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Gone but not forgotten: Beekeeping and 9 other discontinued merit badges

No, a swarm of killer bees isn’t to blame for the Beekeeping merit badge’s 1995 demise.

The real culprit carries a similarly painful sting, though: a lack of interest and too few merit badge counselors.

As this Utah National Parks Council blog post points out, only 60 badges were earned during the last year Beekeeping MB was around.

Despite the lack of interest in the early ’90s, these days more Scouters email me about Beekeeping merit badge than any other discontinued merit badge. They’re calling for it to be reinstated, and they aren’t the first to do so.

In 2010, a 14-year-old Boy Scout from Oklahoma led an effort to reinstate Beekeeping. While he wasn’t successful, the BSA did announce it would incorporate beekeeping activities and awareness into eight existing merit badges: Bird Study, Forestry, Gardening, Nature, Plant Science, Pulp and Paper, Environmental Science, and Insect Study.

Seems like a logical compromise, but it got me thinking about other discontinued merit badges. Check out 10 fun examples after the jump.

First, though, a reminder that discontinued means what you’d think it does. Scouts can’t earn these. This comes directly from the Guide to Advancement (PDF):

Scouts are not allowed to begin work on discontinued merit badges. If actual and purposeful effort that is more than simply incidental to participation in Scouting activities has already begun by the time discontinuation becomes effective, and work actively continues, then the badge may be completed and can count toward rank advancement. However, presentation of the badge itself will be subject to availability. It is a misconception that discontinued merit badges may be earned as long as the patch and requirements can be found.

10 cool discontinued merit badges


Discontinued: 1995

My favorite requirement: “Study a hive of bees. Remove the combs. Find the queen.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: Despite strong grassroots support now, it was discontinued in the mid-90s because of interest and qualified merit badge counselors, as explained above.


Discontinued: 1987

My favorite requirement: “Rebind a book of four or more issues of a magazine, using binder’s board and book cloth.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: Its requirements were too specific, I think, which is why it was folded into Graphic Arts merit badge in 1987.

Sadly, in the age of Kindles and iPads these days, book-binding is surely even less popular now.


Discontinued: 1952

My favorite requirement: “Bend and weld three links and form them into a chain.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: One of the original 57 merit badges introduced by the BSA in 1911, Blacksmithing simply had outlived its relevance. That is, unless you’re a re-enactor in a renaissance festival.

Fortunately, new merit badges like Welding give Scouts a look at modern careers.

discontinued-mbs---consumer-buyingConsumer Buying

Discontinued: 1995

My favorite requirement: “Make a collection of different kinds of advertising from magazines and newspapers. List which ads are: (1) the most helpful, (2) the least helpful, (3) misleading.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: It looks like 1995 was a big year for the BSA’s merit badge offerings. Ten different merit badges, including Consumer Buying, were either discontinued or significantly changed that year. To be honest, without speaking to the individuals who decided to discontinue this one, I can’t say why it would’ve been dropped.

True, teaching Scouts how to be responsible consumers is a part of the Eagle-required Personal Management MB, but consumer education is even more vital today as the Internet has opened more ways for us to be consumers.

My guess is this one wasn’t popular with Scouts and couldn’t be sustained.


Discontinued: 1975

My favorite requirement: “Be able to milk.” Merit badge requirements don’t get much simpler than that. (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: The simple answer is that Dairying, which was one of the original 57 merit badges issued by the BSA in 1911, was merged into Animal Science merit badge. There’s a dairying option in Animal Science MB, and there’s even a cow on the Animal Science badge itself.

But I’m sure that our nation’s progression from rural Scout troops to urban and suburban ones didn’t help Dairying’s cause.

discontinued-mbs---farm-homeFarm Home and Its Planning

Discontinued: 1959

My favorite requirement: “Present a drawing plan of sewage disposal for a country home.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: Farm Home and Its Planning wouldn’t get the prize for longest merit badge name (Farm Layout & Building Arrangements has it beat), but it’s close.

This one was rolled into Farm Arrangements merit badge, which itself was discontinued in 1979.

discontinued-mbs---hog-and-porkHog and Pork Production

Discontinued: 1958

My favorite requirement: “Confer with meat market men and from their instruction draw a diagram of a hog, and mark and name the parts for butcher classification and sale of pork products.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: Vegetarians, look away now! We continue with the theme of farm-related merit badges with this one that was replaced by the shorter-named Hog Production merit badge in 1959.

Hog Production MB lasted less than two decades before being folded into Animal Science in 1975.


Discontinued: 1911

My favorite requirement: “Master 3 of the following combat skills: single stick, boxing, jiu jitsu, wrestling, quarterstaff, and fencing.” That also happens to be the only requirement.

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: According to, the “Master-at-Arms badge was one of the original 14 ‘Badges of Merit’ issued by the Boy Scouts of America in 1910 in the temporary ‘Original edition’ of the BSA Handbook. It was not included in the 1911 edition of the Boy Scout handbook.”

