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Here’s a complete list of 2017 Boy Scout requirement changes

The BSA’s 2017 Boy Scout Requirements book, detailing major and minor changes to Boy Scout ranks and merit badges, is now available.

Inside you’ll find:

  • Modifications to the Second Class and First Class ranks
  • The new Exploration merit badge
  • Major changes to four merit badges
  • Minor changes to 32 merit badges

The changes are the work of volunteers and Scouting professionals who have analyzed feedback from Scouts and Scout leaders about current requirements. (Send your feedback to advancement.team@scouting.org.)

The experts modify requirements to reflect the latest trends in outdoor skills, career fields, trades and hobbies. I’ve got the full list of changes, as outlined in the 2017 Boy Scout Requirements book, below.

But first, a quick plug for Scoutbook, the official BSA web app that makes tracking advancement easier and more fun. With Scoutbook, you’ll always have the latest requirements — on every device, everywhere you go.

Rank Requirement Changes

Second Class 

2d — sentence structure change

New: Explain when it is appropriate to use a lightweight stove and when it is appropriate to use a propane stove. Set up a lightweight stove or propane stove. Unless prohibited by local fire restrictions, light the stove. Describe the safety procedures for using these types of stoves.

Old: Explain when it is appropriate to use a lightweight stove and when it is appropriate to use a propane stove. Set up a lightweight stove or propane stove. Light the stove, unless prohibited by local fire restrictions. Describe the safety procedures for using these types of stoves.

8e — wording change

New: Participate in two hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. Explain how your service to others relates to the Scout Oath.

Old: Participate in two hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. Tell how your service to others relates to the Scout Oath.

First Class

8b — added requirement to “develop a plan”

New: Share your challenges and successes in completing First Class requirement 8a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life and develop a plan for doing so.

Old: Share your challenges and successes in completing First Class requirement 8a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life.

New Merit Badges

Exploration

The BSA’s 137th current merit badge was released in late 2016. Read our blog coverage here.

Revised Merit Badge Requirements — Major

Disabilities Awareness

Requirements PDF:New and Old

Noteworthy changes: 

  • Added a discussion of disabilities awareness terms like accessibility, adaptation and accommodation
  • Added a requirement to participate in an activity that helps others understand what a person with a disability experiences
  • Added an option to visit a location and observe features and methods used to accommodate people with invisible disabilities

Requirements that changed: 1 (split to 1a and 1b), 3a, 3b, 3d, and 4 (which became 4 – Option A). 3e was added, and Option B was added to 4

Hiking

Requirements PDF: New and Old

Noteworthy changes: 

  • Changed “Leave No Trace” discussion to a discussion about “proper outdoor ethics”
  • Replaced requirement to take five hikes of at least 10 miles with a requirement to take five hikes, in order, with these minimum mileages: one 5-mile hike, three 10-mile hikes, one 15-mile hike. (Total mileage is the same.)
  • Added requirement to write in post-hike report “something you learned about yourself, about the outdoors, or about others you were hiking with.”

Requirements that changed: 1b, 2, 4 and 5 (replaced with new requirement 4; requirements 6 and 7 were revised and renumbered as 5 and 6)

Pioneering

Requirements PDF: New and Old

Noteworthy changes:

  • Added requirement to demonstrate how to tie the clove hitch, butterfly knot, rolling hitch, water knot, carrick bend, sheepshank and sheet bend
  • Added requirement to demonstrate the following lashings: square, diagonal, shear and floor lashing
  • Added requirement to demonstrate the basic and West Country methods of whipping a rope and to fuse the ends of a rope
  • Added different kinds of pioneering projects Scouts must complete, including one of the following: tower, bridge, camp chair or camp table

Requirements that changed: 1b, 2a, 2b, 2c and 6 to 10

Radio

Requirements PDF: New and Old

Noteworthy changes:

  • Replaced requirement to draw schematic symbols with requirement to explain  NOAA Weather Radio and cellular telephones
  • Revamped the practical requirement (9) — including options to try Amateur Radio, Radio Broadcasting and Shortwave and Medium-Wave Listening. Added Amateur Radio Direction Finding as a fourth option.

Requirements that changed: 2, 3, 5 and 9

Revised Merit Badge Requirements — Minor

The changed requirements are in parentheses. Below each merit badge name I’ve included the noteworthy changes.

As always, find the latest merit badge requirements here.

