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Merit Badges

There are more than 135 merit badges. Any registered Scouts BSA participant may earn any merit badge at any time. You don't need to have had rank advancement to be eligible. The Benefits of Merit Badges

There is more to merit badges than simply providing opportunities to learn skills. There is more to them than an introduction to lifetime hobbies, or the inspiration to pursue a career—though these invaluable results occur regularly. About the Application for Merit Badge ("Blue Card")

It is important to note the "blue card" is the nationally recognized merit badge record. It has been updated from time to time and carries the information needed for proper posting and for evidence and reference as needed later. The card has three parts: the actual "Application for Merit Badge" portion, the "Applicant's Record," and the "Counselor's Record." It requires a total of four signatures—two each from the unit leader and a merit badge counselor. The unit leader signs first on the front of the Application for Merit Badge portion and gives the entire blue card to the Scout. See "The Scout, the Blue Card, and the Unit Leader,"

Typically after the unit leader signs the blue card, the Scout contacts the merit badge counselor and sets an appointment. While a boy may begin working on a merit badge at any time after he is registered, it is the counselor's decision whether to accept work or activities completed prior to the issuing of the signed blue card. Common sense should prevail, however.

A merit badge counselor—once he or she is satisfied a Scout has met all the requirements—signs in two places: on the reverse of the Application for Merit Badge (to the left) and on the Applicant's Record (in the middle). These two parts are returned to the Scout. The approving counselor should retain the part of the card called the Counselor's Record for at least one year—in case questions are raised later. If the Scout did not complete all the requirements, the counselor simply indicates and initials those that were fulfilled in the spaces provided on the back of the Applicant's Record part. This is called a "partial" (see "Partial Completions," Once a registered counselor signs that all requirements have been met, the Scout should meet with his unit leader to discuss the experience. The unit leader then signs the Applicant's Record portion and returns it to the Scout, who should retain it in his/her personal permanent records. The Scout, the Blue Card, and the Unit Leader

Application for Merit Badge

A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any registered Scouts BSA participant, Varsity Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any of them at anytime. Before he/she begins working with a merit badge counselor, however, they are to have a discussion with his unit leader. That a discussion has been held is indicated by the unit leader's signature on the Application for Merit Badge, No. 34124, commonly called the "blue card."

The discussion a Scout is to have with the unit leader is meant to be a growth-oriented and positive conversation. The unit leader should discuss any concerns related to working on the merit badge and provide appropriate counseling. It is then the Scout's decision whether or not to proceed with the merit badge. The process is intended to inform the Scout about what they may encounter along the way, and perhaps to give suggestions on how the work might be approached. It also has the purpose of keeping the unit leader up to date with what the members of the unit are doing.

How Should a Scout Earn a Merit Badge in Westchester-Putnam Council?

Pick A Subject.

Talk to your unit leader about your interests. Read the requirements of the merit badges you think might interest you. Pick one to earn. Your unit leader will give you the name of a person from a list of approved counselors. These counselors have special knowledge in their merit badge subjects and are interested in helping you.

Scout Buddy System.

You must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor. This person can be another Scout, your parent or guardian, a brother or sister, a relative, or a friend.

Call The Counselor.

Get a signed merit badge application (blue card) from your Scoutmaster. Get in touch with the merit badge counselor and tell him or her that you want to earn the merit badge. The counselor may ask you to come and see him so he can explain what he expects and start helping you meet the requirements.

Learn Your Stuff.

When you know what is expected, start to learn and do the things required. Ask your counselor to help you learn the things you need to know or do. You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject. Many troops and school or public libraries have them. (See the list of current merit badge pamphlets posted on this system.)

Show Your Stuff.

When you are ready, call the counselor again to make an appointment to meet the requirements. When you go take along the things you have made to meet the requirements. If they are too big to move, take pictures or have an adult tell in writing what you have done. The counselor will ask you to do each requirement to make sure that you know your stuff and have done or can do the things required.

Get The Badge

When the counselor is satisfied that you have met each requirement, he or she will sign your application. Give the signed blue card to your Scoutmaster so that your merit badge emblem can be obtained for you.


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. Just telling about it isn't enough. The same thing holds true for such words as "make," "list," "in the field," and "collect," "identify," and "label."  All work on a merit badge must be performed once you start the process of earning that merit badge.


There is no deadline for earning Merit Badges, except the Scout's 18th Birthday. Once a Scout has started working on a Merit Badge (i.e. obtained a signed "Blue Card" Application for Merit Badge from the Scoutmaster, had an initial discussion with a Merit Badge Counselor, and started working on the requirements), he/she may continue using those requirements until they complete the badge or turn 18.

Current requirements for all Merit Badges also can be found at on its Merit Badge Requirements pages.

A list of all Merit Badges, with the pamphlet stock numbers, copyright and latest revision dates, and the date of the most recent revision to the requirements is also available at www.usscouts.orgExternal Link.


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