What Kind Of Boy Scout Badges Are There

Orienteering is one of over 100 merit badges that a Boy Scout may earn.

Perhaps the most well-known and oft-parodied aspect of Boy Scouting is the merit badge, which is earned by completing a number of tasks and demonstrating an amount of expertise in a given subject area. Each merit badge is accompanied by a handbook that spells out what a Scout must do to earn the badge.


Boy Scouts have been earning merit badges since the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in 1910. Some of the first merit badges included the now discontinued Master-at-Arms, Blacksmithing and Automobiling, and the current Camping, Swimming and Bugling. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Scouting in 2010, the Boy Scouts of America allowed Scouts to earn four vintage badges: Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaling and Tracking. The requirements for these badges were the same as Scouts in 1910 would have been required to fulfill.

Eagle Requirements

In order for a Boy Scout to advance to the rank of Eagle Scout (the highest rank a Scout can achieve), he must earn a total of 21 merit badges. These must include Camping, Family Life, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Personal Fitness, First Aid, Environmental Science, Personal Management, Swimming or Cycling or Hiking, and Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving. The other 9 badges are the Scout’s choice out of the remaining available badges.

Other Badges

The lineup of Boy Scout merit badges is always in flux, with badges being discontinued and introduced on a near-yearly basis. In addition to those listed in Section 2, Scouts can earn badges in the arts (Painting, Cinematography and Graphic Arts); history (Indian Lore, Genealogy); outdoorsy skills (Fishing, Surveying, Shotgun Shooting); sciences (Oceanography, Medicine, Electricity, Insect Study); useful skills for the adult world (Computers, Public Speaking, Drafting); and other areas (Coin Collecting, Radio, Pioneering).

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Achieving Badges

To achieve a badge, a Scout must first get the pamphlet that contains the requirements for said badge. He must then meet with a merit badge counselor and declare his intentions. Once he has completed all the requirements, he must make a second appointment with his counselor. If the things he has done or made are too big to move or permanently installed somewhere, he must document them in photo, video or writing by a parent, guardian or other adult. When the counselor is satisfied that the scout has met all requirements, he must sign a form for the Scout to give to his Scoutmaster.