Scouts working on the Wilderness Survival merit badge learn to anticipate and avoid the hazards involved in backcountry adventures. They put together a first aid kit and build a natural shelter. They also learn how to treat water, be aware of weather conditions, and light a fire without matches.
Wilderness Survival merit badge is an elective merit badge.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Resources
See the current requirements from the Wilderness Survival merit badge pamphlet below.
Help with Answers for the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirements
Find specific helps for some of the Wilderness Survival merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 1: Hazards and First Aid
- Explain to your counselor the hazards you are most likely to encounter while participating in wilderness survival activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, or lessen these hazards.
- Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur in backcountry settings, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, blisters, insect stings, tick bites, and snakebites.
Requirement 1 Helps and Answers
- Plan ahead
- Have good leadership
- Be in good physical condition for the activity
- Wear the right clothing and footwear
- Eat healthy and appropriate food
- Stay hydrated and take breaks before you wear out
- Watch out for problems before they become emergencies
- Be ready for unexpected changes in the weather or terrain
You can prevent heat problems, using these tips:
- Avoid hard exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- If you’re not in shape, slow down and let your body adjust.
- Make sure you acclimate to the environment and get in shape before the event.
- Dress in layers and wear clothing that breathes and wicks moisture away from you.
- Eat snacks that contain a little salt.
- Drink water and keep drinking it.
If you or someone else has heat exhaustion, treat symptoms in the following ways.
- Get out of the heat quickly and into a cool place, or at least shade.
- Lie down and elevate your legs to get blood flowing to your heart.
- Take off any tight or extra clothing.
- Apply cool towels to your skin or take a cool bath. This will help regulate and lower your internal body temperature.
- Drink fluids, such as water or a sports drink. Do not guzzle them, but take sips. Do not drink fluids with caffeine or alcohol.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables.
You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.
See how to treat those blisters.
Bee stings can cause severe reactions in some people. When they happen, they’re emergencies. Seek immediate emergency treatment.
Bites and Stings
- Wash the area with soap and water
- Avoid scratching
- Seek medical attention immediately if you become ill, have difficulty breathing, or have severe pain and swelling
While most tick bites won’t cause more than minor irritation, if treated incorrectly complications may occur.
- Don’t chase or try to catch snakes
- Use a hiking stick to poke holes and brush ahead of you
- Watch where you step and place your hands, especially in rocky areas
- Wear gloves and boots to protect your hands and ankles
- Remain calm.
- Gently wash the snake bite with soap and water. Remove jewelry before the area swells.
- Keep the wound site at the level of your heart. Physical activity should be kept at a minimum.
- Get medical help immediately.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 2: Seven Survival Priorities
From memory, list the seven priorities for survival in a backcountry or wilderness location. Explain the importance of each one with your counselor.
Requirement 2 Helps and Answers
The 7 Priorities of Survival
- STOP. (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan)
- Provide first aid.
- Seek shelter.
- Build a fire.
- Signal for help.
- Drink water.
- Don’t worry about food.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 3: Survival Morale
Discuss ways to avoid panic and maintain a high level of morale when lost, and explain why this is important.
Requirement 3 Helps and Answers
Why Is a High Level of Morale Important?
A positive attitude will keep you from panicking. You will be able to think more clearly. It will also prevent you from giving up. Making a conscious decision to survive will be a key factor in getting through a difficult situation. Keep this in mind when working on the Wilderness Survival merit badge.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 4: Exposure Conditions
Describe the steps you would take to survive in the following exposure conditions: cold and snowy, wet, hot and dry, windy, at or on the water.
Cold and Snow
- Stay warm and dry
- Find shelter or build a snow shelter
- Build a fire
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Melt snow for water if necessary
- Stay warm and dry
- Many of the concerns are the same as in a cold and snowy situation
- Move to a meadow or sunny area if one is closeby, marking your route so rescuers can find you
Hot and Dry
- Stay cool during the day
- Seek shade and shelter
- Stay hydrated
- Rest during the day and do chores in the cool of the evening
- Wear sun protection, a hat, and long sleeves
- Protect yourself from the wind with an outer layer such as a jacket or tarp
- Seek shelter against a boulder or tree
- Watch for signs of hypothermia
On the Water
- Get to dry land or into a watercraft to reduce risk of drowning
- Watch for signs of hypothermia
- If in the water, conserve heat and energy by assuming the HELP or huddle position(see the Lifesaving merit badge for details)
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 5: Personal Survival Kit
Put together a personal survival kit and explain how each item in it could be useful.
