Scouts Escape the Pandemic While Completing Their Reading Merit Badge

Photo provided by J. GLASS
Cartney Wearn, right, 20-year Verdugo Woodlands-Glendale resident and Scoutmaster of Troop 88, saw reading as his troop’s chance to escape the lockdown. Wearn explained in his blog, “Yes, reading! Specifically, earning the Reading merit badge.”

If there was ever a time for exciting fiction, for a good read, for a chance to travel to other times and places with your favorite author, it’s now. This is especially true in the world of scouting, where the challenge to keep kids engaged has never been greater. The pandemic has made meetings and outings – river rafting, hikes, etc. – all impossible for the short term. Even trips to summer Scout camps, unfortunately, had to be canceled. And Zoom meetings only offer so much.

Cartney Wearn, 20-year Verdugo Woodlands-Glendale resident and Scoutmaster of Troop 88, saw reading as his troop’s chance to escape the lockdown.

“We were wondering what we could do that would somehow keep our activities, and our reputation as a high adventure troop, intact. And to do that, we turned to reading,” Wearn explained in his blog. “Yes, reading! Specifically, earning the reading merit badge.”

Wearn decided to offer the merit badge to other affiliated troops as well, and Scouts from Troop 8 and Troop 555 soon joined in the fun.

“This level of participation meant that we had even more voices contributing to the discussions of each book and also meant that we could serve another key aspect of scouting and what it means to be a Scout – forging new friendships. The discussions have proven to be lively and engaging, something parents routinely marvel at in this age of cellphones and social media.”

On the reading merit badge, Scouts get to choose which novels to read, and what authors to explore. Science fiction has consistently been the most popular genre among young readers, followed by fantasy as a close second. Along with famous titles like Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” Brandon Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings,” Marjorie K. Rawlings’ “The Yearling” and Harold Keith’s “Rifles for Watie,” the Scouts also chose to read L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction classic, “To the Stars.”

“Fellow scoutmasters will be pleased to find in Mr. Hubbard’s works many qualities familiar to Scouts – especially in his heroes,” Wearn further explained. “They reflect well on the Scout slogan, ‘Do a good turn daily’ and are often living embodiments of the Scout Oath and Law.”

L. Ron Hubbard was a Scout and one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in America. He represented Troop 10 in a meeting with then-President of the United States Calvin Coolidge. Hubbard once credited the scouting program for the life skills he learned and the guidance he received.
“I am very indebted to a great many, very fine men who gave their time and attention to a restless, boisterous and extremely active boy and teenager, and I must have tried their patience many times but I never heard of it from them,” he recalled.

Wearn’s extensive blog post described the rest of the favorite books that his Scouts read, and he shared links to free books for reading and even described interstellar travel. The blog can be found at