The goal of the merit badge program is to provide an avenue for lifelong hobbies and possible job interests. Although some of the merit badges are required for rank advancement, others are electives. Each Scout can earn merit badges in subjects that are of interest to him. This should be the start of a very exciting trail of fun, achievement, adventure, and knowledge.
YouTube video about earning a merit badge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81t74RXWr-s&feature There are four main opportunities to earn merit badges.
An individual Scout working with an approved Merit Badge Counselor
[Note: It is the Scout's responsibility to complete the steps below.]
1. When you are ready to work on a merit badge, ask the Scoutmaster, the Committee Chair (Mrs. Tootle), or the Advancement Chair (Mr. McKinney) for help finding a merit badge counselor. Colonial District no longer allows publishing a list of merit badge counselors.
2. Once you get the merit badge counselor information, ask the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scout Master for a "blue card" [a three-part Merit Badge Application card used to record your completed work. At the end of the process, you will keep one part of the card, the counselor will keep one part and the troop will keep one part for our records.].
3. The Scoutmaster gives you a signed "blue card" and records the start date of your merit badge effort.
4. Get a copy of the merit badge pamphlet (either borrowed from the troop library or bought from a store) and review the requirements.
5. Schedule an appointment with the merit badge counselor. Many merit badges require several such sessions. You do not have to schedule an appointment if you take a class through Fairfax County Parktakes, you will meet with the counselor during your registered class.
6. When the counselor is satisfied that you have finished all of the requirements, the counselor will sign your blue card, keep the Counselor Record portion of the card and give you the other two parts of the card.
If you aren't able to complete all of the requirements, the counselor will initial each completed item on the back of the blue card. This is called earning a "partial." In this case, you will keep the whole card and work to complete the remaining requirements in the future.
7. Bring the counselor approved blue card to the Scout Master for his signature.
8. Give both halves of the approved blue card to the Troop Committee's Advancement Chair, Mr. McKinney. He will log your merit badge information into Troopmaster. At the next Court of Honor you will be presented your merit badge and your portion of the blue card for your records.
VERY IMPORTANT -- File your portion of the blue card in the binder you were given when you crossed over to Boy Scouts and keep the binder where you can find it. The blue card is your official record of earning that merit badge. There have been cases where Council records have been in error and data needed to approve Eagle applications was missing. These cards may be the only way of proving that the Scout achieved a merit badge.
Participating in a Troop sponsored Merit Badge sessions (group sessions)
Steps are similar to those describe in the “An individual Scout working with an approved Merit Badge Counselor” description above. The main difference is that the merit badge requirements are covered during a session scheduled on a week night or Saturday. The Merit Badge Counselor running the session will advise you of any requirements that need to complete prior to the merit badge session. There will be a sign up sheet posted on the Troop’s table during each Troop meeting. If you are interested be sure to sign up early.
Participating in the annual Merit Badge Jamboree
Each Spring our BSA Colonial District sponsors a one-day Merit Badge Jamboree. This Jamboree is held in a local school on a Saturday. You can sign up for two merit badges. There may be requirements that need to complete prior to the Merit Badge Jamboree. You will be advised of these requirements (also known as prerequisites) ahead of time. Once you complete the Jamboree, blue cards will be forwarded to your Troop for processing. If there are any requirements that were not met, you can work with a Troop counselor to complete the merit badge.
Each summer the Troop schedules a Summer Camp at a BSA approved camp. As part of this Camp you can sign up and work on merit badges offered by the Camp. In most cases you can sign up for up to 6 merit badges, although trying to do this many will consume most of your time in camp, leaving little for fun activities. There may be requirements that need to complete prior to Summer Camp which you need to work on in advance (prerequisites). You will be advised of these requirements ahead of time. When you arrive for the Camp, you will be given the blue cards. Once you complete the Camp, your Scoutmaster will review the requirements completed and sign off. If there are any requirements that were not met, you receive a partial and can work with a Troop counselor to complete the merit badge after Camp.