Scouting Forums

Required Merit Badges for Scout Rank Advancement

Where is a good place to see what Merit Badges are required for a new scout to progress form Scout to Tinderfoot, et al?

There are no MB’s required until Star Rank. Scouts can work on them but they do not effect Rank till Star.

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And here is another reference (scroll down towards the bottom of the page for the rank requirements):

There is also the Scouts BSA Requirements Book that is available for purchase at Scout shops. It is updated every year with current rank, merit badge, and award information.

Ok. so what would be good badges to start with as a new scout that just crossed over?

that is a conversation the scout needs to have with the Scoutmaster. Merit Badges are a very different form of advancement. You (or the Scout) can not just start one like it is a Cub Scout Adventure, there is a protocol to follow and each unit has its own ways. So if the scout wants to pursue one they should talk to Scoutmaster - otherwise wait till the summer and they can go to summer camp and do alot.


I’d also suggest that the scout focus more on requirements up to First Class initially. As @DonovanMcNeil said, the process for approval is different than in Cub Scouts, too. So, the scout needs to be able to demonstrate something to the SM or their designee.

Thank you very much for the information on this. Will let my scout know this.

Here is an excerpt from my “New Family” Intro letter …

“Boy Scout Advancement:
If you went through Cub Scouts, hopefully your time as a Webelos parent transitioned you from being a parent that could sign off things in your Scout’s book, to the leader signing off things in the book. With Boy Scout’s the Scoutmaster (or their delegates) manage advancement. It is the Scout’s responsibility to control and manage their own advancement. As a parent this can be painful, but it is a needed leadership/personal growth skill Troop 497 wants to encourage. We have posters at the Troop Hut that can greatly help the scout do this.
The exception to this is things to be done with family - ex. Scout Rank 6(a) - With your parent or guardian, complete the exercises in the pamphlet How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide. This is perfectly acceptable for you to sign as the book says to do it as a family.
Going to Summer Camp and doing their Trail to First Class will knock out over half of the requirements for the first 4 ranks in Scouts and give them a real leg up.
If your Scout has an interest in a Merit Badge they need to have a conversation with the Scoutmaster to get started.”

BUT every unit is different - so it is the scouts job to learn to talk to the leaders. Good Luck

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I always have a conversation at the New Parents’ meeting, which includes a few minutes talking about the pursuit of merit badges by new Scouts. Parents who have not been involved with Boy Scouts have limited understanding of advancement and have heard of merit badges.

I always open a Scout handbook and show them that there is no place to even put the merit badge info in the book until the Scout is working on Star. That is not to say that a boy who’s interested in a merit badge shouldn’t do it - he should. All Scouts going to summer camp will work on merit badges, regardless of rank.

The point is that their newly minted Scout has lots to learn about the culture of the troop, about how to take care of one’s self while camping and the skills needed to advance to First Class. Merit badges should Not be the focus for new Scouts.

Some parents will hold onto the idea that the Scout should earn MBs quickly… but I find that after a few months, when they see the growth and maturity that comes from just being active in a Scout-led troop, the parental push for MBs sort of drifts away.


I agree with Jacob. Early on, the emphasis needs to be on building scout skills as required for scout through first class. Once the scouts learn the basics, then merit badges are more appropriate to pursue.

Now, if there is some particular merit badge that your scout is just dying to do… or if there is some golden opportunity to start some merit badge, then it may be worth putting energy here early on.

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I tend to operate much like @MarkWestcott: my first point of reference for the scouts and their parents is to look at the handbook. For scouts and parents familiar with Cub Scouting, I try to explain that things are a bit less linear for the first several ranks in Scouts BSA.

Wondering what you/your scout need to do for rank? That’s back here. What are merit badges? Look under this section on how advancement works in a troop.

What are the Eagle-required MBs? Take a look here in the Eagle rank requirements back here near the end.

Where should I start? I would say start with Scout rank. Those requirements are here. However, you don’t have to only work on those requirements. While you’re memorizing the Scout Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan, you can help cook a meal at a campout.

I don’t discourage scouts who want to work on MBs, especially given that some of them are included at our council’s summer camps as part of the first-year programs. It’s hard to explain to a new scout or parent why you should not work on merit badges, but council includes Swimming and First Aid in the first-year camper program.

Scout-to-First-Poster.pdf (72.3 KB)

This is my Go To Scout-First Class poster - the Scouts who use this start to advance.

What size paper do you use for your poster?

Sorry - I print it at 24" X 36" - print on a plotter - any blue print shop or print shop can print them for $1-2 a piece. Well worth it @JenniferOlinger

My best advice is to print on vinyl just to prevent ultimate destruction. I have those wide format printers at work but most fedex/kinko’s locations can do that.

I see no problem telling the the scouts they can do both if they wish. As you said cooking the first meals setting up tents they can work toward the badges rank advancement and have fun doing it

My guess is that this is for summer camp. And the first place is to talk to your troop’s leadership.

For myself as SM, it depends on the scout one where I would steer for summer camp. I encourage a new scout to have fun and only worry about what appeals to him and is open at that year’s camp. (Different camps have different requirements for a given MB.) Any second years, I encourage (not require) them to include Eagle required MBs.

I have one scout who is a third year Second Class and he will have nearly every natural science MB before long. He is on the slow path to advancement and that is fine.

Different camps and other events may offer completion of different requirements. Merit badge counselors at these events cannot change the actual requirements. Some requirements cannot be completed at camps and other events.

Simple answer to a simple question. First Aid and Swimming as those enable completion of rank requirements.


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