We've been asked on a number of occasions, questions like the following:
Does anyone know what the procedure is for suggesting a new merit badge?
A friend of mine thinks that offering
a merit badge on _______ would be of interest to Scouts.
But he doesn't know what to do with the idea.
He has some ideas as to what some of the requirements should be.
I think that the Cub Scout Sports program should include the sport of _____.
Before you write, asking for a new Belt Loop
for a sport like Karate, Tai Kwon Do, or Tackle Football,
please read our explanation why we believe they are not included in the program.
We've also been asked questions like:
I think the requirements for the ___________ merit
badge or ______ rank should be changed.
Who do I complain to, or where can I may a recommendation for a change?
The answer to the questions above is very basic. A written request should be sent to the BSA "Innovation Engine", with general information about suggested requirements for the merit badge, or the suggested change.
You shouldn't expect a speedy reply. BSA receives more than 400 merit badge suggestions each year, and they typically don't act upon any of them for at least a year or two. The staff goes through the merit badge suggestions and recommends merit badges they feel appropriate; once the concept is approved, it goes to the Editorial Service to coordinate and compose the actual merit badge requirements and pamphlet contents, usually in conjunction with an outside organization appropriate to the subject. The entire process can take about three to five years. On the other hand, if there are a lot of Scouts and Scouters that feel that this deserves a chance (by writing to National in support of the new merit badge) the process can go a little faster. Hope this helps out!
The former Director of Boy Scout Advancement once gave these criteria for new merit badges:
- The new MBs need to promote a hobby or career interest and promote the aims of Scouting.
- When submitting an idea, you need to include the rationale behind the idea, as well as potential sample requirements for the badge.
- Nearly all of the ideas for new badges are turned down for one reason
or another, very few get tabled for consideration. Among the main reasons
- It takes around $75,000 or more to introduce a new MB due to creating the badges themselves, printing of pamphlets, and updating and printing of the Requirement book.
- As of December 22, 2011, there were 127 merit badges, with
two scheduled to be released in either late December 2011, or
early in 2012 (Welding and Kayaking). The total had
remained fairly consistent for nearly 30 years, ranging
from a high of 129 to a low of 116 since 1983.
Here's a table showing the total number of merit badges and how many were added and/or dropped over the years since 1983: The number for 2012 includes those announced as being scheduled for issue during 2012, even if they have not yet been officially released as of yet.
Period Added Dropped Total 1983-1987 1 118 1987-1989 6 5 119 1989-1991 1 120 1991-1995 4 124 1995-1996 8 116 1996-1998 1 117 1998-2003 2 119 2003-2005 1 120 2006- 2008 1 121 2009 1 122 2010 3 (plus 4 Historic badges for that year only) 129 2011 2 4 (Historic Badges) 127 2012 3 130
Changes, of course, don't require as complicated a process, but it still can take years for a change to be approved.
For the Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program, a similar process is used to identify possible new subjects and sports, and changes are implemented every few years, only when a new Program Guide is issued. The Academics portion of the program started with 12 subjects and increased by 5 in 2002 and 8 more in late 2009. There were originally 21 sports in that part of the program. The number of sports increased to 23 in 2002 and to 28 in late 2009.
For any advancement change, the request should be sent to the Innovation Engine Team, at the BSA's National Office. The address is:
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079
You can send a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org It will be routed to the appropriate team.
For Merit Badge proposals, you can also send a note to email@example.com