Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Helps and Documents

A wilderness shelter made from sticks and leaves and the Wilderness Survival merit badge emblem.

Scouts working on the Wilderness Survival merit badge learn to anticipate and avoid the hazards involved in backcountry adventures. They put together a first aid kit and build a natural shelter. They also learn how to treat water, be aware of weather conditions, and light a fire without matches.

Wilderness Survival merit badge is an elective merit badge.

Help with Answers for the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirements

Find specific helps for some of the Wilderness Survival merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.

Ask Scouter Mom a question or share your ideas with others

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 1: Hazards and First Aid

  • Explain to your counselor the hazards you are most likely to encounter while participating in wilderness survival activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, or lessen these hazards.
  • Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur in backcountry settings, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, blisters, insect stings, tick bites, and snakebites.

Preventing Emergencies

  • Plan ahead
  • Have good leadership
  • Be in good physical condition for the activity
  • Wear the right clothing and footwear
  • Eat healthy and appropriate food
  • Stay hydrated and take breaks before you wear out
  • Watch out for problems before they become emergencies
  • Be ready for unexpected changes in the weather or terrain

7 Points of Trek Safely

  • Qualified supervision
  • Keep fit
  • Plan ahead
  • Gear up
  • Communicate clearly and completely
  • Monitor conditions
  • Discipline

Read more about Trek Safely

Avoiding Hypothermia During Cold Weather Activities

How to Recognize and Treat Hypothermia

Learn how to avoid and treat hypothermia.

How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

You can prevent heat problems, using these tips:

  • Avoid hard exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • If you’re not in shape, slow down and let your body adjust.
  • Make sure you acclimate to the environment and get in shape before the event.
  • Dress in layers and wear clothing that breathes and wicks moisture away from you.
  • Eat snacks that contain a little salt.
  • Drink water and keep drinking it.

Treatment for Heat Exhaustion

If you or someone else has heat exhaustion, treat symptoms in the following ways.

  • Get out of the heat quickly and into a cool place, or at least shade.
  • Lie down and elevate your legs to get blood flowing to your heart.
  • Take off any tight or extra clothing.
  • Apply cool towels to your skin or take a cool bath. This will help regulate and lower your internal body temperature.
  • Drink fluids, such as water or a sports drink. Do not guzzle them, but take sips. Do not drink fluids with caffeine or alcohol.

Read more, including when to call 911.

How to Prevent and Treat Frostbite

  • Remove wet clothing
  • Insulate the injured area with a dry blanket
  • Seek medical help immediately
  • Do not attempt to warm up the injured area on your own.

Read more, including about prevention

Prevention and Treatment of Dehydration

To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables.

You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.

Read more

Blister Treatment

See how to treat those blisters.

Bee Stings and Allergies

Bee stings can cause severe reactions in some people. When they happen, they’re emergencies. Seek immediate emergency treatment.

Bites and Stings

  • Wash the area with soap and water
  • Avoid scratching
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you become ill, have difficulty breathing, or have severe pain and swelling

First Aid for Tick Bites

While most tick bites won’t cause more than minor irritation, if treated incorrectly complications may occur.

How to Prevent Snake Bites

  • Don’t chase or try to catch snakes
  • Use a hiking stick to poke holes and brush ahead of you
  • Watch where you step and place your hands, especially in rocky areas
  • Wear gloves and boots to protect your hands and ankles

How to Treat Snake Bites

  • Remain calm.
  • Gently wash the snake bite with soap and water. Remove jewelry before the area swells.
  • Keep the wound site at the level of your heart. Physical activity should be kept at a minimum.
  • Get medical help immediately.

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 2: Seven Survival Priorities

From memory, list the seven priorities for survival in a backcountry or wilderness location. Explain the importance of each one with your counselor.

Requirement 2 Helps and Answers

The 7 Priorities of Survival

The 7 Priorities of Survival

  1. STOP. (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan)
  2. Provide first aid.
  3. Seek shelter.
  4. Build a fire.
  5. Signal for help.
  6. Drink water.
  7. Don’t worry about food.

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 3: Survival Morale

Discuss ways to avoid panic and maintain a high level of morale when lost, and explain why this is important.

Requirement 3 Helps and Answers

Why Is a High Level of Morale Important?

Why Is a High Level of Morale Important?

A positive attitude will keep you from panicking. You will be able to think more clearly. It will also prevent you from giving up. Making a conscious decision to survive will be a key factor in getting through a difficult situation. Keep this in mind when working on the Wilderness Survival merit badge.

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 4: Exposure Conditions

Describe the steps you would take to survive in the following exposure conditions: cold and snowy, wet, hot and dry, windy, at or on the water.

Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

Cold and Snow


Hot and Dry


On the Water

Cold and Snow

  • Stay warm and dry
  • Find shelter or build a snow shelter
  • Build a fire
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Melt snow for water if necessary


  • Stay warm and dry
  • Many of the concerns are the same as in a cold and snowy situation
  • Move to a meadow or sunny area if one is closeby, marking your route so rescuers can find you

Hot and Dry

  • Stay cool during the day
  • Seek shade and shelter
  • Stay hydrated
  • Rest during the day and do chores in the cool of the evening
  • Wear sun protection, a hat, and long sleeves


  • Protect yourself from the wind with an outer layer such as a jacket or tarp
  • Seek shelter against a boulder or tree
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia

On the Water

  • Get to dry land or into a watercraft to reduce risk of drowning
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia
  • If in the water, conserve heat and energy by assuming the HELP or huddle position(see the Lifesaving merit badge for details)

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 5: Personal Survival Kit

Put together a personal survival kit and explain how each item in it could be useful.

