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20 interactive digital merit badge pamphlets, including every Eagle-required badge, now available

For the first time ever, it’s now possible for a Scout to earn every Eagle-required merit badge using nothing but the new interactive digital merit badge pamphlets.

Or, put simply: The future is officially here.

As first reported on Scouting Wire, interactive digital merit badge pamphlets are now available for all Eagle-required merit badges.

That includes those badges that allow Scouts to choose from two or three options. For example, to become an Eagle Scout, a young man must earn the Swimming or Hiking or Cycling merit badges. But whichever he chooses, he’ll have the interactive digital merit badge pamphlet available for download right now. Same for the Emergency Preparedness and Lifesaving merit badges and the Environmental Science and Sustainability merit badges.

I’ve been updating you as the number of interactive digital merit badge pamphlets has grown. First there were four. Then eight. Then 13. Now that number is at 20.

That’s 17 Eagle-required and three elective merit badges. The electives are three logical candidates for what I’m calling “early digitization”: Animation, Digital Technology and Robotics.

So why go interactive digital instead of the ink-and-paper merit badge pamphlet? These advantages are what sold me:

  • Exclusive videos, including how-to clips, career bios, virtual tours and multimedia experiences
  • Search, so you can find what you need quickly
  • Simulations, animations, photo slideshows and graphics
  • Interactive Q&A’s

Like all things digital, these don’t take up any extra space in your backpack. And you get it all for the same cost as the print pamphlets: $4.99.

You’re getting the best value by going with the interactive digital edition. But don’t take my word for it; check one out for yourself.

Which merit badges are digital?

Click each merit badge title to be taken to the appropriate ScoutStuff.org page. (Or see the full set here.)

What’s inside?

Take a look:

Is this the same as what’s on Amazon?

No. These interactive digital merit badge pamphlets aren’t the same as the digital merit badge pamphlets sold on Amazon.com.

The big difference? Interactivity.

The ones on Amazon are searchable and available on any device with a Kindle app, but they don’t include the BSA’s custom-designed interactive elements.

The interactive digital merit badge pamphlets, on the other hand, are available on iPad, iPhone, Android and Web browsers and include all of the BSA’s resources for that merit badge.

No matter which version you choose — print, Amazon Kindle edition, interactive digital edition — you’ll spend $4.99 apiece.

Where can I learn more?

You can consider Boys’ Life to be your hub for all things related to these interactive digital merit badges pamphlets. Bookmark this page to find FAQs, links to buy the interactive digital merit badge pamphlets, sample videos and more.

How do I buy these awesome things?

See this step-by-step guide.

28 Comments on 20 interactive digital merit badge pamphlets, including every Eagle-required badge, now available

  1. Make them free for registered scouts and scouters, or make them $ .50-1.00 like most apps. Can’t pass them around or put them in the troop library. There are no printing or shipping costs to the supplier, so once the initial investment is made it is all profit. Scouts are non-for-profit. Let’s put that big recharter bill to use.

    • Although I agree that the cost seems to be beyond the added value of the new medium, and that many (most?) of us think more boys would be attracted to the program with $1 per pamphlet price point (regardless of medium), I have to speak out against the presumption that not-for-profit equates to free-lunch-for-everyone.

      BSA’s financial statements are publicly available, and there are forums to debate what those fees are spent on. But, there is one simple question that must be answered by anyone who thinks pamphlets should be free-for-all:

      Why should all the cubs, venturers, learning-for-life, and associated adults ever be required to pay for the dozens of merit badge pamphlets the average scout might use?

      Thrifty – “A Scout works to pay his own way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.”

    • Please remember that although Scouting is a non profit, it does not mean that scouting is free. All profits from National Supply go right back into Scouting to make it better. And a part of that, from your local Scout Shop, goes back your Local Council to help keep the lights on and keep the cost of summer camps low.

      Let’s all do our part to support scouting.

  2. Interactive MB Books do the scouts absolutely no good for Summer and Winter Camps, etc, where electronics are not permitted. Paper books are always the best bet.

    • Maybe they should be permitted. http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/05/04/this-troops-excellent-technology-policy-is-based-on-the-scout-law/

    • Why are they not permitted? They are very much encouraged at the National Jamboree.

  3. Brian,
    What format are these pamphlets in? Is it an interactive PDF type format or something else entirely? Also, If I purchase a digital interactive pamphlet on my phone, is it transferable to other devices, such as my tablet and desktop? Can I share the digital copy with multiple Youth (either throughout the years or several scouts at one time) as I would be able to if I had a print copy?

  4. Michael Quinn // January 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm // Reply

    As to utilizing this resource I assume the scout stills needs SM and MB counselor to sign off on completed work? Will there be a certificate of completion available in using digital version like CE for Engineers, CPA, lawyers and insurance agents?

    • Randy Deprez // March 12, 2016 at 9:12 am // Reply

      Isn’t that certificate called a Blue Card? Or even a merit badge?

