Geocaching Merit Badge Requirements

Posted on 11 March 2010 by admin

A few Councils have started releasing the requirements for the much anticipated Geocaching Merit Badge.  This was originally discussed as GPS/GIS Merit Badge.  Keep in mind the Geocaching merit badge and pamphlet are not finalized yet, but these appear to be close to, if not, the final Geocaching Merit Badge requirements. Scouts should NOT start working on the Merit Badge until the pamphlet is available!

Geocaching Merit Badge—Revised Requirements 2/24/2010
1. Do the following:
a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in geocaching activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
b. Discuss first aid and prevention for the types of injuries or illnesses that could occur while participating in geocaching activities, including cuts, scrapes, snakebite, insect stings, tick bites, exposure to poisonous plants, heat and cold reactions (sunburn, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, hypothermia), and dehydration.
c. Discuss how to properly plan an activity that uses GPS, including using the buddy system, sharing your plan with others, and considering the weather, route, and proper attire.

2. Discuss the following with your counselor:
a. Why you should never bury a cache.
b. How to use proper geocaching etiquette when hiding or seeking a cache, and how to properly hide a geocaches.
c. The principles of Leave No Trace as they apply to geocaching [[Front country and back country issues can be discussed in the text.]]

3. Explain the following terms used in geocaching: waypoint, log, cache, accuracy, difficulty and terrain ratings, attributes, trackable. Choose five additional terms to explain to your counselor.

4. Explain how the Global Positioning System (GPS) works. Then, using Scouting’s Teaching EDGE, demonstrate the use of a GPS unit to your counselor. Include marking and editing a waypoint, changing field functions, and changing the coordinate system in the unit.

5. Do the following:
a. Show that you know how to use a map and compass and explain why this is important for geocaching.
b. Explain the similarities and differences between GPS navigation and standard map reading skills and describe the benefits of each.
c. Explain the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system and how it differs from the latitude/longitude system used for public geocaches.
d. Show how to plot a UTM waypoint on a map. Compare the accuracy to that found with a GPS unit.

6. Describe the four steps to finding your first cache to your counselor. Then mark and edit a waypoint. [[To all: After more thought, I think we can leave out any mention of here and just cite the Web site as the source in the text. We use this same type of reference in other mbps, such as Whitewater.]]

7. With your parent’s permission*, go to Type in your zip code to locate public geocaches in your area. Print out information about three of those geocaches and share this with your counselor. [[Yes, details about account info can be discussed in the text. We have specific guidelines for online use—this doesn’t need to be written by MS.]]
*To fulfill this requirement, you will need to set up a free user account with Ask your parent for permission and help before you do so.  [[Q to all: Does this wording work?]]

8. Do ONE of the following:
a. If a Cache to Eagle series exists in your council, visit at least three of the 12 locations. Describe the projects that each cache you visit highlights, and explain how the Cache to Eagle program helps share our Scouting service with the public.
b. Create a Scouting-related travel bug that promotes one of the values of Scouting. “Release” your travel bug into a public geocache and, with your parent’s permission, monitor its progress at for 30 days. Keep a log, and share this with your counselor at the end of the 30-dayperiod.
c. Set up and hide a public geocache, following all the guidelines. [[We will include those guidelines in the text.]] With your parent’s permission, follow the logs online for 30 days and share them with your counselor.
d. Explain what Cache In Trash Out (CITO) means, and describe how you have practiced CITO at public geocaches or at a CITO event. Then, either create CITO containers to leave at public caches, or host a CITO event for your unit or for the public.

9. Plan a geohunt for a youth group such as your troop or a neighboring pack, at school, or your place of worship. Choose a theme, set up a course with at least four waypoints, teach the players how to use a GPS unit, and play the game. Tell your counselor about your experience, and share the materials you used and developed for this event.

Source: Capital Area Council and Jayhawk Council.


I find this Geocaching Merit Badge interesting for two reasons.  First, it is one of the few Merit Badges that doesn’t really introduce Scouts to a possible career.  Second, the requirements are tied into a private website that the BSA has no control over.  What happens if stops offering free accounts, or shuts down? 

What do you think about these Geocaching Merit Badge requirements?

