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Proposing MB Badges or Requirements Changes

There have been some very loose discussions on proposing new MBs. I decided to consolidate any official links that I came across.
I found this article from Bryan on Scouting on the Merit Badge Task Force
Here’s a little guide from USSCouts about how to word your request/suggestion
The most salient points:

BSA receives more than 400 merit badge suggestions each year, and they typically don’t act upon any of them for at least a year or two. The staff goes through the merit badge suggestions and recommends merit badges they feel appropriate; once the concept is approved, it goes to the Editorial Service to coordinate and compose the actual merit badge requirements and pamphlet contents, usually in conjunction with an outside organization appropriate to the subject. The entire process can take about three to five years. Nearly all of the ideas for new badges are turned down for one reason or another, very few get tabled for consideration. Among the main reasons for this: It takes around $75,000 or more to introduce a new MB due to creating the badges themselves, printing of pamphlets, and updating and printing of the Requirement book. As of June 1, 2015, there were 136 merit badges, including two released in the first five months of 2015 (Signs, Signals, and Codes and Animation). Prior to 2010, the total had remained fairly consistent for nearly 30 years, ranging since 1983 from a low of 115 to a high of 124.

For the benefit of these forums, I suggest anyone interested should start a new topic for each badge idea. “Proposal for a ____ merit badge.” Now, forums like these are good places to propose an idea for a MB because you’ll get some feedback that you may incorporate into your real proposal to BSA. But if all you do is discuss it on this forum, you can rest assured that your suggestion will go nowhere. You will have to send it in and wait 5 years to find out if your suggestion was that 1-in-400 actionable proposals.


It would be an interesting exercise in teamwork to offer a merit badge idea and this forum can put all of the requirements together and when a consensus is reached to submit it.

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OK. Now I’m going to have to go dig out my proposal for Sewing MB. It was a couple of years ago that I put it together and shot it off. I’m hoping I still have it on one of my NAS devices…


Yeah I submitted a Bow Fishing MB

I’m surprised the BSA doesn’t offer a Military-Themed Merit badges so Scouts can learn about the various branches of the armed forces. It might inspire a Scout to take JROTC and continue into college and serve. That would be the one I would offer.

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I think the Digital Technology MB needs thoroughly revamped…


Interesting. What would you have in mind? Off the top of my head, I don’t know what you would put into a “military” merit badge to make it substantive enough to be interesting, and available to youth all over the country.

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What would you like to see changed?

We may have lost sight of @Qwazse’s suggestion, since we’re discussing modifications to various MBs in this thread, rather than starting a new thread to discuss/enhance each one. :rofl:

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I can imagine 500+ separate threads! :rofl: :innocent:

True that! We’re all over the map, and since we only get a short-ish period after the last post to keep adding, it might be tough to have continuous discussions without a certain amount of curation by someone who’s interested.

I’ll test the individual thread process out with my Sewing MB proposal, assuming I can track it down. If not, I guess we’ll crowdsource the whole thing from the discussion thread.

There’s quite a bit I could suggest. A lot of Scouts have military parents in our area and I would imagine Scouts around the nation with military bases would be interested. As a veteran, there’s a lot of neat things a military themed merit badge could offer.

I would have a section that discusses the role of each branch and maybe a brief history as to when each branch was establish.

Talk about how the National Guard and Reserves work.

I would have a section the discusses the difference between officers and enlisted including the ranks.

I would have a section where you can interview an active duty or veteran.

Visit a military installation.

I would have a section on how Scouting has had a significant impact in the military

I would have a section that talks about careers in the military and how most merit badges in the Boy Scouts offer careers in the Military. This section would also talk about the majority of the jobs are more support-themed rather than combat themed.

I would have a section where you have to name a famous Boy Scout that served in each branch of the military and what he was famous for.

You could actually have specific Merit Badges about each branch of the military for if you didn’t want to have an overview type MB.

Using my son as an example, he’s in his first year of high school taking JROTC and in this first year he is cruising through the course because much of what they are teaching like survival, fire building, US Flag Protocols he learned in Scouts.

Not every person would want to do the merit badge. I think it would be a good elective.

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Well, since you could easily do the whole thing in an afternoon without much trouble… I’d probably start from zero.

  • Dump the Cyber Chip requirement.
  • More emphasis on the online, connected “internet of things”, which wasn’t really a thing when the current requirements were created.
  • More emphasis on online security (I know, I just said dump the Cyber Chip)
    – What is encryption?
    – Why is it important?
    – How does online security compare/contrast with personal, physical security?
  • Req 6 is really, really similar to Communication MB req 7b and 7c.

