10 Merit Badges to Earn at Summer Camp

Several Boy Scouts carry a canoe to a lake at summer camp in Montana.

Several Boy Scouts carry a canoe to a lake at summer camp in Montana.

Time spent at summer camp often turns into one of those special childhood memories, treasured forever — you may not be able to remember your first day of school, but you certainly remember your first overnight stay at a camp cabin. And for those of you who have experienced Scout summer camps, you probably even remember earning a couple of your most exciting merit badges at camp too.

Now, your child is the lucky one who gets to make these sunny memories of being outdoors, learning new skills and spending time with friends … and without direct supervision from their parents. Wasn’t that always the most exciting part?

Summer camps for Montana Scouts BSA begin in June, but most Scouts know it’s best to choose which merit badges they want to earn in advance. After all, being prepared is the Scout motto and, while packing is an important part of that preparation, so is filling your camp schedule with the perfect courses and activities. Last year’s complete camp programs are available online, but we’ve picked our ten favorite merit badges to earn at summer camp this year:

 

Lifesaving

Lifesaving merit badge for Boy Scouts of America, with life preserver

Where to Earn It: K-M Scout Ranch, Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: First & Second Class Swimming

Required for Eagle? Yes, optional.

 

A longstanding badge requirement for Eagle, Lifesaving is no less important as it is traditional. Scouts will spend four hours learning rescue methods, victim identification, non-contact assists, as well as contact assists. Without equipment, Scouts will also master escapes and learn to manage spinal injuries. You never know when this badge will come in handy — and when it does, it makes all the difference.

 

 

Cooking

Cooking merit badge for Boy Scouts, orange with chef hat

Where to Earn It: K-M Scout Ranch, Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: 4a, 6a, 7

Required for Eagle? Yes.

 

Not only is it a requirement for Eagle, but the Cooking merit badge is also a requirement for life. Literally — everyone has to eat! And while cooking is a year-round activity, it can be especially fun to practice the skill at camp with tin foil dinners and delicious desserts over the fire. Scouts will also learn about food safety, nutritional guidelines, meal planning and methods of food preparation.

 

 

Pioneering

Pioneering merit badge for Boy Scouts, with headframe and flag

Where to Earn It: K-M Scout Ranch

Prerequisites Required: None

Required for Eagle? No.

 

Scouts are pioneers through and through, so it only makes sense that we have a merit badge to prove it. Pioneering is the knowledge of ropes, knots and splices, along with the learned ability to build rustic structures by lashing together poles and spars. While earning this badge, Scouts are immediately connected to past generations, gaining perspective as well as an understanding of traditional handworking trades.

 

 

Water Sports

Water sports merit badge for Boy Scouts, featuring water ski

Where to Earn It: Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: BSA Swim Check

Required for Eagle? No.

 

The Water Sports merit badge is more than just water-skiing and wakeboarding (though it is a lot of that, too). To earn this badge, Scouts must demonstrate good judgment on the lake, as well as an understanding of proper first aid and water safety practices. Melita Island is the perfect spot to test the waters with water sports!

 

 

Environmental Science

Environmental science merit badge for Boy Scouts, featuring recycling symbol

Where to Earn It: K-M Scout Ranch, Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: 3, 4, 5

Required for Eagle? Yes, optional.

 

Environmental conservation and awareness have always been Scout values, and we think it’s especially important in a place as beautiful as Big Sky Country. The Environmental Science badge gets Scouts one step closer to Eagle, but it also teaches them to make observations and carry out experiments to investigate and appreciate the natural world around them.

 

Exploration

Exploration merit badge for Boy Scouts, featuring adventure gear like binoculars

Where to Earn It: Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: 5

Required for Eagle? No.

 

Created in 2016, Exploration is one of the newest merit badges available to Scouts. To earn this badge, Scouts must use knowledge of historic discoveries and adventures to plan and conduct their own expedition to somewhere they’ve never been before. Truly a merit badge to nurture the curious at heart!

 

Wilderness Survival

Wilderness survival merit badge for Boy Scouts, featuring shelter in trees

Where to Earn It: K-M Scout Ranch, Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: None

Required for Eagle? No.

 

Wilderness survival and being prepared in outdoor environments is at the heart of everything we do in Scouts. Though the Wilderness Survival merit badge is not required for Eagle, it hones in on a Scout’s ability to make thoughtful plans, manage risks and survive outside in all conditions. At Melita Island, Scouts are tested by spending the night on the undeveloped backside of the island.

 

Canoeing

Canoeing merit badge for Boy Scouts, featuring pair of oars

Where to Earn It: K-M Scout Ranch, Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: None

Required for Eagle? No.

 

As a team sport, as well as a testament to the traditional mode of travel for explorers and settlers, canoeing is a useful and fun merit badge to earn at summer camp. Scouts must communicate and coordinate to successfully navigate across waters, mastering an enjoyable leisure activity while also promoting physical fitness. Scouts attending K-M also have the opportunity to earn the Canoeing merit badge on a two-day river trek down the Missouri!

 

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing merit badge for Boy Scouts, featuring ornately tied casting fly

Where to Earn It: Melita Island

Prerequisites Required: None

Required for Eagle? No.

 

No one can deny that Montanans have a special relationship with fly fishing, a specialized form of fishing that combines skill and artistry. Scouts who earn the Fly Fishing merit badge will join thousands of other in Montana’s passionate fishing scene, discovering the beauty in the water, the solitude and the perfect cast.

 

Climbing

Rock climbing merit badge for Boy Scouts, featuring rope, helmet and carabiner

Where to Earn It: K-M Scout Ranch

Prerequisites Required: None

Required for Eagle? No.

 

Climbing is more a sport mental toughness than it is of physical strength, making it simultaneously accessible and challenging for Scouts at K-M. To earn the Climbing merit badge, Scouts must memorize a glossary of climbing terminology and signals, as well as understand safe practices for both climbing and belaying. Get ready to clip into adventure!