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19 Comments For This Post

  1. Julie Says:

    I’m not too concerned about them shutting down, but I think it sets a bad precedent. Yes, should be in the resource section (I’m sure they footed a hefty bill to get this up and running), but there *are* other geocaching resources. With their inclusion, it follows that organizations which have contributed toward other merit badges will [rightfully] want the books and requirements revised to include THEIR websites.

  2. Darin Says:

    As a (previous) Scoutmaster and Venture Advisor and a (current) Assistant Scoutmaster and a Geocacher for the last two years. I think this activity will add to any Scouting Unit’s outdoor activities. I had given demos to Venture Crews and Boy Scout Troops, Scouts and Leaders.
    Yes it is dependent on a private organization but with just over One Million Active Geo-Caches in the world and over 3 million geocachers world wide, I do not see this sport/game ending anytime soon. I see it getting bigger and better.

    The Scouts and Leaders I have introduced this to enjoy it and it will add to our boys program in the means of fun, challange and teamwork.

  3. Dnielson Says:

    I am pretty sure these are not the final requirements, seeing as how they are still under review and I know a few this weekend that gave input on the requirements/wording.

  4. Dan Says:

    @Dnielson – Its confusing, which shouldn’t surprise me, but this is the message that was sent with the requirements as posted above:

    “We are pleased to release the attached, final requirements for the Geocaching Merit Badge. This merit badge is a natural extension of the navigational components of Boy Scout rank advancements and offers the opportunity for Scouts to learn the latest in digital tools to extend that knowledge in a fun, active outdoor experience.

    The merit badge emblem and pamphlet are still under development. We will update you when those items are finalized and we have a handle on when they are anticipated to be in local council service centers. Once we can see that timing more clearly, we will establish the earn date so advancement can be entered.”

  5. Roger Heffron Says:

    I submitted a similar idea for a geocaching merit badge several years ago. This one expands on my submission. The glaring difference is that I had a list of groundspeak, navicache, terracsaching and letterboxing as sources for geocaches. Therefore, it would no longer rely on a monopoly website to control the merit badge.

  6. Bruce Brand Says:

    As Manager of Moaning Cavern here in CA, and also a “geocacher”, I’ve met quite a few scoutmasters and scouts who enjoy this activity for an extra activity to do while camping here and going “caving”. I Have a cache here on the property… (GCXP7C) Good Moaning…. which many troops have found in the past few years.

    Would like to know more about the plans for this badge, and how I as a geocacher can help.

    FWIW, was one of the last “cub” to get Lion, and one of the first Webelo in So. Cal, Verdugo Hills Council… 1969-71 ??? Don’t quite remember the exact dates, but graduated from high school in “75

    Geocache Member Troll # 5

  7. Paul Vanover Says:

    As a scoutmaster AND veteran geocacher, I have been patiently anticipating this meritbadge for several years. Personally, I don’t have a problem with being the primary resource. As the originator of the sport and with over a million caches hidden worldwide, they have earned that distinction. While terracaches and letterboxes have their place as respectable hobbies, they are certainly not “geocaches”. That being said, I am in the process of completing a “Cache to Eagle” series in the Tablerock District of the Piedmont Council and I look forward to hopefully teaching this meritbadge to local scouts in Western North Carolina.

  8. Art Pennington Says:

    My biggest concern in addition to focusing only on as ‘the’ website for geocaching is a Scout can earn this merit badge WITHOUT EVER finding a geocache!

  9. patrick roman troop 848 las vegas nevada Says:

    It will be a good thing and we love geocashing my leaders and troop members would love it. I even think maybe even the geocashing head person would love it getting realized.

  10. Kathy Says:

    I have been geocaching for years now and I am having problems with the requirements of this badge. I can’t disagree with what the others have posted about using only. But this badge can be earned without finding a cache. That does not make sense. The requirements listed for 5c and 5d I am also having a problem with. What is the purpose of explaining UTM? UTM is not used that much so I can’t see why that is part of the requirement.

    Does anyone else think this or do I stand alone??

  11. Norm Says:

    As Scoutmaster for our Troop, we have a geocaching patch the guys work to earn. For this they have to be able to program the GPS and find 5 geocaches. I have found that they don’t really understand the GPS untill after the 3rd cache. I agree with the concern that they do not have to find a cache to complete the merit badge. This is a key element, and probably the main reason my guys work toward the patch, is to actually find something.

