Merit Badge Center Introduction Page - An introduction to the merit badge area.


Qualifications for Merit Badge Counselors

The following is taken directly from the 2021 edition of the Guide to Advancement (BSA Publication 33088 - SKU 648216) and should be read by all Merit Badge Counselors.

7.0.1.1 Supervisory Qualifications and Certifications

Several badges involve activities for which the Boy Scouts of America has implemented strategies to improve safety, enhance the Scouts' experiences, and manage risk. These activities often require supervision with specialized qualifications and certifications. Merit badge counselors who do not meet the specific requirements may use the services of helpers who do. Additional details can be found below, and also in the Guide to Safe Scouting and the merit badge pamphlets.

General Supervision Requirements

  • Swimming and watercraft activities must be conducted In accordance with BSA Safe Swim Defense or BSA Safety Afloat, respectively, and be supervised by mature and conscientious adults at least 21 years old and trained In the program applicable. Counselors for merit badges involving swimming or the use of watercraft must be so trained, or use helpers who are.
  • All physical activities presented in any Scouting program must be conducted in accordance with The Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety." These 16 points, embodying good judgment and common sense, can be found at www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/sweetl6.
  • CPR instruction, wherever it is required, must be taught by people currently trained as CPR instructors by a nationally certified provider, such as the American Red Cross, the Emergency Care and Safety Institute, or the American Heart Association,

The following merit badges have special qualifications or certifications for either the merit badge counselor or the supervisor of certain activities that may be involved. Counselors and advancement administrators should consult the merit badge pamphlets for details and to maintain awareness of changes and updates as pamphlets are revised. (See the footnotes on the individual web pages linked in the lists below for the details applicable to that badge)

 Climbing, Snow Sports

The qualifications (below) for aquatics-related merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Current policies are found at Guide to Safe Scouting at www.scouting.org/ health-and-safety/gss/gss02 and supersede any other publications or literature.

Canoeing, Kayaking, Lifesaving, Motorboating, Rowing,
Scuba Diving, Small Boat Sailing, Swimming, Water Sports, Whitewater

The qualifications (below) for shooting sports-related merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Current policies are found at at www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/gss08 and supersede any other publications or literature. See the Guide to Safe Scouting and the BSA National Shooting Sports Manual for further details on shooting sports.

ArcheryRifle Shooting, Shotgun Shooting

All certifications listed above must be current.

The required qualifications above for merit badge counseling and supervision not only assist in managing risk, but also give counselors credibility. Scouts will see them as people of importance they can look up to and learn from. A well-qualified counselor can extend a young person’s attention span: More will be heard and understood, discussions will be more productive, and true interest developed. The conversations can lead to a relationship of mutual respect where the Scout is confident to offer his thoughts and opinions and value those of his merit badge counselor. Thus it is that social skills and self-reliance grow, and examples are set and followed.

In approving counselors, the local council advancement committee has the authority to establish a higher minimum, reasonable level of skills and education for the counselors of a given merit badge than is indicated in “Qualifications of Counselors,” 7.0.1.1. For example, NRA certification could be established as a council standard for approving counselors for the Rifle Shooting or Shotgun Shooting merit badges.

Note:  Although not mentioned in the Guide to Advancement, the certifications listed all have limited durations and must be periodically renewed.  The BSA "Training Times" Newsletter (Spring 2011 issue) had this information:

Training Recertification

Keeping Scouts safe and keeping Scouting leaders up to date with current information and methods means some of the BSA's training courses need to be retaken every couple of years.

We all know about Youth Protection training and National Camping School, but there are some others - including some that have recently been added to the list.

Below is a list of these courses and how often they should be retaken to be valid:

  • Youth Protection - every two years
  • National Camping School - good for five camping seasons
  • Safe Swim Defense - every two years
  • Paddle Craft Safety - every three years
  • Aquatics Supervision/Swimming and Water Rescue - every three years
  • BSA Lifeguard - every three years
  • Visitation training - every two years
  • Climbing Lead Instructor - every two years
  • Climbing Instructor - every two years
  • COPE/Climbing Inspector - every two years
  • Safety Afloat - every two years
  • Chain Saw Safety - every two years
  • Trainer's EDGE - every three years
  • Hazardous Weather - every two years
  • Physical Wellness - every two years
  • Climb On Safely - every two years
  • Trek Safely - every two years

Revisions to Merit Badges and Boy Scout Advancements


Required for Eagle

The following 17 badges are on the list of badges in requirement 3 for Eagle Scout.

