Tallgrass Prairie Center



Exploration Merit Badge

Exploration Merit Badge Patch

NOTE: Expeditions are widely variable. You do not have to climb Mount Everest or go to a jungle to be an explorer. For this merit badge, an expedition should be viewed like a field trip or science project. While you cannot just hike some place and call it an expedition, you can hike to a location and study an aspect that interests you. The major difference between an expedition and a field science trip is that you (with your counselor’s guidance) have to plan everything. You have to formulate objectives and plan an agenda. As needed, you will need to do things like confirm transportation, arrange communication, plan for food and medical supplies, acquire all food and other supplies, construct safety and possible evacuation procedures, manage any adverse events, and prepare a report after the expedition. Evaluating the effects of a storm on the local forest or nature preserve, the effects of a drought on a field used by birds and mammals, changes in butterfly populations due to loss of wildflower habitat, incursions by invasive plant or animal species, insect diversity, and presence or absence of amphibians or fish are just some of the examples that can be studied and reported. Your imagination is your only limitation.

Requirement #6 Expedition Planning. Discuss with your counselor each of the following steps for conducting a successful exploration activity. Explain the need for each step. (Refer to the Irvine Prairie Visitor Policy Page to help with your plans)

  • a. Identify the objectives (establish goals). 
  • b. Plan the mission. Create an expedition agenda or schedule. List potential documents or permits needed. 
  • c. Budget and plan for adequate financial resources. Estimate costs for travel, equipment, accommodations, meals, permits or licenses, and other expedition expenses. 
  • d. Determine equipment and supplies required for personal and mission needs for the length of the expedition. 
  • e. Determine communication and transportation needs. Plan how to keep in contact with your base or the outside world, and determine how you will communicate with each other on-site. 
  • f. Establish safety and first aid procedures (including planning for medical evacuation). Identify the hazards that explorers could encounter on the expedition, and establish procedures to prevent or avoid those hazards. 
  • g. Determine team selection. Identify who is essential for the expedition to be successful and what skills are required by the expedition leader. 
  • h. Establish detailed recordkeeping (documentation) procedures. Plan the interpretation and sharing of information at the conclusion of the expedition.


Requirement #7  Prepare for an Expedition. With your parent’s permission and counselor’s approval, prepare for an actual expedition to an area you have not previously explored; the place may be nearby or far away. Do the following: 

  • a. Make your preparations under the supervision of a trained expedition leader, expedition planner, or other qualified adult experienced in exploration (such as a school science teacher, museum representative, or qualified instructor). 
  • b. Use the steps listed in requirement 6 to guide your preparations. List the items of equipment and supplies you will need. Discuss with your counselor why you chose each item and how it will be of value on the expedition. Determine who should go on the expedition. 
  • c. Conduct a pre-expedition check, covering the steps in requirement 6, and share the results with your counselor. With your counselor, walk through the Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety for your expedition. Ensure that all foreseeable hazards for your expedition are adequately addressed.


Requirement #8  Go on an Expedition. Complete the following:

  • a. With your parent’s permission and under the supervision of your merit badge counselor or a counselor-approved qualified person, use the planning steps you learned in requirement 6 and the preparations you completed in requirement 7 to personally undertake an actual expedition to an area you have not previously explored. 
  • b. Discuss with your counselor what is outdoor ethics and its role in exploration and enjoying the outdoors responsibly
  • c. After you return, compile a report on the results of your expedition and how you accomplished your objective(s). Include a statement of the objectives, note your findings and observations, include photos, note any discoveries, report any problems or adverse events, and have a conclusion (whether you reached your objective or not). The post-expedition report must be at least one page and no more than three; one page can be photos, graphs, or figures.