Top 5 merit badges to help you when there are llamas on the loose

Yesterday, the Internet went crazy over a pair of llamas on the loose in Sun City, Ariz.

The majestic creatures — one black, one white — were eventually caught and safely returned to their owner after a citywide manhunt animal hunt. Fortunately, no llamas were harmed.

But it got me thinking: How can we be better prepared for the next inevitable episode of llama drama?

The answer is in right in front of us: the BSA’s collection of 135 merit badges. Here are five that might be useful in the next great llama escape.

Can you think of some I missed? Let me know in the comments section below.

pioneering_cover5. Pioneering

In hindsight, you could’ve made a perfectly lashed animal pen to keep those crazy llamas from escaping in the first place. Pioneering merit badge has you covered on making useful things out of wood and rope.

But once the llamas are loose, it’s too late for that. That’s why requirement 3 might be handy: “Explain why it is useful to be able to throw a rope, then demonstrate how to coil and throw a 40-foot length of 1/4- or 3/8-inch rope.”

Explain why is it useful? Because there are llamas on the lam!

Get out there and lasso yourself a llama — without harming the thing, of course.

athletics_cover4. Athletics

Take it from the people of Sun City: You can’t outrun a llama.

But once you have your fugitive llama cornered, those last few feet could require someone fleet-footed to finish the job. Your best bet would be a Scout who has earned Athletics merit badge.

Those Scouts train for three months to improve their skills in activities like running, and they’re going to need it to catch these crazy creatures.

One word of warning: Llamas can run up to 30 miles per hour.

mammal_study_cover3. Mammal Study

Consider this line from the novel Ender’s Game: “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.”

I’ve never read the book, but I can only assume Orson Scott Card was talking about llamas.

If you understand llamas, you’ll be prepared to capture a loose one. You’ll also learn to love them.

That could stem from earning Mammal Study merit badge. Consider requirement 3c: “From study and reading, write a simple life history of one nongame mammal that lives in your area. Tell how this mammal lived before its habitat was affected in any way by humans. Tell how it reproduces, what it eats, and its natural habitat. Describe its dependency upon plants and other animals (including humans), and how they depend upon it. Tell how it is helpful or harmful to humankind.”

Understand the llama, and you will know the llama’s next move.

traffic_safety_cover2. Traffic Safety

If the Arizona llama chase taught us anything, it’s this: Llamas do not obey traffic laws.

The fugitive llamas ignored stop lights, ran on the wrong side of the road and turned without properly signaling.

Scouts who earn Traffic Safety merit badge won’t be authorized to write these scofflaws a ticket (they’d probably just eat the ticket anyway), but they will gain an appreciation for the rules of the road.

Requirements like “Describe the top 10 mistakes new drivers frequently make” will make you better prepared for a medium-speed llama pursuit behind the wheel.

public_speaking_cover1. Public Speaking

Let’s say you’re the lucky guy who caught the llama and returned him home safely. You’re going to be famous — or at least Internet famous.

Don’t be surprised if reporters start clamoring for you to hold some sort of news conference. And don’t be stressed, either.

If you’ve earned Public Speaking merit badge, you’ll be ready to address the media with ease. When they ask hard-hitting questions like, “Was this your first time chasing a llama?” you’ll have no trouble giving a three- to five-minute talk with body language and visual aids.

Missed the Great Llama Chase of 2015?

Watch it here:


  1. From the 1911 Boy Scout Handbook, First Class Scout requirements:

    5. Advanced First Aid: Know the methods for panic prevention; what to do in the case of fire and ice; electric and gas accidents; how to help in case of runaway horse . . .

    Who says those skills are no longer relevant?

    • I can’t believe this wasn’t number one in the article!!! Us animal people never get a fair shake. Always glossed over by main stream America yet main stream America is totally dependent on us. UGH!

  2. Orienteering might come in real handy to find your way back home after an extended chase.

    Or, make it a STEM problem: Joe, 400 yards due east of you sees the Llama at 295 degrees. You see it at 20 degrees. How far away is the Llama?

  3. In one of the early Scout Handbooks it stated that one of the requirements for 1st Class was: “Describe how to stop a runaway horse.”

  4. Bryan, you say you’ve never read “Ender’s Game”? Time to get the book and complete your education by reading one of the modern classics!

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