Boy Scouts earn merit badges by learning about a certain subject and meeting the specific requirements set forth by the merit badge counselor. There are over 100 merit badges, and any Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer or Sea Scout may earn them.
There is no time limit on how long a scout may work on earning a single merit badge, but the scout must be under the age of 18. There is also no limit on how many merit badges a scout may earn. Each merit badge has different requirements, and scouts must meet or speak with a merit badge counselor to begin the process of earning a badge.
Scouts must obtain a signed Application for Merit Badge, No. 34124, from their unit leader before pursuing a merit badge. When meeting the merit badge counselor, scouts must have somebody else there with them, such as a parent, unit leader or fellow scout.
Once the scout has completed the requirements for a merit badge, he must make an appointment with the counselor to demonstrate how he has met the requirements. The counselor also tests the scout on the material. Upon completion of the test, the counselor signs the application form, which is then presented to the unit leader.