1. Requirements are published annually in the book Boy Scout Requirements ("BSR").  The requirements in the annual edition of the book supersede merit badge pamphlets published prior to that edition.  Pamphlets published after the last annual edition supersede the book until the next annual edition is published. is a good source for current requirements.
  2. All requirements must be passed while the scout is registered as a Boy Scout with the BSA.
  3. Troop 186 treats a boy as having joined Boy Scouts when we send in his BSA application to the Council.  However, a literal reading of the “Boy Scout Joining Requirements” [BSR p. 6] shows that a boy has to complete ten requirements before he can join Boy Scouts.  Scout is not a rank [Advancement Rules and Regulations clause 6]--all boys who have joined Boy Scouts are “Scouts,” but most of those Scouts also have a rank (Tenderfoot through Eagle).
  4. Rank requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class can be worked on simultaneously. [ BSR p. 7]
  5. Merit badges can be earned at any time.  [BSR p. 22]  Thus a boy scout can work on Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, and merit badges all at the same time.
  6. There is no time in grade requirement for Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class so they can be earned at the same Board of Review and awarded at the same Court of Honor, e.g. Tim Hughes October 2001.
  7. Star, Life and Eagle have a time in grade requirement:  4 months as First Class, 6 as Star, and 6 as Life.
  8. Star and Life have a choice of satisfying a Position of Responsibility (“POR”) requirement or carrying out a “Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the troop.”
  9. Eagle requires a POR and an Eagle project (which benefits an organization other than the BSA).
  10. Some merit badges requirements are identical to rank requirements and so earning the merit badge, ipso facto, means the rank requirement was passed.  One must closely read the requirements to see if they are identical.  Common occurrences include: 
    1. Swimming mb.  Requirement 3 requires that Second Class 7a-7c and First Class 9a-9c be completed and so satisfies those rank requirements.
    2. First Aid mb.  Requirement 1 requires current knowledge of Tenderfoot through First Class first aid requirements.  “Knowledge” is different from demonstrate, show, prepare, and so on.  "Knowing" first aid for a blister (Tenderfoot #12b) is not the same thing as "showing" that first aid which is what 12b requires. [Per BSR p 29 for difference between "show" and "tell"]   See Tenderfoot 12a-demonstrate, 12b-show; Second Class 7a-show, 7b-prepare, 7c-demonstrate; First Class 8b-demonstrate, 8c-show.  Presumably First Class 8d’s “tell” might be equivalent to “knowledge” but it seems better for the scout to pass it specifically rather than piggyback on First Aid mb.  Thus no rank requirements are satisfied by earning First Aid mb.  Some merit badges have first aid requirements—those requirements are not satisfied by having earned First Aid mb.
    3. Bird Study mb.  Requirement 5 (identify 20 wild species) satisfies Second Class 5 (identify 10 kinds of wild animals)
  1. Activities requirement (Tenderfoot-1, Second Class-5, First Class-10) must be troop/patrol activities other than troop/patrol meetings.  Activities are not technically the same as outings.  However, the only activities that are not outings that the Troop undertakes which qualify are Magnuson cookout, Magnuson advancement, swim night, and leadership retreat. Arguably the cookout and swim night do not qualify because they are troop meetings held at a different venue, but they are sufficiently different from a regular meeting as to meet the requirement.  Hiking mb’s hikes don’t qualify as "activities" unless Hiking mb requirements 1-4 have previously been passed. [Hiking mb footnote]
  2. If a scout is working on a rank and the requirements change, Boy Scout Requirements will specify the grace period for advancing under the old requirements.  Rank requirements changed substantially on 01-01-2010.  If a scout was working on a rank on 01-01-2010 he can continue using the old requirements or can use the new requirements.  [BSR p. 6]  The Troop's policy is that a scout is working on a rank if at least one requirement has been passed and signed off and that rank is the next rank after his current rank.  Thus a Tenderfoot can use the old requirements for Second Class but must use the new requirements for First Class and above even though he has Passed a First Class requirement or has earned an Eagle-required merit badge.
  3. If a scout has started working on a merit badge and the requirements change, he may continue to use the old requirements until he leaves scouts or may elect to use the new requirements.  The only proof that he has begun working on a merit badge is that he has begun working with the mb counselor (not that sometime in the past he had the Scoutmaster sign a blue card).  A counselor may, or may not, accept work done prior to being contacted by the scout.  The camping merit badge counselor (Troop 186 and Parsons) typically accepts camping nights that were completed prior to undertaking the mb. 
  4. Camping merit badge requires 20 days and 20 nights of scout activity camping “under the sky or in a tent you have pitched.”  However, there is an exception for one week of long-term camp (Parsons) which may be counted even though the scout did not pitch his tent.  Ski lodges and Parsons work party cabins do not count.
  5. Miles used for Hiking mb cannot be used for other merit badges, to wit, Backpacking, but can be used for the 50-Miler Award.
  6. A mb counselor does not have to initial every requirement on the back of the blue card.  His signature on the front is all that is needed.  Some counselors use a computer(!!!) rather than the blue card to track a scout’s progress. 



Prepared by Tom Hughes

February 24, 2010