Merit Badge Requirements

Boy Scout Merit Badges

Boy Scout Merit Badges

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Boy Scout merit badges give scouts the opportunity to investigate around 120 different areas of knowledge and skills. The merit badge 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 merit badge counselors to offer instruction.

Read More about the Boy Scout merit badge process.

BSA Merit Badge Patch Images Here

American Business American Cultures American Heritage American Labor
Animal Science Archaeology Archery Architecture
Art Astronomy Athletics Atomic Energy
Automotive Maintenance Aviation Backpacking Basketry
Bird Study Bugling Camping Canoeing
Carpentry Chemistry Chess Citizenship in the Community
Citizenship in the Nation Citizenship in the World Climbing Coin Collecting
Collections Communication Composite Materials Computers
Cooking Crime Prevention Cycling Dentistry
Digital Technology Disabilities Awareness Dog Care Drafting
Electricity Electronics Emergency Preparedness Energy
Engineering Entrepreneurship Environmental Science Family Life
Farm Mechanics Fingerprinting Fire Safety First Aid
Fish and Wildlife Management Fishing Fly Fishing Forestry
Game Design Gardening Genealogy Geocaching
Geology Golf Graphic Arts Hiking
Home Repairs Horsemanship Indian Lore Insect Study
Inventing Journalism Kayaking Landscape Architecture
Law Leatherwork Lifesaving Mammal Study
Medicine Metalwork Mining in Society Model Design and Building
Motorboating Moviemaking Music Nature
Nuclear Science Oceanography Orienteering Painting
Pathfinding Personal Fitness Personal Management Pets
Photography Pioneering Plant Science Plumbing
Pottery Programming Public Health Public Speaking
Pulp and Paper Radio Railroading Reading
Reptile and Amphibian Study Rifle Shooting Robotics Rowing
Safety Salesmanship Scholarship Scouting Heritage
Scuba Diving Sculpture Search and Rescue Shotgun Shooting
Signaling Signs Signals and Codes Skating Small-Boat Sailing
Snow Sports Soil and Water Conservation Space Exploration Sports
Stamp Collecting Sustainability Surveying Swimming
Textile Theater Tracking Traffic Safety
Truck Transportation Veterinary Medicine Water Sports Weather
Welding Whitewater Wilderness Survival Wood Carving

Merit Badge Pamphlets: An official Boy Scout merit badge 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, find them in a troop library, or often-times check them out from a public library. There is also a Requirements Booklet with a merit badge list for quick reference.
Merit Badge 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 Boy Scout merit badge program. Many districts have a directory of counselors.
Merit Badge 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, buddy, or family member that will be his partner to attend all meetings with the 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 merit badge counselor certifies completion of requirements and the merit badge patch is presented at a court of honor or troop meeting.
Required Merit Badges: A boy scout can begin taking merit badges as soon as he joins a troop, but no merit badges are required for advancement until he receives his First Class rank. Advancement to Star, Life, and Eagle all require completion of merit badges, service, and demonstration of responsibility. To reach Eagle rank, a scout must complete a total of at least 21 Boy Scout merit badges listing them in his handbook, 13 of which come from the Eagle-required badge list.

Request New Merit Badge Topics
If you feel another topic or activity should be added, you need to tell the Boy Scouts of America directly.
For any advancement idea, send your request to:
  Innovation Engine Team
  Boy Scouts of America
  1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
  P.O. Box 152079
  Irving, TX 75015-2079
Or, send email to:
See this page for more info.

More Boy Scout Information to Use:
  Merit Badges - requirements and aids
  Boy Scout Activities - great scout activity ideas
  Boy Scout Awards - see what awards are available to Boy Scouts
  Boy Scout Ceremonies - a few ceremony ideas
  Boy Scout Games - patrol or troop games
  Boy Scout Graces - fun meal graces
  Boy Scout Jokes - funny, gross, and silly jokes for scouts
  Boy Scout Projects - community projects for Boy Scout patrols or troops
  Boy Scout Recipes - tasty food recipes for scout camping
  Boy Scout Skits - skits that Boy Scouts like to do
  Boy Scout Songs - songs for scouts
  Boy Scout Stories - stories that Boy Scouts will enjoy and understand
  Boy Scout Uniform - make sure you put all those badges and patches in the right spots
  Boy Scout Tests - online tests for Boy Scouts to test their knowledge
  Boy Scout Schedule - sample schedule to reach First Class rank in 12-18 months
  Eagle Scout Schedule - sample schedule to reach Eagle Scout
  Boy Scout Monthly Themes