American Business (new 1c; new 2c)

  • Added requirement to discuss the five primary areas of business
  • Added requirement to discuss green marketing and sustainable business practices

Athletics (3; 5, group 6, baseball throw for accuracy)

  • Changed participation requirement from “one season (or four months)” to, simply, “four months”
  • Added distance requirement for baseball throw: ages 11 to 12, 20 feet; ages 13 to 15, 30 feet; ages 16 to 17, 40 feet

Automotive Maintenance (2c, 2e, 2f, 2h, 6a, 8b, 9d)

  • Tweaks cover interior lighting, emissions inspections, coolant, engine firing order and more

Camping (new 1b)

  • Added discussion of weather conditions before and during camping activities

Climbing (8)

  • Removed option to put on a tied harness; now only commercially made climbing harnesses may be used

Coin Collecting (6)

  • Added option to describe the America the Beautiful Quarters program; previously only the 50 State Quarters program was mentioned

Cooking (3c, 4, 5a, 5d)

  • Though the Cooking merit badge received a big overhaul in 2016, the 2017 changes are primarily cosmetic; for example “a menu” becomes “menus”

Dentistry (7)

  • Changed career-exploration requirement to include two types of opportunities: Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) and auxiliary dental professions

Dog Care (new 6f)

  • Added requirement to discuss the advantages of spaying or neutering a dog

Fire Safety (1a; new 1c; 3, 4, 5, 9, new 12)

  • Added requirement to describe the safe way to refuel a liquid fuel engine
  • Changed requirement to demonstrate “stop, drop, roll and cool” to stop, drop, cover, roll, cover your face and cool”

Fish and Wildlife Management (5c, 6b, 6c, 8)

  • Added option to develop a “a fishery improvement project”; previously only a “backyard wildlife habitat improvement project” was mentioned
  • Added requirement to discuss management practices for threatened or endangered species

Fishing (4, 9; new 10)

  • Changed knot-tying requirements, adding “uni knot, uni to uni knot and arbor knot” and removing “turle, blood loop (barrel knot), and double surgeon’s loop”
  • Moved cooking a fish to its own requirement and added the stipulation that Scouts don’t have to eat the fish if they choose not to

Forestry (new 6; 7)

  • Added requirement to “inventory the trees that may be a hazard to structures or people”
  • Added requirement to describe consequences of destructive insects and a loss of the pollinating insect population

Game Design (6)

  • Added clarification at three places to “record your work in your game design notebook”

Indian Lore (new 1; new 5i)

  • Added new requirement: “Identify the different American Indian cultural areas. Explain what makes them each unique.”
  • Added requirement to attend a contemporary American Indian gathering

Journalism (2a)

  • Added online journalism option to requirement about visiting a newspaper or magazine office. Scouts may now visit an “internet news site.”

Landscape Architecture (2a, 2b, 3, 4)

  • Added reminder that Scouts should only begin measuring and sketching a site “after obtaining permission from the appropriate authority”

Leatherwork (4, 5c)

  • Swapped requirements 4 and 5c
  • Added requirement to discuss the “advantages or disadvantages of leather vs. synthetic materials”

Lifesaving (1b)

  • Added clarification that 400-meter swim must be done “in good form with rhythmic breathing”

Music (deleted 4d; new 5)

  • Deleted requirement to “catalog your own or your family’s collection of 12 or more compact discs, tapes, records, or other recorded music” because most Scouts don’t know what those things are
  • Added requirement to discuss intellectual property and the right way to download and share music

Nuclear Science (1b; new 1d; 2)

  • Added requirement to “compare the amount of radiation exposure of a nuclear power plant worker to that of someone receiving a chest and dental X-ray”

Plumbing (6)

  • Changed “steel pipe” to “metal pipe” in requirement about cutting, threading and connecting pipe

Programming (1b, 2b, 4a, 5a, 6)

  • Added requirement to explain the “four types of intellectual property” used to protect computer programs

Pulp and Paper (3)

  • Changed requirement from “List trees that are the major sources of papermaking fibers” to “Name at least four types of trees that are the major sources of papermaking fibers”

Rifle Shooting (1c; for option A: 2f and new 2g; option B: new 2c; option C: 2d)

  • Added requirement covering range commands and range procedures

Safety (2a)

  • Cosmetic wording changes

Salesmanship (1, 6b[4], 7b)

  • Added requirement to explain the differences between a business-to-business salesperson and a consumer salesperson

Scholarship (1a)

  • Cosmetic wording changes

Small-Boat Sailing (1, 2)

  • Cleaned up requirement about sailing hazards, adding a section on BSA Safety Afloat
  • Added description of BSA swimmer test to requrement 2

Sports (1, 4, 5)

  • Expanded requirement about sports injuries and first aid
  • Swapped requirements 4 and 5, making it clearer that Scouts should establish a training plan for their two chosen sports before the season begins
  • Added these sports to the options from which Scouts may choose: golf, gymnastics, swimming, track and field, and wrestling

Traffic Safety (4b)

  • Cosmetic wording changes

Wood Carving (1b, 4b, 4d)

  • Cosmetic wording changes

29 Comments on Here’s a complete list of 2017 Boy Scout requirement changes

  1. Venturing Advisor // March 14, 2017 at 11:53 am // Reply

    Speaking of Scoutbook… I wish the brain trust would spend the time getting this to work for Venturing, vs spending the time swapping words like Explain and Tell, and thinking thats time well spent.

