MARION -- Boy Scouts from across the region earned merit badges Saturday at a program that gives scouts a chance to learn about various fields of study and knowledge.
The Egyptian District of the Greater St. Louis Area Council hosted the merit badge university at Community of Faith Church in Marion.
Due to strict COVID-19 safety protocols in place, attendance was limited for available merit badge courses. In a normal year, more than 200 Boy Scouts may attend the program. In addition, those in attendance, including scouts, merit badge counselors and other individuals were required to wear face coverings.
In addition, as an added safety measure, some courses were offered in a virtual format, meaning coursework and discussion could be completed in a home setting with an internet connection and a laptop or mobile device. Most courses also had prerequisites, meaning scouts were required to complete some portions of the study prior to the merit badge university.
Courses offered included horsemanship, fishing, art, first aid and a host of other areas of study.
Scouts wishing to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the top rank in the Scouts BSA organization, must earn a minimum of 21 merit badges. Of those, 13 are required areas of knowledge, including first aid, camping and cooking.
According to organizers. scouts attending Saturday's event came from Egyptian, Big Muddy and Kaskaskia districts, and one scout from a Tennessee district also was in attendance. Those scouts earned a combined total of 98 merit badges from the day's courses.