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Introduction to Scouting Badges

Are you brand new to Scouting and have no idea what all these badges are, how they work or why you should even care? This page is here to help! The Scout badge system can be quite confusing at first but is an important part of Scouting and worth investing the time to understand it.


Badges are awarded after a Scout ticks off some number of requirements to demonstrate that they have the correct knowledge and/or have put in the time and effort to earn that badge. The person who judges whether a Scout has completed the requirements depends on the badge and the requirements, and most badges require the Troop Scouter to be the final person to sign off on that badge. Once completed, badges are usually awarded to the Scout at a troop meeting.


More information about this process is explained in the sections below. For full details, browse this Wiki Page


There are five main categories of badges: Advancement, Theme, Scoutcraft, Interest and Challenge.


Advancement Badges


There are five advancement badges: 

   Membership              Traveller                 Discoverer               First Class               Springbok

These badges are a measure of your progress as you grow through Scouts and require the most amount of time and effort to earn. The badges must be earned in order. You get your membership badge when you get invested, you earn your Traveller and Discoverer between ages 11 and 15, and First Class by the time you’re 16/17. All Scouts who start at age 11 should aim to complete their First Class before they turn 18, and we as a Troop will do our best to help Scouts get there. We track every Scout’s progress with a chart we have on the wall in our hall. 


Springbok is the most prestigious award a Scout can earn. It requires a significant amount of work and can take a Scout anywhere from 6 to 12 months to complete. The Springbok badge is an excellent challenge for the determined Scout, and those who earn it go on our Honour Board up in our hall. Earning your Springbok is a CV-worthy achievement!


The requirements for Advancement badges are broken down into sub-categories which each have their own badge, called a Theme badge. This is explained in the next Section. 


Theme Badges


The theme badges are a sub-category of the Advancement badges; every Advancement badge is broken down into six Theme badges, which are:

          Safety Awareness                              Adventure                               Living Outdoors




       Personal Development                          Service                                             Skills

The badges pictured here are yellow, which indicates that they’re for the Traveller

Advancement badge. The Discoverer theme badges are green, and the First Class ones are red. For example:





            Skills: Traveller                             Skills: Discoverer                          Skills: First Class


There are no physical theme badges for Springbok. Once a Scout has earned all six Theme badges for a particular Advancement badge, they are awarded that Advancement badge. The Theme badge requirements can be found on the Wiki, on the chart in our hall, and in the My Scout Journey book, which is given to each Scout when they earn their Membership badge. The My Scout Journey is a great reference for all Advancement requirements.


We encourage all Scouts to keep an eye on their progress on the chart in the hall. As Scouters we do our best to keep it up to date, but if a Scout realises that they’ve completed a requirement, they must speak to their Patrol Leader or a Scouter to get it signed off.


Scoutcraft and Interest Badges


Scoutcraft and Interest badges are much more granular than Advancement and Theme badges. Theme and Advancement badges are earned over months and years, whereas Scoutcraft and Interest badges are earned over days or weeks and focus on a specific area of expertise. At the time of writing, there are just over 30 Scoutcraft badges and close to 100 interest badges! To give a few examples:










   Camping Scoutcraft                         Climbing Scoutcraft                       Swimming Scoutcraft



     Mapping Interest                               First Aid Interest                            Snorkelling Interest


You are definitely not expected to earn them all. The difference between Scoutcraft and Interest badges is usually the difficulty. Scoutcraft badges are aimed at the junior Scouts (ages 11 – 14.5) and Interest badges are aimed at the senior Scouts (ages 14.5 – 17). However, there are no hard rules – if you fulfill the requirements, it doesn’t matter how old you are! Additionally, some badges have both a Scoutcraft and Interest version, for example:





                                  Survival Scoutcraft                              Survival Interest

How Can I Earn a Scoutcraft or Interest Badge?


The first step is to find a badge you would like to earn. The easiest way to do that is to first go to the Interest Badge Wiki page.


