Historic Merit Badge Program on Hold

Posted on 02 February 2010 by Dan

Update:  As of April 1st the Historic Merit Badge Program is live.  Learn more by reading Historic Merit Badge Program A Go (for real this time!)

According to the good folks over at U.S. Scouting Service Project News Blog, the historic Merit Badge program is on hold. There had been a few rumors about the program happening, but it looked like everything was in the bag when the Scouting Magazine blog introduced the program on Jan 12, 2010. Turns out that is not the case.

In case you missed one of the many posts (Scouting News had yet to cover the program, as something just didn’t feel right about how it was being announced) that were made about the Historic Merit Badge Program the concept was, for one year, to bring back four historical merit badges. The badges selected were reported to be: Signaling, Tracking, Pathfinding, and Carpentry.

It is my understanding the program will still happen, however the details about the requirements and the back-end details with the Supply Group are still being worked out. Hopefully the details are finalized soon so summer camps can incorporate the historic badges into their offerings!

Update:  As of April 1st the Historic Merit Badge Program is live.  Learn more by reading Historic Merit Badge Program A Go (for real this time!)

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30 Comments For This Post

  1. Stephen Luck Says:

    8 Scouts in the Blue Ridge Council completed Carpentry MB during Merit Badge “University” two weeks ago, using the published, albeit preliminary, rqmts. We are asking all units to register MB counselors for them, espesially more difficult Tracking & Signaling MBs. I expect delays but not cancellation of these MBs. I recommend we continue as-if the MBs will get finalized & be ready to do that by Dec 31, should that not change. Steve Luck, 100th Anniv Reedy Falls District Chair

  2. Dan Says:

    I guess that leads me to question if Councils are using official channels from National to update Advancement policies or if they are using Scouting Magazine and guesses by volunteers?

    The Scouting Magazine Blog posted the news of the Historic Merit Badge Program but stated the requirements will be posted on the 100th Anniversary website. They were never posted. At this point a couple of well informed/respected bloggers/webmasters pulled the requirements from the badges and posted them. After the “requirements” went live they appeared all over the place.

    I understand information coming out from National has been less than stellar, especially after the Region movements, but this seems a tad irresponsible. Scouts have earned badges that they technically can’t earn, that seems like unnecessary disappointment…

  3. Steve Says:

    It’s got to happen.

    A google search on “boy scout historical merit badges” shows the badges are mentioned or the topic of 78,000 sites – including some council’s official sites. The new badges were mentioned in Boys’ Life magazine. It appears that across the US, thousands of scouts have probably started working on the badges. I was helping set up a district MB fair, and I wasn’t sure – so I called the national supply division and was told on 1/29/10 that the historical badge program was a “go” but the badges weren’t yet available. On 2/3/10 I saw USSSP’s blog that the badges were “suspended”, so I called national and found that was true with absolutely no other info available.

    Some good will would be lost if the program is cancelled after news has spread so far based not on not rumors, but on statements by the national office (that may have been premature). I know of one scout a few months before age 18 who plans to use the historical MB’s for his Eagle application. If a council-approved MB counselor approved the MB’s, it seems difficult to believe National would deny such a scout the award.

  4. Virginia Scoutmaster Says:

    Actually, no it doesn’t have to happen. 78,000 hits on Google does not constitute much of anything (you can get 38,000 hits searching “xyzpdq”). Honestly, I could not find anything definitive on the web on any official web site about the program beyond the note on the Scouting magazine blog. I am surpised that you could find any info on any Council web site — I could find none; although I am more surprised that any Council or District would go to the extent of providing merit badge classes on any merit badge without having the requirements provided directly by NATIONAL. In my humble opinion, the boy who “earns” a merit badge under such conditions is not cheated by National, but by the adult leaders who made the unfortunate choice to rush to deliver a program without any reliable confirmation that, um, it actually existed. If the fact that there is virtually NOTHING about it on the scouting.org/100years web site was not enough of a clue, then the herculean requirements for the variously named Signalling/Signaller merit badge should have been a red flag (if it does happen, I do hope they make the requirements more reasonable than what was posted on the non-official site).