    • H. David Pendleton // March 14, 2017 at 1:21 pm // Reply

      I am almost certain that the changes were made by volunteers serving on a committee. Instead of complaining, find some Venturing leaders who want to serve on a national committee who would do what you want them to do for Venturing.

      Complaining without offering a solution is called “whining” . . . or that’s what I learned in my previous career.

    • Glad to see an advisor with venturers so enthused about awards, the crew needs a tracking system for them!

    • You realize that Scoutbook development and the requirements are done by different groups of people and the people who worked on changing “Explain” from “Tell” have nothing to do with if Scoutbook works for Venturing.

      • Maybe so, but the Scoutbook folks have had a reputation for keeping one eye on Bryan’s blog.

        Venturing’s problem is market share. A fraction of the BSA are venturers, and an even smaller fraction of those venturers work on awards, and most of those are happy to muddle through with existing media. Thus for Scoutbook, incorporating Venturing requirements would be an act of charity … at least until we manage to quintuple our numbers.

  2. The changes are probably more to force meritbadge.org to spend time updating their workbooks than for any practical reason.

  3. For the most part good changes. The hiking reguirement – I understand the rational of progressively longer hikes 5, 10, then 15 miles) as a form of training, but the reality is occasionally opportunities arise where the scout can do the 15 before the 10, etc. if he does, it does not count for hiking merit badge. By the requirements, the 20 miles can be done anytime. This needs to be changed to “recommend” rather then “will.”

    • VA Scoutmaster // March 14, 2017 at 2:28 pm // Reply

      Concur: mostly good changes, but the Hiking MB requirement change serves no practical purpose.

      • Michael G Quinn // March 15, 2017 at 4:21 pm // Reply

        When I took over as Scout Master 3 years ago we embraced certain MB’s to enhance our calendar. Hiking and biking were two we grabbed onto and we just completed the first cycle of the Hiking MB. Honestly the change to a warm up I concur with but the 15 miler is not important. Rather to have added that installment would bring scouts who complete this MB in their careers would be closer to earning the Outdoor Participation segment(need 100 miles total) . Either way the Hiking MB is historical and a good program builder and a challenge to scouts and leaders.

    • I would agree with a progressive approach to mileage if scouts were training for hikes like they would a long-distance race. In actuality, most scouts complete the hikes as a natural part of a troop’s program, which means several months may pass between hikes. I can see the 5 miler as a ‘getting your feet wet’ kind of trip, but I do not see any purpose to a 15-miler.

      • Perhaps (since it’s likely that few Troops do a 15 mile hike regularly?) the thought was that if there was a Scout (or group of Scouts) working on hiking, they’d plan, once having completed the 5 and 10’s needed, to do the 15 and 20 close together.

        Maybe even doing them one weekend after the other – that might help as many times people will have trouble towards the end of the 20 miles as they aren’t used to the distance (not something most people do, aside from those hiking long trails, at least not on a regular basis).

        Having the “warm up” a week or two before that is a bit shorter might help prepare them for the longer distance, and help them find out what, if any, changes they want to make for the 20 miler (in terms of gear, clothes, shoes and such)?

  4. Did the Graphic Arts merit badge book ever get fixed? It is really ironic, there are pictures laid out on top of the text and there are portions you can’t read. The scouts and I found it funny that – of all books – the one about graphic design was the book with so many glaring graphic problems!

  5. Larry Barbarossa // March 14, 2017 at 3:59 pm // Reply

    I’m upset that they were worried about “tweaks” in the Automotive Maintenance merit badge book.

    How about a MAJOR tweak in a safety aspect for the merit badge.

    It’s not in the book, but I teach every youth that learns it:

    When changing a tire, as soon as you pull the tire off of the wheel hub, take the flat tire and place it directly under the frame of the vehicle close enough to the jack but not to interfere with the jack’s placement.

    This way if the vehicle falls off of the jack, then the flat tire and rim will a) possibly save a limb, finger, hand, etc. and b) allow you to put the jack back in place to get the spare tire on.

  6. Bridgetinmd // March 15, 2017 at 6:17 am // Reply

    Dumb question – do boys get (or need) this book as well as the handbook? My son just crossed over from Webelos and we bought the handbook, but does that book have different requirements from this book?