Next, scroll down and pick a badge that takes your fancy. For example, let’s take the Hobbies Scoutcraft badge. From the wiki (or the PDF found on the wiki page), the requirements are: 


  1. Know the safety rules relating to the hobby (if applicable) and present the rules to your Scouter.

  2. Show a continuing interest in your chosen hobby, interest, or activity for four months and present evidence of your involvement in your hobby to your Scouter.

  3. Show your Scouter or your Patrol, how you pursue your hobby, interest, or activity. Show what equipment, materials, and background information you have used
    If your hobby includes collecting or items:

    1. Make a collection or study of objects for at least four months. You could collect books or magazines, cards, coins, figurines, films, key rings, paper money, postcards, stamps or similar.

    2. Show how you have chosen to display and store your collection and explain to your Scouter the reasons for doing this.

    3. Talk to your Patrol Leader or your Troop about the collection or study you chose. Explain why you chose your objects and what you like about them.

  4. Discuss with your examiner how you plan to develop their hobby, interest, or skill in the future.


Let’s say your hobby was woodworking:


  1. You’d need to explain to your examiner the safety rules around wearing the correct eye, ear and lung protection when woodworking, how to handle a saw, hammer, screwdriver, and other tools correctly and why it’s important to keep your tools sharp, for example.

  2. Over the course of four months, you’d pick a project (or several) and work on it (them), presenting your results to your examiner at the end. For example, you could  design and build a planter box, a picture frame and a shelf over those four months.

  3. Here you would give your to your examiner/Scouter/patrol a tour of your workshop, where and how you store your tools, and give an explanation about how each one works. (Since you are not collecting anything, items 3a., 3b. and 3c. don’t apply.)

  4. Finally, you’d have a discussion with your examiner about your future projects, what tools you’d like to get next and why, and what skills you hope to develop.


In this case, your examiner could be a parent/sibling/friend/mentor who is knowledgeable in the field of woodworking. Once the examiner is happy you’ve passed off the requirements, they can print the PDF, sign it and get it to the Troop Scouter, who will then award the badge. Simple as that!


What about Badge Courses?


There are a subset of the Scoutcraft and Interest badges that Western Cape Scouting have decided represent core skills that all Scouts should learn at some point. These include: 


  1. Scoutcraft 

    1. First Aid

    2. Hiking

    3. Map Reading

    4. Pioneering

    5. Survival

  2. Interest

    1. Mapping

    2. Cook

    3. First Aid

    4. Pioneer

    5. Survival

    6. Hike Leader


For these badges, Western Cape Scouting runs one or two courses a year where they teach and test the requirements for these badges over the course of one or two weekends. You are also required to attend the course to earn the badge – if you want to do it outside of the course you need to apply for an exemption, and you need a good reason to get it. 


Western Cape Scouting also runs other badge courses each year for popular Scoutcraft/Interest badges. Some examples are Climbing, Canoeing, Conservation, Fires and Cooking, Oarsman and Watermanship. It’s not required to attend the course to earn the badge, but the course will teach all the relevant skills so it’s very likely you’ll earn the badge by the end of the course. 


Western Cape Scouting will usually release a list at the start and middle of each year with all the courses being run. This includes dates, costs, prerequisites, venue, etc. Badge courses are booked through Scouts.Digital. The Scouters will email out that list at the start of each term along with any relevant details about how and when to book. 


As a troop, we will occasionally run our own badge courses at the hall over a weekend or two. If you’d like us to run a badge course, please do let us know and we’ll see what we can organise! 


Required Scoutcraft/Interest badges


If you look through the requirements for the Theme/Advancement badges, you’ll notice that some Scoutcraft/Interest badges are themselves a requirement for a Theme/Advancement badge. If you’re looking for a Scoutcraft/Interest badge to start work on, this is a great place to start!



Challenge Awards


These are similar to Interest badges but are typically much more difficult to achieve. An example is the Thong or Cord challenge awards, which require a Scout to earn fifteen interest badges from a specific list. Other examples include the PLTU badge, Star Patrol awards, President’s award, and Cub Instructor. Click here for more details.


Badge Placement


All badges are worn on a Scout’s uniform. Click here to see where they all go.

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