Boy Scout Rock Climbing Programs And The Climbing Merit Badge

Certified merit badge counselors help your boys learn the ropes

Boy Scout climbing group at day's end, Devils Lake State Park.

Victory shot at the trailhead with Illinois Boy Scout Troop 52.

The Rock Climbing merit badge is one of the most adventurous, challenging, and rewarding merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America and each year hundreds of Scouts come to Devils Lake to earn theirs. As former Scouts and trained educators, we are proud to offer a strong rock climbing merit badge program that meets and exceeds the requirements of the BSA and delivers a unique and empowering experience to your boys.

Please browse the course options below to find the right fit for your troop. The course descriptions are meant to provide a general idea of what is possible; the actual details of your event will be tailored to the needs of your troop. Also know we are happy to climb with your troop without focusing on merit badge requirements; we offer the information here because we receive many inquiries about it.

All climbing merit badge programs are led by Nick Wilkes, an Eagle Scout and qualified Climbing Merit Badge counselor.

One Day Rock Climbing (non-merit badge)


Your boys don't need to earn their climbing merit badge to have a great day of climbing fun. Join us for an fun and educational day where Scout groups will learn how to use standard climbing equipment and have the opportunity to climb multiple routes on cliffs 25' - 85' high. Prices from $45/scout.


  • All technical equipment
  • Maximum 5:1 Scout/instructor ratio
  • 5-6 hours of rock climbing and instruction
  • Every Scout learns how to tie in, belay, and climb


One Day Rock Climbing Merit Badge Program
For Scouts who have undertaken previous training and already have their First Aid merit badge, a one-day course can be enough to satisfy the Boy Scout Climbing merit badge requirements. This trip option works well for troops who have access to a local climbing gym and can learn basic climbing and belay skills ahead of time at evening or weekend climbing events.


We work with Scout leaders to identify ahead of time which skills their boys are ready to test and which they still need to learn. When our training day arrives, we help the boys understand THEY are in charge of their day and we'll help them however we can. We organize training sessions for outstanding skills and confirm competence with practical skills by observing the boys individually and in groups. Certain knowledge is verified verbally in one-on-one sessions with the boys, usually while they are belaying or watching others climb. A great opportunity for Scouts to have great fun and take responsibility at the same time. Prices from $65/scout.


  • All technical equipment
  • Maximum 5:1 Scout/adult ratio
  • 6-7 hours of instruction, verification, and climbing
  • Every Scout gets an opportunity to prove competence with the requirements of the Climbing merit badge


Two Day Rock Climbing Merit Badge Program
Our two-day curriculum gives Scouts with little to no climbing experience a full opportunity to learn essential climbing skills and prove competency with the requirements of the Rock Climbing merit badge. While most troops do this as a weekend program, it can be split into two days weeks or months apart if you prefer. Scouts must have their First Aid merit badge to meet Climbing merit badge requirements.


Scouts show up with varying knowledge levels and we get everyone on the same page through a progression of experiential lessons and information sessions. We know Scouts don't want to sit around listening to lectures, so we stay active and involved as much as possible, mixing the informational portions of the Climbing merit badge into the more practical, active aspects. Prices from $45/scout/day.


  • All technical equipment
  • Maximum 5:1 Scout/adult ratio
  • Two 6-7 hour days of instruction, verification, and climbing
  • Every Scout gets an opportunity to prove competence with the requirements of the Climbing merit badge

Scoutmaster belays for one of his boys

Building Climbing Anchors (Varsity or Venture Scouts)
A serious and empowering course for troops with highly mature, motivated, and able older scouts. Our Climbing Anchors course gives Scouts a bottom-up education in building climbing anchors so they can set their own climbs.


Our Scouting anchors course is basically our adult-level anchors course adapted for a high school students working as a team. The idea is to get older Scouts working together to learn and set up and use real climbing anchors, such that they may work towards self-guided rock climbing. Prices from $79/scout.


