April 2 Update: See an important message at the bottom of this post.
Merit badges have always been a big deal. Now they’re about to get bigger. 50 percent bigger.
Here’s the scoop: This morning, the Boy Scouts of America announced it will increase the size of all merit badge emblems, beginning Sept. 1, 2015.
Current emblems measure 1.5 inches in diameter, while the new ones will measure 2.25 inches in diameter. Translation: Boy Scouts will wear merit badges two across on their sashes instead of three. See a sample photo above.
The increase marks the first change in merit badge emblem size since 1936.
Why go big? For starters, it’ll make it easier for a Scout to show off which merit badges he’s earned. No more squinting to see whether that Scout across the room is wearing the emblem for Fly-Fishing or Fish and Wildlife Management. With supersized merit badge emblems, you’ll know.
Plus, you might have noticed the trend toward “big” in fashion — big sunglasses, big logos and big words on T-shirts. The BSA has taken note and redesigned its classic merit badge emblem to fit in better with the fashion of today.
Read on to learn more about why this move is being made and the transition plan for Scouts who have already earned merit badges at the soon-to-be extinct smaller size.
Last month the Boy Scouts of America sent a 12-member team to Paris Fashion Week, and the report back was pretty clear: big is big.
The world’s top designers showed off their pieces featuring oversize logos, words and accessories. The BSA, which turned to fashion icon Oscar de la Renta to design the uniform Scouts wore from 1980 to 2008, continues its tradition of being fashion forward with enlarged merit badges.
Big isn’t just “in” in fashion. Sunglasses, smartphones and TVs keep getting bigger and bigger. So why not merit badges?
A sewing lesson
Grab some extra thread, because bigger merit badges means the Scout — or, perhaps, his mom or dad — will spend more time at the sewing machine.
That’s a good thing, says Olaf Sprilo, the BSA’s merit badge czar and a noted fashion blogger.
“We see this as a wonderful opportunity for a Scout and his parent to bond over the hours spent indoors sewing these larger merit badges on,” he says.
Troop 225 of the Bluegrass Council was one of the troops that got to test out life with the extra-large merit badge emblems. Senior Patrol Leader Josh Davidson sounded enthusiastic about the change when I spoke with him last week.
“These things are ridiculously huge,” he says. “I can’t imagine a better way to spend my free Saturday afternoons for the next month than sewing these babies on by hand.”
The transition plan
What about Scouts who own the soon-to-be retired smaller merit badge emblems? Not to worry, Sprilo says. They’ll have a two-week grace period before being required to make the switch.
“Scouts who have earned what we’re calling ‘normal-size’ merit badges will need to transition to the giant-size versions by Sept. 15,” he says. “If they don’t, they won’t be kicked out or anything. They’ll just be wearing last season’s fashion. A real faux pas.”
But wait. How will these giant-size merit badges fit on a regular-size Scout sash? The answer’s right under your nose: Use the other side.
“A Scout is thrifty,” Sprilo says. “Once Scouts fill up the outside of the merit badge sash, we’re telling them to use the inside. We’re suggesting the inside be reserved for those merit badges you value less.”
50 percent larger, 50 percent more expensive
Regular-size merit badge emblems cost a reasonable $2.49. Giant-size merit badge emblems will cost exactly 50 percent more: $3.735.
No, that’s not a typo. That’s three dollars and seventy-three-and-a-half cents.
Not to worry, cash customers. Scout Shops will be outfitted with special cutters for slicing your pennies into two pieces.
Must read: Important update about this post
UPDATE! If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably realized this isn’t real. Merit badge emblems aren’t changing sizes.
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