A nation is a patchwork of communities that differ from each other and may be governed differently. But regardless of how local communities differ, they all have one point in common: In the United States, local government means self-government. Good citizens help to make decisions about their community through their elected local officials.


  1. Discuss with your counselor what citizenship in the community means and what it takes to be a good citizen in your community. Discuss the rights, duties, and obligations of citizenship, and explain how you can demonstrate good citizenship in your community, Scouting unit, place of worship, or school.
  2. Do the following:
    1. On a map of your community, locate and point out the following:
      1. Chief government buildings such as your city hall, county courthouse, and public works/services facility
      2. Fire station, police station, and hospital nearest your home
      3. Historical or other interesting points
    2. Chart the organization of your local or state government. Show the top offices and tell whether they are elected or appointed.
  3. Do the following:
    1. Attend a city or town council or school board meeting, or a municipal, county, or state court session.
    2. Choose one of the issues discussed at the meeting where a difference of opinions was expressed, and explain to your counselor why you agree with one opinion more than you do another one.
  4. Choose an issue that is important to the citizens of your community; then do the following:
    1. Find out which branch of local government is responsible for this issue.
    2. With your counselor's and a parent's approval, interview one person from the branch of government you identified in requirement 4a. Ask what is being done about this issue and how young people can help.
    3. Share what you have learned with your counselor.
  5. With the approval of your counselor and a parent, watch a movie that shows how the actions of one individual or group of individuals can have a positive effect on a community. Discuss with your counselor what you learned from the movie about what it means to be a valuable and concerned member of the community.
  6. List some of the services (such as the library, recreation center, public transportation, and public safety) your community provides that are funded by taxpayers. Tell your counselor why these services are important to your community.
  7. Do the following:
    1. Choose a charitable organization outside of Scouting that interests you and brings people in your community together to work for the good of your community.
    2. Using a variety of resources (including newspapers, fliers and other literature, the Internet, volunteers, and employees of the organization), find out more about this organization.
    3. With your counselor's and your parent's approval, contact the organization and find out what young people can do to help. While working on this merit badge, volunteer at least eight hours of your time for the organization. After your volunteer experience is over, discuss what you have learned with your counselor.
  8. Develop a public presentation (such as a video, slide show, speech, digital presentation, or photo exhibit) about important and unique aspects of your community. Include information about the history, cultures, and ethnic groups of your community; its best features and popular places where people gather; and the challenges it faces. Stage your presentation in front of your merit badge counselor or a group, such as your patrol or a class at school.


Scouting Literature

Boy Scout Handbook; American Business, American Cultures, American Heritage, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Crime Prevention, Photography, and Public Speaking merit badge pamphlets


  • Abress, Monica Dwyer. Quietly at Work: Township Government in America. Specialty Press Publishers, 2000.
  • Bankston, John. Careers in Community Service. Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2001.
  • Bowman, Ann, and Richard C. Kearney. State and Local Government. Houghton Mifflin Company, College Division, 2001.
  • Brownlie, Alison. Charities: Do They Work? Raintree Publishers, 1999.
  • Burns, James M., and others. State & Local Politics: Government by the People. Prentice Hall, 2001.
  • Coplin, William D. How You Can Help: An Easy Guide to Doing Good Deeds in Your Everyday Life. Routledge, 2000.
  • Gary, Lawrence. How to Win a Local Election: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide. M. Evans, 1999.
  • Isler, Claudia. Volunteering to Help in Your Neighborhood. Scholastic Library Publishing, 2000.
  • Jungreis, Abigail. Know Your Hometown History: Projects and Activities. Franklin Watts, 1992.
  • Lewis, Barbara A., Pamela Espeland, and Caryn Pernu. Kids' Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose-- and Turn Creative Thinking Into Positive Action. Free Spirit Publishing Inc., 1998.
  • Kielburger, Marc, and Craig Kielburger. Take Action! A Guide to Active Citizenship. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2002.
  • Perry, Susan K. Catch the Spirit: Teen Volunteers Tell How They Made a Difference. Scholastic Library Publishing, 2000.
  • Ryan Jr., Bernard. Community Service for Teens 8-Volume Set. Facts on File, 1998.
  • Rusch, Elizabeth. Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World. Beyond Words Publishing Inc., 2002.