The Scout Association, the largest scouting organization in the U.K., has released new merit badges that it says will create “fun and adventure” for its members.
From learning fire safety and survival skills to demonstrating an ability to text, make phone calls and discern Morse code, the new badges are diverse, but the images on a few of them are a little odd.
Consider the “Survival Skills Activity Badge,” a merit badge that is awarded to children who know how to treat the effects of extreme heat and cold, who learn how to build different types of fires and who understand how to catch food.
These skills, among others, help scouts learn survival mechanisms that they can use in the event of an emergency, but some observers say the badge looks curious.
Metro, a U.K. outlet, for instance, called the badges “baffling” and said that the survival symbol resembles “smoking spliffs,” known as marijuana or tobacco cigarettes.
There’s also the “Collector Activity Badge,” which encourages young people to “make a collection.” Metro quipped that the image on the badge, which features a pair is scissors, looks like someone is “vandalising magnifying glasses.”
Adapting with the times, the Scout Association also launched new badges that deal with technology and the skills young people need to be successful in the modern era.
Consider the “Communicator Activity Badge,” one that young people receive when they learn how to properly make a phone call, email, text message — and spell their own names in Morse code. There’s also the “Photographer Activity Badge,” which involves snapping pictures and putting together a scrapbook.
And for the super tech savvy there’s the “Geocaching Activity Badge,” which scouts get when they learn how the Global Positioning System works and how it benefits society.
But despite the eye-catching designs, the Scout Association said the badges are merely part of the “evolution” in much-needed skills that the organization has adapted to.
“Throughout its 107-year history, Scouting has continued to evolve: these new badges make sure we are able to keep offering activities that educate and enthuse young people in equal measure,” Chief Scout Bear Grylls said.
The 17 new badges were released following a 10-month consultation with individuals both inside and outside of the scouts. And 12,000 members were also consulted through surveys, events, social media and focus groups, according to a statement announcing the symbols.