Gyms of Scouting

By: Posted On: 2020-07-09

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Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay


I remember when I was in Cub Scouts and Webelos, and we always had our Pack meetings in the gym of my elementary school. That usually worked out well, especially when there would be some physical activity that was a part of the Pack meeting, like Dodgeball (yup, that’s how old I am). According to Wikipedia, a gymnasium, also known as a gym, is a covered location for athletics. The word is derived from the ancient Greek gymnasium. ... The word gym is also slang for a fitness center, which is often an area for indoor recreation. Scouting has several merit badges and fitness activities that are associated with fitness that you might do in a gym, or outside like hiking, COPE course, orienteering course, pioneering, tug-o-war, cycling, swimming, and cutting wood with an ax… We thought we would take a look at these fitness merit badges requirements and some fitness activities and see what a few of the elements are to gain each merit badges and practice the fitness activities. A list of 120 merit badge requirements are listed in detail here


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Starting with the first item in our list of fitness merit badge requirements is the hiking merit badge. Some of the requirements for the hiking merit badge are that you: Explain and, where possible, show the points of good hiking practices including proper outdoor ethics, hiking safety in the daytime and at night, courtesy to others, choice of footwear, and proper care of feet and footwear. Also, you must take the five following hikes, each on a different day, and each of continuous miles. These hikes MUST be taken in the following order:

  • One 5-mile hike
  • Three 10-mile hikes
  • One 15-mile hike
  • Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared…

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The COPE course is the next one on our list. COPE is an acronym for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience, a program in the Boy Scouts of America. It consists of group initiative games, trust events, and high and low ropes courses. Some activities involve a group challenge, while others develop individual skills and agility. The climbing merit badge is one that will give you some needed skills for the COPE course. Some of the requirements for the climbing merit badge require that you explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in climbing and rappelling activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards. You must also explain how the difficulty of climbs is classified, and apply classifications to the rock faces or walls where you will demonstrate your climbing skills…


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The next item in our gym/fitness merit badge list is an orienteering merit badge. A few requirements for this badge are that you explain how a topographic map shows terrain features. Point out and name five terrain features on a map and in the field. Point out and name ten symbols on a topographic map. Explain the meaning of declination. Tell why you must consider declination when using a map and compass together. Show a topographic map with magnetic north-south lines. Show how to measure distances on a map using an orienteering compass. Show how to orient a map using a compass…


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Next on the list is a pioneering merit badge. A very few of the requirements for this badge are demonstrate the basic and West Country methods of whipping a rope. Fuse the ends of a rope. Demonstrate how to tie the following knots: clove hitch, butterfly knot, round-turn with two half hitches, rolling hitch, water knot, carrick bend, sheepshank, and sheet bend. Demonstrate and explain when to use the following lashings: square, diagonal, round, shear, tripod, and floor lashing…


In order of our list, the next item is a fitness sport that you can have inside or out…It is a  tug-o-war. Here is a YouTube video to show you how it works.


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Next is the cycling merit badge. A few of the cycling merit badge requirements are that you clean and adjust a bicycle. Prepare it for inspection using a bicycle safety checklist. Be sure the bicycle meets local laws. Show your bicycle to your counselor for inspection. Point out the adjustments or repairs you have made. Also, Show all points that need oiling regularly. Show points that should be checked periodically to make sure the bicycle is safe to ride. Show how to adjust brakes, seat level and height, and steering tube…


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The next to the last item on our list is the swimming merit badge. A few of the requirements for that merit badge are that you show that before doing the following requirements, you successfully complete the BSA swimmer test: Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth. Level off and strongly swim 75 yards using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be completed in one swim without stops and must include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating. Another thing that you must do is swim continuously for 150 yards using the following strokes in good form and in a strong manner: front crawl or trudgen for 25 yards, back crawl for 25 yards, sidestroke for 25 yards, breaststroke for 25 yards, and elementary backstroke for 50 yards.


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The last item on our fitness/merit badge list is to demonstrate that you have learned how to cut wood with an ax. Here is a YouTube video showing a few ways to cut wood that you might learn how to do in Scouts.

Please let us know what you think of our Gyms of Scouting list in the comment section below, and share any stories you might have about your own favorite fitness type activities and merit badges.







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