The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook has always included a section on merit badge programs at museums, and I’ve long maintained that the best counselors are men and women who have a passion for a badge’s subject matter. (Scouters who are a chapter or two ahead in the merit badge pamphlet just can’t offer the same experience.)
Case in point: the Engineering merit badge program at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee (http://www.harley-davidson.com/en_US/Content/Pages/HD_Museum/explore/programs-and-tours/boy-scout-merit-badge.html). I can’t think of a better place to get adolescent boys excited about engineering than at a facility like that.
Of course, most of us don’t live near Milwaukee, but there are countless other badge opportunities across the country. Some sites, including the Texas State Aquarium, Virginia Air & Space Center, and Battleship New Jersey, offer badges year round. Others, including many BSA councils and districts, Alpha Phi Omega chapters, and colleges run annual merit badge fairs.
A good place to start is the directory of merit badge events at http://www.meritbadge.info/index.html. There you’ll find a handy directory that’s searchable by state, city, or date.