I could see some interest in a MB like this. Most civilians (me included, even as an Army brat) are comparatively unfamiliar with how the military works in general, and particularly with things like role changes for entities like the National Guard and the Coast Guard between typical peace-time operations (under DHS) and operations during war-time (under DoD). Can you tell my grandfather and uncle were coasties? :^)


@JenniferOlinger, that’s not a bad thing. Frankly, scouting should have had a transparent process for proposing MBs two decades ago. The stack of “recieved”, “considered”, “implemented”, “discontinued” suggestions would engage scouts and scouters alike.

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As a counselor for the Citizenship badges - as well as American Heritage and American Cultures - I would like to see a World Cultures badge.

My younger sons just crossed over from AOL in February, and one of their favorite requirements for Cub Scouting was to explore and learn about a scout program in another part of the world. That requirement was simple to complete with just a little research, but it gave my boys a deeper interest in people from those parts of the world. One of the twins researched Italy - which led to him not only looking at the different scouting programs in Italy - but that led to him asking a ton more questions about life there, so he began exploring food, language, movies/art/entertainment, history… The other twin did the same thing for Australia, and that AOL meeting led to the entire patrol (on their own, because as the den leader, I had other plans on the initial agenda) reading about scout programs in Asia, Africa, and South America. They absolutely loved seeing the different uniforms and the differences/similarities in the Laws/Oaths from around the world.

As a history teacher, I feel that learning those simple things that connect us with people from far away places creates better global citizens and more empathy for people from different walks of life. I think there would be plenty of scouts that would take a interest in - and benefit from - exploring far away places and learning how they live.

Ideally, I would consider creating a badge for Asian Cultures, European Cultures, South American Cultures, and African Cultures - but I’d also be happy with a more generic World Cultures badge that entices young men and women to investigate how people from other parts of the world live and what similarities we have.

As for requirements, I would consider:

  1. Learn about the flag of another country. What it means, how it was adopted as a national symbol, and how it compares to other flags. Does this country have any other national symbols? Are there any symbols from the past that are important?
  2. Learn about the basic system of government in another country. How people are led, how they are represented, what basic rights/obligations/opportunities they have.
  3. How a typical family lives - In a perfect world, I’d set up some sort of database where scouts from other countries can connect (safely) and become “pen-pals” - asking one another questions and sharing what life is like in their country/region.
  4. Read a fictional book or watch a pre-approved movie set in (or written by an author from) that country.
  5. Learn about a famous artist, political leader, military figure, inventor, or otherwise influential/important person from this culture and what they did.
  6. Visit a restaurant that serves food from this culture - or cook a meal (with an attempt at some degree of authenticity) from that culture.
  7. Write a review of a piece of music or art from that culture - or - if you fancy yourself an artist or musician, instead create a piece of art or music that reflects the culture you are exploring.
  8. Write a short explanation as to what you (and your family) would have to do to adapt if you were to move to that country - and write what you think a family (with a child your age) would have to do to adapt to life in your community. This requirement can be done as a written explanation or an oral presentation.
  9. Plan a week long trip to the country you are exploring. You don’t have to take the trip, but plan out what places you’d like to visit - famous landmarks, natural wonders, important museums, historical sites? Consider what activities you’d like to participate in - tours, concerts, sporting events, outdoor activities, language/cooking classes? What do you want to eat? Plan to visit at least two cities in the country and explain how you’d get from one place to another.

@MichaelCurtis, I guess you missed the part about how you should start a new topic to propose a badge. :wink:
I think the way you framed it, this could actually be a whole program in itself (like the STEM/Nova awards). Anyway good luck getting feedback, and hopefully we’ll see a patched rolled out five years from now,

Doesn’t it have to get out of Committee before going to the full floor? :joy: :joy:


Agree wth you on Digital Tech MB.
Problem is that they wrote something for an emerging field. If they didn’t plan on keeping it updated, they are causing problems. The requirements were written in a way that makes them very outdated now. Req 6 was pretty new stuff when mb was written, now many middle schoolers have some capapbility with it.
There really is very little depth to the requirements. As much disdain I have for MB days, this would make a pretty good one for that. Pay $25 and get a MB.

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Yep. This is an easy one to do in 4 hours, max…