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Boy Scouts of America Revive Four Merit Badges for 100th Anniversary, Including Signaling


In keeping with Boy Scouts of America’s centennial theme -- Celebrating the Adventure, Continuing the Journey -- four retired badges have been brought back for the group’s 100th anniversary. The effective date for earning these new merit badges -- Carpentry (1911-1952), Tracking (formerly Stalking, 1911-1952), Pathfinding (1911-1952) and Signaling (formerly Signaler, 1910-1992) -- is April 1, 2010; requirements must be completed no later than December 31, 2010.

Merit badges have been a fixture of the BSA since its inception in 1910. The requirements that generations of Scouts have completed have taught lifetime citizenship lessons, personal fitness habits and life skills, as well as serving as the beginnings of countless careers and lifetime hobbies. In the last 99 years, there have been many changes in the merit badge offerings. As society has changed, BSA has adapted by revising the requirements, implementing name changes, adding new merit badges and in some instances, eliminating some badges altogether.

The BSA said that the overall goal of the program is for a majority of registered Boy Scouts to earn one or more of the merit badges during the centennial year, 2010. “The badges offered have a history that can be traced back to the origins of the BSA,” said the BSA Web site. “The original requirements are being used, as well as supported by scanned pages of the early merit badge pamphlets, so a Scout can view what a Scout 100 years ago used, giving Boy Scouts the hands-on opportunity to experience the exciting past of Scouting while learning how our world has changed in that 100 years.”

The contemporary merit badges closely resemble the original designs of their counterparts, but with a gold border, immediately identifying it as a 2010 historic merit badge. These four historical merit badges may be used toward a Scout’s rank advancement.

“The Signaling merit badge is a great way to encourage hams who are already involved in Scouting to mentor this limited-time badge in their Troop and perhaps in other ways, such as camps,” said ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT; Mileshosky is the chairman of the ARRL’s ad hoc Committee on Scouting. “Hams -- and especially clubs, that have more resources and volunteers -- who are not involved in Scouting at the present time but want to assist a Troop with earning the Signaling merit badge -- should contact their local BSA Council to inquire about Scoutmasters in their area to contact and offer their assistance.”

Hams who offer assistance should be prepared with knowledge of the badge, the timeframe in which it is being offered, why it’s being offered and what the requirements are, Mileshosky advised: “Once the relationship between a club and a troop is established, it can evolve from offering the Signaling badge and then move to the Radio merit badge, then Jamboree On the Air (JOTA) and then a Technician licensing class.” Hams who volunteer to work with Scout troops can expect are required to submit to a criminal background check.

The requirements for the Signaling merit badge are the original requirements as written in 1911: 

  • Make an electric buzzer outfit, wireless, blinker or other signaling device.
  • Send and receive in the International Morse Code, by buzzer or other sound device, a complete message of not less than 35 words, at a rate of not less than 35 letters per minute.
  • Demonstrate an ability to send and receive a message in the International Morse Code by wigwag and by blinker or other light signaling device at the rate of not less than 20 letters per minute.
  • Send and receive by Semaphore Code at the rate of not less than 30 letters per minute.
  • Know the proper application of the International Morse and Semaphore Codes: when, where, and how they can be used to best advantage.
  • Discuss briefly various other codes and methods of signaling which are in common use.



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