Backpacking Merit Badge
Presentation Guide for Scout Leaders
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    Backpacking Merit Badge Backpacking Merit Badge is based on what most high adventure scout troops do naturally - exploring the wild outdoors.

    The core element of this program is the completion of four multi-night wilderness backpacking treks. (3x 2-nighters and 1x 4-nighter.)


    A) Program Teaser
    Special audio visual presentation for the start of program or even one week in advance.

    Earning the Backpacking merit badge will be demanding but rewarding. Scouts will learn what equipment to carry on their backs and what knowledge to have in their heads. In addition, Scouts will discover how to protect the environment by traveling and camping without leaving a trace. By mastering the basics of backpacking, Scouts will develop an even deeper respect for the outdoors.
    Backpacking Merit Badge
    Backpacking Merit Badge

    Backpacking Fun with Joe Flowers


    Backpacking Merit Badge B) Prerequisites - Leaders
    Work to be done prior to program start:

      Review Official Requirements
      Easy Printable Version

      10 Tips for Merit Badge Counselors
      Get the most from your Merit Badge Adventure.

      Req #10 & 11: Schedule 4x Backpacking Treks
      Discuss with your Patrol Leaders what your group can do to cover two or more of the requirements for #10 & #11(see below). Note: Scouts are to take an active role planning these treks.
      File Tour Plan - required for all BSA Field Trips.
      Field Trip Group RSVP - Many areas now require a wilderness permit.

      Troop Outdoor Gear

      Pages 294-295 of the Boy Scout Handbook list the essentials for Troop Camping Gear. Check out our Quartermaster's Hut for tips to outfit your troop.

      Study Hall - Nature Soundtrack

      I've watched one Camping Merit Badge Counselor run the entire hourlong soundtrack of this nature scene video as ambience to his Camping Study Hall session.
      Woodland Ambiance #4 - 60 minutes of Tricking Stream
      Woodland Ambiance #5 - 60 minutes of Tricking Stream


    C) Prerequisites - Scouts
    Work to be done prior to program start:

      Print Merit Badge Workbook
      One copy for each scout. And don't forget to have ready your Merit Badge Blue Card - (home printer version.)

      Req #10 & 11: Schedule 4x Backpacking Treks
      Discuss with your Patrol Leaders what your group can do to cover two or more of the requirements for #10 & #11(see below). Note: Scouts are to take an active role planning these treks.

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      Outdoor Ten Essentials BSA Tour BSA Outdoor Ten Essentials

      MainTour.com special feature on the best stuff to prepare your scout to enjoy the outdoors:


        - Survival Kit Series
        - Pack Lean / Pack Smart!
        - Outdoor Day Pack Basics
        - Boy Scout Adventure
        - Bonus Features

      .


    Backpacking Merit Badge D) Study Hall

    The purpose of this section is to facilitate an opportunity for scouts to research and learn about key concepts relevant to this subject. They need to be prepared to explain these to the counselor.

    While some scouts may be adept at self-study, others may do better in a small group setting and taking notes on worksheets. You can facilitate discussion by asking them why each of the principles intruduced here would be relevant.

      Req #1: Backpacking First Aid Review
      Discuss the prevention of and treatment for the health concerns that could occur while backpacking, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, and blisters.

      Req #2: Pack Light / Pack Right
      a. List 10 items that are essential to be carried on any backpacking trek and explain why each item is necessary.
      b. Describe 10 ways you can limit the weight and bulk to be carried in your pack without jeopardizing your health or safety.
      Introduction to Backpacking Essential Gear - Courtesy of Review Outdoor Gear -

      Req #3: Discuss Trek Crew Safety

      Req #4: Leave No Trace Plan
      Leave No Trace Video - NPS Video - Each year, 300 million people visit natural areas in the National Park Service. If all of those people left a trace of their visit, the cumulative effect would be devastating to the environment. It's important for visitors to be respectful and mindful of their impact on the environment when hiking, camping, and otherwise enjoying the outdoors. The National Park Service shares some tips on how to "Leave No Trace" when exploring nature.

      Req #5: Water
      a. Demonstrate two ways to treat water and tell why water treatment is essential.
      b. Explain to your counselor the importance of staying well hydrated during a trek.

      Req #6: Navigation

      Req #7: Inclement Weather

      Req #8: Meal Time

        Scouts should plan ahead on that meals prepared here will also cover the backpacking meal requirements of the Cooking Merit Badge

    .


    Camping Merit Badge F) Field Trip

    Four Trek Planning
    Trek planning is an important part of this merit badge.

    • 8a: Hike: Write a plan that includes a schedule for a patrol/crew backpacking hike of at least 2 miles.
    • 11a: Trek Plan: Write a plan for a backpacking trek of at least five days using at least three different campsites and covering at least 30 miles. Your plan must include a description of and route to the trek area, a schedule (including a daily schedule), a list of food and equipment needs, a safety and emergency plan, and a budget.

    Four Wilderness Multiday Backpacking Treks
    Be aware of the following trek requirements. All treks should follow Leave No Trace principles and scouts should carry everything they will need.

    • 5a: Water: Demonstrate two ways to treat water and tell why water treatment is essential.
    • 6b: Maps: While on a trek, use a map and compass to establish your position on the ground at three different locations, OR use a GPS receiver to establish your position on a topographic map and on the ground at three different locations.
    • 8c: Meal Prep: Prepare at least three meals using a stove and fuel you can carry in a backpack.
    • 9: 2 Mile Hike Plan and complete a two mile hike.
    • 10: Three 2-Nite Treks Participate in at least three backpacking treks of at least three days each and at least 15 miles each, and using at least two different campsites on each trek.
    • 11a: Big Trek Plan Write a plan for a backpacking trek of at least five days using at least three different campsites and covering at least 30 miles. Your plan must include a description of and route to the trek area, a schedule (including a daily schedule), a list of food and equipment needs, a safety and emergency plan, and a budget.
    • b: Service Project Using Leave No Trace principles, take the trek planned and, while on the trek, complete at least one service project approved by your merit badge counselor.
    • c: Daily Journal Keep a daily journal during the trek that includes a day-by-day description of you activities, including notes about what worked well and thoughts about improvements that could be made for the next trek.
    Cumberland Gap Virginia Tour Popular Backpacking Adventure Treks

      Cumberland Gap - Take a scenic, multi-day, backcountry adventure tour on one a historic trial first cut by the legendary Daniel Boone through land rich in danger and challenge. Several park trails are specially maintained by BSA to support backpacking adventures here.


    Camping Merit Badge H) Extra Credit

    Camping Requirements

    This merit badge can also help meet several of the requirements of Camping Merit Badge which is required for Eagle Rank.


    J) Backpacking Famous Quotes:

      John Muir - Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.
      Wislawa Szymborski - I like being near the top of a mountain. One can’t get lost here.
      Alex Lowe - There are two kinds of climbers, those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.

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