Can You Ace These Basic Boy Scout Merit Badge Questions?

There's more you need to know than how to tie a knot.

Closeup Of Metallic Pot On Bonfire - Image

Every February 8, we celebrate a very special holiday: National Boy Scouts Day, a 24-hour period when people around the world (yep, the Scouts is an international organization!) celebrate the character-building work done by those moving from Tenderfoot to Eagle (or just hanging out and learning to tie knots).

The organization's numerous merit badges cover everything from basic first aid and crime prevention to moviemaking and geocaching. But while Boy Scouts is aimed at young teenagers, the skills learned there are anything but child's play. Test your own knowledge of some of these Scouting essentials to see whether you'd be worthy of a merit badge. And for more ways to quiz yourself, try to Guess These American Cities Based on Just a Photograph.

What's the number one priority in backcountry survival?

cedar woods Denis Johnson

When lost in the woods or separated from your group while camping, what is the most important thing you'll need?

A positive mental attitude

boy with toad outdated life lessons

That's right. Not food, water, nor a comfy tent—a positive outlook makes all the difference between survivors and those in serious danger. And while you're lost out there, don't think too much about the 30 Most Deadly Animals on Earth.

What are the other six survival priorities?

Pacific Crest Trail Adventure

The Wilderness Survival merit badge lists seven total priorities. Following "a positive mental attitude," there are six other must-haves for those who are stranded.

(2) First Aid; (3) Shelter; (4) Fire; (5) Signaling; (6) Water; (7) Food

Adventure camping man cooking alone outdoors with tent, sunrise and lens flare in the mountain morning sunlight. Happy explorer enjoying a meal in the wilderness

Again, the order might surprise you (uh, how are water and food at the bottom of the list?). But remember: Your goal is to be found safely. That means fixing any injuries, protecting yourself from the elements, staying warm, and finding ways to alert outsiders of your location. Then you can start worrying about having sustenance for the long term. And for more amazing knowledge you can take with you, see these 50 Awesome Facts About Everything.

What does PFD stand for in rowing?

No, this is not some kind of weird new type of file on your computer. It's a specific tool that any Scout would be able to name. And don't worry, it's not on this list of 30 Things That Have Different Names Throughout the U.S.

Personal floatation device

Life vest

As in, a life jacket, life preserver, or any other device that allows the wearer to remain afloat when in water.

Which of these things should be avoided when carving?

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Carving in your lap.

Using long strokes.

Carving near your face.

All of the above

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All three of those options are bad when it comes to carving. You should always carve at a table, at a distance from your face and throat, and using small, well-placed strokes (both for safety and to ensure your project looks how you want it to).

Name three methods (other than matches) to build a fire.

campfire photos that will make you excited for summer

Any Scout to get the Wilderness Survival badge must be able to use three methods—besides striking a match—to light a fire. And no, "lighter" doesn't count either.

(1) Flint and Steel; (2) Magnifying Glass; (3) Friction

Each of these methods has their advantages and disadvantages (not everyone has flint and steel handy and wood has to be very dry for friction to work effectively), but all are ways to get a fire started when you don't have a match.

Which kind of lashing binds together two things at right angles to each other: Square lashing or round lashing?

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If you are creating a cross with two pieces of wood and want to lash the two together, there is a particular type of lashing that works best to keep the two together.

Square lashing

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The two pieces you are connecting are "square" with each other, hence the term "square lashing." This connects the two pieces together in a secure, perpendicular way.

Which knot ties together the ends of two ropes: Sheep bend or timber hitch?

When you have two pieces of rope that you want to connect, there's a perfect knot for the job, according to the Pioneering merit badge requirements. Which one is it?

Sheep bend

With this knot, the larger of the two ropes creates a "bend" that the smaller one ties around. The timber hitch is a knot used, as it sounds, for dragging a log. The knot tightens as you pull it but is easy to untie once you get the log where it needs to be.

What's a way to purify water in the wilderness?

Dunn's River Falls Jamaica Tourist Traps

For the Wilderness Survival badge, you must demonstrate three ways to treat water in order to make it drinkable.

Either (1) Boil It; (2) Use Chemical Purification; or (3) Use a Water Filtration System

Closeup Of Metallic Pot On Bonfire - Image

The simplest method is probably the first one (especially if you didn't pack much). But you can also consider iodine pills, which kill most waterborne pathogens (even if it makes the water taste kind of gross), or a filter/purifier that strains out microorganisms.

Name three "outdoor essentials."

amazing gifts

The Camping merit badge asks scouts to list all 10 of the BSA's Outdoor Essentials needed for any campout. These are items no scout should start a hike, camping trip or any other outing without. Can you name three of them?

(1) A Pocketknife; (2) First Aid Kit; (3) Extra Clothing; (4) Rain Gear; (5) Flashlight; (6) Trail Food; (7) Water; (8) Matches/Lighter; (9) Sun Protection; and (10) Map and Compass


These are the must-have items for any Scout.

Name two common tent shapes.

father son camping trips

There are four different tent shapes, according to the Camping merit badge. Can you name half of them? C'mon, think about it….

