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Wilderness Survival Merit Badge

In their outdoor activities, Scouts learn to bring the clothing and gear they need, to make good plans, and do their best to manage any risks. But now and then, something unexpected happens. When things go wrong, the skills of wilderness survival can help make everything right again.


  1. Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses likely to occur in backcountry outings, including hypothermia, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, dehydration, sunburn, stings, tick bites, snakebite, and blisters.
  2. Describe from memory the priorities for survival in a back country or wilderness location.
  3. Describe ways to (a) avoid panic and (b) maintain a high level of morale when lost.
  4. Tell what you would do to survive in the following environments:
    1. Cold and snowy
    2. Wet (forest)
    3. Hot and dry (desert)
    4. Windy (mountains or plains)
    5. Water (ocean or lake)
  5. Make up a personal survival kit and be able to explain how each item in it is useful.
  6. Show that you can start fires using three methods other than matches.
  7. Do the following:
    1. Tell five different ways of attracting attention when lost.
    2. Show how to use a signal mirror.
    3. Describe from memory five international ground-to-air signals and tell what they mean.
  8. Show that you can find and improvise a natural shelter mini mizing the damage to the environment.
  9. Spend a night in your shelter.
  10. Explain how to protect yourself against insects, reptiles, and bears.
  11. Show three ways to treat water found in the outdoors to prepare it for drinking.
  12. Show that you know the proper clothing to wear in your area on an overnight in extremely hot weather and extremely cold weather.
  13. Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.


Scouting Literature

Boy Scout Handbook and Fieldbook; Backpacking, Camping, Canoeing, Emergency Preparedness, First Aid, Lifesaving, Orienteering, Safety, and Weather merit badge pamphlets


  • Angier, Bradford. How to Stay Alive in the Woods. Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2001.
  • Forgey, William W. Basic Essentials: Wilderness First Aid, 3rd ed. Falcon Guides, 2006.
  • Gill, Paul G. Wilderness First Aid. Ragged Mountain Press, 2001.
  • Harvey, Mark. National Outdoor Leadership School's Wilderness Guide: The Classic Handbook. Fireside, 1999.
  • Isaac, Jeffrey. The Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook. The Lyons Press, 1998.
  • Keller, William. Keller's Outdoor Survival Guide: How to Prevail When Lost, Stranded, or Injured in the Wilderness. Willow Creek Press, 2001.
  • Randall, Glenn. Outward Bound Map and Compass Handbook. The Lyons Press, 1998.
  • Stillwell, Alexander. The Encyclopedia of Survival Techniques. The Lyons Press, 2000.
  • Storm, Rory. The Extreme Survival Guide. Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
  • Tawrell, Paul. Camping and Wilderness Survival. Falcon Distribution, 1996.


  • More Wilderness 911. DVD. Wellspring Media, 1998.
  • Survival Basics, Vol. 1, and Survival Basics, Vol. 2. DVD. Tapeworm, 2000.
  • The Unexplained—Wilderness Survival. DVD. A&E Home Video, 2001.

Organizations and Web Sites

Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education
P.O. Box 1000
Ferrum, VA 24088
Telephone: 540-484-1380
Web site: http://www.aore.org

Backpacker Magazine
Web site: http://www.backpacker.com

Equipped to Survive
Web site: http://www.equipped.org

Guide to Safe Scouting on Scouting.org
Web site: http://www.scouting.org/pubs/gss

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
284 Lincoln St.
Lander, WY 82520-2848
Toll-free telephone: 800-710-6657
Web site: http://www.nols.edu

Outdoors Magazine
Web site: http://www.outdoors- magazine.com/s_links.php

Outside Magazine
Web site: http://outside.away.com

Tracker Trail
Web site: http://www.trackertrail.com/survival

Wilderness Education Association
900 E. 7th St.
Bloomington, IN 47405
Telephone: 812-855-4095
Wilderness Survival
Web site: http://www.wilderness-survival.net

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