Boy Scouts Can Now Earn Merit Badges On Their Smartphones or Tablets

New digital “pamphlets” will make earning badges easier and more fun for scouts.

By on August 11, 2015

The world of scouting is going digital.

Interactive features will now become part of earning a Boy Scout merit badge, as each badge will come with a digital component in addition to a traditional paper pamphlet. These Interactive Digital Merit Badge Pamphlets provide more to the Scouts than just a digital version of the traditional paper merit badge pamphlet, however. They will help educate each Scout on what he needs to know in order to earn a specific badge, while opening up an entire world on his computer, smartphone or tablet. This kind of in-depth multimedia and interactive content just isn’t achievable in print alone.

The immersive guides go way beyond the paper products of the past—leading Scouts down a series of paths that will help them attain the knowledge they need to earn their badges. The features include photos, video, simulations, how-to guides, Q&As, quizzes, career bios, virtual tours, slide shows, search functions (which are a big time saver) and other interactive features right at their fingertips. The idea is similar to DIY’s patches—there, you can earn patches online for completing different skills. As for the Scouts, their new digital world includes in-depth multi-media and interactive content to help them achieve their goals.

Jenson Crawford, a Scoutmaster and merit badge counselor, says the new feature is a welcome one that helps bring the Boy Scouts into the digital age. ”When most people hear ‘Boy Scouts’ they think of camping, hiking and building fires by rubbing sticks together,” Crawford says. “While self-reliance in the outdoors is still an important part of Scouting, Boy Scouts of America has not been left behind in the digital age.” He also believes this will help bring needed information to the Scouts “in a more engaging form that they are more likely to retain.”

The new features will also help the Scouts better utilize their time with their Scoutmaster. Crawford believes the components will “allow the Scouts to test their knowledge of the subject before discussing the material with the merit badge counselor.”

A rep for the BSA points out another benefit: space. “Print versions are limited to 96 pages, primarily due to cost and space considerations, and digital versions do not have these limitations and also offer greater convenience and ease of use, as Scouts can take their pamphlets with them wherever they go, 24/7 on their digital devices.” 

The effort is rolling out this year, in collaboration with Pearson, a company familiar with digital education. So far they have created four of the digital merit badge pamphlets (there are more than 100 different merit badges offered by the BSA). These include Animation, Cooking, First Aid, and Robotics. The next available ones will be Digital Technology, Family Life, Communications, and Personal Fitness. The remaining Eagle-required merit badges will be available later in 2015, with the next batch including Communications, Digital Technology, Family Life, Personal Fitness, Camping, Cycling, Hiking, and Swimming. All digital merit badge pamphlets can be found at www.ScoutStuff.org.

Tags: digital innovation, tablets, smartphones, kids technology