Merit Badges: Still a Great Way to Learn

– by John Andersen.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  (This article originally appeared in the June 25th, 2002 issue of Bright-Kids

Has your child ever wanted to study a topic, but didn’t know where to start? If so, perhaps you should encourage him or her to look into Boy Scout merit badges.Covering a wide range of topics such as American Heritage, Archaeology, Cooking, Forestry, Law, Oceanography, Textiles, Reading, Woodcarving, Citizenship, First Aid, Physical Fitness, and many others (around 120 in total), merit badges are systematic tools to help young people learn about the world around them, develop lifelong skills, discover hobbies, and even gain a solid general education.

You don’t have to be a Boy Scout to earn a merit badge. You just need interest in a subject. And there’s no eason why girls can’t earn them as well.

Passing off the badges may be a great experience in and of itself. Typically, this involves the candidate meeting with an adult merit badge counselor who has extensive expertise in the given field. This valuable one-on-one time can have a profound impact on a young person, and may also lead to a variety of mentoring opportunities.

The merit badge program is a time-tested way for young people to study and connect with the world around them.

To learn more about merit badges, just go to any search engine and type in “merit badges.” That should yield at least a couple good sites to get you started.

Merit badges are great. They’re fun to earn. They may be one of best ways for young people to learn. Merit badges can open doors, broaden horizons, and even be the means of discovering a lifelong passion … or two … or three.

So why not take another look at this old idea? You could quite possibly discover a veritable learning goldmine in your own backyard.


–John Andersen is a self-employed carpet cleaner in Portland, Oregon. In his spare time he volunteers as a tour guide on a submarine. He grew up in Southern California. During college, he took an eighteen month break to work in Germany. Later, he spent four years in England as an aircraft maintenance officer. After that he moved to Indiana where he taught several college level German courses while working on a graduate degree in literature. John and his wife Mandy, homeschool their two children. Be sure to check out John’s website at:


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