Search and Rescue is one of Scouting's newest merit badges
By Utah National Parks Council
Jun 04, 2013

New merit badges

For more than a century, merit badges have introduced Scouts to adventure pursuits, service opportunities, and career paths. This year, we built on that tradition by introducing the kayaking, Search and Rescue, and Welding merit badges.

Search and Rescue is one of Scouting's newest merit badges

Search and Rescue is one of Scouting’s newest merit badges


Kayaking is America’s fastest growing paddle sport, offering gentle fun on lakes and white-knuckled excitement on whitewater. The BSA has long offered a Kayaking BSA activity patch. Now, a full-fledged merit badge gives Scouts a greater experience in the sport.

To develop the badge, the BSA worked closely with the National Aquatics Task Force and the American Canoe Association. Project leader Richard Thomas, an ACA instructor trainer and longtime Scouter, first tried kayaking at Scout camp four decades ago. Now, he’s making sure today’s Scouts can receive a badge for learning his favorite sport.

Search and Rescue

Each day, the National Park Service averages more than 11 search-and-rescue incidents, while countless more searches take place in national forests, state parks, and even urban neighborhoods. Our new Search and Rescue merit badge introduces Scouts to SAR techniques and whets their appetites to learn more. Leading the development of the badge were Doug Palmer, Philmont Scout Ranch’s retired associate director of program, and Gary Williams, a New Mexico – based Scouter and SAR volunteer who got his start in SAR as an Explorer Scout almost 50 years ago.

Besides teaching SAR skills, the bade shows Scouts how not to get lost in the first place. “It’s all about good decision-making in the out-of-doors and, like the Scouts say, being prepared,” Palmer said.


Welding holds America together, but welders are in short supply. “There are actually over 200,000 more jobs out there right now than there are welders to fill them,” said Dave Landon, vice president of the American Welding Society.

Soon, today’s Scouts may be filling some of those jobs. The new Welding merit badge – created in collaboration with Landon’s organization – introduces Scouts to this critical trade. It is one more way we are preparing Scouts for life and incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math learning into our program.

Although the badge is new, its heritage is not. The first Handbook for Boys in 1911 introduced the Blacksmithing merit badge, and it remained part of the merit badge program until 1952.

Article taken from 2012 Scouting Annual Report

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