Scouts BSA
Requirements Changes

BSA annually issues a publication which until 2019 was entitled Boy Scout Requirements, and has now been renamed Scouts BSA Requirements (currently BSA Publication No. 33216 - previously 33215), and periodically publishes revised pamphlets for each merit badge currently available to Scouts. In 2021,BSA announced that it was discontinuing publication of the Requirements Book and there was no edition in 2021, but publication resumed in 2022. Scouts BSA Requirements is normally issued in January each year, and contains the official requirements for all Scouts BSA rank advancements and all merit badges, plus those for other awards and emblems. The requirements in the book are the official requirements from the date it is issued (typically January 1) through the end of the year (December 31), when the next edition becomes effective and official.

BSA does NOT hold the publications of merit badge pamphlets until January each year. Instead, they issue them as they are completed (and old stocks are exhausted, probably). Then in January, Scouts BSA Requirements should include all revisions to date.

When there is a conflict between two published lists of requirements, such as Scouts BSA Requirements (BSA Publication No. 33216) and a Merit Badge Pamphlet or the Scouts handbooks, the requirements book should normally be considered to be the controlling document, until a newer edition of Scouts BSA Requirements is issued. However, the following excerpt from the Guide to Advancement, 2017 explains what to do when merit badge requirements change: What to Do When Requirements Change

The current annual edition of Boy Scout Requirements lists the official merit badge requirements. Once new or revised merit badge requirements appear in this publication, which is released each January, any Scout just beginning work on a merit badge must use the requirements as stated there.

If changes to merit badge requirements are introduced in a revised merit badge pamphlet after the January release of the Boy Scout Requirements book, then the Scout has until the following January 1 to decide what to do. He may continue—or begin work—using the old merit badge requirements and the old pamphlet; or he may switch to—or begin work—using the new requirements and the new pamphlet. Unless it is otherwise stated in the merit badge pamphlet, Boy Scout Requirements, or official communications from the National Council, if a Scout chooses to use the old merit badge requirements and pamphlet, he may continue using them until he has completed the badge.

There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge, although a counselor may determine so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements must be used.

Scouts should note that the requirements in Scouts BSA Requirements may be (and frequently are) different from those printed in their copy of the Scouts BSA Handbook, or the merit badge pamphlet they are using, because Scouts BSA Requirements is updated annually, and the handbook and pamphlets are not. Even if the handbook or pamphlet was printed this year, the content, including the requirements, may not have been updated from those when the book was last revised.

BSA issued new editions of  ALL of the merit badge pamphlets in August, 2008. In some cases, the new pamphlets had major revisions at that time, while others only involved changes to the illustrations (which went from black and white to color).

Since 2002, the requirements for every merit badge has been revised in some manner. Again, some of the changes were major, while others were only very minor.

Since 1995, we have been preparing analyses of all of the changes in the annual editions of  Scouts BSA Requirements. These analyses have been published on our web site as listed below.

These analyses were prepared as a service to Scouts and Scouters nationwide by
Paul S. Wolf
Secretary, US Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Printed copies of the documents may be freely distributed for use in the Scouting program, so long as the source is acknowledged, but copying the information to another web site is NOT authorized.

Page updated on: December 23, 2022

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