Everywhere you look, enthusiasm for the Welding merit badge is heating up

Troop 387, like all the best Boy Scout troops, is youth-led. The adults are there for support and safety.

So when the Scouts from Kingsport, Tenn., decided they wanted to earn the Welding merit badge, the adults simply said, “sounds good, how can we help?”

Help came from the good folks at Lincoln Electric. The Cleveland-based manufacturer of welding products is a fervent BSA partner. They helped the BSA develop the Welding merit badge, released in 2012. In 2013, the BSA recognized the company with the North Star Award.

“People would be surprised how many kids want to learn how to weld,” says Scott Schallon, Troop 387’s Scoutmaster.

Lincoln Electric teamed up with the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, or RCAM, for a hands-on Welding merit badge day with 40 Scouts. The day fused fun with hands-on learning.

“One of our goals for merit badges is to blend in some fun components,” he says. “I am certain every Scout who participated had an experience they will remember for years to come.”

Some Scouts might have been inspired to pursue a career in welding, a field where pay and job availability are high. Others walked away with a greater appreciation for the role welders play in our society.

“Mission accomplished!” Schallon says. “What a great example of how community, business and Scouting can come together to help our youth grow and develop skills.”

April is National Welding Month

It’s easy to see the appeal of welding among Scouts. After all, the main requirement for the Welding merit badge is to do some actual welding. What Scout wouldn’t want a turn with a tool that runs at up 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit? Where else but Scouting could a young person try that?

Excitement about welding isn’t limited to Tennessee. Thanks to Lincoln Electric, Scouts across the country have been exposed to welding. Many more will see the appeal of welding at events like these:

  • The Heart of America Council in Kansas City will have five welding stations set up at an event in August. Local ironworkers will help show Scouts the ropes.
  • In the Denver Area Council, three welding stations will wow visitors at the Scout Show in April.
  • In the Three Fires Council in Illinois, Scouts can access a complete portfolio of more than 10 welding stations.
  • In the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council, the May Scout Show will include three welding stations.
  • In the Pennsylvania Dutch Council, the May camporee will feature a trio of welding stations.
  • In the Coastal Carolina, Ventura County and Hoosier Trails councils, welding workshops are actively being held to teach Scouts about this exciting field.
  • In the Greater New York Councils, a nice welding lab includes at least five machines.
  • In the Daniel Webster Council in New Hampshire, a welding lab with more than 10 stations is the main reason more than 110 Scouts earned the Welding merit badge last year.

More on Lincoln Electric’s partnership

Lincoln Electric’s Charlie Cross, who helps manage the BSA partnership, says welding is an “exciting, relevant, valuable skill” for Scouts to learn.

“Lincoln Electric is helping Scouts get excited about such career options as welding, engineering and manufacturing in a hands-on way, while earning their badges,” he says.

What does Lincoln Electric get out of this? In the fast-moving, technologically focused world of welding, Lincoln wants to help inspire and educate the next generation of welders.

“Since welding is so relevant to our lifestyle, we need to invest and find the next generation of educated workers in the welding industry to keep up with the changing technologies around welding,” Cross says.


  1. My 17 year old Eagle Scout son completed the Welding merit badge a few years ago. During a recent project for an OA ceremonies team that he is part of, he needed to weld some rebar to fashion a 14′ arrow with a 4′ O and A positioned along the shaft of the arrow. He confidently and independently set up his welder and got to work. It turned out awesome and I couldn’t have been more proud. Scouting gave him the opportunity to learn new skills and apply them in practical ways.

  2. It is good to see BSA actively support efforts like this. It can be save, as long as safety issues are addressed and observed, and it gives inroads to professions like Mike Rowe addressed in his 2013 Jamboree speech [I saw it on youtube, but my grandson saw it in person, and it encouraged him to pursue mechanics and then plumbing after graduation].

    The ability to do things like this should be addressed in Guide to Safe Scouting [GTSS]. Most all of the things in the trades can be done safely by Scouts when there are present the two common things in all of the safety courses offered by BSA – Qualified Supervision and Discipline. Some experiences, such as operating power saws, etc. are only allowed to Adults in GTSS – with Qualified Supervision and Discipline they could be operated safely by Scouts working on Merit Badges or Eagle Projects.

    I suggest that National institute a comprehensive review of GTSS, especially in the tools area to bring it in line with current abilities. Many of these Scouts, if they have taken what we called “Shop”, and is now called “Industrial Technology” in middle school or junior high, have operated tools that may be proscribed to them, even when older in GTSS.

    • While they are reviewing the GTSS, be mindful of internal inconsistencies. Hire a good continuity editor.

      I agree with the age-appropriate guidelines, but be sure they are age-appropriate. Also recognize that OSHA regulations are probably overkill in Scouting.

    • Here we go again. The guys are Boy Scouts, NOT bubble scouts with helicopter leaders!

      Camp Falling Rock has offered Welding merit badge off and on through the years. All regulations are always followed and the boys always have fun and learn something new. The guy who teaches the merit badge tells actual horror stories from his ten years experience as a welder. The boys are mindful and those who are not (only a couple over the years) are not allowed to participate anymore.
      Please stop with the over-reaction.

  3. The GTSS is restrictive enough that it turns done boys off. For instance, they aren’t allowed to use an electric drill until 18. What’s up with that? Of course they like welding.

    The shop class I took in 6th grade would be banned until college for Scouts of today. That’s ridiculous.

    • And I’m only in my 30’s. I’m not taking about what things were like in the 40’s or 50’s, I’m talking about classes in the 90’s.

    • Bart, nowhere in the G2SS are boys banned from power drills. (Current restrictions to other tools are here http://www.scouting.org/filestore/healthsafety/pdf/680-028.pdf.) Nor are lead smelting pots restricted.

      Thus, my sons #1 and #2 were more than welcome to drill their own holes in their PWD cars, and drip their own lead.

      Now, when son #1 needed an augur for his Eagle project’s post-holes, we did limit access to a younger buddy who had his own landscaping business. :0

      Following the OSHA restrictions to the letter still requires tremendous judgement by qualified supervision and disciplined workforce. (Sometimes the under 18 are more qualified, and the over 18 are less disciplined.)

      • Most of those “power tools” were used by boys and girls in 7th grade shop class. 25-30 youth and a single teacher. Nobody got maimed or died.

        14 years old to use a cordless drill? 18+ to use a scroll saw? Give me a break!!

  4. At our recent Scout Fest, Greater Alabama Council offered welding stations provided by Lincoln Electric and led by artist-welders. It was one of our most popular STEaM-related events. Thanks Lincoln Electric!

  5. Guys in Generation X learned these things in high school shop classes. Very few of these classes are available today. Boy Scouts is an awesome opportunity for career exploration.

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