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Could you qualify for a 1948 Boy Scout Photography Merit Badge?

JDM von Weinberg , May 20, 2011; 01:58 p.m.

Here are the requirements for a merit badge in Photography from the 1948 (Fifth Ed., First Printing) Handbook for Boys [the main manual for the scouts, JDM], pp. 503-4:

  1. Show that he is thoroughly familiar with the essential parts of a camera and explain the purpose of each of the following: finder, lens, shutter, diaphragm opening, bellows, focusing scale.
  2. Understand the basic principles of composition, selection of background and handling of light and shade.
  3. Name the chemicals found in one standard developing solution and one fixing solution, and explain their purpose.
  4. Submit six good quality pictures taken, developed and printed by himself, putting into practice his knowledge of the principles in Requirement No. 2. (Not more than two pictures may be submitted from any one of the following groups, and the collection must include one from each group.)
  • GROUP A.. Landscape or water pictures.
    GROUP B: Groups of persons or street scenes.
    GROUP C: Person, domestic animal or bird; wild animal or bird.
    GROUP D.. Architectural subjects.

Can you do all these things?

BTW, there was also a merit badge for Stalking, but unlike Photography, it was only available to First-Class Scouts and upper ranks.

Merit Baadge for Photography - available for Second-Class Scouts.


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JDM von Weinberg , May 20, 2011; 02:03 p.m.

Oh, I just remembered. This is one of the six pictures I submitted when I got my own merit badge.

True enough, we don't need no stinkin' baadges, but be prepared. ;)

Mesa Verde - Kodak Jiffy 620, probably Verichrome.

John Kelly , May 20, 2011; 02:20 p.m.

JDM, nice! My merit badges were cooking, photo, and art. Knot tying and the like..bleah. The art advisor, Great Falls Montana, had a wonderful collection of brain-tanned, nearly paper-white Indian buckskin clothes, not to mention bead work...an ancient old coot, he had been a student of Charlie Russell, whose story all my friends knew... that was enough for me!


The cooking badge was a natural because I camped out, cooked out, and ate.

I don't remember much about the photo badge, except that it involved my sister's Brownie, diopter lens taped-on, used to photograph my lead soldiers close up, focus distance guessed badly...I processed and printed.

Bernard Miller , May 20, 2011; 02:21 p.m.

Wow! With a little boning up from my Ansel Adams books to prepare for number 3, I might just be able to earn mine--although I might have to persuade the judges about the "quality" of my photos.

So did scouts who earned both the Photography and Stalking badges grow up to become the first paparazzi?

JDM von Weinberg , May 20, 2011; 03:00 p.m.

Actually, the comment about paparazzi may not have been so far off, and the requirements for the Stalking merit badge are fairly intensive:

1. Demonstrate by means of a stalking game or otherwise, ability to stalk skillfully in shelter and wind, etc., showing how to proceed noiselessly and "freeze" when occasion demands.
2. Know and recognize the tracks of ten different kinds of animals or birds in his vicinity, three of which may be domestic.
3. Submit satisfactory evidence that he has trailed two different kinds of wild animals or birds on ordinary ground far enough to determine the direction in which they were going, and their gait or speed. Give names of animals or birds trailed, their direction of travel, and describe gait or speed; or submit satisfactory evidence that he has trailed six different kinds of wild animals or birds in snow, sand, dust, or mud, far enough to determine the direction they were going and their gait or speed. Give names of animals or birds, their direction of travel, and describe gait or speed.
4. Submit satisfactory evidence that he has tracked a human being and deduced from the trail whether it was man or woman, young or old, the gait or speed, and also give any other information deduced.
5. Submit evidence that he has scored at least 30 points from the following groups: [Group (f) and 4 of the 5 groups (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) must be represented in the score of 30 and at least 7 points must be scored from (a), (b), or (c) ].

Make clear recognizable photographs of:
(a) Live bird away from nest.......4 points each
(b) Live woodchuck or smaller wild animal.......3 points each
(c) Live wild animal larger than woodchuck .......4 points each
(d) Live bird on nest.......3 points each
(e) Tracks of live wild animal or bird.......2 points each
(f) Make satisfactory plaster cast of wild animal or bird tracks with identification imprint on back of cast.......2 points each

The picture of the merit badge itself is below, but somehow it remains an optical "delusion" for me.
Is it a branch of a tree with a "gray alien" hanging on it, or what? ?

Tell me what the merit badge is depicting, I can't make it out.

JDM von Weinberg , May 20, 2011; 03:04 p.m.

I never got this one, so have no boy photos of a live wild animal larger than a woodchuck. In Kansas, this would have been difficult unless you could count an Angus.

Matt Laur , May 20, 2011; 03:31 p.m.

I'm pretty sure I could pass both the photography test and the stalking test, and possibly all of them on the same day ... but I would fail the religious qualifications, and they'd throw me to the wolves. I don't know if there's a fending-off-wolves merit badge, but I might qualify. Except for the religious issue. Damn! A fella just can't get a stinkin' badge around here! Not even for traditional campfire songs.

Happily, Steve Martin has now addressed this issue.

On the badge illustration, I think that's supposed to be a lion/ess on the hunt. Here's the best I could quickly find:

Oh, THAT kind of stalking!

Geoff Sobering , May 20, 2011; 03:59 p.m.

JDM von Weinberg , May 20, 2011; 01:58 p.m.
Can you do all these things?

I'm pretty sure I have the requisite prints in my files.
I would have to refresh my memory on the academic side of composition and developer chemistry to pass 2. and 3.
So, with a few minutes of prep, I think I could pass.
Now, the religion part...

Michael Chang , May 20, 2011; 04:17 p.m.

We never had photography as boy scouts in Taiwan, but I do fondly remember learning how to tie all those fancy knots. I still remember them too.

Steve Levine , May 20, 2011; 04:19 p.m.

c 1963, age 9. I had my Cub Scout, "little gold arrowhead" in photography. This was sewn on my blue shirt. A para military looking thing that resembled the hitler youths.

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