Self-defense may be a worthwhile skill, but it makes sense that the BSA wouldn’t keep around a merit badge with boxing, fencing and stick-combat for very long. I shudder to think of the medical release form.


Discontinued: 1952

My favorite requirement: “If in the country, know the breeds of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs owned on the five neighboring farms.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: One of the original 57 merit badges introduced by the BSA in 1911, Pathfinding was even required for Eagle from 1915 until its departure in 1952. Its focus on knowing one’s way around a neighborhood is still important today, but technology rendered many Pathfinding requirements less essential.

Pathfinding MB was re-released in 2010, only for the year, as part of the historic merit badge program for the BSA’s 100th anniversary. The patch image seen above is from the re-release.


Discontinued: 1952

My favorite requirement: “Present a satisfactory specimen of a bird or small mammal mounted by himself.” (Other requirements here)

My thoughts on why it was discontinued: In an organization that teaches the values of preserving and protecting nature, Taxidermy always seemed like an odd fit.

This warning to Scouts was aimed at that cause, but it was probably best to just eliminate the merit badge entirely: “No specimen will be accepted which has not been captured and killed humanely so far as the Scout is responsible and none which has not been killed legally.”

Honorable mentions

Nut Culture: No, this one isn’t about the study of crazy people. It did eventually become Plant Science merit badge.

Rabbit Raising: Parents everywhere are grateful their sons are no longer bringing rabbits into the home under the auspices of completing a merit badge requirement.

Small Grains and Cereal Foods: A merit badge for eating cereal? This would’ve been the first one I earned. But seriously, this one became Small Grains and then Plant Science.

Wood Turning: “Son, what about the Wood Turning merit badge? Your mother and I could use a new kitchen table.”


I used these unofficial, but nonetheless useful, volunteer-created sites in my research:

Related post

Are any current merit badges at risk of being discontinued? Not that I know of, but these were the most- and least-popular merit badges of 2013.

85 Comments on Gone but not forgotten: Beekeeping and 9 other discontinued merit badges

  1. Cecila Hardin // April 28, 2014 at 4:13 pm // Reply

    Very cool! Interesting to see how some of the badges evolved into present day. Thank you for sharing. My 12-year-old is quite upset that Rabbit Raising is no longer a badge. Guess we’ll be doing Pets.

  2. There are many scout camps that have blacksmithing as part of their mountain man program – so its kind of sad it is not a merit badge anymore.

    You didn’t have Poultry keeping on your list. There are many suburban (and urban) homes in our area that now keep a few hens in their backyard for fresh eggs.

    Beekeeping is also a home hobby – but not as popular at the moment as raising chickens.

    Master-of-Arms would be a popular merit badge if there were quality instruction and counselors.

    • IT is, however, one of the options in Metalworking (which I know our camp offers).

    • Bobby Sammons // April 29, 2014 at 8:32 pm // Reply

      My dad and granddad were both blacksmiths and while I hated every minute that I had to work the forge blower while growing up I did manage to learn a lot about blacksmithing while doing it. I can see both sides on its demise as a Merit Badge-but it sure would be nice as an historic one year addition.

  3. Was there a reason you used older versions of Bookbinding and Dairying merit badges in your illustration? You couldn’t find newer (the last) versions of them? I’m sure that if you asked folks out here (like me), you would have received scans or photos of those merit badges.

    Speaking of discontinued merit badges, how about:

    – Citizenship in the Home? It was quite some time before elements of that merit badge made it to the Family Living skill award in the 70s; and then the Family Life merit badge…

    – World Brotherhood? It had two designs; I liked the one with the Scout sign over the globe. I got to earn that merit badge early and used it later for an Eagle Palm. Elements of that merit badge are found in Citizenship in the World and Scouting Heritage merit badges.

  4. I just had a friend who is a beekeeper ask me the other day if there was a beekeeping MB b/c he’d be interested in teaching it! It does seem to be on the uptick around us as well as poultry keeping. Interesting how things come full circle.

    • There is a bee keeping option that was added recently to the Gardening MB.

      • The nation, and the nation’s farmers and apiarists, may plead to bring bee keeping back!

  5. Kathy Nabity // April 28, 2014 at 4:34 pm // Reply

    Poultry is an option in the Animal Science MB. I wish rabbitry was an option there as well. Maybe that’s where beekeeping could fit in, too?

  6. Bryan, since you chose Master at Arms as one of your 10, maybe you can answer one of my ultimate merit badge questions. Was Master of Arms ever earned by anyone?

    • Great question. I’ll ask around.

      • While we’re on Master at Arms, the patch you show is a recent UK Scout Association Activity Badge, I think, rather than a BSA merit badge. They tend to put the little fleur-de-lis on their badges, which would be unusual for a BSA badge (and color would have been very unusual in 1911).

        • Yes, you’re right. Good eye!

