Ten Least Popular Boy Scout Merit Badges Of 2006

Or “Why Johnny Can’t Public Health.”

I credit Swivel.com with helping me discover a personal interest — potentially enlightening data points just lying around on the internet waiting to be shared.

I came across this data sheet on 2006 Merit Badges a while ago while researching some specific numbers on the membership of the Boy Scouts organization. They have it sorted alphabetically and that makes it hard to see the winners and losers, so I whipped up a simple chart on Swivel and here’s what it revealed — For what it’s worth, the bottom 10 Merit Badges of 2006 were:

  • Journalism (1,272 badges)
  • Surveying (1,201)
  • Entrepreneurship (1,161)
  • Public Health (1,123)
  • Stamp Collecting (1,112)
  • Plant Science (753)
  • American Business (717)
  • Fly Fishing (701)
  • Bugling (627)
  • American Labor (582)

Clearly, there are areas here that the youth of America could use some work on. The UAW and IBEW can’t be pleased to have whatever “American Labor” is ranked dead last. Robust Entrepreneurship, Journalism, Bugling, and American Business are all critical to the ongoing strength of the blogosphere, so those are troubling figures as well.

To be fair, these beauties have to compete with badges that are required for the Eagle Scout designation. Nine of the top ten are Eagle requirements(marked in the chart with single or double asterisks), but that only makes #8, Leatherwork(54,654), stick out like a sore thumb. What’s going on there?

Here’s the complete data table, along with the cumulative totals for each since 1911, if you want to cross this data with anything else.

5 Replies to “Ten Least Popular Boy Scout Merit Badges Of 2006”

  1. Not to go immediately off topic, but I misread a couple of the labels on your Swivel chart – Pottery registered as “poetry” and Cycling registered as “crying.” I kind of thought it was a Girl Scouts list.

  2. As an Eagle Scout, I have some answers.

    Leatherwork is so high up because its so easy. Everybody gets it the first day of their first summer camp.

    I suspect Entrepreneurship, Journalism, Public Health, American Business and American Labor require sending letters, meeting officials and/or writing lengthy reports, something nobody really wants to do.

    I bet at least half of the 582 people who got the American Labor merit badge eventually earned every other merit badge in the list. Those scouts are the crazy ones.

  3. I’m half-suprised. I would think entrepreneurship and journalism would be higher, but it makes sense after reading eric’s comment.

    On a side note, I read bugling as “Burgling”.

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