I have been working on the Hiking merit badge with my two sons long before I was called as their Scoutmaster. From as early as age 5, they began developing a love for the outdoors from the little time we spent exploring the mountains near our home in North Bend, WA. They’d put on their Pooh and Tigger backpacks (school bags really) filled with a water bottle and snacks and away we’d go. They had lots of energy, were always excited about the “adventure” and young enough to not have any reasons to avoid hiking… and I wanted to keep it that way.
One day, when they were 11, we were talking about required merit badges and they asked about Hiking. I told them: “The hiking merit badge is a tough one. Most kids don’t do it since that requirement can be accomplished with either Swimming or Cycling as an alternative.” There was no reaction to this statement… it was as if they didn’t even hear me. After a short pause, my very next statement was: “We should go for it!”
I don’t remember much of a reaction from that either, but I liked the idea of a challenge and encouraged them to go after this one to be different. I also knew that if I made it fun for them, they’d be excited about hiking and hopefully grow to enjoy it as much as I did.
So requirement 5 (as of 2010) calls for “five hikes, each on a different day, and each of at least ten continuous miles.” It took us some time to find the “right” hikes to get these passed off, but here is what we’ve done up to this point:
- Butler Fork to Mill A to Dog Lake and back
- Wasatch Crest from Guardsman to Millcreek
- North Canyon to Mueller Park
- Smith & Morehouse Trail
- Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon Loop
Over the next few months, I will post info about these hikes along with map details and pictures in case you want to use any of them for your own Hiking merit badge planning.
All we have left is requirement 6, the 20-miler!
SIDE NOTE: As I write this, I’d love to see nation-wide statistics for the completion of Hiking, Swimming and Cycling merit badges. Anyone know where I can find that?