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Camping Merit Badge requirements with no camping currently allowed

Since we are talking about the Camping MB and covid, I have a question. My question is about camping requirement 9B. Can scouts fulfill this requirement when “family camping” this summer? Specifically, since we cannot camp with our council, if scouts are camping this summer with their families and they hike up a mountain gaining at least 1000 feet and backpack for at least 4 miles (on 2 different family camping trips, 3 nights camping in July and 3 nights camping in August), can this apply for fulfilling 9B? Since we cannot do any actual “camping scouting activities or events”, and the council is suggesting “family camping” instead, is this requirement fulfilled via family camping (with pictures as verification). Thanks for your perspective.

@DianeJantze I would say no - in 9(a) it defines “Scouting activities or events”
9(b) starts "On any of these camping experiences "
So it needs to be a “Scouting Activity”

We have begged for them to clarify for Camping MB


The BSA has previously said:

” … at designated Scouting activities or events.”

This means the experiences are held under the auspices of some level of the BSA, and that “Scouting” happens on them.

For example, an individual family or a couple of Scouts and their parents heading off into the woods doesn’t count.

Bryan on Scouting: Ask the Expert: What is (and what isn’t) a camping night for the Camping MB?

Unless they issue new guidance on the BSA’s COVID-19 FAQ page, I do not think family camping would count for Camping merit badge requirement 9, because the BSA has previously said that it does not.

Virtual troop / patrol camping might count under certain circumstances, but it is at the discretion of the Camping merit badge counselor. But family camping is different from troop / patrol virtual camping.


For meeting the 20 Nights of camping (with on 6-night stent included) do these nights have to take place after the Scout has “officially” started the Camping Merit Badge? In other words, after the Scout Master has approved them taking the MB and has signed the Blue Card.

For example, a Life Scout finally realizes they need Camping MB and will not have a chance to get the required 20 nights (with the 6-night long term resident camp) before his 18th Birthday. Can all of his previous camping nights be pulled from to complete this requirement?

@TimothyPearsall I have always seen it as past troop camps count - AS a scout can begin at any time to work on merit badge requirements

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@TimothyPearsall All nights camped since joining the Boy Scout / Scouts BSA program can count as long as they otherwise meet the requirements. Please see Guide to Advancement section About the Application for Merit Badge (“Blue Card”).

Typically after the unit leader signs the blue card, the Scout contacts the merit badge counselor and sets an appointment. Even though Scouts may benefit from reviewing requirements with a counselor before pursuing them, a Scout may begin working on a merit badge at any time after registering in Scouts BSA, or becoming a qualified Venturer or Sea Scout [that is, a Venturer or Sea Scout who has previously earned First Class rank]. It is the counselor’s decision whether to accept work or activities completed prior to the issuing of the signed blue card. Common sense should prevail, however. For example, nights already camped as a Scout in Scouts BSA or as a qualified Venturer or Sea Scout, or coins or stamps already collected, would count toward their respective badges.


Thanks everybody. I thought as much, but someone stated otherwise so I was just checking myself. Wanted to make sure something didn’t change that I didn’t now about.


I have a related question. If Mom and Date are both BSA Leaders, two sons are both Scouts - does a backpacking trip for the four of them count? Or do they need to invite a second scouting family along? It seems weird that setting up a tent in the backyard is acceptable, but somehow a backpacking trip with four scout individuals is not.

I totally agree. We are in the exact same situation. How are scouts supposed to advance on requirement 9b if you cannot camp in council, plus our council is promoting “family camping” instead of scout camping until the restrictions are lifted? Currently the council camping ban goes through summer, which is the ideal time to do this requirement. Unless you are doing 9b5 (snow camping) or part of 9b2 (snowshoe or cross country skiing), scouts only have the option of backpacking, hiking, biking, or doing a water trip in the rainy/snowy months of the year. I hope further guidance is posted soon.

Check with your council. My council has stated that all camping, district and above, is canceled for the summer. They are allowing troops and packs to camp if they wish. They are even allowing troops or packs to reserve camping sites at the local scout reservations if they wish.

I still have not seen any type of clarification from National Advancement Committee. If there is a clarification, can someone please point it out?

What exactly are you looking for? National has issued COVID-19 guidance here. Further details are going to come from your local council and your chartered organization.

I looked on National’s website to see if there was any specific language about camping MB. The only directive I can find is:

:diamonds:Q: Will virtual camping count toward Order of the Arrow nights camping?

Virtual camping (i.e., backyard or solo camping) may be counted toward the required nights of camping for OA election eligibility if all the following stipulations are met:

– To be counted, all virtual camping nights should be a direct result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and be part of a BSA unit-organized unit camping event (i.e., multiple members of the unit are involved and camping simultaneously at remote locations).

– Some form of unit-organized communications should occur either during or immediately following the event.

– All existing youth protection policies and digital safety guidelines must be followed.

– No more than 3 nights of virtual camping are to be credited in any month in which government- or council-imposed COVID-19 restrictions are in place.

This change is in effect until September 1, 2020. Please see https://oa-bsa.org/coronavirus/temporary-camping-night-policy-due-covid-19 for further details.

