Return to Signs, Signals, and Codes Merit Badge Page



Please arrive with ample time prior to the start time of your class for registration.  Remember there will be others checking in as well and depending on the size of the class and the event the class is being held in conjunction with that registration may take a little time.

You should bring a blue card filled out properly for this class. (Scoutmaster Bucky Online participants - you should have forwarded your Blue card to Scoutmaster Bucky prior to the class via email or postal mail Scoutmaster Bucky - 5724 Aldrich Avenue South  Minneapolis, Minnesota  55419.) If you are not familiar with how to fill out a blue card, you should familiarize yourself with Scoutmaster Bucky's "How To Fill Out A Blue Card" document. Click here for Scoutmaster Bucky's "How To Fill Out A Blue Card".  Remember it is a Scout's responsibility to take care of their own blue card from beginning to end.

Your Scout Uniform is required to be worn for attending this Merit Badge session.   If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Brian Reiners; Scoutmaster Bucky via email or on the phone at 612-483-0665.

Reviewing the merit badge pamphlet PRIOR to attending and doing preparation work will insure that Scouts get the most out of these class opportunities. The merit badge pamphlet is a wealth of information that can make earning a merit badge a lot easier. It contains many of the answers and solutions needed or can at least provide directions as to where one can find the answers.  It is NOT acceptable to come unprepared to a Scoutmaster Bucky event.

You can (and should) use the Scoutmaster Bucky Signs, Signals, and Codes Merit Badge Workbook to help get a head start and organize your preparation work. You can download the Scoutmaster Bucky Signs, Signals, and Codes Merit Badge Workbook by clicking here.  If this link is not working please check the internet for other merit badge workbook options.

It should be noted that this merit badge class is not meant for those who just want to come and see what they can get done. It is possible to complete this merit badge by being properly prepared and having done the preparation work prior to the class. Preparation is a MUST.





Things to remember to bring for this Merit Badge Class:

1. Merit Badge Blue Card properly filled out and signed off by your Scoutmaster

2. Signs, Signals, and Codes Merit Badge Pamphlet

3. Scout Uniform

4. Weather-appropriate clothing (as part of the class will take place outside)

5. Supporting documentation or project work pertinent to this merit badge which may also include a Merit Badge Workbook for reference with notes

6. A positive Scouting focus and attitude

Following is an outline of the class to help you prepare.  Note that Scouts will be signed off only on those requirements that the Merit Badge Counselor determines meets the requirements; no more no less  This Merit Badge should not be expected to be earned without preparation and work


1. Discuss with your counselor the importance of signs, signals, and codes, and why people need these different methods of communication.  Briefly discuss the history and development of signs, signals, and codes

Scouts should utilize the Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge pamphlet and other sources to compile an understanding and response prior to the class for sharing during the class. Scouts should alos be prepared to discuss the history of signs, signals, and codes.  Only Scouts having prepared for this requirement will have an opportunity to be signed off on this requirement.  While Scouts may learn in the class, they must bring some knowledge or proof of preparation for this requirement and actively participate in the class discussion in order to be considered for sign off.


2. Explain the importance of signaling in emergency communications.  Discuss with your counselor the types of emergency or distress signals one might use to attract airborne search-and-rescue personnel if lost in the outdoors or trying to summon assistance during a disaster.  Illustrate these signaling examples by the use of photos or drawings.

Scouts will have some time during the class to complete parts of this requirement.  Because this merit badge has a lot of items to complete, Scouts will find it beneficial to have their drawings or photos ready prior to the class.  There will be time allotted to review any drawings or photos Scouts bring for this requirement, however it can not be guaranteed that the class will have enough time to complete the drawings during the class time allotted.  Scouts should consider this potential and decide how they want to approach potential completion of this requirement.  It is strongly recommended to consider doing this ahead of the class..


3. Do the following:

a. Describe what Morse code is and the various means by which it can be sent.  Spell your first name using Morse code.  Send or receive a message of six to 10 words using Morse code

b. Describe what American Sign Language (ASL) is and how it is used today. Spell your first name using American Sign Language.  Send or receive a message of six to 10 words using ASL

Scouts will want to review the Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge pamphlet prior to the class and make sure they have a basic understanding of Morse Code and American Sign Language.  The class will allot time for each Scouts to demonstrate their knowledge and complete the rest of each of these components for requirement 3.


