Merit Badge (Boy Scouts Of America)
Merit badges are awards earned by youth members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), based on activities within an area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements. The purpose of the merit badge program is to allow Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to further pursue them as a career or avocation. Originally, the program also introduced Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they hadn't met before, arranging a meeting and then demonstrating their skills, similar to a job or college interview. Increasingly, though, merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps.
Each merit badge has a pamphlet (booklet) published by the Boy Scouts of America associated with it; the pamphlet contains information on completing the requirements for the badge. Scouts must meet up with their Scoutmaster to receive a signed blue card in order to begin working on a merit badge. The Scout then contacts an adult who is registered as a counselor for that merit badge in order to learn which badge requirements they must complete before meeting up with the counselor. Once these requirements are completed, the Scout meets with the counselor to demonstrate that he's completed the requirements. The counselor then 'signs off' on each requirement. After completing the merit badge, the Scout can then buy his merit badge patch.
The award of a merit badge is represented by circular patch with an image representing the badge's topic. The patches for the Eagle-required merit badges are distinguishable by the silver ring on the outside edge. Merit badges are displayed on a sash which can be worn with the Boy Scout uniform on formal occasions. Every year the National Council reviews and updates a certain number of merit badges.
Scouting organizations in other countries issue or have issued merit badges, including Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. Austria has a program similar to merit badges for certain age groups.
Other related articles:
... Offered only in 2010, The Historical Merit Badge program, part of the Boy Scouts of America centennial, allowed Scouts to earn the discontinued Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signalling, and Tracking (originally called Stalking) merit badges ... The patches for these historical merit badges are distinguished by a gold ring on the outside edge ...
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