The Two Most Important Merit Badges

As an Eagle Coach, I am concerned with helping young men attain Eagle Scout rank.  But I am actually more concerned with helping them establish a good base for launching themselves into the business of leading a productive life as an adult.  To help achieve that objective, there are two no more important merit badges than Personal Fitness and Personal Management.  These are the cornerstones of living a full life in accordance with the Scout Law and Oath.  If we cannot take care of ourselves, how are we to take care of others?

Almost everyone has been on an airplane flight where a flight attendant demonstrates the correct use of an oxygen mask in the event of cabin depressurization.   Their instructions  to put your own mask on first, and then the masks of children, sounds counter-intuitive.  But the logic is sound:  If you pass out, how are you going to help your children?

Likewise, if you cannot get your own act together, how are you going to fulfill that part of our oath that says you will help other people at all times?  Personal Fitness and Personal Management give you the tools to do just that.  Scouts, as you complete these merit badges on your Eagle trail, try to go beyond the letter of the requirements and ask yourself how you can implement what you are learning into your life today, as well as the rest of your life.

Both of these merit badges are best taken later in your Scout career, as you get closer to a life beyond living with your parents or guardians.  And here’s a shortcut:  If you complete your Eagle Service Project proposal before you start Personal Management, your merit badge counselor can count it as fulfillment of requirement # 9, a project on paper.  (You only need to complete “proposal” section, not final plan or the project itself.) One of those rare cases where your work can count twice!