Merit Badge Center Introduction Page - An introduction to the merit badge area.


Qualifications for Merit Badge Counselors

The following is taken directly from the 2013 edition of the Guide to Advancement (BSA Publication 33088 - SKU 618673) and should be read by all Merit Badge Counselors.

7.0.1.1 Qualifications of Counselors

People serving as merit badge counselors, including those working at summer camp, must maintain registration with the Boy Scouts of America as merit badge counselors and be approved by the local council advancement committee for each of their badges. See “Counselor Approvals and Limitations,” 7.0.1.4. There are no exceptions. For example, Scoutmasters must be approved for any badge they wish to counsel or sign off in their troop. Before working with Scouts, counselors must have completed Youth Protection training within the last two years. They must be men or women of good character, age 18 or older, and recognized as having the skills and education in the subjects they cover. It is important, too, they have good rapport with Scout-age boys and unit leaders.

It is acceptable for a counselor registered in one council to approve merit badges for Scouts in another. This is an important consideration, especially in areas where counselors are scarce, or when Scouts are away from home and want to continue advancing.

Several badges involve activities for which the Boy Scouts of America has implemented strategies to improve safety, improve the Scouts' experiences, and manage risk. These activities often require supervision with specialized qualifications and certifications. Merit badge counselors who do not meet the specific requirements may use the services of others who do. Additional details can be found below, and also in the Guide to Safe Scouting, No. 34416, and the merit badge pamphlets.

General Supervision Requirements

  • Swimming and watercraft activities must be conducted in accordance with BSA Safe Swim Defense or BSA Safety Afloat, respectively, and be supervised by mature and conscientious adults at least 21 years old and trained in the program applicable. Counselors for merit badges involving swimming or the use of watercraft must be so trained, or use helpers who are.
  • All physical activities presented in any Scouting program must be conducted in accordance with “The Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety.” These 16 points, embodying good judgment and common sense, can be found at http://www.scouting.org/HealthandSafety/Sweet16.aspx.
  • CPR instruction, wherever it is required, must be taught by instructors currently trained by a nationally certified provider. Several such providers are mentioned in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

The following merit badges have special qualifications or certifications for either the merit badge counselor or the supervisor of certain activities that may be involved. Counselors and advancement administrators should consult the merit badge pamphlets for details and to maintain awareness of changes and updates as pamphlets are revised. (See the footnotes on the individual web pages linked in the list below for the details applicable to that badge)

Archery, Canoeing, Climbing, Kayaking, Lifesaving, Rifle Shooting, Rowing, Scuba Diving, Shotgun Shooting, Snow Sports, Swimming, Whitewater

All certifications listed above must be current.

The required qualifications above for merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Scouts will see them as people of importance they can look up to and learn from. A well-qualified counselor can extend a young person’s attention span: More will be heard and understood, discussions will be more productive, and true interest developed. The conversations can lead to a relationship of mutual respect where the Scout is confident to offer his thoughts and opinions and value those of his merit badge counselor. Thus it is that social skills and self-reliance grow, and examples are set and followed.

In approving counselors, the local council advancement committee has the authority to establish a higher minimum, reasonable level of skills and education for the counselors of a given merit badge than is indicated in “Qualifications of Counselors,” 7.0.1.1. For example, NRA certification could be established as a council standard for approving counselors for the Rifle Shooting or Shotgun Shooting merit badges.

Note:  Although not mentions in the Guide to Advancement, the certifications listed all have limited durations and must be periodically renewed.  The BSA "Training Times" Newsletter (Spring 2011 issue) has this information:

Training Recertification

Keeping Scouts safe and keeping Scouting leaders up to date with current information and methods means some of the BSA's training courses need to be retaken every couple of years.

We all know about Youth Protection training and National Camping School, but there are some others - including some that have recently been added to the list.

Below is a list of these courses and how often they should be retaken to be valid:

  • Youth Protection - every two years
  • National Camping School - good for five camping seasons
  • Safe Swim Defense - every two years
  • Paddle Craft Safety - every three years
  • Aquatics Supervision/Swimming and Water Rescue - every three years
  • BSA Lifeguard - every three years
  • Visitation training - every two years
  • Climbing Lead Instructor - every two years
  • Climbing Instructor - every two years
  • COPE/Climbing Inspector - every two years
  • Safety Afloat - every two years
  • Chain Saw Safety - every two years
  • Trainer's EDGE - every three years
  • Hazardous Weather - every two years
  • Physical Wellness - every two years
  • Climb On Safely - every two years
  • Trek Safely - every two years

Revisions to Merit Badges and Boy Scout Advancements

Additional Information on Merit Badges, with lists of resources for study is available at the Meritbadge.org website, which, is not directly affiliated with the USSSP, but whose operators work closely with the USSSP. The worksheets on both meritbadge.og and usscouts.org are prepared by the same Scouters and are identical.


