Good Morning 37! The information below was put together by Cameron R. If you are new to merit badges / summer camp this should help you when evaluating which merit badges to take.
List of Merit Badge Descriptions and Recommendations for Summer Camp at TVSR
Environmental Science: Always a good badge to get, it is Eagle-required and can be mostly finished at camp. It is a popular choice, and is one of the few Eagle-required badges one can do in his first year at camp. However, look over the requirements before camp, because you WILL need to do research outside camp and you WILL get a partial if you don’t have that paperwork beforehand.
Fishing: This is a common choice, and it spends a lot of class time heading down to the Waterfront to fish. You do not need your own fishing equipment, but a serious fisher can bring his anyway. This is by no means a difficult badge to acquire. However, there is a requirement of killing and cooking a fish that you catch; if you think you are too squeamish to do this do not plan to take this badge.
Fly Fishing: Similar to Fishing. Many of the requirements are the same or very close. If you prefer fly fishing to fishing, take this instead. This year it meets with the Fishing class. However, it also requires you to clean and cook a fish.
Chemistry: Relatively straightforward, and nothing that a science-minded Scout can’t handle at camp. You should probably review the requirements before deciding to take it. It involves a little bit of cooking, but take Cooking instead if that’s your thing. This is not an adventurous badge: you generally sit around a table at Econ.
Weather: This is an enjoyable badge for anyone who even remotely likes meteorology. There is a bit of paperwork involved, and one of the requirements is a DWF (do/discuss with family), so you should check the requirements before camp. You also have to give a short presentation about severe weather safety, usually to the troop at camp. A fairly easy badge overall.
Soil and Water Conservation: Another straightforward badge. There are quite a few things one has to complete, and there is a 500-word essay involved, but apart from that, the rest is nothing too challenging – and it is fun for anyone with an interest in ecology or earth science.
Fish and Wildlife Management: Econ to the core. This is a pretty neutral badge, and again, it is straightforward. You get the standard Econ experience: researching, studying their animals, going around to observe the environment. Not recommended if you don’t have an actual interest in learning about wildlife and how humans deal with them.
Reptile and Amphibian Study: Pretty self-explanatory. You observe reptiles and amphibians, both the ones at Econ and others in the environment. However, don’t attempt this badge unless you’re REALLY interested in reptiles and amphibians, because it cannot be completed at summer camp; requirement 8 involves monitoring reptiles or amphibians for one to three months.
Space Exploration: One of the few badges that is inherently futuristic, rather than teaching traditional Scouting skills. If you like space, this is a good badge. Also, you get to shoot pneumatic bottle rockets. You need to have launched a model rocket beforehand (many Scouts in 37 already have), or else get a partial.
Pulp and Paper: An odd badge, and it is very uncommon or even rare for someone in 37 to earn it. This is not because of anything about the badge itself – perhaps people think its name is weird, or because the badge design looks like a roll of toilet paper. It concerns the making of paper, both from trees and from recycling. Check the requirements if you are considering it – there is one that requires you to be home to do it.
Nature: Quite a mishmash of different Econ things, it rolls up many different aspects of the environment into a single badge. There are only four requirements, and the first three are easy. The fourth, however, requires you to be able to go out and identify many things in the field, and do some extra task on top of it which may not in some cases work at summer camp. Whether you can complete it at summer camp is partly dependent on chance.
Forestry: This is the badge for those who like trees. You spend the entire week looking at trees – identifying them, drawing them, checking for damage, learning about proper ways to manage a forest depending on its present conditions. On one evening, you will have to go to Econ to speak with a forester, so keep that in mind.
Mammal Study: Again, a simple and direct badge. Its name is self-explanatory; the badge concerns observing and monitoring mammals. Those who are interested should look over requirement 3 before selecting it – it may not be able to be completed at camp.
Insect Study: Not recommended for anyone not seriously interested in bugs. The requirements involve a fair amount of effort and paperwork compared to other Econ badges, and requirement 7 – raising an insect from larva to adult – cannot be completed at camp.
Pioneering: A really fun badge, and one most Scouts eventually do. You get to build amazing structures out of simple sticks and rope. This badge is pretty easy but also fun. One of the requirements is BFA (basic first aid); another is the basic knot and lashing requirements for Tenderfoot and First Class, so make sure you have those done.
Orienteering: This badge is great for learning the proper use of a map and compass. It requires BFA and also covers some Second Class requirements. The badge requirements were changed in 2013, and the badge is now difficult to earn wholly at summer camp, if not impossible. Review the requirements for more details.
