Merit badges give Scouts the opportunity to learn about sports, crafts, science, trades, business, and future careers. There are more than 100 merit badges, with new and updated badges coming every year. Any Scout or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout may earn any merit badge.
Requirements for several merit badges will be changing as of January 1, 2024. Full details about the changes to merit badge requirements are available in this document.
Group Merit Badge Instruction
The following policy regarding merit badge group instruction is established by the council advancement and recognition committee.
This policy shall apply to all Group Merit Badge Instruction events occurring within the geographic boundaries of the NCAC and employing NCAC registered and approved Merit Badge Counselors. All merit badge instruction within the Council must comply with BSA Youth Protection, the Guide to Safe Scouting and the Guide to Advancement.
- A troop, crew or ship can use group instruction of merit badges within their unit without seeking approval from the council or district.
- Citizenship in Society merit badge counselors may accept Scouts from outside their unit without obtaining district approval if doing so will promote discussion. Consideration should be given to having participating Scouts within 2 years of age.
- With the exception of units sponsored by NCAC, units with the same chartering organization may offer group merit badge instruction solely to the members of the linked units. Units sponsored by NCAC will need to seek district or council approval to offer group merit badge instruction to youth outside their unit.
- If a unit decides to sponsor a merit badge event featuring multiple merit badges and solicits Scouts from outside their unit to participate, or an individual counselor solicits scouts from multiple units, or the district sponsors such an event, they must get district advancement committee approval to conduct the event. This affords the district advancement committee the opportunity to ensure compliance with the Guide To Advancement guidance on group instruction.
- Council level groups such as Aquatics, Shooting Sports, any religious committee, and STEM must get approval from either the Council Advancement Chair, Council Merit Badge Dean, or NCAC Advancement Committee Staff Advisor.
- Outside organizations to the BSA must always receive council approval from one of the aforementioned positions.
- To expedite council/district advancement committee approval of an event, sponsoring organizations should submit, at a minimum, the information described in Appendix A 30 days prior to the event. Districts, with the approval of their Key Three, may request additional information if they choose.
Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns
In the event unit leaders or other volunteers discover that any merit badge counselors are not following mandated procedures such as working with the requirements as they are written, they should complete and submit to the council advancement committee the Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns form found in the appendix (See GTA 220.127.116.11). Unit leaders should regularly review the policies and procedures related to the merit badge process with Scouts, parents, guardians, and leaders, and counsel them on proper methods as the need arises.