  12. David Says:

    Geocaching has many practical uses. We have several Eagle Projects in rural areas here in Oklahoma where the candidates used GPS to locate daycares, fire hydrants, storm shelters, and other important locations. This was given to the Emergency management, police and fire and in the event of a massive tornado these GPS locations would be used to send out rescue teams to essentially very important Geocaches that could save lives. I worked on the May 3, tornado in Midwest City, Del City and Moore on a rescue team we could not id. locations without front end loaders removing debris from the curbs where the house number was revealed. A GPS location and shelter locations would have greatly reduce rescue time. We had one Eagle project where 7500 disaster packets were handed out by scouts and the a survey for shelters were sent back. Given the recent tornados here its nice to know that if you are trap in a shelter they know where to look- this has applications in areas where there are heavy snow, urban areas, etc.-educating scouts on this could translate to important skills for their careers if they chose firefighting, EMS, park ranger or law enforcement, corrections (man hunts). I think this is a fun merit badge and one that will teach some great skills.

    They do need to find several sites and that needs to be a part of the merit badge. I think there are additional resources beside one that could be used and I am concerned about internet safety on some sites.

  13. Paul Says:

    I’m amazed by the poster who raised a concern about GPS technology not being tied to possible career paths. Aside from the general map reading skills, there is a lot of activity in GIS fields. This includes everything from mapping tree species and animal activity to weather information. How about product shipment tracking? How about keeping track of oil skimmers in the gulf?

    Yes, geocaching is an orienteering game. The technology is real business.

  14. Kirt W. Says:

    I think this is a great idea! I was actually going to start writing up a proposal to have a merit badge for Geocaching. Glad to know it is pretty much written already! This gets kids/scouts outdoors, teaches them a new skill, and it also very family-friendly. Its a win-win for sure! I DO think that they MUST find at least 3 caches to get a badge though… I was going to propose 10. BUT to find 10, you have to visite 15 to 20 more than likely? I HOPE the BSA will approve and finalize this very soon!

  15. Brian Nixon Says:

    As a former Asst District Commissioner, Unit Commissioner, and Scoutmaster I am not familier with geocacheing. From the sounds of it they are moving away from the traditional hiking merit badge in favor of this. It sounds as though that it is a good move and bringing scouting up to the 20th century. I feel that Scouting should always be on the move and stay up with technology. As far as the comment about the program being a career oreinted that is not the purpose of the program it is intended to give a broad overveiw of all things that are possible for the youth to explore and gain knowledge, not about finding a job. keep up the great work BSA

    Yours In Scouting
    Brian Nixon

  16. Derek Koonce Says:

    They should have the following as part of the requirements.

    1. Show how to triangulate in on a cache.
    2. Find at least 20 caches and include at least 3 different types – traditional, micro, multi, virtual, webcam, earthcache, benchmark, event, etc. Explain each type.

  17. Ed Marks Says:

    As an Eagle Scout (from many years ago), I’m very familiar with the intent of merit badges and the learning that goes with them. I’m also an avid geocacher from both the seeking and hiding perspective. I think this merit badge is ill conceived and as currently proposed doesn’t hit the mark. In my opinion, the merit badge would be much better if it were “GPSr Navigation” (or something similar). Geocaching is just one use of a GPS Receiver (GPSr) and they’re so much more powerful and useful. They can be a great navigation aid (in car or on the trail), they can be used to provide precise location info for rescue, they can provide track maps (via download when you get back to see where you went), they can be used to measure distance & acreage, etc. There are also lots of other “games” besides geocaching. I think you should focus more on the technology (how is it like / not like orienteering) and less on the game of geocaching. I also totally disagree with 8C above. has very specific expectations in the “Cache Permanence” and “Cache Maintenance” sections that are in direct violation to section 8C.

    Good Idea / Poor Implementation of the merit badge as it currently stands.

  18. Jane Murray Says:

    just picked this up as i am off on geocaching training day for North East England girl guides tomorrow. Its only just catching on over here but i think incorporating this into our finding your way and survival badges would be a grea tidea because of the practical applications of GPS, & used in conjunctio nwith UK OS maps they are a wonderful resource to have.

  19. SargeBSA Says:

    Cant wait patrol geared up for this merit badge

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