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More details on the Eagle-required Cooking merit badge

Cooking-EagleUpdated 1:08 p.m. Oct. 24 | Added more info from Chris Hunt, BSA Advancement Team, to clarify that the merit badge still will become Eagle-required on Jan. 1, 2014 though the revisions won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2015. These are two separate changes and should be thought of as such, Chris says.

Updated 10:23 a.m. Dec. 18 | Here are the new requirements.


It’s a secret recipe no longer.

I’ve got new details to share on Cooking merit badge, set to  join the list of Eagle-required merit badges on New Year’s Day 2014.

While the requirements are still being finalized, the questions and answers provided here should tide you over until the full course arrives.

I’ll share whether Scouts must switch to the new requirements if they’re already working on Cooking merit badge, whether Scouts who already have the badge may swap theirs for the silver-bordered version, and what will and won’t change in the requirements.

Hungry for more? Follow the jump… Continue reading

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Cinematography merit badge becomes Moviemaking merit badge

MoviemakingThink of it as the long-awaited sequel.

Cinematography merit badge is now Moviemaking merit badge, effective immediately. The design of the badge won’t change, and new pamphlets are expected in Scout shops in mid-November.

Why make this change? Well, anyone who sticks around to watch a movie’s credits knows that cinematography is just one specific part of making a movie. So calling a merit badge that covers all of moviemaking “Cinematography” was something of a misnomer.

The BSA’s merit badge team also saw this as a chance to make a few other changes, including:

  • Tweaked requirements in light of the title change and focus away from cinematography and more toward moviemaking in general (find the new requirements after the jump) 
  • Updated text in a number of places to reflect the name change and address newer technology
  • New information about intellectual property

Find the new requirements after the jump.  Continue reading

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It’s just science: Merit badges educate boys in STEM

Proud to be an American? Absolutely, but this hurts a little: American fourth- and eighth-graders are far from No. 1 in math and science.

In fact, we’re just outside of or barely in the top 10 in both categories, lagging behind countries like Korea, Singapore and Finland, according to a study released late last year.

Fortunately, there’s hope, and it’s called the Boy Scouts of America and our merit badge program.

Boys get real science education when earning merit badges, and I’m not just talking about those badges with science in their name (Animal Science, Environmental Science, Nuclear Science, Plant Science).

Actually, a study published in 2009 by Ohio State University researcher Rachel Sterneman Hintz found that 103 of the 121 merit badges available at the time (85.12 percent) had at least one requirement meeting the National Science Education Standards.

Four years later, we now have 133 merit badges, and the newest crop builds on the science-heavy tradition from the past 103 years of the BSA. With the exception of the Scouting Heritage merit badge, all the other new badges contain science elements. That includes obvious examples such as Robotics, Inventing, Welding, and Sustainability, and less-obvious ones like Kayaking, Search and Rescue, and Chess. Continue reading

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Lincoln Electric wins North Star Award for bringing welding to Scouts

You’d expect a bunch of welding experts to forge some strong bonds, but the folks at Lincoln Electric have gone above and beyond.

Their work bringing welding and the Welding merit badge into the Boy Scouts of America has already helped introduce tens of thousands of Scouts to this hot career.

In recognition, the Boy Scouts of America presented Lincoln Electric and three of its key employees with the North Star Award on Wednesday afternoon at the BSA’s annual Top Hands Conference in Washington, D.C.

The award, an eight-pointed, star-shaped medal worn on a black ribbon, is presented by councils on the behalf of the National Court of Honor for nonregistered volunteers who have made a significant contribution to Scouting.

You can consider it to be on same level as the Silver Beaver Award, which is for registered volunteers. Continue reading

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How to suggest a new merit badge

Don’t sob about Sewing or mope about Magic.

Send those ideas for new merit badges to someone who can actually act on them.