    • VA Scoutmaster // March 15, 2017 at 6:43 am // Reply

      Not a dumb question. Short answer: No. There are plenty of places on-line where your son can access the current requirements, such as:
      http://www.scouting.org/Home/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges.aspx

    • No you don’t need the requirements book. The Troop often buys one for their library, but not the individual Scout. Often the Troop will have Merit Badge books in their library available to borrow. The Scouter or Merit Badge Counselor, working with the scout should keep up to date with changes. If the changes are major simply adding a printed page to the scouts book solves the problem.

    • Bryan Wendell // March 15, 2017 at 8:26 am // Reply

      One of these requirements books per troop would be fine. Usually the assistant Scoutmaster in charge of advancement has a copy. The Scout just needs his handbook.

    • H. David Pendleton // March 15, 2017 at 8:28 am // Reply

      Great previous response. The Troop Committee Advancement Chair might want to have a copy as it is a quick way to check requirements while in the woods or when the Internet is not available.

      Requirements change, but if a Scout started the Merit Badge (actually began work) under the old requirements they can continue to do the old requirements. My son began the Hiking Merit Badge 4 years ago so he doesn’t have to do the mileage in the order leading up to the 20-miler. He can do his in any order. He only has his 20-miler left because his troop isn’t big on hiking so they rarely do more than the 5-miler required for rank advancement.

      I keep a copy in my backpack because my son continues to go to Merit Badge events where they are using requirements that changed years ago. I’ve seen at least 10 MB events where the Search & Rescue MB has a prerequisite of going on line and completing a 3-hour course. This changed several years ago. I was at Round Table last month where the topic was Safe Swim Defense taught by the Waterfront Director at our local Boy Scout Camp. He emphasized that he “was only following the BSA requirements.” I then asked him if that was the case why was he still making Boy Scouts swim 400 yards to complete the Lifesaving Merit Badge at his camp. He said that was because it was the requirement. I asked him to show it to me . . . and I showed him the 2016 requirements book (the 2017 wasn’t out yet) where there is no such requirement. He tried to say that the requirement was in another BSA book, but it doesn’t matter as the the requirements are the requirements, nothing more and nothing less.

      • The waterfront director was using an “alternative fact”. I appreciate you knowing your resources and citing them to prove your point. I wish more people did that.

      • The pamphlet http://www.scouting.org/filestore/Merit_Badge_ReqandRes/Lifesaving.pdf still has 1b.

        There is a note http://www.usscouts.org/mb/changes/mb009-16.asp “Requirement 1b was inadvertently omitted from the text in the 2016 Boy Scout Requirements book, but correctly appears in the merit badge pamphlet.”

        Not only that, the 2017 requires that 1b be performed “in good form with rhythmic breathing,”

        • Moreover, I would encourage any aquatics instructor to have his staff get into the water as a practice victim only for students with currently proven swimming strength and discipline. (Ignore all partials and last year’s mile swim tags.)

        • H. David Pendleton // March 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm //

          Q: Thanks for the clarification. I stand corrected. I can only go by the information available to be, which at the time was the 2016 Requirements book.

          As Confucious once said, “A man with a single watch knows what time it is, but a man with two watches never knows for sure.” We have so many changes that come so often, it is sometimes to determine if we are all working off the same standards.

  7. David Huber // March 15, 2017 at 12:38 pm // Reply

    I wish that they would have put page numbers as reference guide to requirements in the new handbook. maybe they can add that in the second printing addition.

  8. I heard that was removed to encourage the scouts to read the entire section or handbook and not just skim to that page where the requirement is located.

  9. Dorte Mobley // March 16, 2017 at 12:30 am // Reply

    So when do new Boy Scout Handbooks come out with the requirements changes? I am so over buying books (not meritbadge books) and then they change the requirements!

    • Nahila Nakne // March 20, 2017 at 10:20 am // Reply

      At least your not a Cub Scout leader/parent. They changed ALL of the requirements in December 2015, less that 18 months after changing them and creating new books.

  10. Guess I’m confused regarding the use of a propane stove. Are there parts of the country where a lightweight gas (non-propane) stove are prohibited?

  11. Thank you for the summary of changes.

    Any idea when these new updated requirements will be posted on scouting.org?
    – The Advancement and Awards page is still showing the 2016 requirements (as of 3/16/2017) at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards.aspx.

    Related question: Will the “2017 Boy Scout Requirements” book be posted as a downloaded pdf?
    – For the most part, a printed copy is not needed (nor the $5.99 cost). An electronic copy suffices given the quantity of changes is (relatively) small.

  12. Thanks for the undates, Bryan! This helps my lesson plans stay up to date for the Merit Badge classes that I teach! : )

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