Items for Your Personal Survival Kit

  • Pocketknife for cutting sticks and other uses
  • Personal first aid kit to treat injuries
  • Extra clothing and rain gear to stay warm and dry
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Flashlight for safety and comfort at night
  • Trail food for energy
  • Matches and fire starters so you can start a fire and stay warm
  • Sun protection to prevent sunburn and heatstroke
  • Map and compass to prevent getting lost

Some Optional Items

  • Duct tape for almost everything
  • Some cord or rope for shelter building
  • Whistle for signaling if you get lost
  • Signal mirror also for signaling
  • Thin wire for repairing items and building shelters
  • Garbage bag to keep your gear, kindling, and yourself dry
  • Fishing line and hooks for catching fish and the line is useful for repairs and joining items

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 6: Starting a Fire Without Matches

Using three different methods (other than matches), build and light three fires.

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 7: Signaling

Show five different ways to attract attention when lost. Demonstrate how to use a signal mirror. Describe from memory five ground-to-air signals and tell what they mean.

Ways to Signal

  • Noise – Use a whistle if possible, or if you are in a boat or vehicle use the horn. Three blasts is the universal distress signal.
  • Cell phone – Call for help if you have a signal
  • Mirror or light – Use a signal mirror, flashlight, or flare to attract attention
  • Color and motion – Use brightly colored clothes or make a flag. Wave it when you hear rescuers.
  • Fire and smoke – Adding damp leaves or grass may make your fire more smokey so it can be seen during the day.

International Ground To Air Signal Code

This standard system is designed to send a clear visual message to any aircraft that might pass your location.

International ground air distress signal rescue emergency plane aircraft 1

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 8: Natural Shelter

Improvise a natural shelter. For the purpose of this demonstration, use techniques that have little negative impact on the environment. Spend a night in your shelter.

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 9: Protection from Wildlife

Explain how to protect yourself from insects, reptiles, bears, and other animals of the local region.

Bear Safety

If you encounter a bear

  • Keep backing off while facing the bear and talking to him.
  • Get ready to use your bear spray.
  • Do NOT run. Like dogs, bears will chase fleeing animals.
  • Do NOT climb trees.
  • Do NOT drop your pack.
  • AVOID sudden movements, as they may trigger an attack.

Avoiding Bear Encounters

  • Make noise when hiking to alert bears to your approach.
  • Keep your cooking area at least 200 ft away from your sleeping area.
  • Don’t keep smellables – such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, food stained clothing – in your tent.
  • Clean up spilled food and dispose of it immediately.
  • Use a bear bag or bear box.
  • Put on clean clothes before going to bed.

Avoiding Insect Bites

  • Use insect repellant
  • Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts
  • Cover your face with a bandanna
  • Wear a hat and gloves
  • Repel them with smoke from a fire

Avoiding Reptiles and Snakes

  • Use a stick to poke in rocks and brush ahead of you
  • Be careful where you put your hands when scrambling over rocks and logs, or when collecting firewood.

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 10: Water Treatment

Demonstrate three ways to treat water found in the outdoors to prepare it for drinking.

Requirement 10 Helps and Answers

How to Treat and Purify Water

How to Treat and Purify Water

  • Boiling
  • Filtering
  • Chemical Treatment

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 11: Clothing for Survival

Show that you know the proper clothing to wear while in the outdoors during extremely hot and cold weather and during wet conditions.

Warm Weather Clothes

  • T-shirt or lightweight short-sleeved shirt
  • Shorts
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Long-sleeved lightweight shirt
  • Long lightweight pants
  • Sweater or warm jacket
  • Wide brimmed hat
  • Bandannas
  • Rain gear
  • Hiking boots or sturdy shoes

Cold Weather Clothes

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Sweater
  • Long underwear
  • Socks (not cotton)
  • Warm hooded parka or jacket
  • Stocking hat
  • Water resistant mittens or gloves
  • Scarf
  • Rain gear
  • Hiking boots or sturdy shoes

Types of Clothing

Wool is good for cold weather. It is warm, durable, and water resistant.

Cotton is lightweight and comfortable and works well for hot weather. It absorbs water and dries slowly, so it is not desirable for cold situations.

Synthetics such as nylon are also lightweight but can still keep you warm when they get wet.

Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirement 12: Edible Plants and Wildlife

Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.

Why Is It Not Wise to Eat Edible Wild Plants or Wildlife

  • You must really know how to identify what you are eating
  • Plants can be poisonous
  • Edible insects might sting or bite
  • You will expend energy while looking for food
  • You should not leave your area to find food in case rescuers are looking for you
  • You can live a couple of weeks without food

Other Resources for Wilderness Survival Merit Badge

Helpful Websites

Guide to Safe Scouting

Wilderness Education Association

Spending a Night in the Woods Alone

A reader asks about a Scout spending the night in the woods alone. He was wondering if this was done as part of the Wilderness Survival merit badge.