Nine times the BSA changed merit badge emblems for the better

If at first you don’t succeed — well, you know the rest.

Merit badges and merit badge requirements have been improved regularly through the years. So, too, have the circular emblems that represent those merit badges.

Sometimes an emblem doesn’t fully encompass the merit badge. Other times it just looks a little dated.

So today let’s look at 10 times the BSA changed merit badge emblems for the better.


Sure, astronomy includes the study of stars, but a simple five-pointed star seems to undersell this great merit badge. A ringed planet (presumably Saturn?) looks better and makes more sense.



Planes change, and so does the Aviation merit badge emblem. It started as a biplane and then became a single-wing propeller plane and a jet. The current emblem recognizes that aviation takes multiple forms, like ballooning.


Bird Study

Going from some sort of origami-looking bird to a realistic one? Yes, this is a great change.



The original emblem used Roman numerals: 5×10 miles and a 20-miler. The current emblem depicts that transcendent moment of any hike: reaching the summit.



A jumbled emblem with a typewriter, proofreading marks and some items I can’t interpret was replaced with a snapshot of current-day journalism.


Personal Fitness

The Love merit badge? No, this was the Personal Fitness merit badge, now Eagle-required. While the merit badge was great for the heart, that symbol probably raised more questions than it answered.



Changing from a hatchet and pick-axe to a pioneering tower better aligns the Pioneering merit badge emblem with the current requirements.



Probably the best improvement on the list. That said, it didn’t take much to improve on the single red line that at one time represented the Salesmanship merit badge.



The change acknowledges that Scouts swim in the water, not through midair.


Many of the images used in the post come from here.

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