Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Merit Badge of the Week: Backpacking

One of my great pleasures in Scouting is backpacking.

Our troop has segment-hiked 150+ miles of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O) over the last 3 years, one weekend at a time. I would like for us to do more of it, but we need to balance camporees, summer camp, and the other special opportunities that come along.

But still. Putting that pack on gets the adrenaline going. Feeling that weight settle in and a good rhythm get established is liberating. Watch that cell signal go dead for a couple of days is relaxing. Even most of the western end of the C&O (East Coast) is a giant dead spot.

All of your Scout skills come into play: poisonous plant identification, fire control, cooking, 10 essentials, hiking, selecting a campsite, leave no trace, conservation, water purification, first aid, hazardous weather training--everything.

"Outing in Scouting" at its best.

So why isn't it a more popular merit badge? Fewer than 5000 earned in 2007, right at a quarter of a percent.

Let this be the summer! Fire up the troops and their troops! Grab the sunblock and head out. If it is too hot in your neck of the world, plan a great series of trips for the fall.

For one leg of the C&O, we slept out under the stars--in January. We had to knock the hard frost off all the bags the following morning. Still a trip they like to talk about 2 years later.

The BSA website has the requirements posted for the Backpacking merit badge.

Resource List

  1. Always start with "Introduction to Merit Badges" for the steps to a successful merit badge.
  2. Worksheet on Backpacking merit badge from
  3. Backpacker magazine is loaded with goodies, and so is the website. They also tweet. I always recommend this magazine to my older Scouts and our Scouters.
  4. Leave No Trace--now that this has been added to the new BSA rank requirements, more important than ever. Second Class requirement #2; First Class requirement #3; new leadership position for Star, Life and Eagle--LNT Trainer.
  5. Five ways to treat water on the trail.
  6. BSA's Wilderness Use policy--which also references BSA's Fieldbook website. The Fieldbook online leads you to a lot of links and organizations to help with your trekking plans.
  7. Planning group adventures section from BSA's Passport to High Adventure.
  8. Hazardous Weather training at or Weather Hazards at MyScouting. Same thing, same training online. Get a MyScouting login to complete.
  9. provides a good list of Wilderness First Aid topics.
  10. Scouting magazine brings you the 10 Essentials for any Scouting activity.
Related BSA merit badges: Camping, Climbing, Hiking, Pioneering and Wilderness Survival

Do you have a resource for the Backpacking merit badge? Please share in the comments below or on Twitter.

1 comment:

Julie Balsman said...

Did you hear about the new Year of Celebration patch for the 100th Anniversary? Check it out: