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.

This topic is under discussion at MeritBadge.Net. Click here to view or join the discussion.

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.


What is the purpose of the merit badge program?

  • "You can learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers as you earn merit badges." [1]
  • "Associations With Adults. Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves." - Aims and Methods

What are the requirements to be a merit badge counselor?

  • "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 boys." - [2]
  • "Registered:' "as a merit badge counselor" - [2]
  • "Approved:' "for each specific merit badge." - [2]
  • "Trained:' "in the aims of Scouting and in advancement procedures." - [2]. See Merit badge Counselor Orientation.
"All volunteers are expected to complete Youth Protection training...within 90 days..." - Adult Leader Application 28-501

What about the Buddy System?

  • "You must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor." [1]

Who can earn a merit badge? Are there any age requirements?

Boy Scout awards are for young men not yet 18 years old. Merit badges, badges of rank, and Eagle Palms are for registered Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, or qualified Venturers. Any registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout may earn these awards until his 18th birthday. Any Venturer who achieves the First Class rank as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout in a troop or team may continue working for the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks and Eagle Palms while registered as a Venturer up to his 18th birthday.

Youth members with special needs may work toward rank advancement after they are 18. (See section titled “Advancement for Youth Members With Special Needs,’’ page 39.)

Advancement Policies #33088, p. 24
  • "Any Boy Scout may earn any merit badge at any time." [1]

Are there any rank requirements to earn a merit badge?

  • "You don't need to have had rank advancement to be eligible." [1]

When can the Scouts start work on a merit badge?

  • "Unless otherwise specified, work for a requirement can be started at any time." [1]

Do you need a Merit Badge book? How should the Scout prepare for a merit badge?

  • "You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject." [1]
  • "…you may share with your counselor the work that you have already started or accomplished." [1]

Can a counselor cover the requirements for the Scout 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." [1]
  • "In the end, the Scout must be reviewed individually by the counselor to ensure completion of the badges requirements." - [2]

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..." - [2]

"No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from an advancement requirement." (p. 3, 23, 26, 34, etc.) See Boy Scout Advancement [2]

How does a Scout get credit for his work?

  • "When the counselor is satisfied that you have met each requirement, he or she will sign your application." [1]
  • "Partial completion of merit badges should be credited to a Scout on the Application for Merit Badge..." - [2]

Where can we find materials?

Find a local Scout Shop or buy online Optional Merit Badge Workbooks help you organize your work and include the logs, diagrams, and checklists you need.

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

Are there additional rules for summer summer camps?

No. See Advancement in Summer Camp.

Can a counselor modify a requirement for a Scout who has a disability?

No. See Youth Members with Special Needs

Can a counselor declare a Scout to have Special Needs?

No. See Youth Members with Special Needs

Does work have to be done after the Merit Badge Application is started?

"Unless otherwise specified, work for a requirement can be started at any time." [1] See Merit Badge Introduction and Merit Badges Requiring Prior Approval.

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." (p. 26) [2] 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.

Must registered adult leaders register again to also be merit badge counselors?

"All Merit badge counselors must…register as a merit badge counselor…" (Code 42). (p. 13-14) [2]

Who selects a counselor?

"Your Scoutmaster will give you the name of a person from a list of counselors." (33216 p. 22) See Merit Badge Introduction. [1]

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." (p. 13) [2]

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." (p. 13) [2]

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." (p. 34) [2]

Must a Scout complete all merit badge requirements within a year?

"Any registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout may earn these awards until his 18th birthday."(p. 24). [2]

Also, "There is no time limit for completion of merit badges other than age 18."(p. 34). [2]

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." (p. 34) [2]

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." (p. 25) [2]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Boy Scout Requirements p.22
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Advancement Policies #33088 p.13

See Also

Boy Scout portal
Venturing portal
General Merit Badge information

Advancement Policies
Advancement (Report) Boy Scouts (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  
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