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What is the most difficult merit badge to earn?

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I'd vote for Backpacking.  It requires three trips of 3 days and 15 miles and one trip of 5 days and 30 miles.  That is a total of 14 days backpacking, 10 days camping and 90 miles.  It requires a strong outdoor program that has those trips or a motivated scout who finds other opportunities to backpack with family and friends.  We've adjusted our outdoor program from having 2 day backpacking trips to having 3 day backpacking trips and we've added a summer 5 day trip.

 

My vote for second hardest would be a tie between hiking and cycling.  Hiking requires five 10 mile hikes and a 20 mile hike (in one day).  For cycling, it is two 10 mile rides, two 1 mile rides, two 25 mile rides and one 50 mile ride.  Having done the 25 mile bike rides with our troop (a group biked to and from a campout), I'm not looking forward to accompanying a bunch of the scouts as they attempt the 50 miler.

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I'd vote for Backpacking.  It requires three trips of 3 days and 15 miles and one trip of 5 days and 30 miles.  That is a total of 14 days backpacking, 10 days camping and 90 miles.  It requires a strong outdoor program that has those trips or a motivated scout who finds other opportunities to backpack with family and friends.  We've adjusted our outdoor program from having 2 day backpacking trips to having 3 day backpacking trips and we've added a summer 5 day trip.

 

My vote for second hardest would be a tie between hiking and cycling.  Hiking requires five 10 mile hikes and a 20 mile hike (in one day).  For cycling, it is two 10 mile rides, two 1 mile rides, two 25 mile rides and one 50 mile ride.  Having done the 25 mile bike rides with our troop (a group biked to and from a campout), I'm not looking forward to accompanying a bunch of the scouts as they attempt the 50 miler.

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I vote for the last MB before Eagle. For some reason, whatever MB it is, it takes YEARS to earn!!!! ;)

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I vote for the last MB before Eagle. For some reason, whatever MB it is, it takes YEARS to earn!!!! ;)

 

 

:excl: The one the boy won't even try!!! :excl:

 

Very true!

 

Reflecting back, I recall small boat sailing as fun but very challenging.   The 3 citizenship MBs were challenging in the sense that they were no fun at all.   Just long, tedious exercises in perseverance.    And I liked history, government, etc., in school.

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I vote for the last MB before Eagle. For some reason, whatever MB it is, it takes YEARS to earn!!!! ;)

 

I don't see that at all.  Most of the boys I know do the last ones fast. 

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The ones that are school-like (keep a log, notebook), chore-like/tedious, out-dated, not fun...i.e.,the ones that don't interest a scout.

 

Communications

Emergency Prep

Cooking

 

My scouts will choose a 10 mile hike in a cold rain over keeping a log/notebook every time. :blink:

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I agree for the most part with Backpacking, but if you do Philmont or similar, it is not that difficult to get.

 

Cycling is a difficult badge to earn as well.  Not many scouts can do a 50 mile ride even after doing the 2x 10 mile, 2x 15 mile and 2x 25 mile rides.

 

J

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I don't see that at all.  Most of the boys I know do the last ones fast. 

ROFL....we have guys who STARTED their last MB as Scouts, and finished as Eagles. ;) That's a long MB. Usually 4-5 guys a year in that boat.

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ROFL....we have guys who STARTED their last MB as Scouts, and finished as Eagles. ;) That's a long MB. Usually 4-5 guys a year in that boat.

 

Agreed.  Along the same lines, you have the scouts that stall out at Life, then turn 18, lacking one of the homework MBs, or started Citizenship in the World years before and didn't finish.

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Scuba Diving - around here the going rate is about $250

 

Hiking - 20 mile day hike

 

Citizenship in the Community - 8 hour service project

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Scuba Diving - around here the going rate is about $250

 

That's cheap. Gear alone will cost you that much. Open water cert is another $350. Add in the cost of Seabase and you are in for $2k.

 

Still, it is FAR cheaper than going to Jamboree. Our council requires you buy their trip. In 2010 that was $5300 for a scout and $5100 for scouter, $4900 if you were "staff".  :o

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ROFL....we have guys who STARTED their last MB as Scouts, and finished as Eagles. ;) That's a long MB. Usually 4-5 guys a year in that boat.

My sons resemble that comment! Still, procrastination isn't all that hard. So, just because it takes you years, doesn't make it a challenge.

 

I've generally found whenever a boy needs to overcome some head-game, there's the challenge, that mind-over-matter is different for every boy:

  • That first lean into the cliff face -- trusting your rope for the first time!
  • Holding that mask on your face.
  • That first quarter-mile swim.
  • Searching the bottom of the cold, murky lake.
  • Shooting sports was rough for me ... except for archery. The staff was a great guy who gave me the hints I needed. Even so, I had to go home and shoot all year before I could steady my arm enough to qualify. Decades later, his wife was in my wood badge patrol. Finally got to thank him for it. Took into adulthood for me to figure out firearms.
  • That 20 miler? Hardest step is the first. But, I've never heard a scout who took the badge complain about it. A day with your buddy having lunch someplace cool -- who could ask for more?
  • The book-work. Filling that first sheet of paper can be soul-crushing.
  • Astronomy if you live where cloudy nights outnumber clear!
  • Socking away funds to earn that MB in a "big ticket" way.
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My sons resemble that comment! Still, procrastination isn't all that hard. So, just because it takes you years, doesn't make it a challenge.

 

I've generally found whenever a boy needs to overcome some head-game, there's the challenge, that mind-over-matter is different for every boy:

  • That first lean into the cliff face -- trusting your rope for the first time!
  • Holding that mask on your face.
  • That first quarter-mile swim.
  • Searching the bottom of the cold, murky lake.
  • Shooting sports was rough for me ... except for archery. The staff was a great guy who gave me the hints I needed. Even so, I had to go home and shoot all year before I could steady my arm enough to qualify. Decades later, his wife was in my wood badge patrol. Finally got to thank him for it. Took into adulthood for me to figure out firearms.
  • That 20 miler? Hardest step is the first. But, I've never heard a scout who took the badge complain about it. A day with your buddy having lunch someplace cool -- who could ask for more?
  • The book-work. Filling that first sheet of paper can be soul-crushing.
  • Astronomy if you live where cloudy nights outnumber clear!
  • Socking away funds to earn that MB in a "big ticket" way.

 

 

I think @@qwazse is right.  Asking scouters what is the most difficult is an exercise in futility.  One must be asking every boy.  They are all difficult to a boy somewhere at some time in his life.  A "Zero-Hero" patch to a Floridian who is measuring in Celsius is not the same as the NoDak who is measuring in Fehrenheit.  Some of the less adventurous bookworms thrive on the Citizenship MB's and the Last Boy Picked for the Team candidate might not like the more athletic options.  So how does that distinguish the leadership development of either of them?  One might be the star football player who marries the homecoming queen and goes on to a career in the financial field and does well at retirement savings.  The other might become a doctor, never marry but spends his whole life jumping back and forth between Doctors Without Borders and serving at the urban free clinic in the neighborhood where he lives.

 

Maybe we ought to be asking which MB is the most valuable to a boy's future rather than which one is the most difficult.

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