 Sep 03, 2012 - Austin Eagle
hello i am trying to get some help. i need four more eagle req. badges, but i don't have much time. i need Personal Fitness, Personal Management, cit. in community, and emergancy prep. my deadline is december 16 so as of right now i need to hurry. i wish i couldve gone to a summer camp and do these but  i was already overloaded and was unable to at the time. now i am in a big hurry. is there a program somewhere or a way i could do these without losing my eagle? thanks i really want the oprotunity to talk. ive heard about like merit badge fairs and stuff but i dont know much about this stuff. cant wait for some tips! Austin`

P.S. i live near dallas, texas. Thanks!
Sep 03, 2012 - Scouter Paul
Austin - There is no way you could have done these merit badges at summer camp and you can't just churn them out in a one day merit badge fair.
Earning Eagle is more like a marathon than a quick sprint and if the requirements are put off too long, it is unattainable.  The only way you can earn Eagle is to put in the full effort on these merit badges and set aside the time required to complete all the tasks.

You should immediately contact your scoutmaster and get started.  If you got a counselor right away, went to work, and didn't procrastinate any longer, you could conceivably complete these badges just before your deadline.
Sep 19, 2012 - Henry L. Bryan
Has the BSA looked into an idea to offer "advanced" merit badges?  Advanced merit badges would list several additional requirements that would be more difficult to learn and/or more difficult to achieve.  For example, the physical fitness merit badge would list physical fitness tests and accomplishments that might be considered more difficult to achieve than the current requirements.

The idea of an advanced merit badge would be to provide a greater challenge to some scouts.  These scouts who accomplish the additional requirements could be awarded a merit badge with a different outer lining (perhaps gold color) for the badge.

Advanced merit badges could provide more challenge without taking away the current requirements and current badge.
Sep 22, 2012 - Scouter Paul
Henry - the goal of the merit badge program is to introduce scouts to possible careers, interests, or hobbies which they can develop further on their own.  I doubt a hierarchy of merit badge difficulties would be introduced, but you could let national BSA know your idea.
Sep 30, 2012 - Karen
I would love to see a Running merit badge.  My son is into long distance running; half-marathons and distance relays.  When he turns 16 he hopes to do marathons.  None of the badges cover just running - "Athletics" is more track and field.  Distance running is becoming such a huge sport, the BSA should really consider adding such a MB.
Oct 01, 2012 - Linda G
Wish they would go to six months to complete a badge.  The boys have no clue what they were taught any longer than that.  The trail to Eagle is getting "fluffy".
Jan 04, 2013 - lina
Here' s an idea.....would it be too much of an effort to put the actual merit badge pamphlets online for sale as digital media?  I just can't believe that after all this time this process is so difficult.   because as a mom and former cub leader,it would make my life a little less stressful.  because we all know how responsible boys are(see Austin eagle above for example -- not all, just most)..even if they are honor students, good athletes, etc..and were reminded over and over to get this stuff done EARLIER!! yes, I am venting here but you have to admit it, I am right about the digital copy. it would be nice and of course there would be a fee
Jan 22, 2013 - Rosemary F. Callahan
I am requesting info from the scouting community to address a merit badge that can be acquired by a scout that will involve the planting of annuals,  perennials,  and or bulbs at their house of worship. I am a volunteer for the Master Gardening Program with the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Program in Suffolk County, New York.;  I came upon this idea by researching the web site... Bulbproject. org,  this community places daffodils and crocus bulbs on municipal roadways for area beautification of the community,  the community has a fund raiser for the purchase of the bulbs from a supplier and sets a date of the first Saturday in October to pick up the bulbs by volunteers for their installation.... can you  imagine the beauty of that roadway, the smiles on the faces of the volunteers and the people passing by..... why not  try this project at our houses of  worship.

