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The BSA merit badge program includes over 133 different areas of knowledge and skills. As soon as a scout joins a troop, he can start earning merit badges. The only limitations are his ambition and availability of adult merit badge counselors.
Merit Badge Pamphlets: Each BSA merit badge has an official pamphlet which contains requirements, introductory information and supplemental references. Scouts can purchase pamphlets from a scout shop or find them in their troop library. Pamphlets are updated every few years, so be sure to get the most recent copy.
Merit Badge Counselors: Volunteers are selected, trained, and approved by council or district committees to teach scouts about specific merit badges. They are knowledgeable in the topic and understand the goals of scouting and the merit badge program.
Process: When a scout decides to earn a merit badge, he first obtains approval to begin from his Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster provides the scout with names of appropriate BSA merit badge counselors. The scout finds a scout buddy to be his partner for meetings with the merit badge counselor to follow safe scouting guidelines. He then contacts the counselor to start working on the badge. The counselor reviews the requirements with the scouts and they decide on projects and a schedule. Expertise, advice, and guidance as needed is offered by the counselor to the scouts. The counselor certifies their completion and the merit badge is presented at a troop meeting.
Required Merit Badges: A scout can start earning merit badges as soon as he joins a troop, but merit badges are not required for advancement until Star rank. Star, Life, and Eagle ranks are reached by performing leadership, service, and merit badges.
Eagle rank requires completion of at least 21 BSA merit badges.