About

In 2006 I attended Wood Badge. At the time I was Scoutmaster of a small troop with a small budget. Many of the Scouts were also of lesser means. I was frustrated with the lack of resources, especially merit badge pamphlets. I wished that they were available in PDF so I could print copies for youth when they needed one.

I am a software developer, and when writing my ticket, I thought that this site would be a great way to solve my frustration as well as others. Our course leadership was very interested in the idea, and it was approved. This site came soon thereafter.

I purchased the first 30-40 pamphlets myself and scanned them to PDF. Soon others began contributing their scanned pamphlets. Yet on average we were receiving 20-30 visitors daily. I never had grandiose dreams for this site, and I was happy just to see it show up in search results.

At the end of July 2010 BSA contacted me and requested I remove the pamphlets for copyright reasons. Since then I have sought to petition BSA to provide freely available advancement materials via online downloads.

27 thoughts on “About

  1. JOHN YEAGER

    I am an Eagle Scout, Father of 2 boy scouts, and Counselor of merit badges for the troop. You are dead right. BSA needs to come into the 21st century on this one. Even in a city the size of Miami, there is only one place to obtain Merit Badge pamphlets.

    Putting them online would reduce production costs as well as make the materials more available to both Scouts and NON scouts who may seek information on various topics. And maybe in making these more available, those boys would increase our ranks ws well.

  2. Sheryl Flanary

    Please, it would be so helpful and certainly less costly to have the pamplets available on-line. Actually if the materials and pamplets were updated as needed, Maybe it would even be reasonable to charge a small fee for them that way but so much more convenient and maybe would encourage boys to expand the merit badges which they choose to earn. As one helping boys with advancement, I often need access to these materials and am not going to purchase all the pamplets or go find them each time I am helping a young man to see what specifics are available in the pamplet. thanks for the efforts of those heading this up.

  3. James Ross

    I agree. It seems that it is a money issue. It irritates me as a counselor to have to buy new pamphlets every few years. I think it is great that MBs are kept current but Scouts and troops aren’t able to afford the latest information. I have been at this for fifty years and have seen a lot of changes.

  4. Bow Rose

    I concur with all and humbly add that after 10 years of suggesting to scouts that they take advantage of on line worksheets to organize their mb work, few have done so. Counsellors would be able to read written requirements and scouts would have a presentable product to hang onto. Go .pdf AND post an associated write save .pdf or word .doc to complete the package! A secondary product of your endeavor would be a generation of young men with experience creating, saving, filing computer products.

  5. Katherine Alexander

    I am sorry to hear what has happened. I was excited to find such a great resource, this was before you had to take them off. I agree that BSA needs to get with the times and provide the merit badged booklets in an e-book format it would be such a cost savings for them and for the boys.

  6. Bill Truong

    I and my scout friends are willing to pay a certain cost when access to the online pamphlets document…… so if BSA can get partial of amount that we pay, maybe they are happy for put those back online
    make all happy and conveinience

  7. Gary Hoopes

    I went to the Trapper Trails Council office to get a pamphlet. They were out and couldn’t tell me when they would get it in. It would have been nice to get it online.

  8. Walter Quitt

    With the cost of gas as high as it is, it costs me more in gas to go down town to buy a pamphlet then the cost of it. Add in the various “costs” (costs in “green” terms) and one quickly sees that these little pamphlets have a VERY high cost to the world. Sure does not seem like they meet the requirements of the Scout Law. I know one family, as an example, that will not send their sons to scouts because the cost of most things is just to high. You priced an offical BSA shirt or pair of pants lately? Not consistent with the spirit of things. I came to this site because my son just started a new Eagle required merit badge and I wanted to find out more. Now I will have to wait until the weekend and waste far more time and money to get, yet another, pamphlet. This little gem will likely be outdated soon too. Just like the uniforms do, although you can wear the old ones just fine. Sigh….sorry, I do not want to rant.

  9. Francisco

    I am sad to see how the BSA is turning into a corporation with money in mind. I am an Eagle Scout who has seen the changes from my early times (60s, 70s. 80s, 90s, and 2000s) and hurts to see and organization that is supposed to reach all levels of our nation social-economical structure turning into an elite group of those who can afford it. By making non sense changes from uniforms to reference books, the BSA is depriving many kids the opportunity to join it and become great citizens of this nation. I understand the issues of managing such a big organization but, wonder if a return to simplicity (eliminating in the process some non essential positions…..ouch, how I dare to suggest downsize the BSA administration!), and stopping the non sense changes just to have a new item for sale per season, will help the organization to operate in a money savvy mode, making possible to many less privilage kids to join it. Pitty we are talking about a merit badge pamplet when in my days the same and only one was use by all the kids in my Troop (and later on in my Post). BSA can play the game of copy rights and they have the right to do so. I can play the game of printing all this pamphlets and make them available to any and all the kids who may want to check then out of the local public library (you know we can donate then and is nothing the BSA will be able to do…….the manuals will be available for free (one time purchase and many years of use). So, I would like to suggest that if the BSA is in such a need to make a bug, do so by charging $1.00 per manual’s download plus tax (Amazon charge .99 per song and also give you freebies!) and everyone will be happy. Just a piece of my mind.

