I grew up going to scouts every week. I was always working on one merit badge or another, especially the merit badges that involved the outdoors! One such merit badge is the Hiking Merit Badge. In order to earn the Scout Hiking Merit Badge, you need to complete a series of requirements that show you are not only physically fit, but also knowledgeable in the best practices for First Aid, and other safety elements.
Below is a list of requirements you need to complete in order to be awarded the Hiking Merit badge.
- Explain to your scout master/ leader the following:
a- Likely/possible hazards you may encounter while hiking.
(Examples: rain, sleet, snow, hot humid weather, personal injury, wild animal encounters, rough terrain, etc.) You’ll need to be able to explain what you should do to anticipate, prevent, prepare for and respond to each of these potential hazards.b- Show that you know what to do (first aid) for any injuries or illnesses you may get while hiking.
(Examples: Hypothermia, Frostbite, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, sunburns, hyperventilation, altitude sickness, sprained ankle, blisters, snake bites, insect bites and insect stings)
- Explain the following to your scout master/leader:
a- Good hiking practices
b- Proper outdoor ethics
c- Hiking safety (day and night)
d- Choice of foot ware
e- How to care for your feet
f- Courtesy to others
- Explain to your scout master/leader how hiking is an aerobic activity. In addition, you are required to:
a- Design a conditioning program for a 10-mile hike. (Examples include: a structured daily and weekly workout routine, appropriate dietary habits to successfully fuel the body for such an event, conditioning through a series of smaller 2 to 3-mile hikes, etc.)
b- Design a plan of action to improve your fitness for longer hikes. (Examples include: Increased workout frequency and duration of activity, appropriate distribution of macronutrients to sustain longer activities, increase series of hikes to 5 to 7 miles)
- Complete a series of longer hikes (in sequential order as listed below) and write information about each experience.
One 5-Mile Hike | Three 10-mile Hikes | One 15-mile hike
Each of these hikes must be completed on different days. Additionally, the hikes need to be continuous, meaning you cannot hike for five miles, then set up camp for the night, then hike another 5 miles the next day and count that for the 10-mile hike. However, you are allowed to take short rest periods along the way and also take one stop for a meal.
The written component should include: Detailed information about your experiences while on the hike. Important elements to include are: date the hike was taken, description of the route traveled, the weather encountered, what was seen and heard, interesting things you learned along the way, and something you learned about yourself, the outdoors, or about others with whom you were hiking. The scout shares these experiences with his scoutmaster or merit badge counselor.
- Before each hike do the following:
a– Prepare your written plan for the hike and present it to your scoutmaster. Your plan should include:
b- A map of your planed route
c- Clothing and hiking equipment to be used
d- List of snacks and food items you will take with you
- Create a hiking plan for a 20-mike continuous hike. The plan should include the following:
a- A map of your planed route
b- Clothing and hiking equipment to be used
c- List of snacks and food items you will take with you
d- List of First Aid items you’ll take with you
Note: On this hike, you can stop, and rest as needed and includes the stop for one meal. However, your stops are not be for “extended periods” to time such as for hours or camping overnight.
Planning your Hike
One thing to consider when planning and preparing for each of these hikes is the amount of time it will take you to complete the hike. Of course, preparing for the unexpected should be factored in and considered as potential delays to your hiking progress.
To help in determining the amount of time your hike will take, consider that the average person, assuming the trail is straight and flat, hikes at a rate of 2.5 miles per hour (mph) during an extended (> 3 miles) hike. Then simply multiply the distance of the hike in miles, by the rate of 2.5 mph.
Example: At a rate of 2.5 miles per hour. it would take 4 hours for you to complete a 10-mile hike. (10 miles distance/2.5 mph rate = 4 hours). However, undoubtedly you will take some breaks in your progress along the way for rest stops, to eat your lunch, to take some pictures, etc. Let’s say that your breaks are 10 minutes each and you take three of them along the way. You have then added an additional 30 minutes to your total time making your hike 4.5 hours.
Another factor to consider is that it takes the average person an extra 30 minutes of hiking for every 1000 feet in change of elevation when ascending. This means that if your 10-mile hike ascends 1000 feet over the ten-mile distance, you would need to add an additional 30 minutes to your hike duration.
These are general numbers to help you plan your hikes. You can also determine your own hiking rate. Simply track how long it takes you to hike 1 mile. Of course, this may require measuring the one-mile distance and clocking the time it takes you to complete the one mile. In essence, this will give you your own hiking rate based on your stride length and step frequency.
Knowing this aforementioned information will allow you to properly set a departure time for your hike to allow for a pre-determined return time. Consideration, or maybe a buffer time period, should be given for inclement weather delaying your anticipated progress rate.
Remember each of the hikes you take for the merit badge is to prepare you for the next longer and tougher one. Best of luck to you as you prepare for and engage in hiking in our quest for your hiking merit badge. Remember, be prepared, be safe, and enjoy the privilege of being in the great outdoors!