Ask the Expert: Interpreting Camping merit badge Requirement 9a

When it comes to life-changing experiences, there’s no substitute for camping.

And when it comes to the Eagle-required Camping merit badge, there’s no substitute for Requirement 9A.

It reads as follows:

9. Show experience in camping by doing the following:

a. Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events. One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.

That one paragraph has caused a few Scout leaders some consternation. Bill, a district-level training chairman, sent me this e-mail:

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The trail to Cycling merit badge just got a bit rougher

But that’s a good thing. At least, it is for Scouts who love to mountain bike.

The BSA has approved a mountain biking option for Cycling, a merit badge mainstay since 1911. So for the first time, Scouts who prefer fat tires instead of thin can earn the badge.

The news comes in advance of next summer’s opening of the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, where mountain biking will play a big role in the high-adventure fun.

Here’s what else I know about the change:

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Wanted: 36 volunteers to share their merit badge skills at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree

Merit badges don’t teach themselves.

And with the 2013 National Scout Jamboree just 14 months away, the BSA’s looking for a few good men and women to demonstrate their skills.

The focus is on the six newest merit badges making a big splash at the Summit Bechtel Reserve next summer. They’re Inventing, Robotics, Chess, Welding, Search & Rescue, and Game Design.

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First look: Game Design merit badge (and how you can help!)

A new merit badge rewarding you for creativity, fun, and strategy? I’m game.

Your Scouts will be too when the Game Design merit badge debuts next year.

Approved and listed on my Guide to New Merit Badges for a month now, the new badge is in mid-development. But lucky for you, I got a sneak peek from Janice Downey, senior innovation manager with the BSA.

And there’s more good news: If you’re attending the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, you can help get the Game Design merit badge off the ground.

Here’s the scoop:

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Should Scouters capitalize on archery interest inspired by ‘The Hunger Games’?

Thanks to The Hunger Games, archery is cool again. Your move, Scout leaders.

In the megahit film and book, the character Katniss Everdeen (above) uses a bow and arrow to hunt for food.

And she does it in style.

Sounds like a great opportunity for Scouters to get their troop excited about Archery merit badge, right?

Turns out it’s not that simple.

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Resistance is futile, during National Robotics Week

Robots are taking over the world!

OK, I’m overreacting, a little, but I can’t help it. This week has me thinking about robotics and the many ways in which machines make our lives better.

So get with the programming and involve your pack, troop, team, or crew in National Robotics Week activities.

Combine the annual event with the new Robotics merit badge, and you’ve got the perfect excuse to tell your Scouts about this field that goes hand in hand with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

How do you flip the “on” switch this week for your Scouts? Begin by finding an event near you. Here’s how:

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Your one-stop shop for updated merit badge info

Stumped when Scouts question you about new merit badges?

I hear you. With so many new and exciting merit badges, keeping up isn’t easy.

That’s why I created a guide to New Merit Badges — a concise, regularly updated information source.

Click here to check it out. Or find it at the top of the homepage, right under the Bryan on Scouting logo.

What’s there?

  • Merit badges that have been announced but not yet released
  • Merit badges that are scheduled to get major updates
  • Merit badges that have debuted in the past three years.

Add the page to your bookmarks, and never again scratch your head when Scouts ask “Is ________ merit badge out yet?”


Five ways to get involved in National Welding Month

Unless one of their relatives won last week’s Mega Millions jackpot, your Scouts will need a job some day.

Sorry. Just one of life’s little realities.

But here’s the good news: Part of helping Scouts become ”Prepared. For Life.” includes giving young people hands-on experience that could lead to a career.

Each merit badge boys earn gives them a glimpse at what life might be like as a doctor, architect, police officer, etc.

And now, thanks to the Welding merit badge, which debuted in February, Scouts can try this increasingly high-tech skill.

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Check out Welding merit badge requirements, launch info, video

Update (March 5, 2012): As of Feb. 24, the merit badge is now “live”! The pamphlet should be in your local Scout Shop, or you can order it through ScoutStuff by clicking here. Once it’s earned, Scouters can click here to order the emblem.

Hot news: Welding merit badge here!

As I told you in November, the BSA turned to the American Welding Society to help create a new merit badge that will teach Scouts about a real-world field where demand for workers exceeds supply.

The image of Industrial Age welders toiling away in dimly lit factories is long gone. Today’s welders must learn cutting-edge technology to create the products we use every day—cars, buildings, bicycles.

With America’s demand for manufactured goods growing, so too is the need for new talent. By the end of the decade, it’s estimated that our country will have a critical need for 200,000 new welders. Talk about job security!

Right on cue, the BSA’s 128th current merit badge is scheduled for a Feb. 24, 2012 release.

That means Scouts can now pick up a copy of the requirements book and start earning the badge.

To give you an idea of what’s in store, check out the official, final Welding merit badge requirements:

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The 20 most (and least) earned merit badges of 2011

What were the hottest merit badges last year?

I’ve got the answer. Maybe.

So first, a caveat: The friendly folks at the Supply Division tell me there’s no way to determine exact numbers of merit badges earned. That info is tracked by troops — not the National Council.

That said, by examining sales figures, we can get some idea which badges sold more than others in 2011. I’m thinking that if a Scouter buys a merit badge emblem in a Scout Shop or at, chances are good that a Scout recently earned the badge.

After examining the 2011 sales list, here’s what I’ve come up with for the 20 top-selling merit badges of 2011:

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