Here’s a complete list of 2017 Boy Scout requirement changes

The BSA’s 2017 Boy Scout Requirements book, detailing major and minor changes to Boy Scout ranks and merit badges, is now available.

Inside you’ll find:

  • Modifications to the Second Class and First Class ranks
  • The new Exploration merit badge
  • Major changes to four merit badges
  • Minor changes to 32 merit badges

The changes are the work of volunteers and Scouting professionals who have analyzed feedback from Scouts and Scout leaders about current requirements. (Send your feedback to

The experts modify requirements to reflect the latest trends in outdoor skills, career fields, trades and hobbies. I’ve got the full list of changes, as outlined in the 2017 Boy Scout Requirements book, below.

But first, a quick plug for Scoutbook, the official BSA web app that makes tracking advancement easier and more fun. With Scoutbook, you’ll always have the latest requirements — on every device, everywhere you go.

Rank Requirement Changes

Second Class 

2d — sentence structure change

New: Explain when it is appropriate to use a lightweight stove and when it is appropriate to use a propane stove. Set up a lightweight stove or propane stove. Unless prohibited by local fire restrictions, light the stove. Describe the safety procedures for using these types of stoves.

Old: Explain when it is appropriate to use a lightweight stove and when it is appropriate to use a propane stove. Set up a lightweight stove or propane stove. Light the stove, unless prohibited by local fire restrictions. Describe the safety procedures for using these types of stoves.

8e — wording change

New: Participate in two hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. Explain how your service to others relates to the Scout Oath.

Old: Participate in two hours of service through one or more service projects approved by your Scoutmaster. Tell how your service to others relates to the Scout Oath.

First Class

8b — added requirement to “develop a plan”

New: Share your challenges and successes in completing First Class requirement 8a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life and develop a plan for doing so.

Old: Share your challenges and successes in completing First Class requirement 8a. Set a goal for continuing to include physical activity as part of your daily life.

New Merit Badges


The BSA’s 137th current merit badge was released in late 2016. Read our blog coverage here.

Revised Merit Badge Requirements — Major

Disabilities Awareness

Requirements PDF:New and Old

Noteworthy changes: 

  • Added a discussion of disabilities awareness terms like accessibility, adaptation and accommodation
  • Added a requirement to participate in an activity that helps others understand what a person with a disability experiences
  • Added an option to visit a location and observe features and methods used to accommodate people with invisible disabilities

Requirements that changed: 1 (split to 1a and 1b), 3a, 3b, 3d, and 4 (which became 4 – Option A). 3e was added, and Option B was added to 4


Requirements PDF: New and Old

Noteworthy changes: 

  • Changed “Leave No Trace” discussion to a discussion about “proper outdoor ethics”
  • Replaced requirement to take five hikes of at least 10 miles with a requirement to take five hikes, in order, with these minimum mileages: one 5-mile hike, three 10-mile hikes, one 15-mile hike. (Total mileage is the same.)
  • Added requirement to write in post-hike report “something you learned about yourself, about the outdoors, or about others you were hiking with.”

Requirements that changed: 1b, 2, 4 and 5 (replaced with new requirement 4; requirements 6 and 7 were revised and renumbered as 5 and 6)


Requirements PDF: New and Old

Noteworthy changes:

  • Added requirement to demonstrate how to tie the clove hitch, butterfly knot, rolling hitch, water knot, carrick bend, sheepshank and sheet bend
  • Added requirement to demonstrate the following lashings: square, diagonal, shear and floor lashing
  • Added requirement to demonstrate the basic and West Country methods of whipping a rope and to fuse the ends of a rope
  • Added different kinds of pioneering projects Scouts must complete, including one of the following: tower, bridge, camp chair or camp table

Requirements that changed: 1b, 2a, 2b, 2c and 6 to 10


Requirements PDF: New and Old

Noteworthy changes:

  • Replaced requirement to draw schematic symbols with requirement to explain  NOAA Weather Radio and cellular telephones
  • Revamped the practical requirement (9) — including options to try Amateur Radio, Radio Broadcasting and Shortwave and Medium-Wave Listening. Added Amateur Radio Direction Finding as a fourth option.

Requirements that changed: 2, 3, 5 and 9

Revised Merit Badge Requirements — Minor

The changed requirements are in parentheses. Below each merit badge name I’ve included the noteworthy changes.

As always, find the latest merit badge requirements here.