  • Certified climbing instructors
  • All technical equipment
  • Maximum 4:1 Scout/instructor ratio
  • 6-7 hours of anchor instruction


Scoutmaster Info and Preparation
Scoutmasters planning a climbing event should review the Boy Scout climbing merit badge requirements well ahead of time to set your boys up for success. We can address all merit badge requirements during our program except 1b and 1c, which are better handled in advance through First Aid training.

Many climbing merit badge requirements ask for Scouts to explain concepts or demonstrate procedures individually to a merit badge counselor. To accommodate these requirements, it helps if the Scouts have learned them (or at least been exposed to them) ahead of time. If you can manage it, try to find a local climber or gym instructor who you can meet with ahead of time to get a start with.

Official BSA Requirements for the Climbing Merit Badge
The below requirements come directly from the BSA website.

Climbing is not a sport that requires tremendous muscular strength; it demands mental toughness and the willingness to practice hard to master a set of skills. The adventure of climbing can also provide a new way to enjoy the outdoors.


1. Do the following:

  1. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in climbing and rappelling activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.
  2. Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur during climbing activities, including heat and cold reactions, dehydration, stopped breathing, sprains, abrasions, fractures, rope burns, blisters, snakebite, and insect bites or stings.
  3. Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person.

2. Learn the Leave No Trace principles and Outdoor Code, and explain what they mean.

3. Present yourself properly dressed for belaying, climbing, and rappelling (i.e., appropriate clothing, footwear, and a helmet; rappellers can also wear gloves).

4. Location. Do the following:

  1. Explain how the difficulty of climbs is classified, and apply classifications to the rock faces or walls where you will demonstrate your climbing skills.
  2. Explain the following: top-rope climbing, lead climbing, and bouldering.
  3. Evaluate the safety of a particular climbing area. Consider weather, visibility, the condition of the climbing surface, and any other environmental hazards.
  4. Determine how to summon aid to the climbing area in case of an emergency.

5. Verbal signals. Explain the importance of using verbal signals during every climb and rappel, and while bouldering. With the help of the merit badge counselor or another Scout, demonstrate the verbal signals used by each of the following:

  1. Climbers
  2. Rappellers
  3. Belayers
  4. Boulderers and their spotters

6. Rope. Do the following:

  1. Describe the kinds of rope acceptable for use in climbing and rappelling.
  2. Show how to examine a rope for signs of wear or damage.
  3. Discuss ways to prevent a rope from being damaged.
  4. Explain when and how a rope should be retired.
  5. Properly coil a rope.

7. Knots. Demonstrate the ability to tie each of the following knots. Give at least one example of how each knot is used in belaying, climbing, or rappelling.

  1. Figure eight on a bight
  2. Figure eight follow-through
  3. Water knot
  4. Double fisherman's knot (grapevine knot)
  5. Safety knot

8. Harnesses. Correctly put on at least ONE of the following:

  1. Commercially made climbing harness
  2. Tied harness

9. Belaying. Do the following:

  1. Explain the importance of belaying climbers and rappellers and when it is necessary.
  2. Belay three different climbers ascending a rock face or climbing wall.
  3. Belay three different rappellers descending a rock face or climbing wall using a top rope.

10. Climbing.

  1. Show the correct way to directly tie into a belay rope.
  2. Climb at least three different routes on a rock face or climbing wall, demonstrating good technique and using verbal signals with a belayer.

11. Rappelling.

  1. Using a carabiner and a rappel device, secure your climbing harness to a rappel rope.
  2. Tie into a belay rope set up to protect rappellers.
  3. Rappel down three different rock faces or three rappel routes on a climbing wall. Use verbal signals to communicate with a belayer, and demonstrate good rappelling technique.

12. Demonstrate ways to store rope, hardware, and other gear used for climbing, rappelling, and belaying.

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If you're ready to go climbing, Devils Lake Climbing Guides is ready to make it happen. We run Devils Lake climbing trips and courses seven days a week, weather permitting, April through November. If the daily high is at least 50F, then it's warm enough to go rock climbing in Wisconsin!

Devils Lake Climbing Guides
Baraboo, WI 53913