(1) Tarp; (2) A-Frames; (3) Domes; (4) Hybrids

going camping together can help couples relax

A-frames and domes are pretty obvious and the likely ones the average camper has encountered before. But don't forget about the humble tarp or the catchall hybrid, which can look like a half-dome, tunnel or rounded A-frame (pretty much anything that's not clearly one of the other three).

Which of these is NOT on the list of stove safety tips?

man campfire marshmallows

Never use a stove inside or near a tent.

Even if they are empty, keep fuel bottles and canisters away from sources of heat.

Only leave a stove unattended if the heat is turned down to low.

Only leave a stove unattended if the heat is turned down to low

As the Camping merit badge pamphlet states, "Never leave a burning stove unattended."

How should you remedy frostbitten fingers?

campfire marshmallows

If camping in cold temperatures, a person's fingers, toes, or other extremities may suffer from frostbite, as ice crystals form in the tissues. How should you fix that?

Lightly warm the affected area

common injuries

While it might seem like a smart idea to put a frostbitten finger directly in front of a fire, that's the opposite of what you should do. Instead, you should only lightly warm the frostbitten area—perhaps by putting it against your warm skin or underneath an armpit. Since the nerves are likely damaged, putting it near an open flame could leave it vulnerable to being burnt without the victim realizing it.

Which is more serious: Heat exhaustion or heat stroke?

Thailand city view in heatwave summer season high temperature from global warming effect

Both of these issues can affect a person who is spending too much time in the heat, but there are important distinctions between the two.


ice and snow removal

Heat exhaustion leads to a lack of energy, a feeling of weakness, and sometimes faintness; but heatstroke (when the body's cooling system begins to fail and the victim's core temperature rises above 105 degrees) can result in death if left untreated.

Which of these is a warning sign of a heart attack?

Man Having a Heart Attack {Heart Disease Symptoms}


Shortness of breath

Feeling of weakness

Unusual sweating

All of the above

Doctor you see for a heart attack

In addition to those symptoms in the previous slide, you can also add a persistent, uncomfortable pressure, or a feeling of pain in the center of one's chest. If someone is exhibiting these signs, you should administer first aid for a heart attack.

What's the first step in first aid for severe bleeding?

man with injured hand

Say you arrive at the scene of an accident and a victim asks for your help. Their arm is bleeding heavily and clearly needs attention. What's the first thing you do?

Put on disposable gloves and protective goggles

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In any first aid situation, your first concern is your own safety, and that means protection from others' potentially toxic bodily fluids. You don't want to take any action unless there is an impermeable blockage between you and any blood.

When administering CPR, what does A-B-C-D stand for?

Man In First Aid Class Checking Airway On CPR Dummy - Image

The steps in administering CPR are more easily remembered by assigning them with the alphabetical order of A-B-C-D. But what does each of those letters stand for?

Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Defibrillation


That is: Check their airway to be sure it's not blocked (by carefully tilting their head back), place your cheek above their mouth to see if you feel any breath on it, use compressions on their chest to attempt to restart circulation (if the heart has stopped beating), or use a defibrillator to do the same. But do not try this at home—only those trained in CPR should administer it.

How many "Leave No Trace" principles are there when camping?

Redwood National Park

Understanding and explaining these principles is one of the first requirements for the Camping merit badge. They're also useful guidelines for anyone spending time in nature.


tent photos that will make you excited for summer

(1) Plan Ahead and Prepare

(2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

(3) Dispose of Waste Properly

(4) Leave What You Find

(5) Minimize Campfire Impacts

(6) Respect Wildlife

(7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors

In which types of situations should you treat an accident victim for shock?

heart attack victim

Accident-related shock, in which the circulatory system fails to maintain adequate blood flow, can create all kinds of issues, including low blood pressure and hyperventilation.

In every situation

shock victim car accident

Shock results often enough from all types of accidents that it is wisest to treat every victim of a serious accident as if they are suffering from shock—that means summoning emergency aid, monitoring the victim to be sure they are breathing regularly, and raising their feet slightly to move blood to their vital organs.

Which of these items doesn't need to be in your personal first-aid kid?

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Gauze pads

Disposable gloves


Pencil and paper

None, they've all got to be included

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"Pencil and paper" might seem like an odd item to include, but it may be necessary to log treatments and important info that can be passed along to paramedics.

Name a way to attract a rescue plane.

plane window hole flying facts

If stranded in the wilderness, your best bet for rescue is often by catching the attention of someone flying by in an airplane. But how?

Signal Fires/Smoke, Mirror, Symbols

fire and smoke flare

Attract a plane's attention with fire at night and smoke during the day. When the sun is out, a mirror can be an effective way to triangulate between the sun and the plane, using the flash of the light to catch the pilot's eyes. If you're near a clearing, place garments or strips of cloth into a noticeable symbol that will catch the eye of the pilot, or even lay out there yourself. And for more wilderness facts, check out 50 Facts About Nature's Wonders That Will Take Your Breath Away.

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