American Business (new 1c; new 2c)

  • Added requirement to discuss the five primary areas of business
  • Added requirement to discuss green marketing and sustainable business practices

Athletics (3; 5, group 6, baseball throw for accuracy)

  • Changed participation requirement from “one season (or four months)” to, simply, “four months”
  • Added distance requirement for baseball throw: ages 11 to 12, 20 feet; ages 13 to 15, 30 feet; ages 16 to 17, 40 feet

Automotive Maintenance (2c, 2e, 2f, 2h, 6a, 8b, 9d)

  • Tweaks cover interior lighting, emissions inspections, coolant, engine firing order and more

Camping (new 1b)

  • Added discussion of weather conditions before and during camping activities

Climbing (8)

  • Removed option to put on a tied harness; now only commercially made climbing harnesses may be used

Coin Collecting (6)

  • Added option to describe the America the Beautiful Quarters program; previously only the 50 State Quarters program was mentioned

Cooking (3c, 4, 5a, 5d)

  • Though the Cooking merit badge received a big overhaul in 2016, the 2017 changes are primarily cosmetic; for example “a menu” becomes “menus”

Dentistry (7)

  • Changed career-exploration requirement to include two types of opportunities: Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) and auxiliary dental professions

Dog Care (new 6f)

  • Added requirement to discuss the advantages of spaying or neutering a dog

Fire Safety (1a; new 1c; 3, 4, 5, 9, new 12)

  • Added requirement to describe the safe way to refuel a liquid fuel engine
  • Changed requirement to demonstrate “stop, drop, roll and cool” to stop, drop, cover, roll, cover your face and cool”

Fish and Wildlife Management (5c, 6b, 6c, 8)

  • Added option to develop a “a fishery improvement project”; previously only a “backyard wildlife habitat improvement project” was mentioned
  • Added requirement to discuss management practices for threatened or endangered species

Fishing (4, 9; new 10)

  • Changed knot-tying requirements, adding “uni knot, uni to uni knot and arbor knot” and removing “turle, blood loop (barrel knot), and double surgeon’s loop”
  • Moved cooking a fish to its own requirement and added the stipulation that Scouts don’t have to eat the fish if they choose not to

Forestry (new 6; 7)

  • Added requirement to “inventory the trees that may be a hazard to structures or people”
  • Added requirement to describe consequences of destructive insects and a loss of the pollinating insect population

Game Design (6)

  • Added clarification at three places to “record your work in your game design notebook”

Indian Lore (new 1; new 5i)

  • Added new requirement: “Identify the different American Indian cultural areas. Explain what makes them each unique.”
  • Added requirement to attend a contemporary American Indian gathering

Journalism (2a)

  • Added online journalism option to requirement about visiting a newspaper or magazine office. Scouts may now visit an “internet news site.”

Landscape Architecture (2a, 2b, 3, 4)

  • Added reminder that Scouts should only begin measuring and sketching a site “after obtaining permission from the appropriate authority”

Leatherwork (4, 5c)

  • Swapped requirements 4 and 5c
  • Added requirement to discuss the “advantages or disadvantages of leather vs. synthetic materials”

Lifesaving (1b)

  • Added clarification that 400-meter swim must be done “in good form with rhythmic breathing”

Music (deleted 4d; new 5)

  • Deleted requirement to “catalog your own or your family’s collection of 12 or more compact discs, tapes, records, or other recorded music” because most Scouts don’t know what those things are
  • Added requirement to discuss intellectual property and the right way to download and share music

Nuclear Science (1b; new 1d; 2)

  • Added requirement to “compare the amount of radiation exposure of a nuclear power plant worker to that of someone receiving a chest and dental X-ray”

Plumbing (6)

  • Changed “steel pipe” to “metal pipe” in requirement about cutting, threading and connecting pipe

Programming (1b, 2b, 4a, 5a, 6)

  • Added requirement to explain the “four types of intellectual property” used to protect computer programs

Pulp and Paper (3)

  • Changed requirement from “List trees that are the major sources of papermaking fibers” to “Name at least four types of trees that are the major sources of papermaking fibers”

Rifle Shooting (1c; for option A: 2f and new 2g; option B: new 2c; option C: 2d)

  • Added requirement covering range commands and range procedures

Safety (2a)

  • Cosmetic wording changes

Salesmanship (1, 6b[4], 7b)

  • Added requirement to explain the differences between a business-to-business salesperson and a consumer salesperson

Scholarship (1a)

  • Cosmetic wording changes

Small-Boat Sailing (1, 2)

  • Cleaned up requirement about sailing hazards, adding a section on BSA Safety Afloat
  • Added description of BSA swimmer test to requrement 2

Sports (1, 4, 5)

  • Expanded requirement about sports injuries and first aid
  • Swapped requirements 4 and 5, making it clearer that Scouts should establish a training plan for their two chosen sports before the season begins
  • Added these sports to the options from which Scouts may choose: golf, gymnastics, swimming, track and field, and wrestling

Traffic Safety (4b)

  • Cosmetic wording changes

Wood Carving (1b, 4b, 4d)

  • Cosmetic wording changes
About Bryan Wendell 3143 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.