Historical merit badges help Boy Scouts celebrate Scouting’s past


UPDATE (04/01/10): The Historic Merit Badge Program has been
released. Click
here for details

UPDATE (01/13/10): Bill Evans, Youth Development team leader with the BSA, tells Cracker Barrel that these merit badges will count as electives for rank advancement. As if you needed another reason to get your guys to earn these.

A merit badge called Computers would sound just a crazy to a 1910 Boy Scout as a merit badge called Tracking sounds to Scouts today. That’s because the BSA’s list of available merit badges has evolved through the years as the interests of boys have changed.

In honor of the BSA’s 100th Anniversary, though, today’s generation of Scouts will get the unique opportunity to experience some of the activities their predecessors enjoyed. That’s possible thanks to the BSA’s new Historical Merit Badge Program, a set of four discontinued merit badges that today’s Scouts can earn.

Boys can earn any or all of these merit badges:


  • First offered in 1910 and discontinued in 1992.
  • Sample requirements: build a simple buzzer or blinker capable of sending Morse code messages, and send a message of at least 35 words; send and receive messages using semaphore flags at a rate of at least 30 letters per minute.


  • First offered in 1911 (as Stalker merit badge) and discontinued in 1952.
  • Sample requirements: recognize the tracks of 10 different animals; give evidence to show you have tracked at least two different kinds of birds or animals, documenting their speed and direction.


  • First offered in 1911 and discontinued in 1952.
  • Sample requirements: be able to guide people to important places
    within a three-mile radius of your home; submit a scale map of your


  • First offered in 1911 and discontinued in 1952.
  • Sample requirements: demonstrate the use of tools, such as a miter
    and bevel; build a simple piece of furniture for use at home.

Sounds like a blast, right? But there’s one catch: Boys must start and finish all requirements within the year 2010. So if your guys built furniture for their patrol kitchen at last year’s summer camp, they can’t use that product for the Carpentry merit badge. And don’t delay—after Dec. 31, 2010, these merit badges will go back on the “retired” list.

If this is a program you want to bring to your troop, the BSA suggests you track down merit badge counselors soon. For Carpentry, contact a local cabinet-making business. A nearby Homeland Security office could help you with Pathfinding. Signaling would benefit from the help of a local amateur ham radio group. And for Tracking, try your state’s department of natural resources. Those are merely suggestions. Be creative!

For more information, look for a special Web site and a printed guide soon. That’s where you’ll find the complete requirements for each patch. The BSA also plans to deliver a guide that will help councils and districts host a historical camporee or similar event to offer these merit badges.

The Historical Merit Badge Program gives you the perfect chance to organize exciting activities for your Scouts, while connecting them with the BSA’s rich past. It’s another example of the BSA’s devotion to Celebrating the Adventure, Continuing the Journey.

92 thoughts on “Historical merit badges help Boy Scouts celebrate Scouting’s past

  1. I think this is great Ive been a tragker most of my life and to be able to pass this on to a group of young men I cant wait

  2. We are doing these 4 merit badges as part of our spring camp-o-ree setting up stations in Grafton NH..w/ councilors at each station so every boy has the opportunity All Scouts are welcome!!!

  3. The person at our Council received word that these merit badges are on hold until further notice. Anyone hear that too? There is a merit badge clinic in March that is offering one of them. I’m wondering what is going on.

  4. I can certainly understand why “stalking” has been changed to “tracking.” The word has different connotations now than it did in the 1910 – 1950 era.

  5. Historic Merit Badges Program on HOLD
    The Centennial Historical Merit Badges Program, announced on the Scouting Magazine Cracker Barrel Blog has been placed on HOLD.
    The announcement was made prematurely, and the Requirements posted on this web site had not been officially adopted.
    Therefore, we have removed the requirements form this web site until BSA officially launches the program.
    We apologize for any confusion we may have caused.
    The above comment was on the usscouts.org page. I hope that they don’t wait too late to launch the program. It was a good idea and I hope they follow through with it.