Over the years, several of you emailed me with suggestions for merit badges about Sewing, Magic, Guitar, Hunting, Surfing and lots more. And while I have absolutely no say in what becomes a new merit badge, I can tell you where to turn with your ideas. Continue reading

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Scouts get a first look at Mining in Society merit badge, coming 2014

If the packed tent is any early indication, Mining in Society merit badge will be a hit when it debuts in February 2014.

Scouts attending the 2013 National Jamboree got a sneak peek at the new elective merit badge, set to be released at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City.

Mining has been an important part of our nation since the 19th century.

Today, the industry employes 3 million Americans, directly and indirectly, and is a major contributor to the global mining landscape. Continue reading

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Mountain biking added as an option in Cycling merit badge

cycling-1Do your Scouts prefer their bike tires fat instead of thin? Then I’ve got good news.

Beginning today, Cycling merit badge now includes a mountain biking option. That means Scouts can choose between road cycling or mountain biking when earning the Eagle-required badge. (To earn Eagle, Scouts must earn Swimming or Hiking or Cycling.)

The change is to Requirement 7, which now reads “Using the BSA buddy system, complete all of the requirements for ONE of the following options: road biking OR mountain biking.”

Instead of a 50-mile road biking trip that must be completed in eight hours, Scouts who choose the mountain biking option must finish a 22-mile trail ride in six hours.

The change widens the audience for an already-popular merit badge by encouraging Scouts who prefer riding the trails on a mountain bike to riding the streets on a road bike.

Print this flier (PDF) or follow the jump for the complete requirements for 7b, the Mountain Biking option.  Continue reading

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Programming merit badge requirements released

programmingMuch of Baden-Powell’s vision for Scouting still holds true today. But put this one in the category of something B-P never could have predicted.

Today the Boy Scouts of America releases Programming merit badge, an elective badge that challenges Scouts to, among other requirements, “write, debug, and demonstrate a functioning program.” Programming MB continues in the BSA’s long tradition of preparing young men for modern-day careers, so I’m a big fan already.

The merit badge’s requirements are available below. Scouts may begin working on Programming MB once pamphlets arrive in Scout Shops and at scoutstuff.org in early August.

So if your Scouts are fluent in JavaScript, PHP, C++, or one of the dozens of other programming languages out there, be sure to share this printable flier (PDF) with the merit badge requirements.

Take a look at the official requirements:  Continue reading

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Sustainability merit badge requirements released

Updated, Aug. 22: Leaders, check out Scouting magazine’s latest Merit Badge Clinic focusing on the Sustainability merit badge. In this column, writer Mark Ray speaks to the four members of the Sustainability Merit Badge Task Force, all of whom share insights into why Sustainability merit badge was created and how to help Scouts earn the new badge.

Updated, July 16 with clarification about water bill

sustainabilityReady … set … go green!

The long-awaited requirements for the Boy Scouts of America’s Sustainability merit badge have been released.

The badge joins the Eagle-required list as an option to Environmental Science merit badge. Scouts must earn either Sustainability or Environmental Science on their journey to Eagle.

Scouts may begin working on Sustainability MB once pamphlets arrive in Scout Shops and at scoutstuff.org in early August, but you can get a first look at the requirements below. Or click here (PDF) for a downloadable flier you can share with your Scouts.

Sustainability MB requirements

Continue reading

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Ask the Expert: Rapid-fire FAQs, round 3

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge?The Ask the Expert floodgates are wide open.

I’m now getting roughly 50 emails a week with Ask the Expert questions, a sign that Scouters out there care enough to seek out the right answer to their burning BSA queries. (By the way, ask your question by emailing scoutingmag@gmail.com, subject “Ask the Expert.”)

For the third round of rapid-fire FAQs, I’ve picked out nine popular questions and tracked down the right answers.

We’ll cover parents who make light of a Scout earning lots of merit badges, a troop that won’t count the same leadership position twice, a discussion of who should pin on an Eagle medal, unofficial belts, jamboree entertainment, and more.

Let’s go …  Continue reading