William Peacock
Jan 22, 2013 - Yukon Jack
@ Wiliam/Rosemary.  I'd suggest looking at the Gardening MB as a primary place.  You may also meet some requirements for the Plant Science MB and the Soil & Water Conservation MB as well.  
Jan 24, 2013 - Holly
my son is in the wolf den ,I am his wolf mom/leader for our wolf den.

My husband has graduated college with the highest honors for land surveying and has his degree.
and Now currently back in college for Diesel mechanic (which he did for the Army for 6 years)and he is currently working in a garage as a diesel mechanic

My question is :
would he be able to be the counselor  and teach my son and any others boys in the wolf pack so they can work for there badges now?
 or do they have to be in boy scouts and out of cub scouts?
Jan 24, 2013 - Scouter Paul
Holly - merit badges are only for Boy Scouts, not Cub Scouts.
Mar 03, 2013 - Quentin Wade Dawson
I'm a eagle scout in 1982 but i never got all merit badges that i finished for my eagle badge award i had a total of 50  is there away i can get them? I HOPE U CAN HELP ME!!!!!
Mar 03, 2013 - Scouter Paul
Quentin - If you have your advancement paperwork, you might take that to you local scout shop and ask them what you need to do to purchase replacement patches.  They might be lenient and sell them to you, or refer you to someone higher up.
You could contact the council from which you received your ranks and ask if they have advancement records from 30 years ago.
Mar 05, 2013 - Paul from Dallas
I am not sure if this is the correct forum but my boy just transferred into Boy Scouts so I went into the attic and brought out my old sash with my merit badges on them.  There is one I can not find any reference to.  It is the same size as all the other merit badges and has the green border with a full length white horse with a black mane and tail.  The background is purple.  I probably should know what this badge was for but it has been almost forty years and I am wondering if it could have been a temporary badge or if it is even a valid badge.  This was earned in 1974 in the Pa. area.
Mar 05, 2013 - Scouter Paul
Paul - That was the "Animal Industry" merit badge.
Apr 13, 2013 - MARTHA
Apr 14, 2013 - Scouter Paul
Martha - Merit badges are not much different from any other learning opportunity your son may be offered.  Whichever methods he uses to help himself with school, social interaction, and other parts of life should work with merit badges.  
He may be more challenged than other scouts to complete some badges, but if he wants to do it, he will.
As a parent, you might encourage him, help him set aside a specific time for merit badge progress each week, and become familiar with the badge requirements to help him choose some that fit his interests.  Many merit badges have little reading and lots of DOing - Hiking merit badge is a good example.
May 22, 2013 - New Advanc Chair
We have boys in out troop that just turned 12- and the mother is already pushing Eagle Merit Badges on them. A few of the MB the Councelor herself refused to do with them because of thier age/mentality level. She wants to send them to another councelor to be done. On review of even the easier badges it has come to light that the boys are not really doing the work- the parent is. How can we get her to back down and have the boys wait until they han comprehend the merit badge and do the work themselves? I am new in the Advan. chair position and know the boys are not capable of the ones she is pushing for. She wants them to be Eagle by thier 13th b-day ....   augh !!
May 24, 2013 - GLT
As a committee chair, I would talk with my scoutmaster / MB counselors about the issue at our leaders meeting and see what they think. Only with a united front in the troop will you be able to confront someone really aggressive.

As a physician who counsels the first aid MB, I have elected to make everyone pass a basic written test over the material before they get the badge. One boy with a learning disability couldn't do in a written form, so he did it in an oral form instead.
Jul 13, 2013 - Christy
To GLT, you say you are a MB counselor and "As a physician who counsels the first aid MB, I have elected to make everyone pass a basic written test over the material before they get the badge."  You need to be careful with this, since no one is allowed to add to or take from or modify the requirements of the merit badges, as referenced in various locations in the Guide to Advancement and other resources.

I know you probably do it in order that the scouts prove up they know first aid, but if passing a test is a requirement that you put on the scouts as a condition of earning the merit badge, you would be considered as not following what a MB counselor is supposed to be doing.

