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10 Topics that should be Scouting Merit Badges in the Future

The two concepts that underpin the idea of Merit Badges in the Scouting Program are:

1) learning important skills for the outdoorsman and prepared citizen.

2) Giving Scouts an incentive and a framework to explore areas of interest and future endeavor.

With 138 different badges, you would think that Scouting has covered all areas. But have they? Here is a list of possible future merit badges that Scouting USA may want to consider.

10 Topics that should be Scouting Merit Badges in the Future

    1. Mental Health Awareness

    Mental health is an important aspect of overall well-being. This merit badge would educate scouts about mental health issues, coping strategies, and how to support others who may be struggling.

    2. Leadership

    Leadership skills are valuable in all aspects of life. This merit badge would focus on developing leadership skills specifically in outdoor settings, such as leading a group hike or organizing a camping trip. Currently leadership is built into all aspects of Scouting and is demonstrated primarily through rank advancement and the unit positions held by a Scout. By offering (or even requiring) a merit badge devoted specifically to the concept and practice of leadership Scouts would learn how leadership does not evolve solely around title, rank, or position. We all have the opportunity to be leaders.

    3. Cybersecurity

    This is another topic that is at least touched upon in other badges. However, as technology continues to advance, the need for cybersecurity knowledge grows. This merit badge would focus on and teach scouts about online privacy, protecting against cyber threats, and ethical hacking.

    4. Medicine

    This merit badge needs to be brought back. Currently the closest offering is Health Care Professions. While having Scouts learn about the various careers that exist in the world of healthcare, that is not Medicine. Medicine is a much broader and deeper field. Obviously, only the most basic overview would be possible within the confines of a merit badge curriculum. But the distinction is important.

    5. Air Rifle

    Many years ago, Scouting separated the various shooting disciplines into different merit badges. The tradition then, as it is today, is to use air rifles in place of firearms when instructing younger Scouters in some locales. Modern air rifles (and air bows) have advanced greatly from the "BB gun" you may remember as a kid. The variety of designs available, the various technologies used, and various sporting purposes air rifles fill are all important topics that deserve attention.

    6. Cryptocurrency

    This "magic internet money" is not going away anytime soon. A merit badge dealing exclusively with what constitutes a cryptocurrency, a block chain, tokens, and their uses would further increase a Scout's understanding of technology as well as finance.

    7. Paleontology

    What kid doesn't like dinosaurs?

    8. Paddleboarding

    Watersports and paddling are well represented in today's topics covered by merit badges. The obvious exception is paddleboarding. This type of watersport has grown exponentially. It deserves a badge of its own.

    9. Artificial Intelligence

    Whether it involves Digital Technology, Robotics, the Internet of Things, or ethical questions regarding sentience and machine morality; the field of artificial intelligence is growing at an exponential rate. Scouts need to have the information and the background to help them navigate in this brave new world.

    10. Marine Transportation

    The shipping industry and the U.S. Merchant Marine are an almost invisible part of today's economy. Even with "supply chain" entering the common lexicon, few people understand this industry. In a small way, Scouting could help remedy that with a Marine Transportation merit badge.

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