    With all of that said, I do think the historic merit badges are a VERY cool way to celebrate the centennial. And I look forward to seeing more information on the program … from National.

  5. Doug Says:

    While I agree that a Google search doesn’t constitute much, his point is valid: a great deal has been planned, expected, announced, etc. that it would be a very bad thing for BSA to cancel the program at this point. I myself am planning to teach at our annual Merit Badge University (MBU) this Saturday (2/13)! And of course much questioning has come up over this matter.

    I’d like to set one thing straight (not to sound rude), but there WAS in fact more than ‘NOTHING’ on the http://www.scouting.org/100years website about the badges: on 2/2 I pulled the PDF document at the link http://ww2.scouting.org/100years/100years/sitefiles/1000/YourSource/PlanningTools/2010_Historical_Merit_Badge.pdf which was listed on the “Get Involved” list just under where “Pitch for Scouting” is now. Of course if you follow the link it’ll come up blank since at some point later that day, it magically vanished. I am NOT making this up (Eagle Scout’s honor) and I’d be glad to attach the document to this comment if it were possible.

    So, the document had some of the same bullet items as the Cracker Barrel blog post of 1/12 followed by the requirements listed for all 4 badges (they even had Signaling called “Signaller” which is what I’m currently naming the MBU class). It was only AFTER I got these ‘official’ requirements that we offered the classes (and Scouts registered the 20 seats within 30 minutes) and it was clear (to me at least) that the original 1/12 post was only a preliminary announcement AND that the usscouts.org requirements were the old (truly historic) requirements and not official. Frankly, I don’t know why usscouts.org took them down and apologizes “for any inconvenience” when I appreciated the original requirements. Perhaps they could make the disclaimer more prominent and still show them.

    For now I’ve been emailing the requirements document to parents and Scouts and, unless BSA announces something this week, it will be the basis for what we cover in the class. Blue card signatures and any follow up work (should BSA alter the requirement significantly) will of course have to be take care of after our event. It is our hope that changes will be minor and National will finalize something soon — lots of very eager Scouts, parents, and leaders.

  6. Jim Foster Says:

    Well, it’s a shame and I do hope that they get the program finalized and available. Our Troop members really liked the idea and several of them vowed to try to get all of them. Technically it would seem like a relatively easy thing to manage. As to how widespread the information about this program is, I just checked my version of Troopmaster, since I know it’d downloaded several updates recently, and the four historic merit badges are on the current merit badge list. They might have jumped the gun too.

  7. Bob Says:

    I agree is was published in a lot of places, our council accepted the merit badge registered counselors, and the scout shop stated the merit badges were ordered and would be in by mid February. We have had several scouts earn the Carpentry and the Pathfinding merit badges, and Troopmaster accepted Carpentry. It seems the proverbial CAT is out of the bag at this point.

    While the program may be on hold, at a BARE minimum, BSA should publish WHAT is going on, and WHAT is the timeline to get this going again. To have th information out in the open for so long, and then just state “ON HOLD” with no explanation does not come across very professional.

    If the program is just supply, then let the scouts earn the badges and “worry” about the supply line catching up. If it is a requirements issue, how long does it take to put 5 smart people in a room and hammer out the requirements.

    I guess if all else fails, we can go on ebay, buy some older badges, and paint the edges gold for the scouts that have already completed the merit badge.

  8. Stephenluck Says:

    Wow! As the Scouter who posted the Feb 3 comment, I must admit that I received the notice on Feb 3 on my PDA that the MBs were being pulled, and when I clicked the link in the small PDA window, I thought it was going to the Scouting Magazine site. I was unaware of the existence of Scoutingnews.org until I clicked the link on my desktop later that day. Why is that important, you might ask? Well, before I did a Jan 14 write-up on the historical MBs and sent it to my District, which was later posted on the Council site, I had lots of Qs about them. That resulted in a flurry of e-mails between myself and one of the BSA 100th Anniv consultants, the person who posted the info on USSSP (which came from the ScoutingMagazine blog, he told me), and finally the BSA person who posted the info on the Scouting Magazine blog. From all those e-mails. I found out that the Scouting Magazine blog will be the BSA official site for posting info from BSA about the historical MBs — period, so that is the place to look for the official postings, and could precede postings to the 100th Anniv site as well as special announcements by Bob Mersereau about these MBs. (I think that addresses Dan’s & Virginia’s concern above). Perhaps the BSA guy is blowing some smoke, but that’s the best info I have right now.

    Did BSA act prematurely, and even irresponsibly, by tickling our MB noses by telling us about them and promising everything would be released by the end of Jan, including plans for special camporees to offer them, and then failing to deliver? Certainly they did. But now that there is so much interest in them, BSA dare not pull the plug.

    One person above mentioned we jumped the gun by offering the Carpentry MB before it was officially released. We considered the situation carefully, and I believe we made the right decision to offer it during a pre-planned Merit Badge day. Since the person who taught it was teaching Woodwork MB that day anyway, and had to make only a few additions to add the Carpentry items, it seemed a reasonable thing to do. We reasoned that the worse that would happen would be that the historical MBs would never be officially released, in which case the Scouts would receive the Woodwork MB only for that day’s work. And even if BSA added a requirement that was not covered that day, at least the bulk of them were done and arrangements could me made for the Scouts to get the missing item(s). As long as work after 1-1-10 would be counted, the Scouts gained a lot and lost little.

    The BSA contact also told me that the 100th Anniv site will NOT be directly hosting the MB requirements or the pamphlets, but will be providing links to where these can be be found (of course, in Scouting-dom, anything is subject to change [Semper Gumbi]. If he is telling me straight, the note by VirginiaScouter that there is nothing on scouting.org/100years web site will continue to be mostly true after they are released; i.e., the 100th Anniv site will have a link only, but not the MBs themselves.

    So welcome to the age of a blog being the official release site for information. Will wonders never cease!

    I e-mailed him immediately upon finding out the MBs were on hold, and shortly there was a posting on the Scouting Magazine blog that they were being reviewed. So each day I click ScoutingMagazine to see if there is an update, as that is the first place I expect it will appear.

    I have every confidence the historical MBs will really happen. I continue to encourage the Council to round-up Counselors for them, both adults within the Council and Scout Counselors at summer camp. If we do that work and they don’t materialize, little harm is done, but if we lose the current momentum by stopping our efforts until we have the official release, even if it’s just a few more weeks delay, we will have a difficult time regaining the lost momentum, and could well miss the summer camp window altogether.

    With that in mind, after I click Submit, I’m going to e-mail my BSA contact and ask it he dare stick his neck out — again — and update his Scouting Magazine posting to project when he will really post the final requirements, MB number, and the supporting pamphlets. I will also encourage his to have them released as they become final, and not wait on the whole group, in order to restore confidence in BSA about them.
    Steve Luck

  9. Kevin Rawson Says:

    Agree with all above esp Dan and Doug. Signaling, Tracking, and Carpentry are pretty neat, and demanding. Path finding is kind of lame, and I was going to teach it along with Citz in the Community. Still think it is a good idea to teach boys how to give directions with out a GPS!

    How hard is it for the “National” to say YES! It might be good to fill out a mass request form from each council for the merit badges every so often instead of stocking them, and allow the “National” to order accordingly. That might be fair so there should not be a lot of them sitting around in 2011.
    LET’S DO IT!

  10. Dan Says:

    There is not a question if the program will happen; the badges are listed on ScoutStuff.org and have item numbers assigned. Those of us not jumping the gun are waiting for the OFFICIAL REQUIREMENTS.

