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.

If you have something to add to the BSA’s selection of current merit badges, start by downloading this Award Submission Summary Word document (clicking this link will download the .doc file).

Then mail it in to the address at the bottom or email it to

They’re the brainiacs who create new merit badges, including the recently released Programming and Sustainability badges.

I should warn you that not everything makes the cut. The team first looks at current merit badges to see whether your idea already exists in the BSA’s wide-ranging collection of sports, crafts, science, trades, business and future careers.

Next, the team analyzes the interests of today’s teens. So while your troop in Minnesota may love the sport of curling, it might not be popular enough to make the cut.

Once a merit badge idea gets past the first stage, the process of actually seeing pamphlets and badges in stores takes about three to five years.

Send your thought to the email address above, and who knows? Your idea may become a new merit badge that Boy Scouts earn for centuries to come.

Related posts

Does the BSA offer too many merit badges? I think not.

See my calendar of new merit badges

Related site

Discussion about ideas for new merit badges is already underway here

Your merit badge ideas?

What do you think should be a merit badge? Comment below, but be sure to also send your idea to the BSA Innovation Team.


  1. This is the suggestion I just sent them:

    This is one of the few life-skills that I don’t see represented. (The only one I can think of, to be honest.)

    1. Sew on a button and at least one patch on your uniform.
    2. Hem a pair of pants.
    3. Repair a hole in something using a patch or other means.
    4. Sew something useful, such as a curtain, pillowcase or baby blanket, for yourself or someone else.
    5. Sew something you can wear, such as a robe or pair of shorts, for yourself or someone else using a pattern.

    I know boys aren’t generally big sewers, but my son was very proud when he made his own light-weight sleeping bag for camp. He has also helped make pajamas for himself. The items I listed don’t involve a great deal of knowledge or skill, but they give boys a good grounding in the sewing skills they might actually use.

      • I grew up without sisters so my mother taught all of us boys how to sew and especially those badges on our uniforms. It is a skill I have carried through to today. Without sounding to cynical I’m willing to lay odds that if this becomes an official merit badge it will have a requirement that goes something like ” do one of the following: sew this or that or write a paper about it or discuss it with your counselor”. We seem to be dumbing down our merit badge requirements to the point of less doing and more discussing or writing about the subject. Merit badges should have enough challenge to make it interesting, not just a checkoff.

      • Bethanne, basic laundry skills in addition to fabric care! When to use which water temperatures, soaks, spin cycles for each fabric. Fabric treatments for stain lifting and keeping clothing clean and organized as well as in good repair. Did I miss offering the badge where this important skill for daily living is included? Thanks and love your recommendations!

    • My son is 2nd year and I have said this every time he comes home with badges/ patches. I jokingly told him to try to earn 2 ranks in between courts of honor so I would only need to sew one of them on 🙂

    • I used to think that including some basic sewing skills somewhere in the advancement track for Cubs or Boy Scouts would be a good idea. Then it occurred to me that never in my long life, not even once, have I personally needed to sew on a button, much less hem a pair of pants. That said, God bless the folks at the dry cleaners who sew the patches on my uniform. And if it weren’t for them, my pant legs would be all safety pins and duct tape.

      • To be honest, it sounds like you DO need to sew patches and hem pants – you can just afford to pay someone else to do it. Nothing wrong with that, but doesn’t mean you have no need for that to be done and not everyone can or wants to pay someone else for such a simple task as sewing on a button.

        I haven’t hemmed any of my own pants, but that’s because I was never really taught how and it’s not worth the risk of screwing up a pair of pants, at this point. I can do plenty of other things sewing-wise – but not hem pants. 🙁 And it would have saved us some time (drop off / pick up at the cleaners, etc) and money if I could. To me, part of Scouting is giving kids the skills to be independent – including the ability to hem a pair of pants themselves, when / if needed.

    • Our OA Dance Team made all of their outfits. They had to use patterns cut,iron, sew,bead and anything else that needed to be done and they all did awesome. I also did a Eagle Board of review and we asked if you would like to see a new merit badge what would it be and he said “Sewing”.

    • I cannot emphasize enough how much Sewing is probably the best idea on here. It should include, of course, weaving, embroidery and all needle work.
      Scouting clothing is sewn.
      Patches are sewn.
      Sleeping bags, tents, etc. are all sewn.
      And to you guys who think you’re too buff to sew, just consider sewing as the most complicated knot you’ve every made. 🙂

    • Make it a “Life Skills” merit badge. With the above requirements as one group, they could include:

      Ironing, washing clothes, washing dishes (probably covered by cooking), etc….

      Think of the things a single man would need to know how to do by himself. That’s what it should be.

  2. Bring back Beekeeping! I can and will submit a whole list of possible requirements. Surely with the problems facing bees and the whole nature aspect of raising them, it would be a good addition.