Jul 27, 2013 - Woodsy
How can a person go about getting certified to be a counselor to assist scouts with earning Merit Badges? I would like to offer scouts the opportunity to earn some badges through guided hikes. Are scout leaders typically certified counselors? If so, can I work with a leader/counselor and offer guided hikes? Or, should I become a counselor myself and offer the guided hikes to any and all interested scouts? Thank you for your guidance.
Jul 28, 2013 - Scouter Paul
@Woodsy - You should become a merit badge counselor by applying through your local BSA council.  They have the role of authorizing or denying your membership.  See  
Jul 28, 2013 - GLT
To Christy, sorry I wasn't more clear about the first aid test. First Aid MB Requirement #1 is " satisfy your counselor that you understand the first aid requirements for tenderfoot, second class, and first class..." I suppose I could test them verbally, but have found it gives them a sense of accomplishment to "satisfy their counselor" by passing a written exam.
Oct 01, 2013 - VLS
I have an Eagle Scout who decided to continue on and collect all of the merit badges.  He finished them ALL just before the new clutch of badges issued.  Is there a "group" for scouts who have accomplished this please?
Oct 01, 2013 - Scouter Paul
@VLS - There is no group or club or organization made of only scouts that earned all merit badges.
Nov 14, 2013 - Happy Hitchhiker
Since boy scouts are all different ages, are the "standards" for a merit badge dependent on the scouts age?  A scout I work with is having a very difficult time with earning the medicine merit badge because the counselor is requiring a higher level of work than the scout is able to give.  The counselor said to wait a few years and then try again.  Are certain merit badges just "reserved" for the older grades?
Nov 15, 2013 - Scouter Paul
@Happy - No, the same standards are applied to each scout.  No, no badges are reserved for older scouts.
The BSA guidelines state that any registered Boy Scout can begin work on any merit badge at any time.  Some merit badges are definitely more difficult than others.  Merit badge counselors interpret the requirements and ensure that each scout complete the requirements "to the counselor's satisfaction".
Nov 19, 2013 - Jeff S.
HH & SP,
  I agree with both of you; however, in this instance, I'd suggest that another counselor be sought.  I know that the requirements must be maintained, and that the "bar" remains the same regardless of the age of the scout, but finding a counselor who is willing to teach, or one willing to work with the youth may be the key here.  I remember that while doing the Music MB as a 15 y.o. youth, the counselor expected much more out of me than she did out of my 12 y.o. cousin.  We both me the requirements, but more was expected out of me.  
  Thanks for hearing me out!  I hope that this contributes to the conversation.  
Dec 23, 2013 - Kit Whittaker
I have looked on five websites to learn which shoulder the merit badge sash goes on. I hesitate to sew all those badges on my grandson's sash until I know for sure!
Grandma Kit
Dec 24, 2013 - Scouter Paul
@Kit - The merit badge sash is draped over the right shoulder and left hip.  It is not to be worn folded on the belt!  See uniform page.  
Feb 19, 2014 - TR
Leaders need to really watch out for merit badge midways---one day events--and be made aware of what the guide to advancement states about group instruction.
Apr 12, 2014 - HappyHitchhiker
I am confused...can parents and/or scout leaders sign off on merit badges?  I am assisting a boy scout with finding a counselor in the state since we do not have a local one and was told by the scoutmaster that the boy's parents can just sign off on it.  What is the point of having merit badge counselors if parents can sign off on things?
Apr 13, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Happy - Only a registered merit badge counselor can sign off on merit badge completions.  A merit badge counselor can be a parent.
Saying "the boy's parents can just sign off" is incorrect.
Jun 21, 2014 - Eric
I have a few questions to ask about obtaining merit badges.  Because my son just joined the Scouts a few weeks ago and has been trying to start a few to do over the summer and has gotten the run around on how to start them and who to talk too to begin them.  First he went to the scout master as the BSA hand book says to do and his scout master told him he needed to talk to the troop counselor on how to begin any new merit badges.  So he went to the counselor and the counselor told him that he would have to find two or three other boys that want to work on that same merit badge to begin it.  Please advise me on how we can solve this problem and get him working on his own merit badges
Jun 23, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Eric - The merit badge process is explained above and in detail at this BSA page.  There is no "troop counselor" position, so I don't know what the scoutmaster is talking about there.  But, from your text, it sounds like that is a merit badge counselor who is also a parent volunteer in the troop.
There should be no requirement that a scout solicit a group of scouts to join him in doing a merit badge.  That is not part of the merit badge process.

Jun 26, 2014 - scoutmaster Kyle
@Scouter Paul - except that for Youth Protection the counselor may be asking for the scout to bring along a buddy or fellow scout to avoid having one on one interactions. But it sure sounds like counselor is trying to do a group at a time rather than individual scouts, to save effort maybe. But you're right, it's not part of the process to do that.
Jul 21, 2014 - Gary Garrison
Regarding the question on April 12 and the answer on the 13th.  There is nothing wrong with a counselor accepting the parent's word that a particular requirement was met, provided the parent has established credibility with the counselor.  I agree that only a registered merit badge counselor can "sign off" on a requirement but we merit badge counselors must be allowed and able to have confidence in other adults and parents who witness and are involved in the boys accomplishments.
Jul 21, 2014 - Gary Garrison
Question;  Does anyone know of any BSA rule or policy prohibiting a boy from working on and accomplishing  merit badge requirements while on a family vacation or other activity that is not an official Scout function as long as some proof or verification is  presented to the merit badge counselor?
Jul 27, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Gary - It depends on the merit badge since some require direct acceptance of specific requirements, such as scoring with rifles and shotguns.  But, many merit badge requirements get completed on family vacations, such as visiting national monuments and historic places.
It would be a very good idea for the scout to discuss his plan with his counselor BEFORE doing requirements on a vacation to ensure the counselor plans on accepting the results.
Sep 24, 2014 - Rose
We have several boys all working on the same badges. Can we cover some of the requirements at a regular troop meeting? They all work really well together.
Sep 29, 2014 - SPL Quinn
This is regarding Rose's question. I am the SPL of Troop 440 out of Annville, Pa. I have visited other scout troops in the area and saw how they function. There are many scout troops, including mine, who do that. However, I would recommend that the decision be up to the boys as to what merit badge to do (give them a list) and be sure not to focus too much on just merit badges. Have some fun stuff and learning knots and firebuilding too. I would recommend having mostly eagle badges, and maybe an easy other too, like fingerprinting.
Sep 29, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Rose - Yes, you can, but...
Earning merit badges should be Scout initiated, Scout researched, and Scout learned.  See this page- section about group instruction.

Nov 17, 2014 - Happy Hitchhiker
I became a merit badge counselor for several badges that were not offered in our area.  One of which is hiking.  I planned a series of hikes  and got together with another counselor to incorporate another badge into the activities.  After inviting the four troops in town to earn the hiking badge I was informed that the scoutmaster and a parent sign off on that badge (from one troop), another troop has a father that approves all the hikes, the third said that the boys earn this at camp, and the fourth sent 5 boys on the hikes.  I checked with the council and we have no other hiking merit badge counselors in the county.  Is this the norm?  
Nov 17, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@HH - Thanks for filling that gap!

Seems strange that there are 3 counselors for Hiking in your town, yet no more in the area.  I'm a counselor for Hiking and there are at least a dozen more in our district.

I've seen quite a few times where troops really try to control the merit badges earned by their scouts.  They prefer to have scouts do badges internally rather than work with new adults out in the world.  That strikes me as parochial and detrimental to the growth of the scouts.
I expect it comes from a bad experience with some counselor far back in the past that resulted in that view of the world.  I can understand that since I've run into merit badges completed at summer camp with some of the requirements not actually being completed.  As far as summer camp goes, I don't see how Hiking can be completed in a week with the miles required.