    From the first announcement on Scouting Magazine to information from BSA Supply, the story has been that the official requirements will be posted on http://www.scouting.org/100years/ whether a link or the actual files, it seems irrelevant, they are not there in any form.

    I can understand finding Merit Badge Counselors for these badges but I can’t understand how Volunteers and Council Advancement Committees are allowing Scouts to earn these badges without the OFFICIAL REQUIRMENTS being known.

  11. Jon Says:

    Obviously they are all neat and demanding, but even with the demanding requirements, it seems there are some (those lovely MB fairs/universities) who find it possible to crank it out in a short afternoon session. Over eagerness is not an excuse, and running with requirements based on an internet rumor is grounds for some retraining.

  12. Jeff Ansley Says:

    It is funny that my District Director (A senior professional) was sharing the requirement list at roundtable. Our scoutshop has the printed requirements and is expecting the merit badges shortly. Word has it that the council must approve the councilors and the councilors must meet a certain standards. I was going to offer signaling and tracking but I may not be approved by council even though I have experience in both. Other news is that National has required the councils to keep a tight reign on these merit badges and the centennial ranks so that collectors cannot get them. So much for the anti restriction policy.

  13. Dan Says:

    @Jeff – I’d shop around, some Councils are selling the Centennial Rank to anyone and I’m sure the same will happen with the Historical Merit Badges.

  14. Dave Says:

    Someone should be severely reprimanded, if not fired, for this fiasco.
    There is no excuse for not having your act together in the 3rd week of February on this. It’s not like the Centennial of Scouting is a big surprise. My boys were all excited about this, and we planned to incorporate 2 of these badges into our March program.

    Now it’s, “Oh wait, we don’t know what we are doing.”

    I am a professional project manager. I would lose my job if I was 7 weeks late on something as simple as this, given the unlimited amount of time to prepare.

    Thanks for nothing, national.

  15. David Says:

    The latest info that I’ve seen has been on the official Scouting Magazine page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/scoutingmagazine

    Feb 9th @ 1:15pm:
    Rumors that the BSA’s historical merit badge program is being canceled are not true. Officials in charge of the program want to make sure all of the pieces and parts on the Web are ready before the rollout happens. Expected rollout is “any day now,” we’re told. We’ll keep you posted.

  16. David Says:

    A previous post on the Scouting Magazine Facebook page reads:

    Feb 3rd @ 2:07pm

    We just spoke to the team leader in charge of the historical merit badges. The group is finalizing some requirements and will go live with the special Web site soon. They’re planning to include scans from the original merit badge pamphlets with each historical merit badge. These scans will be annotated with explanatory call-out boxes to explain the early-20th-century terminology to modern-day Scouts.

  17. Dan Says:

    Last I heard from a somewhat reliable source is that the requirements will be posted on March 1st. This is frustrating since BSA Supply is already selling the badges… we will see!

  18. Lee Says:

    Not sure what to think about this program being on hold
    or is it a go ? Found this about the program and we have
    boys already started on them .Any new news ?

  19. Jeff Barstow, GRFC T114 Says:

    I sure hope that Supply and National get their act together on the historical MB program. I am chomping at the bit to teach Signaling as that was my favorite MB as a youth. I became a ham radio operator and semaphore served me well abord ship in the USN. National: please don’t let us old scouters down!

  20. Dan Says:

    I don’t think the problem is the Supply Division anymore as the Historic Merit Badges are available in the National Scout Shops. I keep hearing March 1st is going to be the day the requirements will get posted…

  21. Dan Says:

    Paul posted this response he recieved from National on Feb 23rd over at the meritbadge.org community:

    We are working as fast as we can to get all the pieces and parts of this exciting 2010 anniversary activity activated. It isn’t on hold, just not ready to release yet. We have one final piece some volunteers are working on which is a guide to the original requirements that explains how it was back then compared to how it is now. We want this to be a real growth experience not just four more badges. We’re hoping we will be able to release this very soon.