  10. Elliot

    All I can say is that advancement is not free. It requires desire, planning, effort, time, and sometimes money. Why not just give out the merit badge patches, then no one would be irritated by having to drive somewhere to buy a book. What a time saver. When I was a scout we collected bottles and cut lawns to earn the books. Then we treasured them as a resource with value. My son now earns his books and then donates them to the troop library. A lot of effort is required for advancement. The merit badge books require more than just printing, a lot of work goes into them to provide scouts current information regarding the badges.
    Walter, as a trained Scoutmaster you should know better than to publish copyrighted material, and as a software developer would not give away your s/w at no charge?

    1. Walt Post author

      I’m pleased that you have turned purchasing the books to a learning experience to your son. All I can say is that there are many families in Scouting who can’t readily acquire or afford the pamphlets. Advancement does require time and effort, but to say it should require money simply to have the material presents a barrier to entry. There a lots of families not doing Scouting simply because they consider it too expensive. Earning the money themselves is a great idea, however we cannot presume to generalize every families’ situation and say they should be able to make the time or have the opportunity.

      BSA is spending a huge amount of money in the current system, and by their statement more than they collect; why not change the system to be more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly?

      I published the materials with the understanding it was allowable, which I and many others have been told repeatedly in our council as well as other councils. As a trained Scoutmaster I was acting in the interests of my youth, and providing a service that I was told was allowable. When the request came to remove them, it was done in the same day. Since then I have denied every request to email a pamphlet, which there have been more than a few.

      As a software developer I have on more than one occasion created software and websites that I gave away freely to serve others as well as provide free hosting on my own server. I am currently involved in two such projects.

      Thank you for your reply. I would hate to see the day when everyone agrees with me.

      1. JB

        All scouts pay an annual fee to become members of the BSA in good standing, and part of that fee should be applied to cover a centralized, online resource for leaders and scouts alike where they have access to advancement materials that are up to date, available 24/7, and more importantly allow users to comment on their own experiences and lessons learned using the materials.

        I just completed IOLS training, and at the end of the weekend, every single participant was given a CD ROM that included every piece of training documentation we covered AND MORE. The training course fee was a total of $45 – of that amount $17 went to buy food to feed us for the weekend. This is how the program should work and we would have better materials at the end of the day.

        Scouting has enough costs already – the actual production costs of the books is closer to $0.12 each – and they retail for $7.00 in our council scout shop. Leave the fundraising to popcorn and provide the materials online for the boys to use and we’ll have a better program going forward. I will be scanning my copies and providing them to all the boys in our troop for their use as part of the program, and will encourage the 3 libraries in our county to buy a complete set and make them available on their e-reader system.

  11. clark

    i’m a 13 year old star getting ready for scout camp and i thought there would be pamphlets online but of course there was not well bsa you are sure losing alot of fans

  12. Darren

    If scouts are going to keep with the “protect the environment” attitude, why not have paperless versions that scouts can use on computers, smart phones, tablets, etc.? Someone at the top must be more concerned about the green in money rather than keeping our plant green.

  13. Becky

    I just found your site today, and was disappointed to find you can no longer have the pdf version. I can’t believe the BSA will not provide a pdf version. I’ve noticed in the scout stores how expensive scout materials are. I want to thank you for trying to make these booklets more accessible. You seem to truly care about our scouts.

  14. Susan

    I think what you did was great and can not believe with the amount of changes that occur in the merit badge books that they would not switch over to having them online. It would make much more sense to update something that is available on line instead of printing up thousands of copies (save our trees). It would also make it alot easier to have access to the information especially last minute.

  15. jennifer graessle

    Just like Becky from Aug. 1, I too just found your website today. I concur with everyone that BSA needs to join us in the 21st century. Honestly, Go Green is a great catch phrase that everyone uses now-a-days but very few actually do it. Companies spout that they manufacture green products while the massive footprints of their factories and assembly plants destroy our rivers, lakes and lands. And the impact from hospitals is just downright terrifying. I think the BSA needs to revisit their own Scout Oath and Scout Law and should strive to become thrifty, clean, helpful, loyal and brave! Let’s be one of the few who truly ‘go green’- pdf the pamphlets! Also, let’s not forget, ‘a scout is helpful, friendly, courteous, kind’. Doesn’t this include helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves? PDF the pamphlets for the less economically fortunate scouts (which these days is probably 95% of scout troops)!
    I’ll be notifying our troop of your petition and will check back for updates declaring success.

