Land Surveying Badge land survey

Discover Outdoors

Written by Judy Costello


 (You may use higher level requirements as optional requirements if they can be completed safely and understood appropriately.)


Penguins:  Do 3 requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Learn what surveying is.

_____ 2.*  Learn the directions of North, South, East, and West.


Otters:  Do 4 requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*   Do Penguin requirements 1 & 2

_____ 2. *  Learn the history of surveying.


Dolphins:  Do 5 requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Do Otter requirements 1 & 2.

_____ 2.  *  Identify terminology used in surveying:  North, Bearing, Azimuth, Triangulation, Side-Stepping.


Butterflies:  Do 6 requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Do Dolphin requirements 1 & 2.

_____ 2. *  Identify instruments used in surveying:  tripod, clinometers, noman, alidade, bulbul (plumb bob), bruntan, and rods.


Eagles:  Do 7 requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1.*  Do Butterfly requirements 1 & 2.

_____ 2.*  Help conduct a basic land survey .


Owls:  Do 9 requirements including the two starred.

_____ 1. *  Do Eagle requirements 1 & 2

_____ 2. *  Teach someone how to do a skill from this badge or teach some knowledge about this badge to someone.   You can teach kids, your spouse, seniors, anyone, just as long as you are sharing your new found knowledge.   If for some reason you cannot teach what you have learned to someone else, you may choose an additional 2 optional requirements instead.


Optional Requirements:

_____3.  Invite a speaker to talk to your group about surveying.

_____4. Find out who were the first people that we have records of using triangulation?  What did they use it for?

_____5. Look at some ancient and modern surveying equipment and compare how they are similar and how they are different.

_____6. What is Metes and Bounds?  Why are metes and bounds descriptions no longer used?

_____7. Find simple ways on the internet (with a parent's permission) or in a book to make a clinometer.  Make one.

_____8.  Look at some aerial photos from the internet (with a parent's permission).  How can you tell what time of day and what time of year the aerial photos were taken?

_____9. Look at some maps from our history.  How do they compare to maps made today?

_____10. If possible compare a map from our history and a recent map of the same location.  What has changed about the location (for example, what buildings and trees are still there or are no longer there)?

_____11. What small shapes are used to create all property shapes when surveying/map making?

_____12.  What two measurements are needed to locate a point?

_____13. Find out which of our presidents worked as a surveyor?  Where did he survey?

_____ 14.  Learn about careers in surveying.


The following websites resources may help you with this badge, but are not a part of Frontier Girls and we cannot guarantee their content.  Please do not visit without a parent's permission.

Land Surveying Color Book

George Washington as a land surveyor

Teacher's Guide to Surveying

 The information below was provided by Judy Costello to help you in earning this badge.


North is fundamentally important in surveying and mapping.

Taking a Bearing only works when you know two points – where you begin and where you end.

Azimuth is an angular measurement.  Given North is 000, then East is 090, South is 180 and West is 270, with points in between.

Tripod literally means “3 Feet”.  Surveyors use tripods to stabilize and level their instruments.

A Clinometer is an instrument used to measure slope.  Think of the words incline and decline.


When mapping, surveyors use Triangulation – making their measurements based on triangles.  The more triangles they use, the more accurate their measurements are.  A triangle can exactly locate a point relative to another point.  It is made using a bearing measurement and a distance measurement.There are records that indicate that triangulation has been used as the basis for surveying since the ancient Roman times 2000 years ago.


A Noman is an instrument used by the ancient Roman surveyors.  It is a long stick with an elbow extension.  From the tip of the extension a string is hung with a heavy weight on the end – a Bulbul which is today called a plumb bob – which points straight to the center of the earth.  The Bulbul that Dr. Paradise showed us dated to about 40 B.C.  The point to which the bulbul points is the point from which measurements of distance and azimuth are made for a triangle.


Today surveyors are more likely to use a tripod rather than a noman.

An Alidade is an instrument used by surveyors which includes a compass, a telescope and a level.

A Bruntan is an instrument which takes measurements for bearings.  Dr. Paradise showed us a modern Brunton and one from 1917.  The one from 1917 was made of bronze and was heavy.  It also had sharp edges.  There are a couple of ways to use the bruntan.  The numbers for from which the azimuth is read seem to go in the opposite direction of what they ought to be because you look through a mirror and read the mirror image to record the measurement.

The theory and concepts of surveying and mapping have been the same for 2000 years.  Only the technology for recording the measurements has changed.

For 200 years surveyors have used a noman, a brunton, a tripod and bulb, an alidade, a clinometer, and a tape measure of some sort.

Today we can use laser devices which will record a distance to whatever the laser touches.  We also have stationary satellites which can use triangulation to locate a point.  Remotely sensed images can yield a resolution so good that one can almost identify faces and numbers on license plates.  Clues such as foliage and shadows can be used to identify when a satellite image was made.

Metes and Bounds is a concept used in mapping in which a description or narrative is recorded to identify a property.  An example would be “the NW corner of the property is the outside perimeter of the oak tree with a hornets nest in it.  The SW corner of the property is an unusually shaped, blackish rock. The SE corner is about 10 feet from…”  Metes and Bounds technique is not used anymore, for obvious reasons.

Rods are used to “see around objects”.  One member of the surveying team holds the rod while the other takes the measurements at the point indicated by the bulb.


Side-Stepping is a term which comes from surveying.  It means to avoid the point or to go around.  If a surveyor comes to a large object he must go around it by stepping to the side, usually in 90 degree movements to get back to the line he is stepping off.