The long-awaited Walking merit badge requirements have been released today. Though not an Eagle-required badge, I expect this one will be one of the most popular badges to collect in 2015.
Requirements for the Walking merit badge:
Do the following:
Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while walking, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while walking, including hypothermia, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, dehydration, sunburn, sprained ankle, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, hyperventilation, altitude sickness, sudden cardiac arrest, malaria, typhoid, chicken pox, hangnail, ambulophobia, and spontaneous combustion.
Explain and, where possible, show the points of good walking practices including putting one foot in front of the other, staying upright, courtesy to others, choice of footwear, and proper care of feet and footwear.
Write a 300-word report about how walking was invented. Share this report with your counselor.
Make a written plan for a 6-mile walk. Include a map route, equipment list, list of emergency phone numbers, list of food stops along the route, list of homes with dogs or large cats along the route, and list of bus, train, or taxi stops along the route.
Do FIVE of the following accompanied by a parent, or designated adult:
Walk and chew gum for at least five minutes without choking.
Walk on your hands for at least two minutes without falling.
Walk backwards for at least five minutes without running into any person, animal, or inanimate object.
Read "A Walk in the Woods" or watch the movie. Report to your counselor about how the book or movie presents the mindset of people that walk. As an alternate, you may watch and report on at least three full seasons of "Walking Dead".
Memorize, and present at a campfire, at least three "Walks Into a Bar..." jokes. Poll your fellow scouts to find which one was the most popular and report back to your counselor.
Have a talk with your father or grandfather about how he walked to school. If possible, walk from his childhood home to his old schoolhouse and determine if it actually is uphill both ways or not. Report your findings to your counselor.
Take a virtual walk on Google Earth or gmap-pedometer.com - the walk must be of at least 100 miles. The walk must start at your home and include at least two state or national parks or monuments, state capitols, national historic locations, or homes of famous people. Save the map of your walk and show it to your counselor.
On a campout, cook dinner in a wok for your patrol. (This meal may NOT be used for the Cooking merit badge)
Find out about three career opportunities in walking. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.
Jennifer asked: "Do the 6 merit badges for star rank have to be earned while a 1st class scout, or could they have been earned while a tenderfoot or 2nd class scout?" All requirements to earn Star rank need to be started and completed after First Class has been earned EXCEPT for the merit badges. Boy Scouts can begin work on any merit badge at any time, once they are registered with a troop. There are no age restrictions on any merit badges, and badges earned before attaining First Class rank DO count towards Star requirements.
The same is true for Life and Eagle ranks - all Life requirements are started and completed after attaining Star rank, and all Eagle requirements are started and completed after attaining Life rank, EXCEPT for the merit badges.
An industrious new scout could complete a couple dozen merit badges in his first few months as a scout and not need to do any others for rank advancement.
Are folks in your community tired of wreaths, mulch, and bulbs? Your troop could be one of eight that receive a big fundraising starter kit from Country Meats via Scouting Magazine's sweepstakes through the end of April. It's no secret that I love their snack sticks, and there's a good chance your troop could be the first in your town to offer them. A table outside your local Outdoor Sports store the day before Fishing Opener could be killer. See Contest page to enter as often as you'd like.
There's a scene in the old 1981 movie "Quest for Fire" where the lead character was shown how to make fire by another clan. Until that moment, fire could only be found in nature or stolen from others so it was fiercely guarded and nurtured. Being able to make fire was huge!
I've raved about the enjoyment I get from starting fire with just air - using a Wildersol fire piston. It's always good for impressing a few people on any campout. I love being able to make fire many different ways besides just flicking a Bic, and I think it's a great way to improve self sufficiency. A scout that can create fire realizes he can do much more.
There have been some new developments at Wildersol that might interest you. From the wooden fire piston kits that I've carved and given as Eagle gifts, the choices in piston design have exploded. You can now select from wood, composite, clear or colored plexiglass, or tooled aluminum. There are mini- or full-sized pistons, and even a TriLight model with 3 ways to start fire.
Jeff (@ Wildersol) has created a few videos showing how his firestarters work, as well as making fire from wild components. I like this one where he makes and uses a bowdrill from wild bits.
It looks like fun. I've gathered wild components on a couple weekend campouts and made my own bowdrill to see if I could actually make fire in the wild. It's hard! I've been successful, but I hope I'm never in a situation where I really need to do it. I'd rather have a small firestarter in my pocket.
Jeff also has some special pricing and products specifically for scouts on his site. If you'd like your troop to get better at fire starting, or have a competition, or just looking for gifts, check out his Scout Specials page - matchless fire combo has 4 ways to start fire (flint-n-steel, fire piston, magnifying glass, plus ferrocerium rod and striker), and there's a special group price for fire pistons.
It's Klondike Derby time so a little reminder about frostbite danger to the scouts is in order.
It only took an hour of walking this morning to develop this cool frost layer. It was -5°F and about 5mph wind - and I was comfortable the entire hike.
At -10°F, it takes about 30 minutes to get frostbite on exposed skin, but less than 15 minutes at -20°F. Above about 15°F, there is much less concern about frostbite, but hypothermia remains something to watch for as people slowly lose their core body heat over hours, not minutes.
Keep these points in mind to prevent frostbite:
Keep Moving - muscle activity keeps warm blood flowing to your extremities. Sitting, or even standing in one position, can reduce circulation which increases frostbite potential. Don't move so much that you sweat and get your clothes wet.
Wear loose layers - this provides dead air space which means more insulation. A big fleece crushed under a tight-fitting windbreaker loses loft - wear an oversized outer layer.
Cover up - Exposed skin freezes fast so cover everything but your eyes.
Convection cools - a 0 degree windless day is less dangerous than a 15 degree day with 15mph wind. A windproof outer layer makes a big difference. Even a thin wind/rain jacket hood over your stocking hat helps a lot.
Winter Gear - a scarf or balaclava protects the face; mittens instead of gloves keep fingers together and warmer; insulated boots, especially with thick soles, keep feet warmer than hiking boots. Chemical heat packs in boots and mittens can be a big help.
Limit Exposure - if you expect frostbite temperatures for your outing, ensure there are places where participants can take time to warm up.
Buddy System - someone else noticing signs of trouble is sometimes the first indication.