Top 5 merit badges where a little bit of luck doesn’t hurt

You don’t luck into a merit badge the way you might luck into a $20 bill on the street.

You earn merit badges through hard work and determination.

Still, a few merit badges include some requirements where a little bit of luck might come in handy.

And because today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share the top 5 merit badges where luck might play a role. No, not in completing a requirement but perhaps in maximizing the requirement’s potential.

See one I missed? Tell me in the comments section. 

citizenship_in_the_nation_lg5. Citizenship in the Nation

The Eagle-required Citizenship in the Nation merit badge helps Scouts learn more about these United States of America and our nation’s government.

That’s information that’ll help them be better informed when they become adults and can vote and pay taxes.

Requirement 8 for Citizenship in the Nation involves a little bit of luck, though: “Name your two senators and a member of Congress from your congressional district. Write a letter about a national issue and send it to one of these elected officials, sharing your view with him or her. Show your letter to your counselor, along with any response you might receive.”

It’s that last sentence where luck comes in. There’s no guarantee a Scout will receive a written response from his congressperson, and whether he does might be a matter of catching the politician on the right day.

By the way, as I mentioned last year, Scouts do not have to receive a response to complete this requirement.

archaeology_lg4. Archaeology

Scouts dig the Archaeology merit badge because they get to be like detectives. They find and analyze clues from the past that tells us how our predecessors lived.

(Random thought: What will archaeologists think of our smartphones when they dig them up 5,000 years from now? Will they know what these glass rectangles were used for?)

As for the Archaeology merit badge, Scouts who choose requirement 8a are asked to, with qualified supervision, “spend at least eight hours helping to excavate an archaeological site.”

There’s no guarantee the Scout will find anything of substance below ground. And he can complete the requirement even without making a discovery.

But there’s always a chance he’ll find a piece of amber with a mosquito sealed inside and realize the mosquito bit a dinosaur millions of years ago and use that dinosaur blood to create a real-life Tyrannosaurus rex. Hey, I just got an idea for a movie.

geocaching_lg3. Geocaching

Geocaching, the fun activity where you use a GPS device to find hidden treasures or caches, has a degree of luck to it.

Same with the Geocaching merit badge. Anyone who has tried geocaching can tell you the GPS unit only gets you close to the cache’s secret hiding place.

Finding the hidden object within a, say, 15-foot circle isn’t always easy and takes a bit of good fortune. That’s especially true if you’re geocaching with friends and want to be the first to find the cache.

“What? It was behind the rock the whole time? You’ve got to be kidding me!”

astronomy_lg2. Astronomy

Nobody — not even Baden-Powell himself — can control the weather.

That fact isn’t lost on Scouts working on the Astronomy merit badge. What if you planned to earn it at summer camp and it’s cloudy all week? Tough to “participate in a three-hour observation session that includes using binoculars or a telescope” with clouds in the way.

Even if most of the Astronomy merit badge instruction is inside a planetarium, the BSA still wants Scouts to get outside for requirement 4, saying “Scouts must still identify the required stars and constellations outside under the natural night sky.”

Cross your fingers for clear skies.

fishing_lg1. Fishing (and Fly-Fishing)

“Catch at least one fish and identify it.”

Requirement 9 for the Fishing merit badge (and requirement 10 for the Fly-Fishing merit badge) seems pretty easy. But it involves the greatest amount of luck among all 135 merit badges.

After all, the fish aren’t aware they’re participating in a merit badge requirement. And if we asked the fish, I bet they’d be perfectly fine with the Scout never earning the merit badge. Especially if they keep reading that same requirement: “If regulations and health concerns permit, clean and cook a fish you have caught.”

Still, fishing’s a skill every Scout should know.

Just ask Baden-Powell, who once said, “Every Scout ought to be able to fish in order to get food for himself. A tenderfoot [beginner] who starved on the bank of a river full of fish would look very silly, yet it might happen to one who had never learned to catch fish.”

Others you’d add to this list?

What did I miss? What merit badges have a little bit of luck to them? Let me know in the comments.

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About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.