    Thanks Bryan! Now I know where to put the bee in someone’s ear

    • The Gardening MB just added this requirement:
      6.Explain to your counselor how and why honeybees are used in pollinating food crops and the problems that face the bee population today. Discuss what the impact to humanity would be if there were no pollinators.
      Although I do not feel it’s enough to stress how important bees are! The Gardening MB is not that popular in our area, unfortunately.

  3. Each new MB idea goes through a Youth survey process to determine if there is high enough interest by the scouts to proceed with the development of requirements etc. Hence Sewing will never likely be a MB.

    There is Room Cleaning MB that was snuck in under the 90 chores list for Family Life MB!!!

  4. Can we get a list of merit badge ideas that have been turned DOWN? Two reasons… 1) we can avoid sending in the same ideas again, 2) let’s face it, it’s gonna be a GREAT list!

    • It would also let you see if others had suggested the same one as you have, so you can see if you are simply a lone “voice in the wilderness” as it were. I suggested a merit badge based omn respect for the flag and the flag code. I thought it was great that there was a process. However, as we learn in Wood Badge, “Feedback is a gift” – yet there is not any response given – it could be “we have considered your suggestion, but not at this time” or “we need more information” or some sort of response. It feels like the suggestion seems to drop into a black hole, and that is not much of an incentive to continue making suggestions.

  5. Rabbit Raising used to be a merit badge and while I can see getting rid of it I don’t understand why it was not rolled into the animal science MB. Rabbits are much better urban animal than most that are allowed in the badge.It would open the animal science badge up to a lot more boys.

  6. I think running and physics should be added. My troop really likes the science stuff. We’ve done chemistry and nuclear science and they have asked for more. Physics could be fun!

  7. I am a fire protection Engineer and have thought of adding a Merit Badge on Fire Science using some of the curriculum for HS chemistry from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. I have lead the Fire Safety Merit badge several times and I guess what I am thinking is an expansion of requirement 2 int a whole new badge that would fit in with the STEM program. Maybe this is too much and an expansion of requirement 2 would be better. How does one advocate for a change in MB requirements? Any thoughts?

  8. Please note – suggesting a new merit badge is not done by simply saying the name here – read the article.

    What is necessary is downloading the form, filling it out with reasons the badge would support the aims of scouting, your determination that this is not covered in any other merit badge, a suggested set of requirements, a discussion of the following topics
    • Fit with Scouting (values, oath, law, Guide to Safe Scouting, etc.)
    • Practicality (availability of merit badge counselors, uniqueness, existence of standardized “rules” and oversight organization, safety risk considerations)
    • Fun and engaging (depth and breadth of appeal, age appropriateness)
    • Resource requirements (cost to Scouts/units, camp implications)

    and then mailing it in. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any response from National that they got it or are considering it or rejecting it or whatever, Bryan, if you could tell them that feedback would be useful, it would be appreciated.

  9. 1) Taxation and World Currencies — This one is not effectively covered by any current merit badge. It is important to know how governments run from a monetary perspective. It is also interesting to learn the differences in foreign currencies.

    2) Professionalism and Civility — Why and how we should show respect to people who differ from us. The need to show respect to our elders, veterans, the elderly, our political leaders. The importance of social mores in a civil society. How to celebrate human diversity.

    3) National Defense — A history and understanding of the various branches of the Armed Forces and national militaries. What is the purpose of a national military? Analysis, research and discussion on military ethics.

    4) Human Geography of the World — Analysis, research and understanding of current forms of world governments. Understanding of various world religions and cultures and how to show respect for differing systems of personal belief. Focus on similarities of different belief systems.

    5) Self Defense — An introduction to the martial arts which are to be used for personal defense. Physical training programs.

    6) Psychology and Mental Health — Understanding and promoting long-term mental health is an important part of being both “physical strong” and “mentally awake.” There are also many career choices in mental health and counseling.

    7) Dance — Not only girls dance. Dance is both a super athletic activity and a civilized fine art. It really is not covered by any current merit badge.

    8) Caving — This is already part of the ranger award elective for venturing. I think discussing caving and, particularly, the safety aspects of caving is a vital omission from the BSA merit badge offerings.

    9) Substance Abuse Prevention — This is an epidemic among youth and adults today. Substance abuse needs to “scouted.”

    10) Problem Solving and Negotiation — How to have difficult conversations that go beyond basic communication. Discuss the importance of conflict from a human social perspective and how to resolve conflict. Discuss persuasive argument and forms of debate.

    11) Writing — Focus on both persuasive and creative writing.

    13) Paleontology — The study of ancient plants and animals.

    14) Classic Civilizations — The study of ancient world — including governments, cultures, trade, and religions.

    15) Linguistics — The study of world languages and language forms and patterns. Required introduction for foreign language and foreign culture training.

    16) Foreign Trade —

    17) Manufacturing

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