We Ranked 50 Boy Scout Merit Badges by How Adept We Think Henry Rollins Would Be At Earning Them
By James Knapp | August 4, 2023
Being an active member of the punk scene requires developing a variety of different skills. And after a long and illustrious career as a singer, writer, spoken-word performer, activist, actor and, probably at some point, juggler, there are few punks with a greater diversity of skills than Henry Rollins.
But there is a big difference between what most punks learn outside dangerously flammable DIY shows and what their khaki clad nemesis the Boy Scouts learn after a couple of months at summer camp. So we ranked 50 Boy Scouts of America merit badges based on how adeptly the requirements could be accomplished Henry Rollins, who from now on we will refer to as “Scoutmaster Henry” or simply “the Scout.”
For someone whose rejection of capitalist ideology has been his whole thing (some might say annoyingly so) this seems like it should be an obvious dead last. No way would Scoutmaster Henry even have an interest in attempting this one, let alone ever being able to shake that punk ethos long enough to make it through just one requirement.
Can the Scout build a double A-frame suspension bridge using only split timbers and natural fiber rope? No. No, of course not. But it would be very very entertaining to watch those dusty kielbasa fingers of his try.
When you’re in one of the earliest punk bands who are notorious for having their shows broken up by bible-thumping protestors and militarized cops then it’s fair to say that crime prevention isn’t high on your agenda. His stick-and-poke ACAB tattoo would probably be good for a crafting merit badge though.
Can you even imagine Henry Rollins sitting up on horseback? Like full-on with the bandana and the hat and the boots and the “giddy-up, giddy up!” If you haven’t already, it’s well worth trying. But regardless, no matter which way we think of it, attempting this badge always ends badly for the Scout. However, Rick Ta Life would be great at this one.
This badge is not really the best for the Scout. Really, we can’t even see him enjoying sniffing the permanent markers for sketching storyboards while earning this badge, so it’s likely he would never even try it in the first place.
We’re gonna go out on a limb here and assume that the “American heritage” that makes up the Boy Scouts’ curriculum has some pretty stark contradictions to what we learned going to Bad Religion shows. Scoutmaster Henry would make a valiant effort at this one, but ultimately there’s no way he’ll be able “to define what American freedom means” to him without going into some long weird rant about the Bay of Pigs.
It’s hard to say what would be more of an impediment to the scout in earning this merit badge. Is it his pseudo-pacifist lifestyle and disdain of modern gun culture, or simply the logistics of somehow wrapping his medicine ball-sized head around a rifle sight? Either way, there’s no chance he’s getting this one in the ten ring.
Seriously, how the fuck is this a merit badge? Are the Boy Scouts grooming recruits for the next Manhattan Project? Scoutmaster Henry is a smart guy but it’s doubtful he’d be able to design the plans for a functioning fission reactor on his own. Plus, ‘80s punks weren’t always the fondest of nuclear energy, so it’s unlikely he would thrive with this badge.
Here’s another one of those badges where Scoutmaster Henry would spend the whole time he was supposed to be working on it just complaining about how only an elite few have the inherent privilege of being able to afford such a resource-consuming hobby in the first place. Of course it would all be a show to cover up for him not being able to get the boots to fit on right.
This one is less of a merit badge and more just a vague concept. Nevertheless, Scoutmaster Henry is not necessarily a play-it-safe type scout. So the campsite is gonna be real fast and loose safety-wise until he figures this one out.
As it says in Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War,’ “Don’t play chess against a computer, once those are invented, because they are all cheating, electric bastards.” But the scout wouldn’t take that advice as he has never met an opponent he would not gladly try to conquer. As such, he has already failed the first prerequisite for the chess merit badge.
Man, fuck this country! Scoutmaster Henry would absolutely fucking hate this badge. But having toured extensively, he at least wouldn’t be wholly incompetent at it.
Much like the horsemanship merit badge, the image of Henry Rollins sitting up on a tractor in a pair of denim overalls with a cheek full of Skoal is just a delight to us. But also like horsemanship, we have absolutely no confidence that once he gets up there that he will have even the slightest clue how to operate a combine harvester.
We’re pretty sure this is that thing where you leave a bunch of shit in one of those plastic tubes that you use in the drive-thru at the bank and then bury it and then later other people have to use GPS to go find it and usually it’s like a note or a little trinket or something in the tube. God, what a stupid fucking activity. Scoutmaster Henry wouldn’t waste his time on that crap.
Despite having spent a substantial amount of his career in the music business, or “the biz” if you’re on cocaine currently, the Scout has very little prior experience with the bugle as an instrument. We’re sure he could probably learn, but if we’re guessing he’d probably do better with any instrument that has buttons.
Let it never be said that Scoutmaster Henry doesn’t care about the environment. He’d certainly make his best effort to understand the science of flora while working on this badge. Unfortunately, yelling at a hibiscus that it needs to “push it to the limit” and “work the lats” is not the kind of growth that plants crave.
Scoutmaster Henry doesn’t seem like much of a water guy. He could probably paddle pretty hard (albeit always to the beat of the Misfits “Hybrid Moments”), but the first bit of choppy surf that hits him and that top-heavy moose of a man is definitely going overboard. Maybe rowboating would be more his speed, but for finesse watercraft he probably doesn’t have the prerequisites.
Here’s another one that its mere existence is pretty baffling? How does the Scout feel about industrial mining? Probably not too enthusiastic. But if this badge is about how anthracite extraction has impacted the modern labor movement then he may be able to figure out at least a few requirements before he absolutely loses his shit about clean coal legislation.
It’s hard to locate a missing person when the entire time you’re supposed to be stomping around the forest, screaming their name, you’re instead telling the lead paramedics about all the times you’ve seen ambulances called to unruly Black Flag shows in the ‘80s. To Scoutmaster Henry’s credit he does have some impressive stamina, which we think would aid him in a long-haul search for the Nordic metal band that got lost during a photo shoot.
Same argument here as for the rifle shooting badge (see above), but we gotta admit he probably has a much better chance of success with a firearm that requires, how should we put this, “less precision.” Honestly, if you just taped a picture of Ronald Reagan’s face onto a target or tell him a few of those clay pigeons they fling up into the air voted in favor of invading Iraq then the Scout would have no issue picking up a shotgun and blasting a fistful of buckshot down range.
1 2 350. American Business49. Pioneering48. Crime Prevention47. Horsemanship46. Animation45. American Heritage44. Rifle Shooting43. Nuclear Science42. Snow Sports41. Safety40. Chess39. Citizenship In the Nation38. Farm Mechanics37. Geocaching36. Bugling35. Plant Science34. Canoeing33. Mining In Society32. Search and Rescue31. Shotgun Shooting