Several requirement changes have been approved to the Hiking merit badge These will become effective on January 1, 2023. The hiking merit badge is one of the optional Eagle Required merit badges, sharing an option between itself, swimming, and cycling.
What is changing:
Requirement 2 has been expanded into three parts, to allow Scouts to thoroughly demonstrate an under- standing of the importance of good hiking practices and etiquette. It now includes more emphasis on Leave No Trace and the Outdoor Code, which are core principles of Scouting and should be introduced and re-viewed when beginning to work on this merit badge:
2. Do the following:
a. Explain and, where possible, show the points of good hiking practices including proper outdoor ethics, hiking safety in the daytime and at night, courtesy to others, choice of footwear, and proper care of feet and footwear.
b. Read aloud or recite the Leave No Trace guidelines, and discuss why each is important while hiking.
c. Read aloud or recite the Outdoor Code, and give examples of how to follow it on a hike.
After reviewing feedback from the field and discussions from both merit badge counselors and professional organization representatives, requirements 4 and 5 were merged and updated. The new requirement has Scouts complete four 10-mile hikes and one 20-mile hike, as opposed to the previous one 5-mile, three 10- mile, and one 15-mile hike. It has also been written for clarity.
4. Take four 10-mile hikes and one 20-mile hike, each on a different day, and each of continuous miles. Prepare a written hike plan before each hike and share it with your merit badge counselor or a designee for approval before starting the hike. Include map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch. You may stop for as many short rest periods as needed, as well as one meal, during each hike, but not for an extended period such as overnight.
Requirement 6 became requirement 5 and replaced the word “reflection” with “report” as some Scouts may be unclear about what is meant by a “reflection”, but are more likely to know what is expected in a report. Additionally, it clarifies what should be included for each hike, not just a final report of all.
5. After each of the hikes (or during each hike if on one continuous “trek”) in requirement 4, write a short report on your hike. For each hike, give the date and description (or map) of the route covered, the weather, any interesting things you saw, and any challenges you had and how you overcame them. It may include something you learned about yourself, about the outdoors, or about others you were hiking with. Share this with your merit badge counselor.