  16. J. Littlejohn

    I’ve run into the same problem that many of my fellow scouts have: the lack of resources. The only place that our troop could get not only books, but uniforms, hats, supplies, and other necessary equipment has closed down. Now we can only deal with what we have, go without, or drive the 80 miles that would be the next closest supply store. How are we supposed to complete merit badge documentation without pamphlets? It would be absolutely amazing to have access to them online! At least then we could print them off ourselves so we could further learn about the topics that we choose instead of waiting on summer camps.

  17. Roy Ho

    I just joined Boy Scouts a few months ago and I am currently a Scout in Troop 103. A few days ago I was going to start on a Merit Badge and our troop library didn’t have the pamphlet so I went to check the public librarys but they also didn’t have it. I thought that I would have to buy it but the nearest scout store from my house is at least 3 hrs. away. I sure do with these petitions work… it would make my life way way way easier.

  18. Cheryl

    My son is new to Scouting and I have spent the last half hour searching online for a pamphlet. It is unbelievable to me that it has not occurred to anyone at BSA that this needs to be done. Thank goodness I came across your site so I can stop looking. This lack of an online resource is ridiculous.

  19. Greg Lyman

    I’ve been in scouting for many years. It’s a great organization and probably has more potential for postive influence in the lives of young men (and young women) than most any youth organizaton available. But I agree with others, scouting is not cheap . . . and the Merit Badge Pamphlet Issue is a SORE SPOT for almost everyone. So here is a couple of possible solutions for BSA:

    SOLUTION #1:

    I can go to a music site and get a download for 99 cents. I can get a nice Phone App for about the same price. I would be willing to layout 99 cents for an online Merit Badge Pamphlet if it were easy to download.

    My guess is that BSA US pulls in between $1M – $5M per year on these pamphlets. Admittedly, that’s a big spread so you know I’m strictly guessing. It could be a lot more or a lot less. But the point is that many people won’t buy the books because they are expensive to buy and not very convenient to get even though they are very userful. If BSA were to put those online for a nominal fee, I think it could increase BSA revenue to help them maintain a quality program and still serve all of the non-paid scouters who are donating millions of hours of volunteer time to the organization.

    ALTERNATE SOLUTION #2:

    Like many of you, I’m a long time ‘Friends of Scouting’ supporter. So besides my time, I donate a reasonable amount of cash every year to Scouting just to do my part. Maybe what I need to do is reduce my contibution to ‘Friends of Scouting’ for a couple of years and build a Merit Badge Library for our boys. It would hurt my local district for a couple of years and I appreciate what they do. So I wouldnt want to do that too long. But that solution could work as well.

  20. Janet Cox

    I agree that BSA seems more concerned with money than the boys. And I really like the idea of using my Friends of Scouting donation to buy the pamplets for our group, but I think the e-book idea is even better. Please BSA, get with the times. Most of the boys and families are tech savvy enough that pdf files would be great.

    I will be signing your petition.
    Janet

  21. Eric

    I have to admit I’m a little disappointed at the BSA for this situation as it seems it’s a problem easily dealt with. I’m currently looking to become a merit badge counselor and I hope I don’t have to chisel through similar nonsense for the entire course too.

    Post the pdf versions freely that are digitally signed and password protected so no one can change them. State the current version on the BSA download page as well and you of course only go to the BSA site to get the current version. Problem solved…

    We need to be a little pro-active here folks and get current with technology. It’s things like this that will turn away people willing to volunteer their time only to be met with frustration. Copyright issues are easy to deal with if that is the REAL issue here. I somehow see this as a money maker gone awry and just hinders what we all want to begin with – more scouts in the BSA! They need a wake up call and I’ll be signing …

  22. Jeri

    Wow, I completely agree. I can not believe there are only a few PDF versions available. That’s right. Go to http://www.ncsbsa.org and click on resources. Some pamphlets are on there. My son loves to do the merit badges, but it is not always easy or cost effective to get to the scout shop. Between the price of gas and the time, it is not right to require this of scouts and their families. I already come out of pocket and participate in fundraisers for so many other scouting activities and badges. I would gladly pay $1 for a downloadable PDF, but free would be better. As someone else stated, I may need to reduce the FOS contribution in order to help my local troop, but I would hate to do that. And additionally, my sone just read his first PDF version and I had to force him to stop. He loved reading online so that is another bonus.

  23. Steve

    One way to bypass the BSA’s e-book phobia would be to establish an independent wiki where Scouters could collaborate on “improved” merit badge guides. The structure could be similar to Wikipedia or to open-source software-development sites, where virtual teams organize to complete a specified task. Depending on the expertise and dedication of each team’s members, the results could be far superior to the official booklets.

  24. Walt Post author

    For a time I tried to establish a wiki here that includes learning resources. There was very little activity and meritbadge.org has begun to add such resources.

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