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Scout Days

Eastern State Penitentiary is thrilled to invite scouts to participate in specially-curated learning experiences. Led by our expert staff, scouts will enjoy a full day of interactive discussions and activities. Members of our staff are certified to serve as merit badge counselors through the BSA’s Cradle of Liberty Council, so BSA scouts will also have the opportunity to meet merit badge requirements.

More Scout Days coming soon! We haven't scheduled our next Scout Day yet.

Want to be the first to know when we do? Email [email protected] to be added to our scout list, and you'll be the first to know. Or, visit this page for the latest.

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

Thanks to all the scouts who joined us on Saturday, December 5, 2020 to learn more about architecture at our first virtual Scout Day! In case you missed it, you can read more about the event here:Two people in an orange basket lift, wearing hard hats, in front of Eastern State's historic stone wall

Considered the world’s first true penitentiary, Eastern State’s 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.

During five virtual sessions, each 30-60 minutes long, scouts met a variety of experts and engaged in interactive activities and conversations. They learned about Eastern State’s history and influence, received an introduction to the fields of architecture and historic preservation, and discussed the logistical challenges and ethical issues that complicate the role of prison architecture then and now.

Our most recent Scout Day took place virtually, via Zoom, on Saturday, December 5, 2020 from 10:00 am - 4:30 pm ET. Check back soon for more on future days.

Yes! All scouts are welcome to participate in any Scout Day program we offer. This is a new program at Eastern State Penitentiary, so it’s still growing. We hope to introduce badge-focused programs for Girl Scouts in the future. Our December 5, 2020 virtual Scout Day still offered Girl Scouts the opportunity to progress toward individual goals and add a fun patch to their collection.

The program costs $15 per scout, and you must purchase an Online Pass to reserve your spot. Online Passes will become available when the next Scout Day is announced.

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.

When we announce our next Scout Day, we will share a detailed schedule for  all planned sessions. 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. It may also be helpful to print or save a copy of the merit badge packet we provide, so scouts can reference it and take notes throughout the day.

In order to obtain an approved Blue Card from an Eastern State merit badge counselor, each participating BSA scout must purchase an Online Pass.

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 Matt Murphy at [email protected].

This varies depending on the requirements fulfilled each Scout Day.

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

  • To satisfy badge requirement 1a, scouts must walk around their neighborhood with a caregiver or guardian, choose their favorite building, and assemble a brief report.
  • To satisfy badge requirement 4, scouts must create a scale drawing of a room they frequent. The drawing must be neatly labeled with their name, date, type of room drawn, and the contents of the room. A scale of the room’s dimensions must be provided.
  • Instructions to complete both of these requirements are included in the merit badge packet. BSA scouts must complete and submit this packet to qualify for the Architecture Merit Badge. The packet can 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. 

For the December 5, 2020 Scout Day, the easiest way to do this is by submitting it digitally via this Google form. If you’re unable to do that, you can download a PDF version of the packet here. A completed PDF packet can be returned by email or mail to:

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

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. 

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. 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.

If you have additional questions about logistics or registration, please email [email protected] for assistance. For post-event support regarding information shared in the sessions or merit badge packet completion and/or submission, email Matt Murphy at [email protected].

2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner