Re: merit badge discontinue and new
(no name) ((no email))
Tue, 7 Nov 1995 06:11:34 -0600
Kevin Williams wrote:
>why are merit badges discontinued and new one brought out ??
Did you know that since 1911, the BSA has put out over 200 *separate* merit
badges (that is, merit badges with distinctive names, which may or may not
have duplicating requirements)!!!
The BSA, like any other organization, relies on statistical data to let them
know how well or not the program is working in various areas of the nation,
with younger or older Scouts, and with male or female Explorers or both.
There's a Statistical Data Service at the BSA's National Office, who's sole
job in life is to provide that kind of information to the national/regional
staffs, to Council Scout Executives and their staffs, and if not too much in
detail, to volunteers upon writing (it's a part of the Council Services
Division, National Office, BSA, for those interested).
Each year, they look at the Advancement Reports submitted by local Councils
through their Regional Service Center, and determine which merit badges are
the most popular and which ones are "loss leaders"...those Merit Badges that
Scouts are really not interested in or that were determined to be too hard
for the average Scout to earn. Every four years, the BSA's Program Group
looks at ALL of the Merit Badges offered, and working with volunteer
committees and workgroups, redesign or update merit badges; decide to
eliminate merit badges; or to rename and/or give merit badges a new design.
For example, when the Service saw that only a few Scouts were earning the
Communications Merit Badge between the time it was offered and the time it
became a required Merit Badge, and decided to let Scouts design the new
merit badge which would become a required Merit Badge. Instantly, the
number of Communications Merit Badges increased due in part to it's
placement on the required list, but in greater part due to the novelty of
"having been designed by a kid".
Likewise, when it was determined that many Scouts living in the Southwest
and in Alaska weren't interested in the Lifesaving Merit Badge, one of the
oldest Merit Badges that Scouting has, a study indicated the reason why: Not
enough water to even "think about the possibility of saving someone's life
in the water". This led to the design and implementation of the Emergency
Prepareness Merit Badge, also called "lifesaving on the land" Merit Badge.
In our earlier days of a nation, we had 31 merit badges dealing with some
aspect of life on the farm or ranch. Everything from Cotton and Corn
Farming, to Farm and Ranch Mechanics to the popular Agriculture Merit Badge.
However, as the nation shifted from a agribusiness to a sales and service
culture, our merit badge list shifted the same way. The BSA combined
several of the old "farm life" merit badges into five new merit badges;
created new ones covering subjects like Salesmanship, Engineering, Metals
Engineering, Graphic Arts, and Cinematography. The last one was designed and
conceived by famous Eagle and director Steven Spielberg. The BSA also took
some of the older merit badges off the list...horse farming, for instance,
blacksmithing, printing, and recently, signalling.
When Merit Badges are being removed, the BSA gives Scouts a last chance to
earn the badge before it is either converted or dies. This was the case with
the old Conservation of Natural Resources Merit Badge before it became
The most popular Merit Badges, like First Aid, Camping, Cooking and
Pioneering are always going to be around. But if you are interested in
Merit Badges like
Metalwork, Model Design and Building, and Atomic Energy, you'd better earn
it soon because eventually, those badges will be removed from the active list.
One question that I get a lot from Scouts that read (or have their
Scoutmasters or Advisors to write me for them) our list is "Can I still work
on a Merit Badge which is not listed in the (Scout Hand)book if my Council
approves it?" The answer, from the BSA's Program Division, is a YES. Even
though the Merit Badge has been discontinued, local Councils still have the
authority to approve Merit Badges with two and only two conditions: that
they still have the actual, official badge to present and with the Council
Scout Executive (or his designee in larger Councils)'s approval. This
explains that although some Merit Badges like Signalling are not in the
95-97 Boy Scout Requirements Booklet, that if your Council still have those
badges, you can arrange to earn the Merit Badge and have it count toward
Eagle or a Palm. However, once the Merit Badge is gone, that's it. The
Supply Division of the BSA don't have lots of "extras" sitting around, and
once they receive direction from the Program Group that a Merit Badge will
be discontinued or redesigned, they quickly get rid of their stock by
shipping what they have to the Councils. There, the Council makes a
decision on whether or not they are going to stock the old badges, or just
to place them in a "take any five" box for traders and others to swap and
As a general rule, the BSA gives Councils about a two year "grace period" in
which those discontinued merit badges would still be around for Scouts to
earn. Normally, after those two years, the stock is either exhausted or the
Council makes the decision to destroy or sell cheaply what was left.
When Family Life was added as a required Merit Badge last year, there was a
rush to go out and get the new merit badge with the silver (which tells
folks it's required for Eagle) border instead of the khaki (or now, tan)
border. The old Merit Badges were sold to patch traders or destroyed.
It's a great question...thanks for asking!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle) (
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