I love hiking.  I love getting scouts to hike with me.  3 hours of walking is a great time to chat about anything.
Nov 18, 2014 - Happy Hitchhiker
Scouter Paul...I am the only hiking merit badge counselor (registered) in our town.  There are 5 in a town 60 miles away.  The entire council only has 8 hiking merit badge counselors.  What I was told by 3 of the 4 scout troops in our town is that THEY ( leader or parent) sign off on hiking merit badges.  Why is this?  I got together with another merit badge counselor to offer his badge on the hikes so the boys would get a 2 for 1 deal (so to speak) for working so hard for that week.  The 5 that came loved it.  I just found out last night that one troop gives merit badges to Webelos when they participate with the troop.  This seems really weird.  Maybe this is why there are so few registered merit badge counselors in our town ( we have 6 including me but the other 5 cover one badge only).
Nov 18, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@HH - Not only weird, but not following the BSA program.  There is no way that a Webelos scout should ever receive a merit badge.  ONLY registered merit badge counselors are authorized to sign off the requirements for merit badges.  If those leaders or parents are not registered counselors for Hiking, then they should not be signing off the requirements.

It's a council problem if they are giving out merit badges to anyone.  If you'd like to get things changed, I think the next step would be to inform your district advancement chair about what is going on and see what s/he thinks about it.  Either it gets fixed or the council has no problem with it.  But, it certainly is incorrect.

Nov 24, 2014 - Runner Neal
In regards to Karen's message...
Sep 30, 2012 - Karen
I would love to see a Running merit badge.  My son is into long distance running; half-marathons and distance relays.  When he turns 16 he hopes to do marathons.  None of the badges cover just running - "Athletics" is more track and field.  Distance running is becoming such a huge sport, the BSA should really consider adding such a MB.

I agree with you 100%. Running has become a very popular activity in our society. It exemplifies what Boy Scouts is all about. I am going to write up a proposal that the BSA add Running merit badge. Let me know if you have ideas for the badge.
Jan 05, 2015 - Mom
At this weekends campout, the scout master said that no scout was allowed to work on merit badges individually.  The troop does merit badges as a group.  The scout master gave all the parents a schedule of this year's activities and the associated merit badges.  Can leaders do this?  The other parents seem to enjoy it because they don't have to do anything.
Jan 05, 2015 - Greenbar Bear
In response to Mom,
I have known troops to have a merit badge specific campouts where all the scouts work on the same MB. To have all MBs for the whole year planned out seems odd to me. Scouts are allowed to work on MBs individually. What if a boys needs a required MB for advancement that is not offered that year? What if a scout has an interest in a particular MB not offered, is he allowed to work on it without it being a "troop MB"? Earning MBs should be an individual endeavor (emphasis on earning). Scouts are allowed to advance at their own pace. They are allowed to earn whatever MBs they choose. In my opinion parents, scout leaders, troop committee, and the troop itself are all there to support a scout in his scouting experience. Encouragement, positive reinforcement and sometimes gentle prodding are needed to help a scout along the path. I would never try to hold back a scout who has a desire to earn as many MBs as he can. Are there other troops in your area?  
Feb 04, 2015 - Mom
No troop in my community uses registered merit badge counselors.  The adult leaders in the troop sign off on the requirements and run them as "classes" where the boys just fill in what the adult says.  I just don't know what to do.  I tell my son to be honest, follow the rules, and be proud of what he earns, but then everyone around him doesn't play by the same set of rules.  Is this happening in other troops as well?
Feb 10, 2015 - Dad
Most adult leaders are also official merit badge counselors who can run classes or such. Most have taken the training to do so as well.
Feb 11, 2015 - Scouter Mom:)
In my personal opinion and other adult leaders in my área,Scouts should start tKing Eagle Required MB after they are first class.  I'm about to start with a badge and being pressured into giving it to tenderfoot and scout Scouts. Is anyone else having issues with this? I have been told there are "rules" for this but can't find anything written.
Feb 11, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@Mom - The merit badge program is designed and intended to be a personal progression for each scout, not a mass-fed classroom program.  Chapter 7 of the Guide to Advancement explains it very well.  The scoutmaster of your son's troop is doing it wrong, and is shortchanging the scouts from opportunity to grow as young men.  People don't mind doing it his way because it makes life easy for them and their son gets a patch.

@Scouter Mom - Your personal opinion goes against the documented way to implement the merit badge program.  You, and all those other leaders in your area, really should follow the merit badge counselor guide and get a copy of the Guide to Advancement and read it.  Especially chapter 7 and section  

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