Boy Scouts of America continues its celebration this year of a century of working with America's youth. Since its beginning, BSA has used advancement to achieve its aims: character building, citizenship training and physical and mental fitness through Cub, Boy and Varsity Scouting and Venturing.
Through completion of merit badge requirements, generations of Scouts have learned lifetime citizenship lessons, personal fitness habits and life skills.
Countless careers and lifelong hobbies have been launched as a result of the merit badge program. Many changes have occurred in merit badge offerings since 1910. The program's adapted through revised requirements, name changes, new merit badges, and in the elimination of some badges altogether. While first aid, camping, and swimming badges remain the most-often earned, among the most recent additions to the list are geocaching, inventing, composite materials and robotics.
Today's members can experience a piece of Scouting's past through BSA's 2010 Historical Merit Badge program and the revival of discontinued merit badges in carpentry, pathfinding, signaling and tracking. They must be completed by Dec. 31. The badges were all released between 1910-1911.
In addition to completing the same requirements as Scouts did a century ago, today's Scouts will learn what that their counterparts in 1910 might have experienced. They will learn why Morse code might have been important during a period when most homes had no TV, radio, computer, telephone or electricity.
However, the value of the program for young people is to understand the changes in 100 years of Scouting.
Badges may be earned by individual Scouts, but Boy Scout troops of the Blue Mountain Council are offering opportunities this summer and fall for Scouts to complete requirements for at least some of these merit badges at Boy Scout summer camps, merit badge workshops, camporees and special 100th Anniversary Celebrations.
"All Boy Scouts are invited to join us in earning these special merit badges," said Mark Gehlen, president of the Blue Mountain Council. "This is a fun way for our youth members to experience firsthand the great heritage of the Boy Scouts of America and the things their grandfathers might have done as Scouts."
Information about the 2010 Historical Merit Badge program, including requirements, may be downloaded at www.scouting.org/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges.aspx.