    • Say, I’m a Boy Scout myself, and if Master of Arms MB was still around, I would take that MB class. Most boys nowadays like playing violence games and stuffs(like a sword for ex.), then should we have a MB for them to learn the right way to at least handle swords?

      • Shouldn’t*

      • Ok, WHOA. Not advocating training boys to sword fight. FENCING is not swords, they are called FOILS. They have a tip on them that prevents injury and they are flexible. NO SWORDS! NO numchucks, ballbats, etc., lol.

        Karate doesn’t use weapons except at the upper levels – usually brown/black belt. Again, not advocating that.

        Judo on the other hand, teaches you to use physics as a means of taking down an opponent. That’s why people my size (5′ and well, SHOULD be 110) can take down 200 lb men in judo. It’s all about surprise and leverage. Sure you can get hurt, but not anymore chance of that than in wrestling, baseball, football, or basketball.

        Both fencing and judo are recognized olympic sports.

        • Tom McFadden // April 19, 2015 at 3:32 pm //

          What about Sabers and Epees? Karate, is just one of many styles of martial arts, and is the only style that does not use weapons since Karate means empty hand. There are many other styles that do teach weapons and not just to higher ranks. I’ve studied Akido, Sho Tokan, and Shintai, all of which taught weapons to anyone that earned a colored belt. White belts had to focus on mastering basic strikes and blocks.

          A true instructor teaches the art and how to avoid using it. Like the scout motto be prepared. It’s a tool in your toolbox only taken out if needed, not so me thing to be used except as a last resort. Not to mention they’re great excercise, and build confidence, and teach respect. I am very surprised that BSA frowns on teaching skills that could save a life, and that teaches discipline and respect.

        • phineasjay // July 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm //

          with the advent of groups like Amptgarde and the SCA, multiple martial techniques are being taught in competent safe environments, ad is fencing. Not to mention, like all other merit badges the requirements could be written to include non-weapon bearing martial arts such as Karate, Judo, Tai Chi (yes its a martial art), Capoeira, Krav Maga, Abirah and more. It wouldn’t make sense to bind the organization to requirements written 105 years ago.

      • I’m a student of BSA history and a collector of BSA literature.

        When the idea of using a former military book written by a general, “Aids to Scouting”, as a basis for character development of young men was first brought to the US, it met some resistance as some thought it was designed to turn kids into soldiers.

        As one history of the BSA noted, any semblance of military training at the time, including close order drill, was like “waving a red flag of militarism”. Competing organizations, such as Hearst’s American Boy Scouts, did do that stuff and it led to their demise.

        Hence the stillbirth of the Master of Arms skill badge. The avoidance of implying we’re traing kids for eventual combat can be seen in the continued prohibition on such martial arts activities, and things like avoiding camo uniforms, in BSA to this day.

  7. What a pitty! I wish they wouldn’t discontinue MB’s. I mean, does it cause any extra cost, to just keep a smaller amount of the books and patches around? Or make at least the books available still as pdf files if a scout would like to do these. I know *I* for example would love to work on beekeeping and blacksmithing. I understand it may be a challenge to find counselors, but we have that issue with many other MBs anyway, depending on what’s locally available.

    • Many of the requirements are still around via (or if not, elsewhere online).

      While the Scouts wouldn’t get credit for them as Merit Badges any longer, it doesn’t seem there is any reason that they couldn’t be done as general insturctional lessons at a meeting if there was interest among a Troop or Patrol.

      • Read advancement guidelines

  8. Michael Westfall // April 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    I earned the Corn Farming Merit Badge in about 1968 or 1969. We raised an acre of corn, sold it and calculated our “profit’ as a portion of the merit badge. I still like to pull out the sash and ask current Scouts about that one. Probably discontinued because farms have gotten bigger and bigger, nonetheless, it was worthwhile to help understand some basic environmental skills and economics of farming.

  9. Mr. Bubbles // April 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm // Reply

    I don’t think it ever was, as, it was never really an official badge of merit. I heard the rarest of the rare was the original Inventing merit badge. ! basic requirement; Invent and obtain a patent for a new thing, and present working drawings to your counselor.

    Gee, in today’s world that’s only about a $20,000 merit badge once you navigate the legal aspect. I figure most merit badges cost right around, or slightly under about $75-$100 when you add it all in. Some are more than that (Scuba) and some are less (Reading), but it’s a good round number to work from.

    • I was going to mention Inventing, too. In addition to the cost issue, the average pendency of a patent application these days is nearly three years – more in some technologies – which would also tend to limit those eligible for the badge. It’s not clear anyone ever earned it during its brief lifetime a century ago (I’ve heard estimates ranging from none to less than 10.

      Interestingly, the display of “every merit badge ever offered” at the National Scouting Museum lacks any mention of Inventing.

