We've been asked on a number of occasions, questions like the following:
Does anyone know what the procedure is for suggesting a new merit badge?
A friend of mine thinks that offering
a merit badge on _______ would be of interest to Scouts.
But he doesn't know what to do with the idea.
He has some ideas as to what some of the requirements should be.
We've also been asked questions like:
I think the requirements for the ___________ merit
badge or ______ rank should be changed.
Who do I complain to, or where can I may a recommendation for a change?
The answer to the questions above is very basic. A written request should be sent to the BSA Advancement Team, with general information about suggested requirements for the merit badge, or the suggested change.
You shouldn't expect a speedy reply. BSA receives more than 400 merit badge suggestions each year, and they typically don't act upon any of them for at least a year or two. The staff goes through the merit badge suggestions and recommends merit badges they feel appropriate; once the concept is approved, it goes to the Editorial Service to coordinate and compose the actual merit badge requirements and pamphlet contents, usually in conjunction with an outside organization appropriate to the subject. The entire process can take about three to five years. On the other hand, if there are a lot of Scouts and Scouters that feel that this deserves a chance (by writing to National in support of the new merit badge) the process can go a little faster. Hope this helps out!
The former Director of Boy Scout Advancement once gave these criteria for new merit badges:
- The new MBs need to promote a hobby or career interest and promote the aims of Scouting.
- When submitting an idea, you need to include the rationale behind the idea, as well as potential sample requirements for the badge.
- Nearly all of the ideas for new badges are turned down for one reason
or another, very few get tabled for consideration. Among the main reasons
- It takes around $75,000 or more to introduce a new MB due to creating the badges themselves, printing of pamphlets, and updating and printing of the Requirement book.
- As of June 1, 2015, there were 136 merit badges, including
two released in the first five months of 2015 (Signs, Signals,
and Codes and Animation). Prior to 2010, the total had
remained fairly consistent for nearly 30 years, ranging since
1983 from a low of 115 to a high of 124.
Here's a table showing the total number of merit badges and how many were added, dropped, or renamed over the years since 1982. Note that in many cases, the new merit badges were actually first available at some point during the year PRIOR to when the requirements first appeared in the Boy Scout Requirements booklet.:
As Listed in the
Boy Scout Requirements Booklet
Added Dropped Renamed Total 9/1/1982 - 8/31/1984 1 119 9/1/1984 - 8/31/1985 119 9/1/1985 - 8/31/1987 1 119 9/1/1987 - 8/31/1989 6 5 2 120 9/1/1989 - 8/31/1991 1 121 9/1/1991 - 8/31/1993 4 1 124 9/1/1993 - 8/31/1995 1 123 9/1/1995 - 8/31/1996 8 2 115 9/1/1996 - 12/31/1997 1 116 1998 3 119 1999 1 1 119 2000 119 2001 119 2002 119 2003 1 120 2004 120 2005 1 120 2006 1 121 2007 121 2008 1 121 2009 1 121 2010 5 1 126 2011 3 4 125 2012 3 128 2013 2 130 2014 5 1 134 2015 2 1 136
Changes, of course, don't require as complicated a process, but it still can take years for a change to be approved.
For any advancement change, the request should be sent to the Advancement Team, at the BSA's National Office. The address is:
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079
You can send a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It will be routed to the appropriate team.
For Merit Badge proposals, you can also send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org