Geocaching: This is a new badge, only three years old. Partly because of this, it has not yet been earned by very many Scouts in 37. Unfortunately, it is difficult to complete the badge without a GPS, and there are time requirements that make it unfeasible to leave camp with more than a partial. Not recommended unless you already have a serious interest in geocaching.
Camping: This is an Eagle-required merit badge, and a popular choice. The earlier you get it, so much the better for you. However, the requirements are extensive: 20 days and 20 nights of camping, preparing a patrol for a (non-summer-camp) campout, BFA, being able to organize other Scouts and yourself for camping trips, and many more. Young Scouts will not be able to do very much on this badge yet. You need to think at least a few months in advance of summer camp in order to earn this badge there.
Wilderness Survival: A useful badge. Relatively uncommon. It would be possible for any Scout not going to Brownsea Island to earn this. The techniques learned in this class are very useful, and indeed they will be, as you will have to build a shelter in the woods and spend a night there. This is, for some, the hardest requirement. BSI Scouts cannot do this because BSI holds a campout usually on the same night as the survival night.
Hiking: Seven straightforward requirements for this badge; however, it is not really a popular one. It is Eagle-optional; a Scout may also earn Cycling or Swimming in its place. Only requirements 1 through 4 can be completed at summer camp. The rest of the badge involves five 10-mile hikes and a 20-mile hike, and documenting those. Don’t bother with this one unless you seriously intend to do these hikes.
Indian Lore: This is a short, fairly easy, and very educative badge. Not a common choice for 37 members, for some reason. If you want to learn more about the Native Americans and teach others what you learn, this is an excellent badge.
Note that most of these badges require you to have successfully passed the BSA swimmer test (First Class requirement 9b). This test is given the first day at camp. You may opt out of it, but unless you take a retest, you will probably not be able to do anything of interest at the Waterfront.
Lifesaving: A good badge overall, and Eagle-optional. You can earn either it or Emergency Preparedness, and unlike E-Prep, it does not require you to have earned another merit badge before beginning. However, there are prerequisites of the aquatic Second Class and First Class requirements, and also the ability to swim continuously for 400 yards. Swimmer ability is required. If you don’t think you are strong enough to take this badge, better off waiting a year or two. Not recommended for first-year Scouts.
Rowing: One of several boating badges offered at camp, this is probably the least interesting of them all. Rowboats are slightly more stable than canoes, kayaks or sailboats, but unless you really fear capsizing, Rowing does not enjoy much of an advantage over the other badges. You might want to take it if you have done some rowing before. Swimmer ability required.
Swimming: An extremely popular choice, probably because it is the only one of the three Eagle-optional badges Hiking, Cycling and Swimming that can be fully completed at summer camp. The Swimming classes can get very large in some years. If you decide to take it, make sure to bring an extra pair of shoes to jump into the water with. Swimmer ability required.
Canoeing: Quite a venerable badge. The art of canoeing has long been a Scouting skill, and there isn’t anything too difficult about the badge. You will either learn how to handle a canoe or brush up on your knowledge in this class, depending on any previous experience you had. A moderate amount of Scouts in 37 end up with this badge. Swimmer ability required.
Small Boat Sailing: Wonderful badge. This teaches you basic and intermediate sailing skills on Treasure Valley’s watercraft. The theory and paperwork portions are small compared to the actual sailing you do. This is probably the most popular boating badge in Troop 37. Swimmer ability required.
Kayaking: This has just been elevated from the Kayaking BSA award to its own merit badge. The requirements are simple and mostly involve demonstrating kayaking skills, which you will learn even if you have never handled a kayak before. Because Treasure Valley rents its kayaks from a third party, Scouts who are under 14 may not take out a kayak and therefore are ineligible for the badge at summer camp.
Art: An extremely easy badge, and the most popular one in the Handicraft Lodge. There is nothing that can’t be done at camp. The class is simple and fun, as you get to see what other people are making and share your work with them. This badge is highly recommended for first year Scouts.
Leatherwork: Sort of a mundane badge. If leather’s your thing, then go for it. Otherwise it’s probably nothing to bother with. This badge requires that you make things out of leather, and the leather is not provided. Kits are sold at the Trading Post for about ten dollars each, so if you decide on this badge, account for this in your camp budget.
Basketry: Much the same as Leatherwork, really. You do basket weaving and learn about basket structure, but if that isn’t REALLY interesting to you, you probably shouldn’t plan to do it. This badge also requires you to buy a kit at the Trading Post.
Woodcarving: A very, very simple badge. This is a quick and easy badge to get, but an extra requirement was tacked on in 2013, adding a woodcarving project to your tasks. Apart from simple skill and safety concerns, you must make a simple carving in some piece of wood, and make a relief carving as well. The Totin’ Chip is required to complete the badge.