    • H. David Pendleton // April 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm // Reply

      I don’t know about an “average” cost of Merit Badge being $75-$100. Many of them can be done for little or nothing extra: Scholarship, Reading (use the Library), Chess, Collections (use a collection you already have), Crime Prevention, Computers, Electricity, Energy, Genealogy, Law, Medicine, Moviemaking, Nature, Personal Fitness, Photography, Pulbic Speaking, Radio, Safety, Fire Safety, Scouting Heritage, Soil & Water Conservation, Surveying, Textile, Traffic Safety, Truck Transportation, Veterinary Medicine, & Weather. I don’t see any of the above costing more than $10 & most of them nothing.

      My son already has 47 Merit Badges. Unless I calculate the amount of money I spent for him to attend summer camp & divide by the number of Merit Badges he earned, I cannot think of any of them that cost more than $25 to earn (unless I calculate the miles driven by the government standard rate). And the only reason, I am listing that high of figure is that I have bought him a Bird Identification Book, a Tree Identification Book, or other material so he could learn more. He probably could have gotten by w/o the extra stuff, but I thought it was worth it and he could continue to use them for Scouts and/or school.

      Now there are several Merit Badges that cost a lot of money: Scuba is at the top of the list. Others, depending on the camp, charge additional money for Shotgun and Rifle Shooting. A few others may require admissions to museums or other places. I guess Camping might be consider “expensive” also if one adds what it cost for the 20 nights of camping.

      Since my son has a goal of earning all the Merit Badges, I hope it doesn’t average out to $100 each. That would put the cost in the 5-figure mark . . . ouch.

      • My grandson has 73, but he says he’s done. That includes the 4 special ones from 2010. He’s 17 now. He got his Eagle at 14. It’s been hard to keep him involved …..we are starting up a Venturing crew based on shooting sports….that will keep he and his other friends who have also lost interest still coming.

        I’ve only seen one boy get all of them, and then he had to keep going because they added some, lol!…..2 years ago and now there’s more. He’ll never be done until he turns 18!

  10. Mr. Bubbles // April 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm // Reply

    I don’t think it ever was, as, it was never really an official badge of merit. I heard the rarest of the rare was the original Inventing merit badge. Only 14 were ever fully earned and awarded. ! basic requirement; Invent and obtain a patent for a new thing, and present working drawings to your counselor.

    Gee, in today’s world that’s only about a $20,000 merit badge once you navigate the legal aspect. I figure most merit badges cost right around, or slightly under about $75-$100 when you add it all in. Some are more than that (Scuba) and some are less (Reading), but it’s a good round number to work from.

  11. I have 3 hives. On my way to Eagle ( in the ’60s ) I thought the MB was fascinating but had no way of finding a beekeeper to teach me. I kept the interest alive and 10 years ago I started keeping bees to boost production in my garden. Even though keeping bees is much harder than it used to be.the BSA should reconsider this Merit Badge now more than ever. The bees are going away due to CCD. I understand Blacksmithing going away. But civilization NEEDS the bees and we need as many people as possible to be interested. Our food supplies depend a great deal on Bees.

    • YEP, my grandson got it the year he turned 14 (have to be 14 to do it). Our camp even offers and ‘advanced’ version – no badge, just the training.

    • Yes, we need bees….however, to say blacksmithing should go away upsets me. First off, blacksmithing is an ART, a lost art….and keeping it alive in the boys through a badge is a good thing.

      And it isn’t all about shoeing horses….it’s about creating! It’s called metalworking now, and they make things like coat hooks, marshmallow skewers, etc. But teachers for this are few and far between.

      In our area it’s done at camp by an organization who is trying to keep the art alive. I would not suggest having kids shoe horses.

      I have raised, trained and shown horses for 42 years. No way would I want a kid to use my horse as a guinea pig. So, no, blacksmithing in its original form (shoeing) should not be a badge.

      Horses all have feet of different sizes and health conditions just like people – every shoe is fitted to the horse and if a foot problem adjusted for that. But teaching how to use a forge to make things should not be GONE!

      • eagelrockeddy // April 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm // Reply

        I concur with the point about blacksmithing as art. Glad to hear that it has been including in Metalworking. Many art/craft shows have blacksmith/artists participating.

  12. Many, many moons ago I was one of the lucky Scouts to earn Rabbit Raising merit badge. My parents brought home a pair of Dutch Dwarves and my brother and I (both Eagles) set about our mutual quest to earn this even then obscure badge. (In fact we were the only ones in our troop to have earned it.) I know, I know… humorous comments aside, the breeding part was indeed more of an observation part… But my brother and I both learned a lot about life from the experience. 10 days after giving birth, the mother bunny got sick, and had a reaction to the antibiotics given to her from the vet and died. All of my family had a hand in raising her three newborns. All three were very different colors, and they had very different an unique personalities. We taught all three to swim, and I even taught one to deal cards. (That got me interviewed by the local radio station.) All of our bunnies lived at least 10 years, but the oldest of the three lived 13 years, although the badge took just a few days of effort, it taught both of us lessons that have helped us in the years since.

