Merit Badges for Adults
August 30, 2017 5:49 AM   Subscribe

I like the idea of Boys / Girls Scouts for adults. Are there any programs / websites I can enroll in to earn merit badges with the ultimate goal of being a more useful and resourceful adult? I would love to tell my kids that dad and his friends are now Level 4 knot tiers and Level 2 campers.
posted by jasondigitized to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Red Cross first aid classes
Kahn Academy
Couch to 5k
The Five French Mother Sauces

You could set your own milestones, like changing a tire, camping for X nights in a row, hiking 100-500-1000 miles, cutting a cord of firewood, IDing ten local birds, planting a tree, etc. Major bonus points for doing all that with your kids!
posted by scrubjay at 6:52 AM on August 30, 2017

Best answer: Since you mention knots and camping, how about Outward Bound Training? Don't know if they have badges, though. Maybe pins?

Other types of programs for a "useful and resourceful adult" are service groups like Housing Works and Habitat for Humanity. Again, don't know about the badges, but your kids should be able to understand that you're doing useful and resourceful work.

My cycle club gives on-line "badges" for various cycling classes and/or and services to the members. We're thinking of terminating the program, though, because with experience we've realized that the program lacks quality control. That is, it's too easy to obtain the badges, and politically impossible to either make it harder to get them, or to impose higher standards on those who are doing the certifying. So they don't really indicate enough about the abilities of the cyclist.

Watching this thread with interest.
posted by JimN2TAW at 6:59 AM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

On the geeky side, Not a program, but jumped to mind.
posted by neilbert at 7:12 AM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

> I like the idea of Boys / Girls Scouts for adults. Are there any programs / websites I can enroll in to earn merit badges with the ultimate goal of being a more useful and resourceful adult

You could become a Girl Scout. I'm a Girl Scout, I do all the leader training I can, and have learned all kinds of cool things (including knots, various camping skills, and wilderness First Aid).
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:24 AM on August 30, 2017 [8 favorites]

You can also look at open badges - my understanding is that you can create badges on here and earn them. I know the Productivity Alchemy podcast has an open badge code every episode that you earn for listening.
posted by needlegrrl at 7:44 AM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Look into your local city/county Search and Rescue (SAR) operation. I'm an immigrant and did not have the opportunity when young to learn scouting skills. I learned all kinds of self-sufficiency skills such as camping, navigating, knots, etc... through my involvement with local Search and Rescue group. At the end of the training, you can then decide if you want to be certified to be a SAR volunteer.
posted by gloturtle at 9:26 AM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a bit of a stretch, as it's not camping, but organizations like the Coast Guard Auxiliary provide free training on how to become boat crew qualified, watchstander qualified, etc. Depending on the uniform one is wearing, there are, uh, badge-like indicators for some of those qualifications. They're a good organization that provides many opportunities for everything from marine mammal protection to paddlecraft safety.
posted by ldthomps at 10:15 AM on August 30, 2017

Scuba has a blizzard of certifications, including search and rescue, serving as an overseer for others diving, instructor, etc. etc. Some aren't about making you a better person (diving in ice is morally neutral as far as I can see), but a number are. The training and dives are obviously very pricey.

As mentioned above, many police departments have citizen programs. Typically you start with an informational program, then you get some training, do some volunteering, more advanced training, more advanced volunteering, etc.
posted by wnissen at 10:42 AM on August 30, 2017

You can join the international guild of knot tyers. They don't give out badges, but if you learn a bunch of knots, and can deploy them effectively over a variety of contexts, that is more useful than telling someone you have a merit badge in knot tying.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2017

The adult word for merit badge is certificate. As in what you get at the end of lots of training courses.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:02 PM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Should you need actual merit badges, once you determine your coursework/levels, there are lots to be had on etsy.
posted by sarajane at 1:10 PM on August 30, 2017

"Merit badge" is trademarked by the Boy Scouts, FYI, so using it as a search term isn't always helpful; nobody else (legally) uses it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:15 PM on August 30, 2017

Someone gave my grown-up Girl Scout daughter this book: You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls Set up like a GS handbook with steps to completing the badges. Comes with sticker badges to show you have completed the tasks.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:39 PM on August 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

For a slightly different take on self betterment plans, I like to recommend the clean sweep.
posted by enfa at 1:27 PM on September 1, 2017

Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but if you are within driving distance of central Kentucky, if you participate in the year-long 320+ mile section hike of the Sheltowee Trace hiking trail, you get a pretty fantastic "End to End" literal patch and certificate at the end of it. It's not training per se, but many people who start in January are total hiking novices and become expert hikers by the time the end of the year comes around.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:23 PM on September 1, 2017

In the online world, you can learn a language. Duolingo is a way to learn new languages and you earn lots of badges: daily badges, level badges. It's gamified with different modalities of engaging (talking, typing, looking at pictures), winning streaks, and heart points. I find it engaging and a productive use of short free time bits. Then you can tell people you are 17% proficient in Dutch!
posted by Mr Yak at 4:08 PM on September 4, 2017

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