7 Merit Badges the Boy Scouts Were Forced to Discontinue

Back when ‘be prepared’ included stuffing and posing animal carcasses
7 Merit Badges the Boy Scouts Were Forced to Discontinue

Whether its a driven young man looking to expand his life skills or a beleaguered parent desperately hoping to add some structure to their most chaotic sons life, the Boy Scouts are a long-lived American institution, being founded all the way back in 1910

Whether you were a scout or not, youre probably familiar with the currency of capability the scouts are known for collecting: merit badges. A thoroughly dotted sash would indicate all the skills the bearer had achieved suitable proficiency in. Of course, the sort of skills that might have been needed back in 1910 were a very different spread from those in 2024. So its not too surprising that theres a decent amount of merit badges that, for reasons ranging from obsolescence to general human safety, have long been discontinued.

Here are seven of them…



And you thought a teenage boys bedroom smelled bad before. Just wait until theyre experimenting with pelts and formaldehyde in pursuit of their taxidermy badge. Look, I have zero doubt that taxidermy is an incredibly skillful profession, and bad taxidermy shows just how much room for error exists. Still, you have to think that a teenage boy becoming an amateur animal mortician isnt something thats giving him a better chance to assimilate into society.

Master at Arms

I’ve got to think that this one was removed out of safety, with a side benefit of preventing the Boy Scouts from spending the rest of the century resolving lawsuits over maimed scouts. The Master at Arms badge was earned by learning multiple disciplines of physical combat, options including stick fighting, boxing and jiu-jitsu. You only have to mop up teen-boy blood in a church basement one time before you realize sponsoring Kidz Bop Fight Club might not have been the best idea.



I don’t feel like there’s a huge mystery here, just that they used to play it a lot faster and looser about who was allowed to operate an automobile.

Foundry Practice

Even the most stalwart supporter of “kids are soft these days” would probably stop short of sending them to a foundry. As far as buildings go, that’s one you really don’t want a bunch of kids fucking around inside. A metal foundry is so dangerous it’s one of the top places for a final fight in an action movie. Nobody wants to watch a human arm sinking into molten steel, throwing up the Boy Scout salute like the Terminator thumbs-up.

Pigeon Raising


I assume the discontinuation of the Taxidermy and Pigeon Raising merit badges made the same, strange child very disappointed. This wouldn’t be the badge you’d want your son informing you he’s pursuing at the dinner table. If so, you’re in for all the annoyance of raising chickens, with none of the breakfast food benefits. The noise. The chaos. The unrelenting, constant stream of disgusting bird shit. Maybe the only pet that would have a parent pleading, “Wouldn’t you rather get a ferret?”

Beef Production

Ah, a light bit of serial killer practice in the name of agriculture. I’m sure, a couple decades in the past, a father would look on proudly as his son flawlessly broke down an entire cow carcass. Nowadays, even supermarket butchers keep that sort of stuff to the back rooms. It’s just a basic tenet of modern child-rearing that you’d probably like your kid to not be intimately familiar with the texture and give of flesh, or the sound of a joint popping out of place. Outside of those same things rendered in 4K in Call of Duty, at least.



A bit of a twist, being that this merit badge does, in fact, still exist. It’s just been renamed, and boy howdy, do we know why. This badge now goes by the much less alarming moniker of “tracking,” and that’s definitely for the best. Otherwise, everybody’s just imagining a pale, unblinking 14-year-old weirdo receiving his Stalking badge, pinning it on his sash next to his badges for Bedroom Window Lock-picking or Hair Doll Making.

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