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Scout Days

Eastern State Penitentiary is thrilled to invite BSA and GSUSA scouts to participate in specially-curated learning experiences. Led by our engaging staff, scouts will enjoy a full day of interactive discussions and activities while satisfying badge requirements.

Our next virtual Scout Day is June 6, 2021!

Virtual Scout Day: Architecture
Saturday, June 6, 2021
10:00 am - 4:00 pm ET
All sessions take place live via Zoom.

Online Passes available now! 
Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to purchase.

Considered the world’s first true penitentiary, Eastern State’sTwo people in an orange basket lift, wearing hard hats, in front of Eastern State's historic stone wall architectural design served as a model for over 300 prisons across the globe. Now a National Historic Landmark and criminal justice museum, Eastern State staff carefully navigate decisions around conservation and preservation while interpreting the past and present of prison reform in the building’s historic cellblocks.

Participating scouts will meet with a variety of experts and engage in interactive activities and conversations. Scouts will learn about Eastern State’s history and influence, receive an introduction to the fields of architecture and historic preservation, and discuss the logistical challenges and ethical issues that complicate the role of prison architecture then and now.

BSA Scouts that participate will satisfy all requirements for the Architecture Merit Badge. Members of our staff are certified to serve as merit badge counselors through the BSA’s Cradle of Liberty Council.

GSUSA Scouts that participate will satisfy all requirements for the STEM Career Exploration badge from the Junior to Ambassador level.

Still have questions about Scout Days? Check out our FAQ below.

Please Note: Details for our June 6, 2021 virtual Scout Day are still being finalized. This FAQ will be updated as soon as possible. In the meantime, please direct any additional questions to [email protected].

Our next Scout Day will take place virtually, via Zoom, on Saturday, June 6, 2021 from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm ET.

The program costs $15 per scout, and you must purchase an Online Pass to reserve your spot. Online Passes are available now. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to purchase.

Our December 5, 2020 Scout Day was a virtual, one-day program from 10:00 am - 4:30 pm ET. The day was broken down into five 30-60 minute sessions with breaks of at least 10-15 minutes between them. There was a 60-minute break midday for lunch.

Future Scout Days will likely follow similar formats. Check back soon for more specific information regarding the June 6, 2021 Scout Day!

We are putting the final touches on our plans for the June 6, 2021 Scout Day. A full schedule will be shared soon. Want an example of what this might look like?

Below is the plan for virtual Scout Day we held on December 5, 2020. Click here for a more detailed description of the sessions. All times listed in ET.

  • 10:00 am – 11:00 am - Let the Doors Be of Iron: A Virtual Tour of Eastern State Penitentiary
  • 11:15 am – 11:45 am - Planning the Penitentiary: A Conversation with a Building Expert
  • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm - Lunch Break
  • 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm - “Why don’t you fix this place up?”: Conservation Conversation
  • 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm - Chop Wood, Carry Water: Architecture Career Panel
  • 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm -”A Model for the World”: The Ethics and Influence of Prison Architecture
  • 4:00 – 4:30 pm - “What do I do next?”: Optional Support Session

All sessions for virtual Scout Days will be led by one of our educators live via Zoom. Because these are live sessions, scouts must be present at the scheduled times to participate. All registered scouts will receive an email with a personalized Zoom link at least 24 hours prior to the class. Links are unique, password protected, and can’t be shared.

In addition to this link, scouts will need access to a laptop, tablet or other Internet-connected device to participate.

Each participating BSA or GSUSA scout must purchase a separate Online Pass. Online Passes are available now. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to purchase.

An expert educator will monitor the chat and answer any questions that your scout may have. Our staff is also available outside of the class time, if necessary, for one week after the program. Feel free to email us at [email protected].

This varies depending on the requirements fulfilled each Scout Day. More information on our June 6, 2021 Scout Day is coming soon, including information on GSUSA scout requirements.

For the December 5, 2020 Scout Day, in addition to attending all of the virtual sessions, BSA scouts were required to complete two short activities independently or with their troop to qualify for the BSA Architecture Merit Badge:

  • To satisfy badge requirement 1a, scouts were asked to walk around their neighborhood with a caregiver or guardian, choose their favorite building, and assemble a brief report.
  • To satisfy badge requirement 4, scouts were asked to create a scale drawing of a room they frequent. The drawing needed to be neatly labeled with their name, date, type of room drawn, the contents of the room, and a scale of the room's dimensions.
  • Instructions to complete both of these requirements were included in the merit badge packet. BSA scouts were required to complete and submit this packet to qualify for the Architecture Merit Badge. The packet could be submitted via Google form or printed and emailed/mailed to:

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Attention: Virtual Scout Day
2027 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
[email protected]

Within 1-2 weeks of Scout Day, each BSA scout should submit a completed merit badge packet. 

Please allow our staff 1-2 weeks to process your packet after you’ve submitted it. Once we've reviewed and approved your packet, an Eastern State staff member will sign a digital Blue Card PDF and send it to the BSA scout via email. The scout must then get their troop leader to sign off and send the Blue Card in to receive their official merit badge.

Check back soon for more information regarding merit badges for our June 6, 2021 Scout Day including instructions for GSUSA scouts.


We will cover all the listed requirements, either during our sessions or as part of independent work assigned, but it is the scout’s responsibility to complete each activity.

For BSA scouts, both in-session and independent work should be included in the merit badge packet submission which will be checked before a Blue Card is issued.

More information about GSUSA requirements and details on our June 6, 2021 Scout Day are coming soon!

If you have additional questions, please email us at [email protected] for assistance. 

2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner