Merit Badge team serves up some reminders about Cooking merit badge

Cooking-EagleAvid readers of this blog have been hearing about changes to Cooking merit badge since October 2012.

But new Scouters or new blog readers might not know about the exciting, important changes to this now-Eagle-required merit badge.

The basic facts are these:

  • Cooking merit badge became required to earn the Eagle Scout Award on Jan. 1, 2014.
  • A revised Cooking merit badge pamphlet and new requirements were released last year. A Scout may use either the old or the new requirements in 2014. Whichever one he chooses will count toward Eagle.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, Scouts who have not started working on the Cooking merit badge must use the new requirements and supporting pamphlet.

Here are more details and reminders, courtesy of Frank Ramirez and the Merit Badge Maintenance Team. Continue reading

Swimming merit badge revised in time for summer camp

SwimmingSwimming merit badge, that Eagle-required summer camp staple, has been upgraded and revised just in time for the 2014 summer camp season.

The new requirements focus more on teaching Scouts correct stroke mechanics while continuing to emphasize basic water skills. Previous requirements like snorkeling, competitive swimming and CPR (which Scouts learn more fully in other merit badges anyway) have been removed.

With the new requirements, the goal is to teach Scouts to swim with greater ease and efficiency, as well as keep them safe in and around the water.

Scouts may use either the old or new requirements in 2014 — it’s their choice. On Jan. 1, 2015, they’ll become official, and only Scouts who have already started working with the old requirements may use the old ones.

As you know, Swimming’s an important merit badge because to earn the Eagle Scout Award, a Scout must earn either Swimming, Cycling or Hiking MB.

A revised Swimming merit badge pamphlet, with new color illustrations, will be available soon for purchase at local Scout Shops and through ScoutStuff.org.

Most summer camps will want to use the latest requirements for Swimming merit badge this summer. So the BSA decided to release those new requirements early. I’ve pasted them below.

That said, Scouts may choose to work using the old requirements, which were published earlier this year in the 2014 Boy Scout Requirements Book. Here’s how the transition will work:

Continue reading

How many Eagle Scouts earned Eagle palms in 2013?

expertlogo1Not content at the 21 merit badges required for Eagle, some Scouts go beyond and earn additional merit badges, making them eligible to receive Eagle Scout palms.

An Eagle Scout who earns five merit badges beyond the minimum amount (and meets other requirements) will receive a Bronze Palm. He’ll get a Gold Palm for 10 extra merit badges and a Silver Palm for 15. He can wear multiple palms if he gets to 20, 25, 30, etc.

And now, for the first time ever, the BSA’s National Council knows exactly how many Eagle Scout palms were earned in the previous year. Last year was the first year National BSA started tracking the numbers it receives from local councils.

Before I reveal the numbers, a few caveats:

  1. These numbers are from 2013 only, which, as I mentioned above, is the first and only year for which numbers are available.
  2. There is no way to determine whether a palm earned by a Scout was his first, second, or third Bronze palm; first, second, or third Gold palm; or first, second, or third Silver palm. That’s not the way the database is set up.

(By the way: Yes, Bronze, Gold and Silver is the correct order. Read more about why.)

These numbers are courtesy of Michael Lo Vecchio, program assistant in the BSA’s content management team. Without further ado, here’s the grand total of Eagle palms earned in 2013:

Continue reading

Gone but not forgotten: Beekeeping and 9 other discontinued merit badges

No, a swarm of killer bees isn’t to blame for the Beekeeping merit badge’s 1995 demise.

The real culprit carries a similarly painful sting, though: a lack of interest and too few merit badge counselors.

As this Utah National Parks Council blog post points out, only 60 badges were earned during the last year Beekeeping MB was around.

Despite the lack of interest in the early ’90s, these days more Scouters email me about Beekeeping merit badge than any other discontinued merit badge. They’re calling for it to be reinstated, and they aren’t the first to do so.

In 2010, a 14-year-old Boy Scout from Oklahoma led an effort to reinstate Beekeeping. While he wasn’t successful, the BSA did announce it would incorporate beekeeping activities and awareness into eight existing merit badges: Bird Study, Forestry, Gardening, Nature, Plant Science, Pulp and Paper, Environmental Science, and Insect Study.

Seems like a logical compromise, but it got me thinking about other discontinued merit badges. Check out 10 fun examples after the jump.

First, though, a reminder that discontinued means what you’d think it does. Scouts can’t earn these. This comes directly from the Guide to Advancement (PDF):

Continue reading

Digital Technology merit badge requirements released

Digital-TechnologyThe latest and greatest in tech isn’t a new smartphone, tablet or game console.

It’s a new merit badge. Today the Boy Scouts of America welcomes Digital Technology merit badge to its ever-growing arsenal of merit badges focused on careers, hobbies and activities Scouts enjoy doing.

Digital Technology MB becomes the BSA’s 135th current merit badge. That list of merit badges will be reduced by one when Computers merit badge is discontinued on Dec. 31, 2014.

(Read more about the phasing-out of Computers here, and know that Scouts may earn and wear both Digital Technology MB and Computers MB, provided they begin work on Computers by the end of 2014.)

But today’s all about Digital Technology merit badge, which covers the Internet, smartphones, content creation on digital devices and much more.

See the full list of requirements and a merit badge workbook after the jump. Continue reading

Ask the Expert: How to complete Scouting Heritage MB Requirement 4B

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?If you have a Scout working on Scouting Heritage merit badge Requirement 4, Joe Connole’s your guy.

The programs coordinator and lead admissions clerk for the BSA’s National Scouting Museum in Irving, Tex., is in charge of answering letters and emails from Scouts working on that merit badge.

A Scout has three options for completing Requirement 4 of Scouting Heritage MB, each involving keeping a journal or writing a report:

A: Attend a BSA national jamboree, world Scout jamboree OR a national BSA high-adventure base.

B: Write or visit the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Tex.

C: Visit an exhibit of Scouting memorabilia or a local museum with a Scouting history gallery or visit with someone in your council who is recognized as a dedicated Scouting historian or memorabilia collector.

Scouts who choose to write the National Scouting Museum (4B), will need to contact Joe. If they do, they’ll get a response with a letter, a brochure, and — drumroll please — the awesome free patch seen below. To help Scouts taking this merit badge and counselors teaching it, Joe shared some details on how it works:

Continue reading

Just for clicks: First look at the Digital Technology merit badge patch and cover

Digital-TechnologyTo borrow a phrase from a certain smartphone maker: The next big thing is almost here.

Digital Technology merit badge, set to debut in mid-April 2014, will guide Scouts through the exciting, complex, ever-changing world of smartphone apps, computer software and tech-focused careers.

It’s the Boy Scouts of America’s latest in a growing roster of STEM-focused merit badges that help upgrade a Scout’s skills for today’s digitally focused workplaces.

As I mentioned in January, Digital Technology merit badge is debuting as Computers merit badge nears retirement. Computers MB came online in 1967 — long before anyone could’ve dreamed of a palm-size computer that also makes phone calls.

Scouts have until Dec. 31, 2014, to earn Computers merit badge. And yes, a Scout can earn and wear both Computers and Digital Technology merit badges. See more details about the phase-in and phase-out process at this link.

As for Digital Technology MB,

Continue reading

Everything you ever wanted to know about merit badge sashes

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?A merit badge sash is like a trophy case you can wear.

Each tiny circle represents one of the 136 interest areas a Boy Scout has conquered.

But what restrictions are placed on merit badge sashes? In what order should they be sewn on? Is there a minimum or maximum number of merit badges a Scout may wear on a sash? Can a Scout with a ton of merit badges wear two sashes? What about wearing a sash folded over a belt? And can anyone help mom or dad sew these things on?

I’ve got the answers — well, to all but that last question.

These answers come from the expert, Christopher Hunt, head of the BSA’s advancement team.

Continue reading

Future Mining in Society MB counselors can get trained for free online

miningMining in Society merit badge counselors, here’s your chance to sharpen your skills before teaching the BSA’s newest merit badge to Scouts.

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration will offer two free online trainings for Mining in Society MB counselors. The class takes an hour, and you can complete it from the comfort of your home computer.

Anyone is welcome to attend, but seats are limited.

Register for the class at this link. Though they’re listed as “Training I” and “Training II,” the courses are identical. So pick whichever time is more convenient for you.

The first training time is this Thursday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern (6:30 p.m. Central, 5:30 p.m. Mountain, 4:30 p.m. Pacific).

The second is set for Wednesday, April 30, at 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. Central, 7 p.m. Mountain, 6 p.m. Pacific).

To help you get in the Mining in Society spirit, check out these resources.

Here are the most- and least-popular merit badges of 2013 and of all time

The reign of First Aid merit badge continues.

More Boy Scouts earned this Eagle-required merit badge in 2013 than any other. And it wasn’t event close.

Not only was it the most-earned merit badge in 2013, it also topped the list in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 … you get the idea.

In all, 6.9 million Scouts have earned First Aid merit badge since its debut in 1911. Yep, you guessed it; that’s more than any other in history.

Which other merit badges made the Top 10 last year? What was 2013’s most-earned merit badge that isn’t on the Eagle-required list? And which merit badges were in the Bottom 10 (or “the rarest,” as I like to call them)? Let’s find out …  Continue reading