    • LOVE this story! So happy to see that something that was a temporary project turned out to be a decades long emotional investment! I can so see today’s youth saying ‘ok, I’m done with my badge, so I’m done with the rabbits….what’s for dinner’. Not being cold, just factual. Glad to see you guys did NOT do that.

      • You know at Easter time you always hear about poor chicks and bunnies, and my parents were absolutely not like that at all. Now for full disclosure here, I must confess that a lot of what I ate growing up involved my father or brother having to go out and shoot it, so I certainly can say I had rabbit stew before, as well as a lot of venison and pheasant, but these bunnies were absolutely kept as pets only.

        • I’m not anti-hunting = don’t get me wrong….but the attitudes of some of the boys when projects are finished bugs me.

          Let me back up a step…not anti-hunting as long as the following guidelines are followed. Hunt because you want the meat, not because it’s ‘cool’, or macho, or because you like to see things die or cut them up. Don’t hunt for trophies or skins…that’s wrong on every level. We no longer need fur to keep us warm, and we certainly don’t need antlers or a stuffed bobcat adorning our living room walls.

          If you kill, make sure its for food, DON’T WASTE! Unfortunately, most of my family is guilty of this. No one, including me, knows how to tan a deer hide. Makes me cry that all those skins are thrown away.

          Ok, off my soapbox. BTW: Yes, I’m a gun advocate – NRA/BSA – the whole thing, but I couldn’t shoot Bambi if my life depended on it, lol. But I know it has to happen for population control. Shooting big game for sport – they need to be shot themselves…no purpose in killing a big cat.

        • I am not anti-hunting either, but the only shots I’ve ever taken at an animal were with a camera. I pride myself at being an excellent marksman, but only against paper targets… That being said, to risk a trip down the rabbithole (pun intended.) I never needed to hunt as a boy, I couldn’t keep quiet to save my life and it would have been wasteful of me to do so anyways. I grew up being thankful for the gift of life that the animal gave to us, so even to this day I will ensure that I eat every bite of meat that’s served on my plate.

        • YEP, paper targets for me….unless my job requires it to be human. And thank God it has never come to that. (Armed security – but we are trained for police issues tasers and chemical spray, including stun guns….so should never be necessary).

          On a funny kinda’ note….you mentioned rabbit hole. A friend posted a pic of a young kid holding a 7′ rattler with 6 rattles! They were hunting hogs and in a hole when it climbed in, so instead of shooting a hog they shot a snake, lol. NOW THAT would have made me scared to death…but I guess there was nowhere to run!

  13. I earned General Science, which I know was discontinued. That elimination does not bother me, but one my brother earned and was discontinued does: Botany. Given all the zoological merit badges, the elimination of this one really irked me. I know they merged it into Plant Science, but it’s not the same.

    • I agree – I loved getting Botany MB and was sad to find out it had been dropped by the time my son joined scouts. I still remember walking around camp with the counselor to identify 50 different plant species.

  14. Master of Arms is an important badge. Just as with ANY badge that might have some form of ‘danger’ to it, it is all about having qualified instructors, protective equipment and correct place to do the event. We have rifle and shotgun shooting, and I’m an NRA/BSA range officer, pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor. It is much more dangerous to work with weapons than it is to do martial arts.

    And fencing not being allowed is almost a joke! I taught it in 4-H, learned it in college, and was given free equipment/clothing so that I COULD teach it. I would love to teach it to the boys. As it is, I only do exhibitions, and it is so hard on them knowing they can’t DO it, but just watch. The foils have no POINTS, they bend, you wear heavy, full head/face protection, and heavy body suits. Really not much chance of getting hurt unless the instructor is remiss in making sure they do not have the foils in hand without being properly equipped and on the mat.

    BTW: Fencing is an OLYMPIC sport!

    Martial arts is a little more tricky. I also do judo and Ke-She-Kan karate. If I were to choose one to be taught to the boys it would be judo….not a whole lot different than wrestling…well, yes it is…but you aren’t kicking someone’s lights out. Judo ALSO is an Olympic Sport.

    Karate on the other hand if you got a hold of a bad sensei who taught the boys kill techniques, that’s where the problem arises. My sensei would not teach those to anyone under the age of 21. He also monitored how they were outside of the classroom. If he found out they were using it for aggressive or offensive behaviors they were kicked out – permanently. He constantly reinforced that karate is for DEFENSE only.

    Ok, off my soapbox. But we have the sports units in scouts….team sports. Please tell me how the possibility of injury is any less in those sports? I’m sincerely asking since I know many, many people including my ex who have permanent injuries from football and even baseball, and wrestling. Boxing, I won’t go there. Lots of people like boxing….I see no purpose, but that’s me.

    oops, no not done. My grandson got all 4 of the 2010 reinstated badges. Signaling should be back permanently. Technology is great, but in a pinch, you really need to know those thing. The military (which I was) still teach it, or at least they did us. Pathfinding was a learning experience for the boys and the leaders….should be back.

    • Right, my kids take Karate and in the 5 years we have been there only 1 injury has been sustained on the mat- and that was a kid goofing off during warm ups doing things they were told not to do- but we have seen many kids have to take time off karate due to injuries and broken bones received in baseball, soccer, volleyball, etc

    • An NRA RSO and Instructor would call them firearms if you followed protocol.

    • Gary Wilson // April 20, 2015 at 1:11 pm // Reply

      As a student of BSA history, one of the biggest initial objections to the Boy Scout movement when it started was that some called it “militaristic” and “designed to train boys to become soldiers”. The uniforms and program started by a General were the problem.

      A rival Scout organization sponsored by William Randolph Hearst, “The American Boy Scouts”, actually included close order drill and marksmanship. Once one of the members of that organization killed another, it eventually disappered.

      Thus BSA quickly removed “Master of Arms” and has never since approved any martial arts oriented merit badge. We’re supposed to be what B.P. himself called “Peace Scouts”

  15. Gary Newton // April 28, 2014 at 7:17 pm // Reply

    I’ve just started keeping Bee’s after retirement, I’d thought about it for many years just didn’t have the time. That being said I joined a local Bee Keeping Club. Its amazing how many people have asked about the Beekeeping MB many are now ready to jump through all of the hoops to be a MB counselor. The Bee’s need help and many are ready to teach anyone interested. It would be a Great time for BSA to join the movement.

  16. I was a hobbiest bee keeper for years when my kids were small. I had told my son who was in Cub Scouts at the time we would do Beekeeping MB when he got into Boy Scouts. The year after he moved into Boy Scouts in the 90’s it was discontinued. What disappointment! I still have all my bee keeping equipment and ready to go if it is reinstated.

  17. I got the bookbinding merit badge. I still have part of my binder that I use as a stool.

  18. The original invention merit badge definitely belongs on the list. It was one of the original 57 badges and was discontinued 5 years later after only 10 Scouts earned the badge.
    Best requirement: invents and patent something useful.
    Why it was retired: I suspect “patents something” was the most challenging requirement BSA ever came up with.

  19. I really liked having Pathfinding around in 2010. I think boys would benefit from updated versions of the requirements being rolled into early rank requirements. My son (who earned Pathfinding) definitely has the edge over is older sisters who are lost if their phone dies.

    • Hi Mike- I thought Pathfinding was great to have return in 2010. Carpentry and Stalking were also a great additions. Unfortunately, I saw a scout camp do a really poor job at offering Carpentry and the scouts didn’t learn anything. What a shame.

      • I think all 4 should be back. I do have to laugh that they changed the name from Stalking for the 2010 badge. I’m so sick of PC crap, and BSA is falling victim to it as well. Anyone who would honestly think that the badge teaches stalking – as in criminal activity – is insane. But the PC nazi police did that.

        • Sorry. I think the BSA did the right thing when they renamed that merit badge. After all, which kid wants to go around today saying that they earned a merit badge in “stalking”?

        • I understand your reasoning. I just hate all the pc crap… everything. I hate having to preface everything I say with ‘don’t take this wrong’. I never mean anything bad when I speak, but with all the pc stuff, SOMEONE SOMEWHERE is going to take it wrong, or twist what I say. Off topic, I know….but that’s my pet peeve.

  20. I really liked Carpentry coming back in 201 and would liked to have seen it come back permanently. As Mr. Rowe would tell us skilled labor is vitally important nowadays and with the Webelos Handyman Activity Badge as the precursor to Boy Scouts activities of the same nature the Carpentry merit badge could join a host of complementary badges along that track (Drafting, Electticity, Electronics, Metalwork, Painting, Plumbing, Surveying, Welding, etc.). I suppose the argument can be made that Woodwork merit badge includes carpentry though much as other discontinued badges had their requirements rolled into other badges.

  21. I usually am more of a fan of MBs that focus on the outdoors (nature, fishing) and scout skills (orienteering, pioneering) than careers or technology, but have to say a master-at-arms merit badge would be awesome! I know in our litigation-loving culture there is no way BSA would add it, but I have to think it would quickly become one of the most popular badges offered if summer camps could figure out a way to staff it.

    • Definitely. It would fall in the category with rifle/shotgun. You can’t hardly get those badges unless you have a trained range officer and instructors in your troop (we do)….except at camp. And time on the range at camp is so limited due to huge numbers of participants that its hard to get it completed….unless you’re already a trained shooter (many boys are already hunters and marksmen – so those boys get through it quickly).

  22. I also hoped Beekeeping would return.

    But, even more, I wish BSA would consider a Sewing MB. It is a life skill that can be painfully expensive if you don’t know how to sew.

    • You’re right. When I was a kid in GS in the dark ages, sewing was a REQUIRED badge. I’m wondering if today most families don’t even own a sewing machine. That doesn’t mean they can’t do hand sewing, but that’s not the same.

