Merit Badge FAQ

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Merit Badge resources include the Guide for Merit Badge Counselors, Introduction, & FAQ.
The Merit Badge Worksheets & Requirements include the maps, checklists and other materials you need.
Other resources include the online Merit Badge Application and Most Popular Merit Badges
Certain requirements need prior approval but most do not.

Here is a one-page pdf Adobe Acrobat PDF with some of the most important Merit Badge Requirements and Policies.
Also see the Merit Badge Policies.

All Scouts, leaders, and counselors are to follow the principles of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law at all times. Here are some of the key Boy Scout Requirements (BSR) and Advancement Policies (#33088) regarding merit badges. Please also see the See Merit Badge Introduction and Guide for Merit Badge Counselors.


Most common questions

"Any Boy Scout may earn any merit badge at any time. You don't need to have had rank advancement to be eligible. " - BSR p. 22
  • When can you start? "Unless otherwise specified, work for a requirement can be started at any time." - BSR p. 22 Some Require Prior Approval‎
  • Where are the answers? The merit badge pamphlets (book) are full-color quick references with the answers, photos, and diagrams you need.
"You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject." - BSR p. 22
You can buy a merit badge pamplet (book) at your local Scout Shop or you can buy them online at:
  • Are worksheets requried? No. Merit Badge Worksheets are options tools to help you organize your work and include the logs, diagrams, and checklists you need.
  • Do you need a buddy? "You must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor." - BSR p. 22
  • How are you tested? ""In the end, the Scout must be reviewed individually by the counselor to ensure completion of the badges requirements." - AP p. 26
"You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated—no more and no less." - BSR p. 23
  • How do you get credit? "When the counselor is satisfied that you have met each requirement, he or she will sign your application." - BSR p. 23
'"There is no time limit for completion of merit badges other than age 18." - AP p.34
"Partial completion of merit badges should be credited to a Scout on the Application for Merit Badge..." - AP p.34
  • What if you have Special Needs? "Merit badges are awarded only when all requirements are met as stated." - AP p.41

See the Merit Badge FAQ and the Merit Badge Policies for more.

More questions about merit badges

Are there additional rules for summer summer camps?

Can a merit badge be taken away?
  • A merit badge cannot be taken away once it has been earned, "provided the counselor is a registered counselor for the merit badge." - AP p.26 Also a merit badge application can’t list the Counselor as “Pixley Fire Dept.” A fire department can’t be registered to counsel a merit badge.

Common questions about merit badge counselors

Does a counselor "cover" the requirements or does each Scout do each requirement himself?
  • "You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated -- no more and no less. You are expected to do exactly what is stated in the requirements. If it says "show or demonstrate," that is what you must do." - BSR p. 23
  • "In the end, the Scout must be reviewed individually by the counselor to ensure completion of the badges requirements." - AP p. 26

Can a merit badge counselor add or remove requirements?
  • "Each counselor must maintain the exact standards as outlined in the merit badge requirements -- nothing deleted, nothing added..." - AP p. 34
  • "No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from an advancement requirement." - AP p. 3, 23, 26, 34, etc.

Can you modify requirements for a Scout with Special Needs? Who certifies Special Needs?
  • No. "Merit badges are awarded only when all requirements are met as stated." - AP p. 41
  • "Certification must be given by the appropriate local council..." - AP p. 42

What are the requirements to be a merit badge counselor? Do you have to register again? Who approves you?
  • "Qualified: "They must be men and women of good character, age 18 or older, and recognized as having the skills and education in the subjects for which they are to serve as merit badge counselors, as well as the ability to work with Scout-age youth." - AP p. 13
  • "Registered: "All Merit badge counselors must…register as a merit badge counselor…" (Code 42). - AP pp. 13-14
  • "Approved: ...they must be approved...for each specific merit badge." - AP p. 13
  • "Trained: "in the aims of Scouting and in advancement procedures." - AP p. 13. See Merit Badge Counselor Orientation.
"All volunteers are expected to complete Youth Protection training...within 90 days..." - Adult Leader Application 28-501

What requirements and rules do we follow?
  • For Advancement under the BSA National Council, the precedence of documentation is:
1. Boy Scout Requirements - make sure you have the current year
2. Advancement Policies #33088 - policies for Boards of Review, Eagle Projects, Scoutmaster Conferences, etc.
3. Policy support documents such as the:
Eagle Scout Application #58-728
Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook #18-927
Guide for Merit Badge Counselors, etc.
4. Handbooks such as the Boy Scout Handbook and Scoutmaster Handbook

Is there a limit to how many merit badges can one person can counsel?
  • "There is no restriction or limit on the number of merit badges an individual may counsel but they must be approved for each specific merit badge." - AP p. 13

Can a merit badge counselor counsel their own son or relative?
  • "An approved counselor can counsel any youth member, including his or her own son, ward, or relative." - AP p. 13

Can a someone under 18 teach merit badges?
  • "Camp staff members who are qualified in the subject and are younger than age 18 may assist the merit badge counselor with instruction...However regardless of the class format, each Scout must be tested individually by the counselor to ensure completion of the badge's requirements." - AP p. 34

Questions about units

Do we have to turn in an Advancement Report to buy merit badges?
  • "Badges of rank, merit badges, and Eagle Palms are restricted items. These items may not be sold or distributed unless the Advancement Report, has been properly filled out and has been submitted to the local council office." - AP p. 34

Should we wait until the next court of honor to present the merit badge?
  • "Presentation of merit badges and rank badges should not wait until the next court of honor; awards and badges should be presented at the next meeting after they have been earned." - AP p. 25

See Also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

Advancement Policies
Advancement (Report) Scouts BSA (Resources) Service Projects
Rules and Regulations First Class-First Year Eagle Scout Project
 What is Scout Spirit?  Scoutmaster Conferences Lifesaving awards
When is a Scout Active? Time Extensions Summer Camp
When is a Scout in Uniform? Boards of Review - Appeals Merit Badges, Events & FAQ
Scouts with Special Needs Advancement Campout  Cub Scouts  (Resources)
Religious Principle Courts of Honor
Books & References  12 Steps From Life to Eagle  Venturing & Sea Scouts  
Click here for Many more Advancement Policies
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