4. Give your counselor a brief explanation about semaphore, why it is used, how it is used, and where it is used.  Explain the difference between semaphore flags and nautical flags.  Then do the following:

Scouts should review the Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge pamphlet and have a solid understanding of semaphore and nautical flags, their differences, and the basics for using them.

a. Spell your first name using semaphore.  Send or receive a message of six to 10 words using semaphore

Scouts will be given the opportunity to complete this requirement component during the class.

b. Using illustrations or photographs, identify 10 examples of nautical flags and discuss their importance

Scouts should prepare for the class by putting together the 10 examples asked for in this requirement component.  The counselor will allow all Scouts to share their work during the class for consideration and sign off.  Only Scouts coming to the class with this requirement component ready will have the opportunity to get signed off..


5. Explain the Braille reading technique and how it helps individuals with sight impairment to communicate.  Then do the following:

Scouts MUST utilize the Braille supplement to familiarize themselves with Braille prior to the class. Scout attending the class that have not done this review work will find it difficult, if not impossible, to complete this requirement during the class.

a. Either by sight or by touch, identify the letters of the Braille alphabet that spell your name.  By sight or touch, decode a Braille message at least six words long

b. Create a message in Braille at least six words long, and share this with your counselor

Scouts will have time during the class to complete these two components of the class, providing they can satisfactorily show that they have done preparation work prior to class in familiarizing themselves with the Braille system..


6. Do the following:

a. Describe to your counselor six sound-only signals that are in use today.  Discuss the pros and cons of using sound signals versus other types of signals

Scouts should make notes prior to the class to utilize during the discussion in the class to helpful fulfill and completed this component of the requirement..

b. Demonstrate to your counselor six different silent Scout signals.  Use these Scout signals to direct the movement and actions of your patrol or troop

Scouts should review the respective section in the Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge pamphlet on Scout and silent signals.  Scouts will be broke into groups to demonstrate their understanding of these signals.  Only Scouts showing proficiency in giving and receiving these signals, and properly executing them, will be considered for sign off on this part of the requirement..


7. On a Scout outing, lay out a trail for your patrol or troop to follow.  Cover at least one mile in distance and use at least six different trail signs and markers.  After the Scouts have completed the trail, follow no-trace principles by replacing or returning trail markers to their original locations

This requirement will comprise a good portion of the class as Scouts will lay a course and follow one of the other groups' courses.  It is strongly recommended that Scouts familiarize themselves with the different types of trail markings and methods in order to successfully complete this requirement..


8. For THREE of the following activities, demonstrate five signals each.  Tell what the signals mean and why they are used

a. Sports official's hand signs/signals

b. Heavy equipment operator's hand signals

c. Aircraft carrier catapult crew signals

d. Cyclist's hand signals

e. An activity selected by you and your counselor

THis requirement will be completed during the class.  Scouts however should be familiar with the hand signals for components a thru d to ensure successful completion of this requirement during the class.  This familiarization can easily be accomplished by reviewing the Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge pamphlet. FOr those not coming with a Signs, Signals, and Codes merit badge pamphlet and/or not reviewing this requirement prior to the class will find it extremely difficult to complete this requirement during the class.


9. Share with your counselor 10 examples of symbols used in everyday life.  Design your own symbol. Share it with your counselor and explain what it means.  Then do the following:

Scouts should come to the class with their symbol designed and ready to share it along with an explanation.

a. Show examples of 10 traffic signs and explain their meaning

b. Using a topographical map, explain what a map legend is and discuss its importance.  Point out 10 map symbols and explain the meaning of each

Scouts should try and do this requirement prior to the class and bring their work and resources with to share in the class.

c. Discuss text-message symbols and why they are commonly used  Give examples of your favorite 10 text symbols or emoticons.  Then see if your counselor or parent can identify the meaning or usage of each symbol

Scouts should think about this requirement and come with an idea for or a rendering of their 10 emoticons to share with the counselor and class.


10. Briefly discuss the history of secret code writing (cryptography).  Make up your own secret code and write a message of up to 25 words using this code.  Share the message with a friend or fellow Scout.  Then share the message and code key with your counselor and discuss the effectiveness of your code

Scout may want to have their own secret code started prior to the class.  While time will be allotted for this activity, it may not be enough time for those who have not started this requirement ahead of time.


this page last reviewed and updated - February 2016