Merit Badges are awards within an area of study that you can earn by completing a list of requirements. The purpose is to allow you to examine and learn about different subjects. Earning merit badges is a pivotal component of scouting and they are required for the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks. While some merit badges are Eagle-required, others are your choice, and you can choose from over 130 different merit badges. The list of merit badges and requirements offered by BSA are available at https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/advancement-and-awards/merit-badges/.
To Earn a Merit Badge
- Choose a merit badge you want to work on.
- Obtain a Blue Card signed by the scoutmaster.
- If you are working on it individually and not through a group setting, then the Scoutmaster will assign a Merit Badge Counselor for you to work with.
- Fill out your parts of the Blue Card (see below).
- Check out the merit badge book from the troop library or search for it online (many are also available at the Highlands Ranch library).
- Meet with the Merit Badge Counselor to discuss the requirements for the badge.
- Work on the badge requirements.
- Meet with the counselor as necessary to have requirements signed off on the Blue Card
- Once all requirements are signed off by the counselor, they will sign the Blue Card in two different places.
- Once you have these signatures, obtain a final signature from the Scoutmaster.
- Once you have all signatures on the Blue Card, you turn the Blue Card in to the troop’s Advancement Coordinator or Merit Badge Coordinator.
- You will receive the actual merit badge at the next troop Court of Honor and with it you will receive the Applicant’s Record part of the Blue Card. This serves as your permanent record of completion of the merit badge and should be kept in your white notebook.
The Blue Card
The Blue Card is one of the most important documents in the Scouts BSA advancement program. The Blue Card is actually and officially the BSA “Application for Merit Badge” and it serves as a record of your progress with a merit badge and upon completion, as a permanent record of such completion. There are two official ways to complete Blue Cards: on physical paper or online. The physical Blue Card is a tri-fold card with three distinct parts: the actual application; the applicant’s (your) record; and the counselor’s record.
When you receive your physical Blue Card, there are several things you need to fill in.
- On the “front side”, you need to fill out the Application part with your name, address, and troop
- On the “back side” you need to fill out:
a. The name of the merit badge on the left section.
b. Your name and the name of the merit badge in the middle section.
c. Your name, troop number and merit badge in the right section.
Note on Actual Blue Card Usage
If you work on a merit badge in a group setting, like in a troop meeting, at summer camp, or at a merit badge college, you may not get a physical Blue Card. In some of these situations, the counselor may keep requirements on a separate sign-off sheet and enter the requirements directly into your record in Scoutbook. In this case, you will still receive the Applicant’s Record portion of the Blue Card when you receive the actual merit badge.
Merit Badge Books and Workbooks
The BSA publishes books for each merit badge. These are very helpful in completing the requirements for the badge. The Troop Library has many of the current Merit Badge books which you can borrow. Douglas County Libraries also have some merit badge books in their inventory which can be checked out. Additionally, merit badge books can be purchased through the Scout Shop. Workbooks are available for individual merit badges at http://usscouts.org/mb/worksheets/list.asp. You may use these workbooks while working towards a merit badge to organize your notes and document your work for discussion with your counselor. These workbooks can help you, but you still need to read the merit badge book. You should also be aware that these are not official BSA documents so some Merit Badge Counselors will not use or accept these workbooks.
Opportunities to Earn a Merit Badge
There are many different opportunities for you to earn a merit badge.
- Troop Sponsored – Troop 873 tries to coordinate and schedule troop wide merit badge opportunities for you several times a year. These are done either at troop meetings, campouts, or our own troop merit badge colleges.
- District Merit Badge Colleges – Historically, most local councils’ hold annual Merit Badge Colleges which are 1 or 2 day sessions where a variety of different merit badges are offered. The troop strives to keep you notified of such opportunities.
- Summer Camp – Merit Badges are a significant component of boy scout summer camp, and you can typically earn anywhere from 2 to 6 merit badges while at summer camp. Summer camp is a great opportunity to earn a lot of the outdoor skills and aquatic based merit badges.
- Colorado Adventure Point – The Denver Area Council’s Colorado Adventure Point (CAP) is another great resource for merit badge opportunities. They hold regular classes, and more information can be found at: https://coloradoadventurepoint.org/scouting-programs/.
- Other Opportunities – There are also opportunities to earn merit badges through other organizations and groups. The troop strives to find out about these opportunities and to notify you about them.