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2021 BSA Requirements book?

Anyone know when the 2021 BSA Requirements book will be available at scout shops?



There has not been any official announcement, but we have heard the requirements books will no longer be published. The official requirements can be found at:

I will ask about getting an official statement made.

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That’s interesting, @edavignon. Generally, the publication of the new requirements book has been notice of changes to the requirements. If the BSA issues an official statement, can you ask that they clarify the method of noticing units/unit leaders that the requirements have been updated?

It’s already difficult to stay up-to-date on requirements that (nominally) change once a year, especially when their publication is often delayed somewhat beyond when thy theoretically take effect. I can see an absolute mess if there is a rolling change to an online requirements document throughout the year, particularly with neither notice nor clear version control. I’m thinking of the changes to the COVID-19 FAQ as an example. Although the new sections are marked with the diamond to indicate some change happened, unless you archived the webpage in some way, for example printed as PDF, it’s difficult to be sure whether something you recall being in the FAQ has been removed, rewritten, or never actually said what you thought it did.

While I would personally prefer a printable, downloadable digital document (e.g. PDF) that could be marked-up to identify changes or highlight key items (similar to the Guide to Advancement and Guide to Safe Scouting), I can obviously live with paying for hardcopy (i.e. the status quo ante) if the alternative is an amorphous web document that changes without advance warning and with no past version retained on the site for reference.

I really hope BSA decides to keep the Requirements book as it’s a very helpful resource to have all the requirements in one place, especially if your out somewhere without Internet/cell service.

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yeah we buy AT LEAST 2 copies every year - One for SPL table, one for SM table


Yeah, we’re in a similar boat. We generally have at least one (sometimes two) copies for our troop library for use by the scouts, plus a copy that lives with the Advancement Chair that adults can use for reference if the librarian isn’t immediately to hand or both copies are in circulation.

During the last National Annual Meeting it was announced that BSA would be transitioning all publications to digital. One indicator of this was the ebook merit badge books available at, for example, Amazon.


Good point. They did/do sell the 2019 and 2020 editions. Too bad they haven’t yet released the 2021 edition.

Thanks for the info, @WilliamsburgScouter. I genuinely hope that there continues to be some hardcopy/printable option. I really don’t want to start hearing our SPL/PL/Guide/Instructors saying “Okay, scouts, take out your phones/tablets…” instead of “handbooks”. I don’t really have time to site through the entire 90 minutes just now, and wasn’t able to find the portion where they mentioned transitioning to digital documents skimming around. Do you happen to know whether or not the intent was “digital only” or “digital plus hardcopy” (potentially with the latter at a higher price point)?

You can find a list of the merit badge changes here:

All the merit badge changes are already in Scoutbook.

No major changes in ScoutsBSA rank requirements at this time.
There were minor wording changes made to FC req 4b (added “while on a campout or a hike”) and Life req 3 (changes for clarity) Both changes are now in Scoutbook.
Last Fall it was announced that there may be some rank changes mid year to support the BSA Diversity initiatives. The particulars of these have yet to be announced.

Only major change is the already announced BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award (formerly William T. Hornaday Awards)

With the requirement changes later this year, there will be a supplement that will be available to be printed out for insertion into the handbooks.


The following phrase was used about 57:15 minutes in at the National Meeting this year (see the previously linked video)

“Use on-demand printing technologies for merit badge books and other printed material.”

Note “on-demand”. Given the massive cuts BSA has taken including in supply chain and such, the plan is to eliminate severely limit printed publications. You want the document? Download to your device or print at your own expense.

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Thanks for the pointer. I was hoping you already knew roughly where it was in the video, since you mentioned it. I was having trouble finding it, and didn’t have a block of time to watch the whole video end-to-end at the time you posted. I’ll probably end up doing it this weekend some time, though.

Wonder if “on-demand printing technologies” is similar to what was tried some time ago with topo maps at places like REI. There was a kiosk where you could select a topo quad, or even create a custom one, and have it printed onto waterproof paper while you waited. That didn’t last very long, at least at most of my local stores.

I could also see it being implemented as on-demand printing where you can order a hardcopy from scoutstuff.org, and prints take some amount of lead-time to be created and shipped from a third-party printing service. I can see some business value to handling things like that.

I would be very (but pleasantly) surprised to see the option of a downloadable (paid or free) digital version that be printed by the consumer.

See Scouts BSA Requirements Book for the official announcement.

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