Gaston College becomes Merit Badge University – News – Shelby Star

Boy Scouts from across the region studied to earn merit badges during the organization’s annual Merit Badge University program on Saturday.

Hosted in classrooms across the Dallas campus of Gaston College, more than 125 volunteer instructors taught merit badge classes in about 40 different categories. The program is organized by the Boys Scouts of America Piedmont Council.

About 1,200 Scouts age 10-and-a-half to 18 from Gaston, Cleveland, Lincoln, Catawba, Alexander, Caldwell, Burke, McDowell, Rutherford, Polk and Iredell counties participated in the merit badge classes.

Courses were offered in concentrations including the arts, engineering, communications, first aid, public speaking, programming and many more. A group of Scouts from Gastonia spent the day working toward their merit badge in “Citizenship in the Community.”

“It’s Eagle (Scout)-required and it’s better to take it in a classroom than for summer camp,” said 14-year-old Carson Moran, who has earned nine other merit badges.

Merit badge classes for adults were also offered.

There are 11 required merit badges to make Eagle Scout — Scouting’s highest attainable rank — such as in first aid, swimming, citizenship and other life skills.

Saturday’s program began with a flag ceremony by the Myers Center on campus. Scouts then broke out across campus to attend their desired merit badge class. In some cases, Scouts could earn the merit badge day-of, while other courses taught just the prerequisites for a specific badge.

Scouts can also earn badges at Scout Camp and specialty events.

“The idea is that they are introduced to community experts in whatever field it happens to be, and they have an opportunity to meet people in the community and recognize them as an authority,” said Charlie Garwood, an Eagle Scout and program volunteer from Shelby, of the program. “Hopefully they might uncover something that would be a lifetime vocation for them or an avocation for them.”


You can reach Eric Wildstein at 704-869-1828 or