Many kids dream of being a movie star, but in animated films, the stars are those behind the scenes making the characters come to life. Animators do more than produce movies and cartoons, they’re also the artists behind the latest 3-D games and smartphone app graphics that give us simulations of what planets in other galaxies could look like. It’s an exciting world that Scouts will now get to experience thanks to the addition of the Animation Badge. It’s the 136th merit badge in Boy Scouts of America’s bank of programs available to Scouts nationwide.
“Boy Scouts of America programs are designed to reflect the changing interests of our youth members and the new merit badge is just one way the BSA continues to evolve its programs to give Scouts unique experiences they can’t get anywhere else,” said Wayne Brock, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “As Scouts become more interested in STEM-related topics, we’re excited to expand our merit badge offerings to continue to show youth the exciting careers possible in these fields.”
Earning this badge will take more than watching a few animated movies, though. Scouts will need to demonstrate their knowledge of animation and its rich history. To help make the learning process more engaging and fun, an animated short film called “Baxter” was developed to demonstrate animation. After learning the basics, Scouts will complete hands-on design projects, have opportunities to participate in virtual or in-person tours of animation studios and businesses, and meet with career professionals to explore future opportunities.
The animation merit badge is the first to be delivered to Scouts in digital as well as print form. The digital functionality enables Scouts to achieve this merit badge using their wireless device and provides a new level of convenience and interactivity young people have become accustomed to. Complete with search capabilities and compelling visuals, the new digital format brings the merit badge to life with live examples to further engage and educate Scouts. And BSA is one of the first to make an interactive book like this to young people in this age group! Look for this capability to roll out to other merit badges in the near future.
To develop this robust program, the BSA partnered with several animation experts, including the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), to identify which components of animation would most appeal to youth and provide them with a window into the potential career opportunities this skill can provide.
Development of this merit badge began in 2014 when the merit badge committee identified animation as an interest among Scouts and teamed up with several animation experts. This team contributed their expertise in outlining the qualifications and projects now included in the merit badge curriculum and will begin hosting introductory sessions for Scouts in May 2015.
Tony Stanley, a Scout leader and animation professional who has been working closely with the BSA to develop this merit badge, said, “The merit badge is a great addition to the BSA program as it teaches youth the basics of animation from seasoned experts — and that’s hard to come by for youth at this age. Just like any other STEM career, it’s important for kids to gain hands-on experience to understand their passions and guide their career path.”
Rick Folea, the animation merit badge team lead and senior technical marketer for AnimationDirect.com, added, “Animation as a career or a hobby is all about teamwork, leadership and communication — the same values represented by Scouting. This merit badge is a natural fit.”
The animation merit badge is available to youth members, ages 11-18, who participate in the Boy Scouts program. For more information about the merit badge program, visit www.scouting.org/meritbadges.