Here are some great tips regarding merit badges:
The "main" merit badge website:
These two websites are interesting. They unofficially rank badges from easy to hard etc.
If you want to strive for Eagle here is a time line. Pay attention to the suggestion of keeping a master list or file for all the service hours and camping trips etc.
This is a good article on insider tips of getting the "required for eagle" badges. What to do when etc.
Here is a 3 part article on stacking or double dipping - doing one activity that MAY count for more than one badge.
These badges specifically call for prior approval:
Some exciting badges (ex. motor-boating) and extreme camp outs require the first aid badge - which is required for eagle anyway. This is a good one to get out of the way soon.
Here is the local website link that shows what badges are offered during badge days in the WNY/Buffalo area. This gets updated fairly frequently.
For the zealots among us - this website is for those who have earned EVERY SINGLE merit badge:
Since you do stuff in school anyway: Depending on your teacher - you have to do a reading record. If you keep a copy of the record at the end of the school year you are almost done with the reading badge (if you read a variety of genres). Also take a look at the art badge because as you do school art projects this year, you may be able to use them for this badge. Since a few of you enjoy theater and acting, did you know there is a theater badge? - I bet you some of you have completed half this badge already. Check out the music badge if you are in the band or choir - one of the hardest parts of the badge is done.
Please note that the boy scout room at the church has a large library of badge books you can borrow from at any time but please note that some are outdated may not have the most up-to-date requirements in them.
And finally for those with smart phones - yep - "there is an app for that". Search in your app store for boy scout and/or merit badges. If your son is doing a family/community/civic event you can check on the go if it meets a requirement and document it.
If the older scouts have any other tips for working on merit badges, I am sure the younger guys would appreciate your suggestions.
Remember to get a blue card, find a buddy and find a merit badge counselor so you can start on those badges!