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Ideas for new merit badges

(contains material originally published by the BSA National Advancement Committee)

Merit badges are specific awards that are part of the Scouts BSA advancement program. Our local council has no authority to create a merit badge. The task of overseeing the current merit badge library of 130+ subjects is the responsibility of the merit badge subcommittee (formerly called the merit badge maintenance task force). The merit badge subcommittee is one of the national program support subcommittees of the Boy Scouts of America.

The responsibility of the merit badge subcommittee is to review all merit badges and their respective requirements and supporting merit badge pamphlets on a regular basis. All merit badges which are up for review are assigned to subject matter experts (SMEs) for editing and updating suggestions. The approximate timetable for this SME editing cycle is for each merit badge and merit badge pamphlet to be reviewed on a two-year cycle. Cases involving health and safety issues, significant changes/updates for Eagle-required merit badges, or significant changes in subject matter may require faster turnaround times. Although there maybe changes identified in an existing merit badge pamphlet, reprinting may not occur until it is ordered by BSA National Supply Division. However, changes/revisions to merit badge requirements will be published every year in the Scouts BSA Requirements Book.

Another role of the merit badge subcommittee is the oversight and evaluation of new merit badge ideas that may originate from the field. A task force of the merit badge subcommittee reviews and evaluates all submissions for new merit badges. A specific form (“New Merit Badge Proposal application”) is available for making such proposal submissions. This form may be downloaded from the Advancement Resources web site located at Although only a very few proposals may result in a “new” merit badge, often portions of a proposal may find their way into an existing merit badge or the requirements.