  6. How about Blacksmithing or Taxidermy? Or any of the many agricultural merit badges that we used to have, like Farm Arrangement, Farm Records, Dairying,or First Aid to Animals? Try them all!
    David Rohlfing, Chapter Adviser,Lodge 10

  7. Well I am satisfied to read That this is a program I want to bring to My troop, the BSA suggests me track down merit badge counselors soon. For Carpentry, contact a local cabinet-making business.

  8. Several weeks ago I saw a twitter message that the Historical Merit Badge team was working to finalize requirements and would post them on a special website ASAP. Has anyone heard how this is going?
    Another month of 2010 has nearly passed with no word or official announcement. Does this mean that the Hist. MB program really is on hold or cancelled? In order to get MB counselors and start to plan MB classes for these historical MBs the requirements really need to be published immediately. The description and pictures of these MBs in the Scout Stuff online catalog look great.
    How much confusion can there be in terms of which requirements will be used or how to select MB counselors? I suggest choosing MB counselors in the same way all other counselors are selected and registered. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Is the team over-analyzing the requirements’ wording for political correctness or for the sake of legal issues or because of safety issues for the scouts? If safety is an issue then drop or revise that specific requirement; otherwise, let’s get on with it.
    I hope that issues are sorted out very soon! The program sounds like a good idea and promises to be fun for scouts and scouters. If it doesn’t happen soon, I feel that BSA might as well cancel the program to avoid confusion and frustration.

  9. To answer Mike Kost’s question about how to become a counselor – I consulted our district advancement coordinator. He stated that Scoutmasters of each unit are the authorized counselors for these four historical merit badges. He also stated that although other troop adult leaders may teach the skills and administer the requirements, the SM’s signature must appear on the blue card application forms, as his/hers is the authorized signature for his/her respective unit.

  10. These are so cool if anyone is looking for the complete requierments of found them on google under histroical merit requierments. P.S. it was called Staking.

  11. I’m looking forward to this exciting program for our home troop and district. Could National post an official comment with an ETA for when they expect to be done with the requirements and pamphlets? Do they need help? Just ask.

  12. Last fall we had a “scouting through the years” camporee. One troop taught a small stalking merit badge class. Another taught signalling and other trail signs. Seems some boys in my district might be a little ahead of the game since they already have some knowledge they can apply towards the requirements! :)

  13. Why are they on hold? How soon will the requirements be approved? Boys are ready. Why isn’t this program on GO?

  14. Thats awesome!!!!! My scout master said that these would count towards rank advancement. Can’t wait to get them!!!!!

  15. I think that learning the way’s of our fathers, and grandfather’s is something that needs to be continued. I don’t think looking into the past is a bad idea. Learning these skills keeps the art alive.

  16. Why can’t you just have fun learning and not always “be rewarded” for everything? Welcome to the real world where there isn’t always a reward (rank advancement) for doing something good.

  17. I was just wondering if the requirements are out yet for the 4 retired merit badges? My son is 17, an Eagle Scout, and would like to finish these before his 18th birthday in July. So please post and let us know asap. Thanks.

  18. where do I find the requirements for the historic merit badges? I think the boys in my troop will enjoy some of these.

  19. I hope they have a sense of urgency, because the excitement with the scouts is wearing off. 3 months to tweek is excessive at this point. Guess they didn’t want these at summer camp, because not enough time to put a program together in another week or so.

  20. It is almost the 4th month of the 100th anniversary year, and still no concrete plan or rollout for these merit badges????? The BSA is certainly teaching Scouts the best way NOT to implement a program – have no plan, be late, be vague, and keep changing the rules. Very disappointing.

  21. The biggest problem with the new generation is the main scouter’s are city fide and the historical merit badges still have relevancy in the world.Like in new Orleans when people are stranded they can communicate using semaphore or morris code. because batteries die in water. The new computer geeks and video gamers don’t have any clue that is why they think it’s not important anymore. They will only learn by not being prepared.OOPS is the new scouts motto.

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