There is more to merit badges than simply providing opportunities to learn skills. There is more to them than an introduction to lifetime hobbies, or the inspiration to pursue a career—though these invaluable results occur regularly. It all begins with a Scout’s initial interest and effort in a merit badge subject, followed by a discussion with the unit leader or designated assistant, continues through meetings with a counselor, and culminates in advancement and recognition.
("The Merit Badge Program." The Merit Badge Program. N.p., n.d. Scouting.org. 12 June 2015.)
Boy Scouts can earn any of 135 different Merit Badges in areas ranging from Art to Whitewater, and from Camping to Space Exploration. To earn a Merit Badge, a Scout picks a subject and reads the Merit Badge book (or website) to understand the subject lessons and requirements. A Scout develops their skills and knowledge, and when they are ready, their Merit Badge Counselor tests them.
It is important to note the “blue card” is the nationally recognized merit badge record. Scouts can obtain a blue card from their Scoutmaster. The card has three parts: the actual “Application for Merit Badge” portion, the “Applicant’s Record,” and the “Counselor’s Record.” It requires a total of four signatures—two each from the unit leader and a merit badge counselor.
Blue cards can also be accessed from Scout Book, by the scout themselves (https://www.scoutbook.com)
♦ You must have your counselors signature on the Blue Card before requesting the Scoutmaster's signature!
After being awarded the Scout badge, there are six ranks in Boy Scouting that are to be earned sequentially no matter what age a boy joins the program.
Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks are oriented toward learning and practicing skills that will help the Scout develop confidence and fitness, challenge their thought processes, introduce them to their responsibilities as a citizen, and prepare them for an exciting and successful Scouting experience.
On the path to Scout or Tenderfoot? Scouting.org provides a list of the requirements to help get you started on completion of the early ranks. Click the link to view a video clip along with the full text of each requirement.
Continuing with Star, Life, and the illustrious Eagle ranks the Scout has more freedom to choose the directions that interest them. The focus shifts from basic Scout skills to earning the first six merit badges you will need for Eagle. The Eagle Rank is Scouting's highest award with a smaller percentage of Scouts ever reaching this lofty goal.
Requirements for Rank Advancements
After he has completed all requirements for a rank, it is the Scout's responsibility to setup a meeting with the Scoutmaster ("Scoutmaster conference") which is then followed by a Board of Review. The requirements: Wear Uniform, bring your Scouting book with all items for the rank signed off by their Patrol Leader. Only two boxes should be left alone – SM Conference and Board of Review.