Woodworking: This badge focuses on constructing items from different pieces of wood. A reasonable choice if you have some past experience working with lumber on any sort of project. You use hand tools to finish this badge (hammer, screwdriver, saw, plane, etc). This badge does NOT require that you have a Totin’ Chip.
Painting: A new offering at Treasure Valley. Quite direct in its requirements – basic safety, some color theory and actual painting, and that’s it. This badge does NOT focus on artistic painting; Art is the badge for that, although some artistic license can certainly be exercised when you actually paint an item.
Archery: This is a badge for a very long tradition in Scouting. Archery has been a part of the Scouting experience for a long time and most Scouts end up doing it in one form or another. The class involves making an arrow and a bowstring, and safety is a large part of the requirements. Younger Scouts are not recommended to try this badge. There is a target shooting aspect of it, and to earn the badge a Scout must make a minimum score.
Rifle Shooting: Very similar to Archery, except with rifles. Safety is a big part of the badge, and skill at shooting is required to complete it. Again, it is not recommended for younger Scouts to attempt unless they are confident in their own skill with firearms.
Sports: This badge entails a lot of going out and playing some field sport. There is not much to the badge; it only has five requirements. If you do not play sports of any type or you only got interested in it when looking at the camp schedule, don’t bother with this badge. Requirement 4 is to play some sport for four months, and requirement 5 is to chart your training over those months.
Athletics: Very much like Sports, but whereas Sports allows you to focus in one one sport, Athletics requires that you are good at multiple things. Like Sports, there is a four-month requirement of charting your athletic activity, and a three-month period of training in certain events. Again, this isn’t a good choice unless you were thinking of this badge five months before camp.
Personal Fitness: So many Scouts flock to this badge because it is Eagle-required, and then they walk away sadfaced because only 5 of the 9 requirements may be completed at camp. Look over the requirements well before camp if you want to earn it there: it requires that you subject yourself to your own 12-week fitness program and test yourself over that time. This is a very important point: you CANNOT come to camp and walk away with this badge.
First Aid: This is a challenging badge, but it is Eagle-required and E-Prep requires it, as well as so many other badges that require BFA knowledge, and therefore it is essential to earn. It would be good to get this badge perhaps in your second or third year of Scouting. You need to know how to respond to a variety of situations in the class; study the requirements beforehand to ensure that you know and Treasure Valley recommends that you study the First Aid merit badge book. This badge requires that you have completed all first aid requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class BEFORE you begin the badge.
Emergency Preparedness: This is also a challenging badge, but it is Eagle-optional and doesn’t require doing anything physically challenging like Lifesaving. The requirements were made more difficult in 2013, requiring that one takes part in an emergency service project and a troop mobilization, which may not be able to be completed at camp. Treasure Valley recommends that interested Scouts read the E-Prep book before deciding to go to the class. Requirement 1 of this book is “Earn the First Aid merit badge.” Do not attempt this badge unless you already have earned First Aid.
Safety: The requirements for these are pretty much all theory or paperwork. Family involvement is needed for some of the requirements; most likely your parents will have to affirm to the Scoutmaster that you have completed the requirements and have him write a note to the counselor. Look over the requirements to see what has to be done outside of camp. This is a recommended badge for anybody.
EVENING PROGRAM BADGES
Note that in many cases, the evening program badges – which can meet at most on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening – do not have enough time to complete all of the requirements, even if they can all be done at camp, and especially if you choose to go to other Evening Program activities and skip the class. Expect to leave with a partial.
Astronomy: Don’t even bother unless you were working on the badge already. Some of the requirements are virtually impossible at camp, and it is completely impossible to do the entire thing on Tuesday evening. There may also be a long-term requirement to fulfill.
Cooking: This would be an excellent badge to get at camp, whatever age you are. Not only do you do some cooking and learn about proper practices, but effective January 2014 it will become an Eagle-required badge, so treat it as an Eagle-required badge whether it is or not. Check the requirements: the badge requires cooking at home, and you will need a Scoutmaster’s note to verify this. Also note that it is held during lunch, so you will need to notify troop and patrol leaders that you will not be having lunch with them.
Metalworking: This merit badge is new to Treasure Valley. The name is pretty self-explanatory as to what you do there. Depending on the facilities Treasure Valley has and whether they impose an age restriction on using them, you may not be able to complete all of the requirements or even be allowed to take the badge.
Theater: First offered a few years ago at camp. The requirements should be quite easy if you have a flair for drama. To fulfill the badge, you must demonstrate your skills at being an actor, playwright, and mime. The Theater class usually presents at the Friday night closing campfire in front of the whole camp. Everyone who takes the badge seems to like it.
