Update: BSA Historic Merit Badge Program


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

You may have heard rumors that the Historic Merit Badge Program
has been
canceled. Not true.

What is true is that the BSA is putting finishing touches on
the program now, and the end result will be well worth the wait.

The Youth Development team plans to release the program
soon, and once that happens, it will consist of much more than just adding Signaling,
Tracking, Pathfinding, and Carpentry to 2010’s list of available merit badges.

The team wants today’s Scouts to get a sense of what Scouts
in the 1910s experienced. They want Scouts to earn the merit badges in ways
similar to those used by Scouts back then. The world has changed drastically in
100 years, but the fundamental lessons of these merit badges have not.

In the spirit of being green and making the program
accessible, you won’t be able to get printed materials for the merit badges.
Instead, have your Scouts go to scouting.org.

They’ll have access to scans of the original pamphlets for
each of the four historic merit badges. However, because the language and techniques
used in those badges comes from the early 20th century, the BSA has been hard
at work crafting supplements that will help put the requirements in a modern

The site also offers program implementation guide, a
camporee guide, a Boy Scout resident camp guide, a training session guide,
press releases, and other materials that councils, districts, and units can use
to promote the program.

Stay tuned to Cracker Barrel for additional news as we get

43 thoughts on “Update: BSA Historic Merit Badge Program

  1. We pulled off a Historic MB weekend, for three of the four, and it worked. I have never seen around 80 kids really enjoy themselves in a camporee style setting and WANT to earn any merit badge, let alone these. Our counselorts KNOW teh m,aterials and worked WITH teh prepared scouts to acjuiebe three merit badges in a weekend. Are they experts? No. Did they “learn” Morse Code? No. Did they DO it? YES! The spirit of the MB program is not to produce fully capabnle signalmen, or ham radio operators, but we certianly opened their minds and akllowed some imagination to flow. Our Historic MB weekend was a success!

  2. If it takes an adult in the Navy Signalman school five weeks to learn Morse Code and Semaphore I really feel BSA is miss leading these young scouts about being able to complete the merit badge in an afternoon. Even Ham radio operators need several weeks if not months to learn to send and receive Morse code to earn there liscense. Someone really needs to do some research before making a statement like “Earning a Signaling merit badge in an afternoon”.

  3. Merit badges are about the boys learning a skill — something that will have a mastery over. If we want a boy to be prepared “for any old thing” we have to ensure they are learning the skills to do it.
    So, I guess a boy can learn first aid in an afternoon, too? And you’d be willing to have him as your buddy on a 50 miler??

  4. How quickly we can get the boys through these merit badges really isn’t the point. Some boys will miss out because of the decrease of available time in planning or their age. The main point is that the we are supposed to be teaching these young men to “be prepared” and to plan and thing before acting and this is a horrible example for them. It’s not like this whole 100th anniversary thing snuck up on anyone. I think we all knew it was coming and it should have been prepared before it was released. It sends an unprofessional message to the public about who the BSA is.

  5. What about the hard charging boys who took the information posted in the 1/12/2010 Scouting Magazine, and the specific requirements posted on line and historic Handbooks for Boys and have already completed the requirements, and had them signed off by registered Merit Badge Counselors for the Merit Badges. People got really excited, the information was there and Mr. Evans announced it in Cracker Barrel, official magazine of the BSA, and they were announced by people such as Jeffrey Burger, Rocky Mountain Council. The guidance was very clear.

  6. March is gone; and with it, 1/4 of the year. If not now when? If they don’t post the requirements soon, they should either extend the date of completion or cancel the program and issue a formal apology. Scouting is about doing the right thing and leading by example. I’m missing those ideals with how this is being handled-hopefully these ideals will be part of the eventual evolution of this situation.

  7. Phil, if the requirements are the same, then Signaling requires a Scout to “Send and receive by Semaphore Code at the rate of not less than 30 letters per minute.” That’s pretty fast for someone who has experience in it; I’d say IMPOSSIBLE for a boy just learning it. Ditto for “Send and receive in the International Morse Code, by buzzer or other sound device, a complete message of not less than 35 words, at a rate of not less than 35 letters per minute.”
    Sounds to me like the boys were simply GIVEN those badges, rather than having them EARNED. No more, no less — especially the NO LESS part.

  8. I am a Civil War Reenactor and reenact the U.S. Army Signal Corps. I can teach a person the wigwag system in an afternoon and have the proficient in a few hours. So the wig-wag would be no problem. I see the problem being teaching semaphore and Morse code in a short period of time. Memorization of semaphore and Morse code take time. I am teaching Signalling at a one week summer camp and I am asking for two hours of time over six days to get this thing done.

  9. You said that the requirements would be on scouting.org by the end of the month…well it’s the end of the month! I’ve checked scouting.org and can not find them. Where are they? A Scout is trustworthy.

  10. You said that the requirements would be on scouting.org by the end of the month…well it’s the end of the month! I’ve checked scouting.org and can not find them. Where are they? A Scout is trustworthy

  11. I believe Signaling can be done and be made into a fun program for the scouts! I can see my boys enjoying sending messages with their machines they made while the other receives the message, and then vise-versa. Semaphore can also be the done the same way, and just as fun. The points of the merit badges are to give the scouts a taste of the subject, not to master it! And if they do master the subject YAY! Why do some of the scoutmasters act like drill sergeants when it comes to scouting and the merit badges? I did not see in ONE PLACE where it said to memorize or master the Morse code. It did however, say that they scouts had to send a message of not less that 35-words and not less than 35-letters per minute. Well, it could be done if they had their message ready to send. The problem is, when scout leaders start acting demanding and taking away the fun, we lose our scouts. THEN, they (DS Leaders) complain when the membership in their troop starts to drop. Come on people, give these kids a break and start thinking positive instead of bull-headed!

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