Pathfinding - Historic Merit Badge

First offered in 1911—discontinued in 1952

What do you know about where you live? 
Could you give directions to someone visiting your town?
Imagine your town in 1910.
How is it different today?

These are the original requirements written in 1911. Think about how times have changed as you complete the requirements a Scout your age would have done a hundred years ago.

Imagine your town in 1910. The automobile didn’t come into popular use until 1915, so how would you get around? Boys at that time mostly walked from place to place. Although a three-mile radius does not seem much by today’s standards, in 1910 walking that far would probably have taken most of the day. Roadways and walkways were far different from what we have come to expect today. In doing this merit badge today, you may define scout headquarters as the location where your troop meets.

Find out how many people lived in your town in 1910. Our Constitution requires that a census be taken every 10 years to determine how many people live in every town and city in the country. How much has your town grown (or shrunk) over the past 100 years? You can find census records at:


To obtain a merit badge for Pathfinding, a Scout must:

  1. In the country, know every lane, bypath, and short cut for a distance of at least two miles in every direction around the local scout headquarters; or in a city, have a general knowledge of the district within a three-mile radius of the local scout headquarters, so as to be able to guide people at any time, by day or by night.
  2. Know the population of the five principal neighboring towns, their general direction from his scout headquarters, and be able to give strangers correct directions how to reach them.
  3. If in the country, know in a two mile radius, the approximate number of horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs owned on the five neighboring farms; or, in a town, know, in a half-mile radius, the location of livery stables, garages and blacksmith shops.
  4. Know the location of the nearest meat markets, bakeries, groceries, and drug stores.
  5. Know the location of the the nearest police station, hospital, doctor, fire alarm, fire hydrant, telegraph and telephone offices, and railroad stations.
  6. Know something of the history of his place; and know the location of its principal public buildings, such as the town or city hall, post-office, schools and churches.
  7. Submit a map not necessarily drawn by himself upon which he personally has indicated as much as possible of the above information.