      • Some requirements I would have for this badge:
        1) Hand sew at least two patches on your uniform in the correct place. (This could be two merit badges, a rank and office patch, etc.)
        2) Sew a button.
        3) Repair a seam and a hem.

        The first one is for the sake of the boys doing their own work for their uniforms; the last two are basic repairs. I am not asking them to make garments or quilts, just basic sewing tasks. Perhaps these could be incorporated into rank advancement (at least #1)?

        • Good idea. No sewing machine necessary. But maybe there could be an ‘option’ of making something – a troop scarf, or something simple using a sewing machine. Truly using a sewing machine even if it’s one of those singer handheld thingies would be good for them to know…at least the basics.

  23. Mr. Bubbles // April 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm // Reply

    Tell me about sewing! My wife won’t do it, and sewing all those darn patches on when outfitting a new shirt can take a whole day. Merit badges too. I think I’ve sewed up about a dozen shirts now between Cub Scouts. Boy Scouts, Wood Badge, Venturing, and Sea Scouts. The only thing missing from the mix is Exploring.

  24. This is why I like the Venturing advancement model. If the youth wants to delve into an arcane interest, we can make a personal growth plan around it. Research it, do it, teach it. Sure they don’t get a specific badge for that activity (unless there’s some kind of national certification like there is for first aid and cpr), but if they do it in a way that fit’s the scheme of the bronze awards (or whatever they’ll call them), they have made a major accomplishment, used it to enhance the life of their crew, and can be recognized accordingly.

  25. I earned Beekeeping MB back in the 70’s with my Father. We had two main hives with smaller ones from swarms each Spring in our suburban estate with a large garden and nearby Golf course. It was our hobby. The hobby also earned me a science prize in High School Biology class.

    Too many people these days do not understand the basics of nature & gardening with such badges replaced. NO, we have not had a garden in many years. But, most of the neighbors had gardens when I was a Scout, gave me a better appreciation of vegetables and a respect for their tastes.

    Such hobbies taught more than “keeping something”, regular habits, care, understanding of nature, a year-round interest. Unfortunately, the bees & the garden are long gone, but learned a lot while we had these avenues in the backyard.

  26. BJ Rassam // May 2, 2014 at 6:51 pm // Reply

    It’d be great to have some of these come back to scouting, like beekeeping and pathfinding.

  27. Given the decline in bee populations and the impact bees have on our food supply, encouraging the practice of beekeeping could have a very positive effect on our environment, and it has been shown to be successful in cities as well as rural areas. It is however an expensive hobby.

  28. Brent Dickson // August 3, 2014 at 10:12 am // Reply

    Brian, what is the process to petition for the reinstatement of a merit badge? I am a beekeeper and there truly seems to be a renewed interest in this. As many have expressed, there is a great need for more people to explore beekeeping to protect and grow their numbers and the benefits they provide mankind.

    Brent Dickson
    ASM – T192 St Cloud, FL

  29. In 1960 I had a Scoutmaster that was my counselor for the Wood Turning merit badge. Recently, I noticed that it was discontinued in 1952. The badge I was issued was an E-Type (green-khaki background). He may have just not realized that it had been discontinued, but that begs the issue of what the council did when it was submitted. Back then, did the council have some leeway in issuing awards that they do not now have?

  30. Charles. R. Cundiff // October 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm // Reply

    I read that it is still possible to do the work for the merit badge and be awarded it. It is just that there is no literature for the merit badge and you would have to have your own merit badge be embroidered. I saw a very old Handbook for Boys for very early days (it may have been the British version from around 1910) and there were three levels of badge, apparently with outer portion of the badge embroidered in white, red, and blue. A white badge was harder than modern requirements. A red edged badge was rather hard, and a blue badge was at expert/black bet level.I think the blue hunting one required bagging a tiger on foot and solo.

  31. John Pritchard // November 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm // Reply

    I had a scout working on Rabbit Raising. He LOVED his animals (like Radar O’Reilly on MASH) He came to me one day and said that he could probably do all the requirements but he was concerned where he would get ‘clothes’ to “dress the rabbit for market.” It was real hard to tell him that that dress did not mean clothes! He said “Not my rabbit!” and quickly switched over to Pets merit badge.

  32. jake-eagle-scout // November 21, 2014 at 7:24 pm // Reply

    If there was s “Sewing” badge like the above commenters were saying he wouldn’t have to switched.

  33. I earned Automobiling, a merit badge that goes way back but was discontinued circa 1963. It’s a great conversation piece. Also Insect Life. I spent all one summer catching and mounting different insects, and went through a lot of carbon tetrachloride…

    I don’t like how they changed Cooking, however. My Cooking merit badge has a black kettle on it. The new one has a chef’s hat. What’s up with that? It’s more like Culinary Arts, perhaps. I remember making peach cobbler in a dutch oven in a bed of coals. Maybe there needs to be two different cooking-related merit badges.