Items for Your Personal Survival Kit
- Pocketknife for cutting sticks and other uses
- Personal first aid kit to treat injuries
- Extra clothing and rain gear to stay warm and dry
- Water bottle to stay hydrated
- Flashlight for safety and comfort at night
- Trail food for energy
- Matches and fire starters so you can start a fire and stay warm
- Sun protection to prevent sunburn and heatstroke
- Map and compass to prevent getting lost
Some Optional Items
- Duct tape for almost everything
- Some cord or rope for shelter building
- Whistle for signaling if you get lost
- Signal mirror also for signaling
- Thin wire for repairing items and building shelters
- Garbage bag to keep your gear, kindling, and yourself dry
- Fishing line and hooks for catching fish and the line is useful for repairs and joining items
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 6: Starting a Fire Without Matches
Using three different methods (other than matches), build and light three fires.
Requirement 6 Helps and Answers
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 7: Signaling
Show five different ways to attract attention when lost. Demonstrate how to use a signal mirror. Describe from memory five ground-to-air signals and tell what they mean.
Requirement 7 Helps and Answers
Ways to Signal
- Noise – Use a whistle if possible, or if you are in a boat or vehicle use the horn. Three blasts is the universal distress signal.
- Cell phone – Call for help if you have a signal
- Mirror or light – Use a signal mirror, flashlight, or flare to attract attention
- Color and motion – Use brightly colored clothes or make a flag. Wave it when you hear rescuers.
- Fire and smoke – Adding damp leaves or grass may make your fire more smokey so it can be seen during the day.
This standard system is designed to send a clear visual message to any aircraft that might pass your location.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 8: Natural Shelter
Improvise a natural shelter. For the purpose of this demonstration, use techniques that have little negative impact on the environment. Spend a night in your shelter.
Requirement 8 Helps and Answers
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 9: Protection from Wildlife
Explain how to protect yourself from insects, reptiles, bears, and other animals of the local region.
Requirement 9 Helps and Answers
If you encounter a bear
- Keep backing off while facing the bear and talking to him.
- Get ready to use your bear spray.
- Do NOT run. Like dogs, bears will chase fleeing animals.
- Do NOT climb trees.
- Do NOT drop your pack.
- AVOID sudden movements, as they may trigger an attack.
Avoiding Bear Encounters
- Make noise when hiking to alert bears to your approach.
- Keep your cooking area at least 200 ft away from your sleeping area.
- Don’t keep smellables – such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, food stained clothing – in your tent.
- Clean up spilled food and dispose of it immediately.
- Use a bear bag or bear box.
- Put on clean clothes before going to bed.
Avoiding Insect Bites
- Use insect repellant
- Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts
- Cover your face with a bandanna
- Wear a hat and gloves
- Repel them with smoke from a fire
Avoiding Reptiles and Snakes
- Use a stick to poke in rocks and brush ahead of you
- Be careful where you put your hands when scrambling over rocks and logs, or when collecting firewood.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 10: Water Treatment
Demonstrate three ways to treat water found in the outdoors to prepare it for drinking.
Requirement 10 Helps and Answers
- Chemical Treatment
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 11: Clothing for Survival
Show that you know the proper clothing to wear while in the outdoors during extremely hot and cold weather and during wet conditions.
Warm Weather Clothes
- T-shirt or lightweight short-sleeved shirt
- Long-sleeved lightweight shirt
- Long lightweight pants
- Sweater or warm jacket
- Wide brimmed hat
- Rain gear
- Hiking boots or sturdy shoes
Cold Weather Clothes
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Long pants
- Long underwear
- Socks (not cotton)
- Warm hooded parka or jacket
- Stocking hat
- Water resistant mittens or gloves
- Rain gear
- Hiking boots or sturdy shoes
Types of Clothing
Wool is good for cold weather. It is warm, durable, and water resistant.
Cotton is lightweight and comfortable and works well for hot weather. It absorbs water and dries slowly, so it is not desirable for cold situations.
Synthetics such as nylon are also lightweight but can still keep you warm when they get wet.
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 12: Edible Plants and Wildlife
Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.
Requirement 12 Helps and Answers
Why Is It Not Wise to Eat Edible Wild Plants or Wildlife
- You must really know how to identify what you are eating
- Plants can be poisonous
- Edible insects might sting or bite
- You will expend energy while looking for food
- You should not leave your area to find food in case rescuers are looking for you
- You can live a couple of weeks without food