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Age Requirements for Merit Badges

What Are the Age Requirements for Merit Badges?

Michael sent in this question:

What scout age is too young for Citizenship in the Community? I have a couple “younger scouts” who would like to begin the badge but they are only 7th graders and Second Class? Is it my call or do you have a certain criteria?

Age Is Not a Requirement

This is not an uncommon question. The Guide to Advancement should be the first source of information when you have a question about advancement procedures. From the Guide to Advancement about who can work on a merit badge

Any registered Scout, or qualified Venturer or Sea Scout, may work on the requirements for any merit badge at any time. However, before working with a counselor or attending a group or virtual merit badge opportunity, a Scout should meet with his or her unit leader. This is the leader’s opportunity to give guidance on the wisdom of pursuing a selected badge, to advise the Scout on how work might be approached and what may be encountered along the way.

I think this quote from the guide to advancement really addresses this situation. If you think the Scout is too young, you can discuss your concerns with him. But it does clearly state that the decision to proceed belongs to the Scout. There are not age requirements for merit badges.

Note that the Guide to Advancement is updated annually, so when looking something up, check that you are using the current version first.

Scouters , how do you approach age requirements for merit badges? Add your ideas to the comments.

Related Resources

Guide to Advancement

The Guide to Advancement is the official place to look for all information related to advancement.

Scheduling a Scout Board of Review

Can a troop place requirements on how a Board of Review must be requested? For example, can a troop require that the Scout request the BOR by phone rather than in person?


21 responses to “Age Requirements for Merit Badges”

  1. Sue Z. Avatar
    Sue Z.

    7th grade is not too young to begin working on Citizen in the Community. My son is in 7th grade and he is working on the merit badge right now. 7th grade is a great age for the community service component as the boy is mature enough to be a real help to the organization.

  2. Marie Avatar

    My Scout was a 5th grader when he completed his C in the Community. Common Core curriculum had that he learned 99% of the badge requirements from his teacher, who signed off as his counselor. Maturity level has a lot to do with it as well. He did a great job for his community service requirement.

  3. Delmar Avatar

    I believe only BSA approved counselors can sign off on Merit Badge requirements.

  4. ADC Avatar

    I know this is a couple years late, but as a Commissioner who helps units succeed, I feel I have to add into this.

    BSA policy states it is up to the scout to initiate it, even if leaders do not approve they have no say that they cannot do it, they may advise but the scout can work on it. There is no age restrictions at all.

  5. ADC Avatar

    Unless the rank states a specific age or prerequisite, no one can deny a scout to work on a badge. The comment from the guide to scouting about addressing concerns by a scoutmaster is fair, but they cannot deny the scout from moving forward with it.

  6. Tony Morev Avatar
    Tony Morev

    I have a 5th grader superachiever who’s pumped up about scouting and got half way to first class in just a couple of months. He wants to work on Personal Fitness. He is a competitive swimmer. The charter org rep who happens to be the troop counselor for PF and heads the Board of Reviews told him during the board of review not to bother because she will not let him complete it, as he’s too young to comphehend the contents of it.

    1. Michael M. Burns Avatar
      Michael M. Burns

      That is absolutely terrible. I am a charter rep and would never do that.

    2. Amy Yurocko Avatar
      Amy Yurocko

      That’s ridiculous! Swimming is one of the first badges my daughter earned as she’s a swimmer AND triathlete! She finished Cycling merit badge this summer as an 8th grader.

  7. Betsy Avatar

    My 5th grader completed Citizenship in the Community, and he really enjoyed earning this badge! He learned a lot about local government and had a great time wearing his almost brand-new BSA uniform to various locations while working on this badge. My thought is, Scouting should provide opportunities for motivated kids to shine – even if those motivated kids are young.


    my son is currently at summer camp. among other merit badge classes, he signed up for space exploration. I became aware today that he was denied this class because he needed to be 15 years old. he is currently 13. I could find no age requirement anywhere for this badge. is this correct? can a camp impose their own rules as to what age a scout can take a badge course? any info would be appreciated. thanks

    1. Scouter Mom Avatar
      Scouter Mom

      Sometimes you will see this at camp because they are limited in how many they can handle in the merit badge session or because they need to ensure some unique options are available for the older scouts who may have already been to summer camp 4 or 5 times. The thinking is that it keeps the older youth interested om coming back if there is something they couldn’t do before.