  34. We brought back “Signaling” for the centennial and I was happy to be a councilor for it again!

  35. “Taxidermy: In an organization that teaches the values of preserving and protecting nature, Taxidermy always seemed like an odd fit.”
    Actually hunting is not allowed due to safety issues. “Hunting is not an authorized Cub Scout or Boy Scout activity, although hunting safety is part of the program curriculum.

    (The purpose of this policy is to restrict chartered packs, troops, and teams from conducting hunting trips. However, this policy does not restrict Venturing crews from conducting hunting trips or special adult hunting expeditions provided that adequate safety procedures are followed and that all participants have obtained necessary permits and/or licenses from either state or federal agencies.)

    Scouting not only teaches preserving and protection nature but also conservation. Hunting is the key foundation of wildlife management and conservation. Taxidermy is a worthy trade and a key component in outdoor education programing. My nature center is full of taxidermy items. The protected species (and a few game species) were salvage permit species. The rest game species. For most kids in urban settings, this is the closest they will get to these species.

    When a Webelos leader, my webelos were used to checking out deer hanging in the shop during breaks at our meetings. This weekend, my Troop took a break from painting their patrol boxes in my nature center to check out the deer my son had shot and had been hanging in the shop. They explored the inside cavity, etc.

    While probably not a worthy MB these days, “visit a taxidermy shop or nature center. Discuss, salvage permits, taxidermy, and how it is used in outdoor ed.” would be a worthy option.

  36. that’s too bad I need a bookbinder

  37. The old skiing merit badge always gets a lot of questions when I show my old sash. Eagle Scout 1975

  38. John A. Kingston Sr // April 19, 2015 at 7:11 pm // Reply

    Back in 1968 I earned Atomic Energy. I had a science instructor in high school who was very interested in this subject and we built a cloud chamber and a Geiger counter. I had to draw diagrams of how a reactor works, functions and shuts down, and my dentists office x-ray machine and how it was positioned and used. He was a stickler for making sure that I understood the historical figures and their connected contributions to the field. I have never found another Scout who had this badge. I got a few questions on it at my Eagle board as to it’s validity, as they had not seen it before.

  39. With the impact’s that Bee’s have on our World’s agriculture crops, Beekeeping would be a great MB to return for one year like BSA has done with others in the past.

  40. Dixie Wagner // April 11, 2016 at 12:28 pm // Reply

    Agreed, John Yeager. Aren’t bees becoming on the endangered list of becoming extinct? I think reintroducing the Beekeeping MB would bring awareness to the bees plight.

  41. Rob Lester // April 11, 2016 at 1:07 pm // Reply

    I’m with John Yeager on this issue…
    The state of the environment is such that we NEED a greater awareness of the impact bees have on the very existence of Mother Earth.
    They play a MAJOR role in keeping us ALL alive…

  42. I have book binding rabbit raising and beekeeping. No wonder my mom was a nervous wreck

  43. Rick Meints // April 11, 2016 at 8:17 pm // Reply

    I always wished I had earned Pigeon Raising. That’s an oldie but a goodie. I know it can easily be a part of Pets MB now, but I kind of like all the different ones being distinct badges. I always liked the look of the Taxidermy MB, with that ominous looking claw, although I can’t imagine ever earning it myself. Most of the youth in my troop know I love obscure merit badges and always make a fuss when they earn one of the rarely earned ones. On a few occasions I have offered to gift a discontinued MB to a youth if they complete all the old requirements and review them with me. The last one I offered was Sheep Raising. I know they wouldn’t count towards rank or anything, but I love encouraging the pursuit of such interests, especially just for the fun of it.

  44. Beekeeping , one of my first badges earned with father and grandfather,,a shame its no longer available. a very relevant topic today and renewed interest

  45. Vince D'Amico // June 22, 2016 at 11:05 pm // Reply

    Been doing research on Carpentry, and was surprised that it was not listed! We have a “challenge” for my Life Scout as he is attempting to build a hexagon-shaped tree bench memorial for his Eagle project. But, we are having problems finding a carpenter mentor to work with him.
    Carpentry would be a great merit badge with all those ‘retired’ DIY seniors wanting to help some scouts!

  46. Guy DuBoice // January 5, 2017 at 9:45 am // Reply

    I think Bee Keeping should never have been discontinued. Many kids with allergies to pollin can gain meaningful insight into how local honey can benefit their allergies. I think anyone qualified in boy scouts could teach this merit badge if they know a qualified bee keeper willing to work with kids with their hives for the specific project requirements. I do hope they bring this back. Another merit badge very useful would be the tracking merit badge which incorporated many parts of the pathfinder merit badge as well.

  47. Dean Whinery // April 4, 2017 at 4:04 pm // Reply

    Always thought that most Scoutmaster should get an honorary Nut Culture MB.

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