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Movies for Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge

Requirement 5 for the Boy Scout Citizenship in the Community merit badge reads:

With the approval of your counselor and a parent, watch a movie that shows how the actions of one individual or group of individuals can have a positive effect on a community. Discuss with your counselor what you learned from the movie about what it means to be a valuable and concerned member of the community.

I am a counselor for this badge. Sometimes when I am doing an initial interview with a Scout, they don’t have any idea of which movie to watch for this requirement. So I make a few suggestions. I always remind them that the movie must be approved by their parent also.

For parents and counselors, a good resource for checking out movies is Common Sense Media.  This site not only gives age guidelines for movies, but it also tells very specifically what parents might find objectionable. Different families have different standards about what might be appropriate for a 12 year old, so I find this very helpful.

There are lots of movies out there which will work for this requirement. Here are some which I recommend:

  • October Sky (1999) – This movie is set in the 1950’s in a rather bleak mining town. One boy brings hope to the community by following his dream of becoming a rocket scientist. Based on a true story.
  • We Are Marshall (2006) – When most of the football team at a small West Virginia university die in a plane crash, the football program almost falls apart. But a few people work together to prevent that. Based on a true story.
  • The Blind Side (2009) – A wealthy family takes in a homeless young man and he becomes part of their family. With their support, he goes on to play football. Based on a true story.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – I almost said no the first time a Scout asked if he could use this movie, because usually I tell them to stay away from fantasy. But he convinced me. This classic does a great job of showing how one person can make a difference in many lives.
  • Follow Me Boys (1966) – The boys in a small town are getting into trouble because they don’t have anything positive to keep them occupied. A young man (played by Fred MacMurray) decides to start a Boy Scout troop. The movie is fictional, but shows how one man’s decision to become a Scoutmaster can have a positive influence on many boys.

So that should give you an idea of the types of movies which work well for this requirement. Sometimes the Scouts will surprise me with a very thoughtful recommendation of their own.

21 Responses to Movies for Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge

  1. Cathryn October 18, 2010 at 12:01 AM #

    My boys loved watching The Great Escape. Great boy movie (well, great movie for just about anyone) plus most boys these days have never seen it.

  2. Donna November 9, 2010 at 7:12 PM #

    Thanks for the great suggestions!

  3. Alex November 11, 2011 at 9:00 PM #

    As a scout, I watched Pay It Forward. It’s a great movie about helping your community.

  4. Darrell February 28, 2012 at 9:14 PM #

    Radio – Cuba Gooding, Jr. Based on a true story – using it for the first time this weekend at our District Merit Badge day.

  5. Debbie March 14, 2012 at 11:14 PM #

    Another great movie is: Remember The Titans

  6. Greta January 2, 2013 at 1:47 PM #

    Another Movie
    Gifted Hands – true store
    Mr. Halland’s Opus

    • alan November 13, 2013 at 8:34 PM #

      How does it help

  7. Paula February 6, 2013 at 9:06 AM #

    There are so many great ones for the boys to watch. “PAY IT FORWARD” should be on everyones bucket list!! I couldn’t find it in local stores and had to order it through Amazon! It is very inexpensive too!

  8. Lane O'Neal March 10, 2013 at 6:05 PM #

    thank you i kneeded a movie bad

  9. Corri Johnson March 23, 2013 at 10:54 PM #

    Not really a boy movie, but Pollyanna works too.

  10. Tammy Severt May 13, 2013 at 11:48 AM #

    Do you think “Dolphin Tale” would qualify for Citizenship in Community Merit Badge movie requirement?

    • Scouter Mom May 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM #

      It is up to the merit badge counselor to determine if the movie meets the requirement. It must also be approved by the Scout’s parent.

  11. Ryan September 7, 2013 at 11:52 AM #

    My counselor let me watch Here Comes the Boom great movie

  12. Marlene Meyer September 8, 2013 at 10:10 PM #

    A great new movie that I think would work well is “Unconditional” “Radio” wasn’t mentioned which is fabulous. Another one that is really awesome is “The Ultimate Gift”

  13. RMull July 22, 2014 at 6:45 PM #

    “Facing the Giants” would fit this category. Even though it is fictional, there are a lot of coaches, teachers and other people like the main character who impact kids on a daily basis–something this film illustrates well. Plus, it is totally appropriate for all age groups

  14. Scott Herndon April 28, 2015 at 10:01 AM #

    “Lean on Me” is a great movie with Morgan Freeman as the Principle who turns an inner city school around through tough love and high expectations for the students and teachers.

  15. Joe October 25, 2015 at 10:59 PM #

    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Stand and Deliver
    The Ten Commandments

    For teens:

    Patch Adams
    Schindler’s List
    The Shawshank Redemption

  16. Tdh July 27, 2016 at 9:15 AM #

    Great list, thank you! We were approved to watch Erin Brockovich.

  17. Joey Keller February 17, 2017 at 8:05 AM #

    I watched Sully

  18. howarthe August 22, 2017 at 7:15 PM #

    I am also a merit badge counselor for this badge, and I love film. I decided to challenge myself. I wanted to recommend a RECENT film well outside of the fantasy genre. All my scouts wanted to use the Avengers for requirement, and technically, they do things which help their community, but I wanted HISTORY or REALISTIC FICTION, so I scoured the TOP 50 grossing movies for each of the past FIVE YEARS, and I came up with these 9:
    Dunkirk (2017) [PG-13],
    The Martian (2015) [Pg-13],
    The Intern (2015) [PG-13],
    The Imitation Game (2014) [PG-13],
    The Fault In Our Stars (2014) [PG-13],
    The Monuments Men (2014) [PG-13],
    The Butler (2013) [PG-13],
    Captain Phillips (2013) [PG-13],
    42 (2013) [PG-13]

  19. F B January 16, 2018 at 7:20 AM #

    McFarland U.S.A. Would be a great choice in my opinion.

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