Units that have already held an election between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 are authorized to hold one additional election for any individuals who were ineligible at the time of the election due to the camping requirement, but would have been considered eligible at the time if this temporary policy had then been in effect. This second election must be completed no later than July 1, 2020. Those who were previously considered for election in the first election may not be reconsidered on this second ballot (i.e., no one can be considered for election more than once in a year).

Looking at the language of the directive and citing to Advancement Guide for Scouting: Fulfilling More Than One Requirement With a Single Activity

From time to time it may be appropriate for a Scout to apply what was done to meet one requirement toward the completion of another. In deciding whether to allow this, unit leaders or merit badge counselors should consider the following.

When, for all practical purposes, two requirements match up exactly and have the same basic intent—for example, camping nights for Second Class and First Class ranks and for the Camping merit badge—it is appropriate and permissible, unless it is stated otherwise in the requirements, to use those matching activities for both the ranks and the merit badge.

It would appear the “intent” is to have scouts camp under the stars in a scout event. It does not require that all of the scouts be in the same campsite (nor does the merit badge requirement specify the camping must be in a campsite at all). By requiring such a standard is that not actually “adding” to the merit badge, which a council is not allowed to do?

Noteworthy is the the language in the Advancement Guide: Statement on Unauthorized Changes
to Advancement in Camp Programs
Though stated earlier in this publication, it bears repeating
here: No council, committee, district, unit, or individual
has the authority to add to or subtract from advancement
requirements. There are no camp-related exemptions
except those described in “Advancement for Members
With Special Needs,”
Camp counselors and those assisting them, regardless the
circumstances, are not permitted to modify requirements. If
requirements as written cannot be completed at camp,
they must be done elsewhere, before or after the camp
experience. The Application for Merit Badge “blue card”
(see “About the Application for Merit Badge (“Blue
Card”), has space to record and initial what is
finished, and age 18 is the only limit to finishing partials.

If unit leadership or others dissatisfied with the quality of
advancement instruction at camp become concerned
Scouts are being approved for merit badges they have
not earned, a report should be filed with the council
advancement committee. The form found in the appendix
(see “Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns,” may be used for this purpose. See also “Once
It Is Earned, It’s Earned,”, and “Limited Recourse
for Unearned Merit Badges,”

The language from the Advancement Guide, appears to me, that the MBC has the discretion to decide whether “virtual camping” or backyard camping may count towards req. 9. To suggest that the local council or chartered organization will provide further details seems to conflict with the express language in the Advancement Guide.

In short, I would like National to establish a bright line rule whether virtual unit campouts may count towards the Camping MB.

Well, it’s crystal clear to me. They’ve explicitly allowed an exception to camping nights for OA eligibility, and for some specific rank advancement requirements, and they’ve explicitly said no modifications to merit badge requirements in the FAQ: “When the requirement’s intent cannot be reached virtually, the requirements cannot be completed, and the Scout must wait to complete that badge/requirement.”

So, it seems absolutely clear to me that, as far as National is concerned, virtual camping nights don’t count for the Camping MB.

I appreciate that it is clear to you. That is not my question or concern. I am requesting expressly written clarification from National. Clearly, there are differing interpretations, even between entire councils on this matter.

We are trying to get the national program team to update the FAQ. They have told the SUAC that virtual camping nights are at the discretion of the Camping Merit Badge Counselor. I will try again.

Oh, no no no no no no no!
Let the relationship between counselor and scout be sacrosanct.

Case-in-point: roughly 45 years after the the Spanish flu and little more than a decade after a foriegn war that had disrupted many scouts lives, someone asked National to enforce the ageist declaration that Eagle was strictly a youth award. They obliged. And you are now in this mess because the simple answer to a protracted national emergency should be: “No worries, when things settle, come serve a troop as an adult and complete the requisite activities.”

To the original post: @JillBarr, most of us have camped in sub-zero weather on multiple occasions. I don’t think my SM understood the concept of the inside of a cabin. From a scout’s perspective it is very rewarding – not punitive. But, your real challenge is that there’s a reasonable expectation that this virus will re-surge … hopefully your county/state will soon be between pandemic waves. The question is: how much can your scouts pack in on consecutive weekends to make up for the loss of nights?

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Consider this:

Parent: “Can Bobby go on the field trip?”
Teacher: “Only Amy, Charlie, Danny, and Erin can go.”
Parent: “I can’t believe you won’t tell me that Bobby can go on the field trip.”

The answer is clear. Modifications to advancement requirements have been made. Modifications to MB requirements have NOT been made.

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I would agree.
It all depends on where the kid is in scouting. Has a few more years to go? Then they can wait for a real campout. Has two months to go? Make it work.
Folks who meet the conditions for the 1 year extension? They have an extra year. Close to the end of that time we can talk.

I dealt with a scout who was a month away from 18. Still didn’t have Camping MB.
Since he wasn’t from my unit I asked him to bring his pack for req 5e. His unit had gone on very few trips during the time he was in scouting. He just had the nights needed. He brought a knapsack with 10 essentials (kind of). We spent quite a while so I could pull out my equipment and we went over packing a pack.