Shotgun Shooting: New campers typically hear the blasts from the shotgun range all the way down at Pine Point, and they look up in awe. This seems to be, for some reason, one of the badges everybody wants to get but nobody has earned. The badge does have a very limited class size. Like the other shooting badges, you do need to be able to handle and shoot a 12 gauge shotgun with enough accuracy to hit targets and get an acceptable score. No Scout under 14 is allowed to take this badge.
Horsemanship: This will probably not be an option to Troop 37 Scouts as there has not been much interest in it. If you were interested, your parents probably would have had to pay a hefty fee to get in the class. Also, it can’t be entirely completed at camp.
Search and Rescue: Not offered the week we will be at camp.
Climbing: Not a bad badge, because you get access to the rock climbing part of COPE, but there are some requirements that cannot be done in camp.
Communications: Eagle-required, and a great badge to get. But not at camp. There are so many requirements that cannot be fully completed at camp – attending a public meeting, planning a troop event and running it, hold an interview – and the rest is all paperwork. You can’t get it at camp. Don’t waste your camp time on it. Do it sometime in the rest of the year.
Citizenship in the Community/Nation/World: Exactly the same as Communications. Though they sound good because they are Eagle-required, the requirements either involve doing things that you cannot do at camp or just writing things and discussing them with your counselor. There are troop leaders who are counselors for these badges who are more than happy to help you get the badges at any troop meeting. Don’t do them at camp.
Personal Management: Exactly like Communications and the Citizenships, this badge shouldn’t be attempted at camp. Requirement 2 makes you track your finances for a period 13 times the length of summer camp. If that isn’t enough, they are only taking Life Scouts. And those who they take need to read the Personal Management book.
Snorkeling BSA: This is not a merit badge, and does not count toward the troop’s four-merit-badge maximum. Instead, it is an award that a Scout may or may not earn. It entails very little paperwork and is mostly concerned with actual snorkeling. Swimmer ability required.
Mile Swim: This is also an award. The class is simple and straightforward; the award has four requirements. On Monday through Thursday morning, you do repetitive swim conditioning, up and down the Swimmers Area. On Friday morning, you actually swim a mile, about the full length of Browning Pond, escorted by volunteers with the troop. This is by no means an easy award. You must be a very strong swimmer to complete it.
Swim Lessons: This is for any Scout who does not know how to swim well enough to pass the BSA Swimmer Test. You get lessons all week in how to swim, the class size is usually really small, and you usually can take the test on Friday to fulfill First Class Requirement 9b. Then next year, you can earn some of the aquatic badges.
Free Swim: For two half hours of the day, all three swimming areas are open to Scouts to swim however they like – jump of the docks or rafts, just swim around, etc. The buddy system must be observed at all times during this time.
Free Boating: For most of the day except when there is Free Swim, buddy Scouts can take boats out on the lake, anywhere in sight of the lookout tower and not too far downwind for sailboats. As long as one Scout in a boat has Swimmer ability, other Scouts in the boat can be of Beginner ability (but not Learner ability.)
Open Rifle Shooting/Open Archery: Whenever these ranges are not teaching a merit badge, Scouts may come and shoot at the targets. When there are many Scouts wanting to participate, they may not get to shoot very much.
Open Sports: All of the equipment at Sports not currently in use by a merit badge is open to all Scouts, including the disc golf course. Scouts may have to play some things (soccer, football, etc) on Boonesville.
Brown Sea Island (BSI): This is a program for first year campers. Its goal is to teach basic Scouting skills and help them advance through First Class. The troop does not know whether its BSI Scouts will go in the morning or afternoon until they are at camp. This program is mandatory for all first year campers.
Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE): You know that big wooden structure with all the ropes and telephone poles that you see just as you come in? That’s COPE, and it’s an excellent program for older Scouts. You spend either all morning or all afternoon there. Generally, the week begins with trust games, then the low ropes courses in the woods, then finally the high ropes course that everybody wants to go up on. Anyone can sign up, but younger Scouts may be turned away, and older Scouts get priority.
BSA Guard: This is the most rigorous progam offered at TVSR Summer Camp. Bluntly put, you will not be able to earn any daytime merit badges if you are in this program, because the program runs ALL DAY, excepting lunch. The upshot of this is that if you pass the tests on Friday, you come out of it with a BSA Lifeguard certification, which may allow you to become employed as a lifeguard (its requirements are more rigorous than those of the Red Cross). Nothing is glossed over. You will need to know or learn all sorts of water rescues and how to respond to any given situation. During some of the Free Swims you serve as a lifeguard. This is only for Scouts who are 16 or older, and they must be strong and motivated.