  5. Yeah nice try BSA for thinking outside the box but REALLY? I mean any 12 year old scout have made that app for you. That is an insult that you charge the same for a PDF as you would a handbook? So much for Leave No Trace and saving a tree. I think the already over worked volunteers spend enough of their own money, what did it cost BSA to scan this and make it electronic? I wish I bookmarked the website that has/had the handbooks scanned into PDF for free, anyone remember that site? It was not a www site it was http something.

    • These are not just PDFs. They contain video and other interactive functions. From a parent who has a daughter studying animation in college, this takes A LOT of time to develop properly. You should check one out and put it in the hands of a Scout and see what he thinks.

  6. Turned off to Digital Media from BSA when the Scout Handbook app was never updated or improved.

  7. Please clarify if a Scout can “earn” a merit badge simply by using the interactive digital merit badge pamphlet or if he still needs to engage a merit badge counselor for final approval.

    • The process of individual work with the counselor ideally recommended by the scoutmaster remains unchanged.

  8. One suggestion I have is to have a way to purchase these books through ScoutBook. A Scout can look at his advancement status, then purchase the digital merit badge pamphlet he needs.

  9. Melissa Iturria // January 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm // Reply

    Is there a way to print chosen pages as needed from the app on my iphone? I successfully downloaded the communications MB booklet but would like to print an occasional page to refer to.

    • It seems to me, if you’re gonna need a page in hard copy, you should just buy the pamphlet!

  10. Darryl Nelson // January 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm // Reply

    There are many FREE MB requirement sources out there. BSA is probably not going to have much luck with the $5 price tag. As a retailer myself you must always look at your competition before the launch of a new product. When there are great sources for free you better make your product better (This looks like it is with videos, BSA authentic, etc) and then not price it too high. Volume is the key.
    Development of this app was a fixed cost with no additional cost for each sale. I suspect that the BSA would have made more money with a $.99 per download x many, vs $4.99 x a few. OR have a flat fee for ALL of the MB requirements, add a personal advancement tracking feature, etc.
    The comment that this is the same price as a MB pamphlet … name another app that sells the download for the same price as the original printed version?

  11. Bob Berkheiser // January 13, 2016 at 5:15 pm // Reply

    So can these MB pamphlets be shared? If not can they be printed and then scanned and loaded onto the troop website? At least the troop Librarian will have something to do.

    • No and no.
      Unless the library consists of a cluster of mobile devices that boys can check out, the interactive pamphlets can’t be managed by a librarian.

  12. Scoutmaster Dave // January 13, 2016 at 6:33 pm // Reply

    I hope BSA updates the companion paper merit badge pamphlets to include a printed QRC that can be scanned by a smart phone or table to link to the same online resources and videos these digital pamphlets provide. Otherwise, you’re selling Scouts short by not providing the same resources to Scouts regardless of the medium they choose to purchase.

    • This is a great idea.

  13. As a counselor – if a scout puts a merit badge book on his phone. Does he write his answers in a space given on his phone? Then is the phone handed to the counselor to view? Some phones are small and you will have to play with them to be able to read them. Not every scout owns an ipad. Or is every answer going to be a discussion with the counselor?
    Another question – will the scout be sending his answer sheet to the counselor for viewing or can the counselor print out the scouts answers.

    Some of us counselors haven’t had the need for fancy, do everything phones or have ipads etc. Are the counselors expected to purchase those updated technology devices in order to help the scouts?
    Would you advise the troop to purchase an ipad and purchase the merit badge books for the ipad. Then the librarian will check out the ipad to the scout? Not all scouts (referring to the younger ones) have those devices either. Usually the hand me down phones from the parents.

    • Obviously, the most important thing counselors bring to the program is their experience and the willingness to share that with a scout and his buddy.

      With that in mind, you want the scout to complete the requirements in a way that demonstrates his ability. IMHO, recalling verbally from memory is the best way for most boys to complete “observe and discuss” requirements.

  14. One of the ways we make Scouting affordable is to share merit badge books. The digital books remove this ability. So they may be great, but I can’t see us using them, at least at the current price.

  15. Not sure whether this applies, but it may be that BSA is contractually obligated to charge the same as the list price on Amazon, etc. This is common with other products such as wine purchased at the winery.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure that distributing the pamphlets through Amazon is the best strategy, especially when having the MB apps on your own website will help drive traffic to that site.

    Suggest you consider pulling back from mass distribution on Amazon, and reduce the price.

  16. Does anyone have any experience with using one of these on a Kindle Fire HD? Are they compatible?

  17. John Cimral (aka Grrrizz) // January 24, 2016 at 9:24 am // Reply

    We’d like a Troop subscription model, so we can create a library. Integration with popular Scout management software is important so Blue Cards and advancement records all get managed together. The librarian’s job needs to evolve. It should be about helping Scouts find interesting material for the ranks, merit badges and awards. Today it is about lugging around a box of paper. Not exactly a skill they need this century….

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