The BSA merit badge program gives boy scouts opportunities to investigate about 120 different areas of knowledge and skills. This program plays a major role in the scouting advancement program and participation can begin as soon as a scout registers with a troop. Each scout can explore topics from American Business to Woodworking as he has interest. The only limitations are his ambition and availability of adult counselors to offer instruction.
Pamphlets: An official BSA pamphlet has been created for the BSA by topic authorities for each merit badge. The pamphlets contain requirements, introductory information and supplemental reference text. A scout can purchase pamphlets from BSA or find them in the troop library.
Counselors: Merit badge counselors are volunteers that have been selected, trained, and approved by council or district committees. They are knowledgeable in the topic and understand the goals of scouting and the merit badge program. The Troop maintains a directory of counselors.
Process: A scout decides he would like to earn a specific merit badge. He obtains approval to begin the merit badge from his Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster identifies possible merit badge counselors. The scout identifies another scout who will be his partner to attend meetings with the merit badge counselor to follow safe scouting guidelines. He then contacts the counselor to begin badge work. The counselor reviews the requirements with the scouts and they decide on projects to complete and a completion schedule. The counselor provides expertise, advice, guidance as needed until the scouts have completed the requirements. The counselor certifies their completion and the merit badge is presented at a troop Court of Honor.
Required Badges: Participation in the merit badge program can begin as soon as a scout registers with a troop. Until a scout receives his First Class rank, no merit badges are required for rank advancement. Advancement to Star, Life, and Eagle all require completion of merit badges, along with service and leadership. To reach Eagle rank, a scout must complete a total of at least 21 merit badges, 12 of which are on the Eagle-required badge list.