Get your scouts out and about, bring the family along, and get a few scouting requirements done at the same time. Or just use this list for ideas for your next family vacation, even if you don’t have boy scouts under your roof.
As for me, I’d love to do a little geocaching this summer!
Click if you missed my other list of Summertime Fun Activities. Since there are 126 merit badges, and BSA is big on the great outdoors, I decided to put the merit badges in their own post. I’ve saved you some hunting and narrowed it down to the 37 merit badges with possible activities for your next family vacation.
Now get packing.
The American Heritages Merit Badge involves picking “THREE groups that have different racial, cultural, national, or ethnic backgrounds, one of which comes from your own background.” The following two requirements could give you ideas for a family activity, but keep in mind that if you have a boy scout and he wants to do both to help fulfill requirements for this merit badge, he must use a different group for each requirement. Requirement 1a: “Go to a festival, celebration, or other event identified with one of the groups. Report on what you see and learn. ” Requirement 1e: “Go to a library or museum to see a program or exhibit featuring one group’s traditions. Report on what you see and learn. ”
American Heritage Merit Badge requirement 4e: “Visit a historic trail or walk in your area. After your visit, share with your counselor what you have learned. Discuss the importance of this location and explain why you think it might qualify for National Register listing.”
The Animal Science Merit Badge includes requirements to visit a farms or ranches for beef cattle, dairy, horses, sheep, hogs or poultry, depending on which option you’re working on.
Archeology Merit Badge requirement 4c: “Visit an archaeological site and learn about it.”
Art Merit Badge requirement 4: “With your parent’s permission and your counselor’s approval, visit a museum, art exhibit, art gallery, artists’ co-op, or artist’s workshop. Find out about the art displayed or created there. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.”
Astronomy Merit Badge requirement 9a: “Visit a planetarium or astronomical observatory. Submit a written report, a scrapbook, or a video presentation afterward to your counselor that includes the following information: activities occurring there, exhibits and displays you saw, telescopes and instruments being used, celestial objects you observed.”
Aviation Merit Badge requirement 4c: “Visit an aviation museum or attend an air show. Report on your impressions of the museum or show.”
Another outing that requires a bit more focus than your typical hike is a bird-watching trip. If you’re interested, check out the Bird Study Merit Badge.
Or put your adventure on wheels. Cycling Merit Badge requirement 8: “Avoiding main highways, take two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates, routes traveled, and interesting things seen. ” (Now, I know there are families out there fit and active enough to do some of these rides as a family activity. Right? If you’re one of them, please let me know. Give this former couch potato some hope.)
FYI, you might think the Camping Merit Badge to be an obvious choice, but most the requirements need to be fulfilled while camping with the troop, not the boy’s family. Family camping trips (aside from being a great vacation in general) are still a good place to reinforce and test your scout’s knowledge of camping skills though.
If you like watersports, check out the requirements for the Canoeing Merit Badge and have your scout demonstrate how to launch a canoe, perform the various strokes, etc. There’s also a Rowing Merit Badge, Motorboating Merit Badge, Small Boat Sailing Merit Badge, and Water Sports Merit Badge.
Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge requirement 4 involves completing TWO of the following four options:
- Visit a place that is listed as a National Historic Landmark or that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tell your counselor what you learned about the landmark or site and what you found interesting about it.
- Tour your state capitol building or the U.S. Capitol. Tell your counselor what you learned about the capitol, its function, and the history.
- Tour a federal facility. Explain to your counselor what you saw there and what you learned about its function in the local community and how it serves this nation.
- Choose a national monument that interests you. Using books, brochures, the Internet (with your parent’s permission), and other resources, find out more about the monument. Tell your counselor what you learned, and explain why the monument is important to this country’s citizens.
Citizenship in the World Merit Badge requirement 7e: “Participate in or attend an international event in your area, such as an ethnic festival, concert, or play.”
Coin Collecting Merit Badge requirement 10a: “Tour a U.S. Mint facility, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility, a Federal Reserve bank, or a numismatic museum or exhibit, and describe what you learned to your counselor.”
Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge requirement 4: “Visit TWO of the following locations and take notes about the accessibility to people with disabilities. In your notes, give examples of five things that could be done to improve upon the site and five things about the site that make it friendly to people with disabilities. Discuss your observations with your counselor. [Options are] your school, your place of worship, your Scout camping site and a public exhibit or attraction (such as a theater, museum, or park)”
Naturally, the Fishing Merit Badge and Fly Fishing Merit Badge are great options. Even if you don’t have the skill or desire to walk your scout through all the details of reels, knots and bait, you can still provide the opportunity to catch a fish or two. (Both merit badges require catching two fish; one that’s caught and released and one that’s cooked and cleaned.)
Forestry Merit Badge requirement 5a: “Visit a managed public or private forest area with its manager or a forester familiar with it. Write a brief report describing the type of forest, the management objectives, and the forestry techniques used to achieve the objectives.”
The above is one of a few options for requirement 5 and not mandatory for the merit badge. If you’re going to be in the forest this summer, with or without a forest manager, take a look at requirements 1 and 2 of the Forestry Merit Badge which involve keeping a field notebook and collecting samples. A great camping activity.
Another great opportunity for field work during a camping trip is the Nature Merit Badge.
A very cool option, new this year, is the Geocaching Merit Badge.
Geology Merit Badge, Earth History Option requirement 5a: “Visit a science museum or the geology department of a local university that has fossils on display. With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, before you go, make an appointment with a curator or guide who can show you how the fossils are preserved and prepared for display.”
Indian Lore Merit Badge requirement 1: “Give the history of one American Indian tribe, group, or nation that lives or has lived near you. Visit it, if possible. Tell about traditional dwellings, way of life, tribal government, religious beliefs, family and clan relationships, language, clothing styles, arts and crafts, food preparation, means of getting around, games, customs in warfare, where members of the group now live, and how they live.” and 2d: “Visit a museum to see Indian artifacts. Discuss them with your counselor. Identify at least ten artifacts by tribe or nation, their shape, size, and use.”
Mammal Study Merit Badge requirement 4e: “Visit a natural history museum. Report on how specimens are prepared and cataloged. Explain the purposes of museums.”
Music Merit Badge requirement 3a: “Attend a live performance, or listen to three hours of recordings from any two of the following musical styles: blues, jazz, classical, country, bluegrass, ethnic, gospel, musical theater, opera. Describe the sound of the music and the instruments used. Identify the composers or songwriters, the performers, and the titles of the pieces you heard. If it was a live performance, describe the setting and the reaction of the audience. Discuss your thoughts about the music.”
Plant Science Merit Badge Horticulture Option requirement 1: “Visit one of the following places and tell what you learned about horticulture there: public garden, arboretum, retail nursery, wholesale nursery, production greenhouse, or conservatory greenhouse.” and Field Botany Option requirement 6.d.i: “Write ahead and arrange to visit an herbarium at a university, park, or botanical garden; OR, visit an herbarium Web site (with your parent’s permission).”
Pottery Merit Badge requirement 7b: “Visit a museum, art exhibit, art gallery, artists’ co-op, or artist’s studio that features pottery. After your visit, share with your counselor what you have learned.”
Railroading Merit Badge Railfanning Option requirement 1: “Visit a railroad museum, historical display, or a prototype railroad-sponsored public event. With permission, photograph, videotape, or sketch items of interest. Explain what you saw and describe your photos, sketches, or videotape.” or 2: “Purchase tickets and ride a scenic or historic railroad. Under supervision, photograph the equipment and discuss with your counselor the historic significance of the operation.” or 4: “Plan a trip by rail between two points. Obtain a schedule and explain when the train should arrive at two intermediate points. Purchase the tickets and make the trip. Explain to your counselor what you saw.”
If you like to go shooting, check out the Rifle Shooting Merit Badge which includes options for rifle shooting, air rifle shooting (bb or pellet) and muzzleloading rifle shooting. There’s also a Shotgun Shooting Merit Badge.
Scouting Heritage Merit Badge requirement 4b: “Write or visit the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.* Obtain information about this facility. Give a short report on what you think the role of this museum is in the Scouting program. *If you visit the BSA’s national traveling tour, Adventure Base 100, in 2010, you may use this experience to fulfill requirement 4b. Visit www.adventurebase100.org (with your parent’s permission) for the schedule and for more information.”