email account, he could email from a family email account with parent help. When a Scout emails any adult in the troop from his personal email account, he must CC: another adult such as his parent/guardian. This is part of our Youth Protection Training.
Step 5 – Schedule a meeting with a merit badge counselor – The Scout can ask the counselor for help via phone, email or in person at a Monday meeting. It’s helpful to suggest possible times to meet with the counselor. Some counselors can meet before or during Monday meetings. Some can meet over the phone or Skype. The Scout can speed up the process by specifying when he is available to meet. Whenever a Scout meets with a merit badge counselor in person, there must be another adult or Scout in the room at all times, following Youth Protection guidelines.
Step 6 – Print out the badge workbook – If you Google the name of your merit badge and the word “workbook,” you’ll find a PDF that lists the requirements and gives space to write notes. This is a great way to keep work organized so you keep your meetings efficient and courteous with your merit badge counselor. Keep your workbook after you complete the badge as a record and to remember what you learned before your Eagle Scout board of review.
Step 7 – Do some requirements – You don’t have to complete requirements before meeting with the merit badge counselor for the first time – but it is great if you do! If you borrow the merit badge booklets from the troop library, you should be able to answer at least a few requirements before your first meeting. If the badge has requirements that involve tracking work over time, you probably should not start those requirements until you meet with a counselor to get their advice.