Required for Eagle

The following 17 badges are on the list of badges in requirement 3 for Eagle Scout.

A Scout must earn 13 of them for the rank of Eagle Scout (and 8 others, of course).  Therefore, certain of them are options for others. A Scout may choose any combination of these 17 merit badges to fulfill requirement number 3 for Star and Life Scout. (He must have a minimum of 4 of these badges for Star and a minimum of 7 of these badges for Life) Click here to see which badges in the list are options. On July 15, 2013, the new Sustainability merit badge became 16th badge on this list as an alternative to Environmental Science, On January 1, 2014, Cooking merit badge was added as a 13th required badge for Eagle, and 17th badge on the list.

Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Cycling, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Science, Family Life, First Aid, Hiking, Lifesaving, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Sustainability, Swimming

The following is a list of all of the 133 current Merit Badges, arranged into 14 logical fields of activity (categories) as they appear in the BSA Pamphlet "Worksheet for Building a Merit Badge Counselor List" (No. 04439) (with new badges added in appropriate locations).

  1. AGRIBUSINESS
    ANIMAL SCIENCE, FARM MECHANICS, PLANT SCIENCE
  2. ARTS AND CRAFTS
    ANIMATION, ART, BASKETRY, BUGLING, LEATHERWORK, METALWORK, MUSIC, POTTERY, SCULPTURE, THEATER, WOOD CARVING
  3. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
    AMERICAN BUSINESS, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, PULP AND PAPER, SALESMANSHIP, TEXTILE
  4. CONSERVATION
    ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, FISH AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT, FORESTRY, SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION, SUSTAINABILITY
  5. HOBBIES
    BACKPACKING, CAMPING, CHESS, COIN COLLECTING, COLLECTIONS, COOKING, DOG CARE, GARDENING, HIKING, HOME REPAIRS, INDIAN LORE, MODEL DESIGN AND BUILDING, PETS, PIONEERING, RADIO, ROWING, SCOUTING HERITAGE, SIGNS, SIGNALS, AND CODES, STAMP COLLECTING
  6. NATURAL SCIENCE
    ARCHAEOLOGY, ASTRONOMY, BIRD STUDY, GEOLOGY, INSECT STUDY, MAMMAL STUDY, NATURE, OCEANOGRAPHY, REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN STUDY, WEATHER
  7. COMMUNICATIONS
    MOVIEMAKING, JOURNALISM, PHOTOGRAPHY
  8. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
    AMERICAN CULTURES, AMERICAN HERITAGE, CITIZENSHIP IN THE COMMUNITY, CITIZENSHIP IN THE NATION, CITIZENSHIP IN THE WORLD, COMMUNICATION, DISABILITIES AWARENESS, FAMILY LIFE, GENEALOGY, PERSONAL FITNESS, PERSONAL MANAGEMENT, PUBLIC SPEAKING, READING, SCHOLARSHIP, SEARCH AND RESCUE, TRAFFIC SAFETY, WILDERNESS SURVIVAL
  9. PHYSICAL SCIENCE
    CHEMISTRY, COMPUTERS - replaced by DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, ELECTRICITY, ELECTRONICS, ENERGY, NUCLEAR SCIENCE, SPACE EXPLORATION
  10. PROFESSIONS
    ARCHITECTURE, DENTISTRY, ENGINEERING, GAME DESIGN, INVENTING, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, LAW, MEDICINE, MINING IN SOCIETY, PROGRAMMING, ROBOTICS, SURVEYING, VETERINARY MEDICINE
  11. PUBLIC SERVICE
    CRIME PREVENTION, EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, FINGERPRINTING, FIRE SAFETY, FIRST AID, LIFESAVING, PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY
  12. SPORTS
    ARCHERY, ATHLETICS, CANOEING, CLIMBING, CYCLING, FISHING, FLY FISHING, GOLF, GEOCACHING, HORSEMANSHIP, KAYAKING, MOTORBOATING, ORIENTEERING, RIFLE SHOOTING, SCUBA DIVING, SHOTGUN SHOOTING, SKATING, SMALL-BOAT SAILING, SNOW SPORTS, SPORTS, SWIMMING, WATER SPORTS, WHITEWATER
  13. TRADES
    AMERICAN LABOR, AUTOMOTIVE MAINTENANCE, COMPOSITE MATERIALS, DRAFTING, GRAPHIC ARTS, PAINTING, PLUMBING, WELDING, WOODWORK
  14. TRANSPORTATION
    AVIATION, RAILROADING, TRUCK TRANSPORTATION

Page updated on: March 16, 2014 08:54 PM


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