A Scout must earn 13 of them for the rank of Eagle Scout (and 8 others, of course). Therefore, certain of them are options for others. A Scout may choose any combination of these 17 merit badges to fulfill requirement number 3 for Star and Life Scout. (He must have a minimum of 4 of these badges for Star and a minimum of 7 of these badges for Life) Click here to see which badges in the list are options. On July 15, 2013, the new Sustainability merit badge became 16th badge on this list as an alternative to Environmental Science, On January 1, 2014, Cooking merit badge was added as a 13th required badge for Eagle, and 17th badge on the list.

Camping, Citizenship in Society (Pending), Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Cycling, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Science, Family Life, First Aid, Hiking, Lifesaving, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Sustainability, Swimming

The following is a list of all of the 137 current Merit Badges, arranged into 14 logical fields of activity (categories) as they appear in the BSA Pamphlet "Worksheet for Building a Merit Badge Counselor List" (No. 04439) (with new badges added in appropriate locations).

  1. AGRIBUSINESS
    ANIMAL SCIENCE, FARM MECHANICS, PLANT SCIENCE
  2. ARTS AND CRAFTS
    ART, BASKETRY, BUGLING, LEATHERWORK, METALWORK, MUSIC, POTTERY, SCULPTURE, THEATER, WOOD CARVING
  3. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
    AMERICAN BUSINESS, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, PULP AND PAPER, SALESMANSHIP, TEXTILE
  4. CONSERVATION
    ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, FISH AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT, FORESTRY, SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION, SUSTAINABILITY
  5. HOBBIES
    BACKPACKING, CAMPING, CHESS, COIN COLLECTING, COLLECTIONS, COOKING, DOG CARE, GARDENING, HIKING, HOME REPAIRS, INDIAN LORE, MODEL DESIGN AND BUILDING, PETS, PIONEERING, RADIO, ROWING, SCOUTING HERITAGE, STAMP COLLECTING
  6. NATURAL SCIENCE
    ARCHAEOLOGY, ASTRONOMY, BIRD STUDY, GEOLOGY, INSECT STUDY, MAMMAL STUDY, NATURE, OCEANOGRAPHY, REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN STUDY, WEATHER
  7. COMMUNICATIONS
    MOVIEMAKING, JOURNALISM, PHOTOGRAPHY, SIGNS, SIGNALS, AND CODES
  8. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
    AMERICAN CULTURES, AMERICAN HERITAGE, Citizenship in Society (Pending), CITIZENSHIP IN THE COMMUNITY, CITIZENSHIP IN THE NATION, CITIZENSHIP IN THE WORLD, COMMUNICATION, DISABILITIES AWARENESS, EXPLORATION, FAMILY LIFE, GENEALOGY, PERSONAL FITNESS, PERSONAL MANAGEMENT, PUBLIC SPEAKING, READING, SCHOLARSHIP, SEARCH AND RESCUE, TRAFFIC SAFETY, WILDERNESS SURVIVAL
  9. PHYSICAL SCIENCE
    CHEMISTRY, DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, ELECTRICITY, ELECTRONICS, ENERGY, NUCLEAR SCIENCE, SPACE EXPLORATION
  10. PROFESSIONS
    ANIMATION, ARCHITECTURE, DENTISTRY, ENGINEERING, GAME DESIGN, Health Care Professions (Pending), INVENTING, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, LAW, MEDICINE (Discontinuation Pending), MINING IN SOCIETY, PROGRAMMING, ROBOTICS, SURVEYING, VETERINARY MEDICINE
  11. PUBLIC SERVICE
    CRIME PREVENTION, EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, FINGERPRINTING, FIRE SAFETY, FIRST AID, LIFESAVING, PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY
  12. SPORTS
    ARCHERY, ATHLETICS, CANOEING, CLIMBING, CYCLING, FISHING, FLY FISHING, GOLF, GEOCACHING, HORSEMANSHIP, KAYAKING, MOTORBOATING, ORIENTEERING, RIFLE SHOOTING, SCUBA DIVING, SHOTGUN SHOOTING, SKATING, SMALL-BOAT SAILING, SNOW SPORTS, SPORTS, SWIMMING, WATER SPORTS, WHITEWATER
  13. TRADES
    AMERICAN LABOR, AUTOMOTIVE MAINTENANCE, COMPOSITE MATERIALS, DRAFTING, GRAPHIC ARTS, PAINTING, PLUMBING, WELDING, WOODWORK
  14. TRANSPORTATION
    AVIATION, RAILROADING, TRUCK TRANSPORTATION

Page updated on: October 05, 2021 03:46 PM


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