  22. Kimo Says:

    I know they are really, really close on this. I have seen a sneak peak of the explanation documents which are in their final draft form. As I understand it, once all the information and processes are completed, it will be officially released. I think that includes having the badges in the shops. There will even be a group in the scouting community social network.

  23. Will Says:

    Hmm… interesting… Just a few days ago I saw four plastic wrapped tubes of these merit badges in our Council’s office. They were not placed in the store yet, since no official requirements have been published. I’m doing my best to “bribe” the nice lady into selling me one of each of the patches just to show my Troop.

    Has anyone else thought about the implications that for the first time (I think) this will enable the more industrious Eagle Scouts to earn 21 Palms instead of only 20 that have been available for quite some time. Of course, the Scout would have to work his tail off to make all of the time requirements.

  24. Joe Munns Says:

    Well today is the 6th of March. 6 days later than when they said would be posted…. Still waiting….. Our troop is doing the carpentry TODAY!! If we cant believe something that was published in 2 offical websites who do we believe?

    By the time it gets sent out to units via the coucils, it will be July or August!!! I guarantee you. They beeter get their ducks in a row quickly because they have allready cut the program short by 1/4 of the year!! They also better extend the dates “to be started by 12-31-10″
    National has lost a lot of trust from the leaders, and the kids on this.

  25. Christy Says:

    Any word, yet? I haven’t seen anything that indicates an updated announcement. I am planning a merit badge fair day offering these badges at the end of May, so I am hoping that word comes out soon! I, too, am sorely disappointed in National for the seemly uncoordinated effort put forth in this opportunity. For something they had been touting for months and months ahead of time, and then to fall months behind the anticipated start date, is generating a lot of negative feelings at the local level and ultimately the Scouts are going to be the ones who pay the price in missed opportunities to earn these historical badges. Hoping good news comes soon!

  26. Rob Sloop Says:


    The above link has all the information required for the new Historical Merit Badge Program. If you search BSA’s (Scouting.org) site there is no news releases published stating that the above link has been put on hold. If you follow the links you will discover training material and direction on implementing the the 4 retro merit badges. Sometimes going to the source is better then speculating. Your friend in Scouting.

  27. Franklin Says:

    The Historic Merit Badge requirements are now available online at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges.aspx

  28. JCE2 Says:

    Below is a link to today’s announcement in the Souting Magazine blog about hte merit badges kicking off today (April 1st?). Included are links to the four merit badges.






  29. Dan Says:

    Thanks for everyone sharing the news about the Program being launched on April 1st. I have posted a new article and will put an update on this article.

  30. Dan Says:

    @Rob – The materials were just recently made available (March 30th), however Scouting Magazine announced the program back in January. This article was posted in February when the final touches were still being put on the program and it was not yet available… hence the “on hold”.

    Scouting News was one of the few sites that did not jump the gun by posting the requirements that were made live on the National site for less than six hours back in January. When I contacted National I was told the materials would be coming March 1st, March 15th, then finally April 1st. No speculation here…

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Troop Historian’s Report: 2/6/2010 « A Scout Is Says:

    […] Historical Merit Badges Program on Hold. From ScoutingNews.org, it would appear that this cool program has grown beyond the BSA Supply’s ability to serve it. The program has been placed on hold until the details and supply can be finalized. I’m hopeful it will return, our camps are planning on offering all 4 badges this Summer. […]

  2. OAImages Blog » Blog Archive » Shared Items From the Web – February 12, 2010 Says:

    […] Historic Merit Badge Program on Hold […]

  3. Historic Merit Badge Program A Go (for real this time!) | Scouting News Says:

    […] wait for the details as is apparent from the comments on our February 2nd post stating the Historic Merit Badge Program was on hold until the materials were finished and posted online per the original […]



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