    2. Nancy Avatar

      Some states have age limits on launching model rockets at all even under the supervision of adults. Many states have age limits on how old you can be to launch model rockets without supervision. While the MB has the alternative written in saying you can build a model of a rocket instead of launching model rockets, I set an age limit when teaching that class because I’m not going to tell one or two scouts they can’t launch rockets. I use the states age limit for launching rockets under the direct supervision of an adult as part of an educational program.

  9. Tammy Pitt Avatar
    Tammy Pitt

    Most of the age requirements for MB are because they need a certain maturity level. Our troop tried teaching First Aid MB to new 12 yr old scouts and they could not sit still or pay attention for anything, They were too busy bothering each other. I think my son took Community in 7th at a MB college, most of the class paid attention but a couple “new” scouts that were horsing around. Many new scouts do not want to sit in a “classroom” like merit badge class.

  10. Joy Avatar

    Most of these totally depend on the individual Scout. As long as MB counselors continue to uphold standards, then age won’t matter because the Scouts will complete them on their own schedule. Or not. I have no problem signing “partials” because a Scout has not yet learned everything. An 11 year old wanting to do Jr. Lifeguards is possibly ready for First Aid, where another Scout at 13 years old is not. I have led merit badge classes that have had rising 7th graders behave better than high school freshmen. My son’s first 4 MBs were Citizenship in the World, Weather, American Heritage, and Scholarship. These were great since they mostly reviewed the work he did in school. He loved First Aid, but others his age did not see the relevance.

  11. Elizabeth Kramer Avatar
    Elizabeth Kramer

    in the above article it was written, “If you think the Scout is too young, you can discuss your concerns with him.” It would be good when referring to Scouts to avoid using male references like “him” because there are now both boys and girls in Scouts. You can use the pronoun “them” instead. Thanks so much!

  12. PGE Avatar

    We don’t require any age requirements for merit badges.

    Especially as it pertains to the 3 Citizenship badges. We’re in Florida and Civics as required in the public school curricula, covers huge chunks of the 3 Citizenships, so it makes sense to start these early in a scout’s career. We also encourage swimming and first aid at their first summer camp. Many can also tackle environmental science. A few of the eageo badges, like hiking or lifesaving are more challenging for younger scouts, and we still encourage the badge attempt and try to set expectations that it may be a harder badge to earn as they learn mastery of skills… Just as archery, rifle, or shotgun may take lo ger to earn

    Our Bigger challenge is earning the merit badge ahead of the rank requirement..Brin back “skill awards”, ha.

  13. Sandy Avatar

    Our SM lead a group of new scouts who literally had just joined scouting and were working tenderfoot requirements as well. He did classes after meetings and those scouts got personal fitness, personal management and family life along with tenderfoot! His own son is mentally handicapped as well, those boys learned nothing! In my experience some badges should wait for a bit more maturity to learn the material and gain more. Badges aren’t just something to be checked off.

  14. Robert Avatar

    The guide to advancement talks about the scout and it talks about the unit leader. It does not talk about the merit badge counselor. So from that perspective the merit badge counselor can do an assessment to determine if the scout is mentally ready for the specific merit badge. It’s not up to the scout exclusively as is implied in this write-up.
    There are several merit badges that require abstract thinking and a level of maturity that an 11-year-old does not have. And there’s no shame in that and there’s no harm in waiting for maturity to kick in. As an example of personal management requires understanding stocks bonds insurance and how it applies to the scout in the future.

    1. Pge Avatar

      While I agree with your main point, I disagree with your example.

      Scouts of any age can learn personal management. I was expecting you wre going to say, life saving or shotgun merit badges. But we can agree in principle

  15. Paul Escobedo Avatar
    Paul Escobedo

    In Florida, civics in middle school is very common, and in fact as a class they visit national monuments and cover most of the requirements for both Cit in Community and Nation.

    So, I’m not sure I’d consider 7th grade “too young” for these merit badges, since the state curriculum doesn’t –

    (I awarded 6 Cit in the Nation badges to newly promoted 2nd Class scouts at our court of honor last night, in fact)

  16. Charles Dennis Avatar
    Charles Dennis

    As a scout master for 6 years and merit badge councilor, I always followed the guidlines when availble. I never discouraged any scout from pursuing any merit badges or advancment requirements. That said, I expected that they meet the merit badge requirements to the letter, no matter their age. I’ve seen too many potential Eagles loose interest because Adults thought they knew better and held them back. Scouting is about facing challenges and overcoming obstacles. Give them the support they need. But let them decide when they think their ready.

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