Proof: https://www.reddit.com/r/nextfuckinglevel/comments/jpwv9x/hi_this_is_me_im_actually_the_scout_who_got_all/

I started Boy Scouts at about 10 years old after crossing over from cub scouts. Sometime in my second year, I met a scout who, like I would years later, was about to earn every single merit badge. I was inspired by him to attempt the same thing, and after eight years of studying, hiking, biking, meeting interesting people, and doing some really tough, fun, and interesting things around the country (and parts of the world), I finally accomplished the same thing. In total, I earned 138 of the 137 badges offered (one was discontinued and replaced along the way). It is my proudest accomplishment so far.

And for one quick FAQ:

What are merit badges and why is this significant?

Merit badges are awards offered by the Boys Scouts of America for fulfilling various lists of requirements. They are all so diverse and unique that I can't really give a "typical" case of one, as they range from something simple like learning about fingerprints and taking your own, to biking for long distances (hundreds of miles depending on the terrain you select), to learning complicated topics like Nuclear Science, Drafting, etc.

Of course, doing 138 of them adds a much greater level of difficulty. You have to get a qualified and registered counselor to sign off that you satisfied the requirements, such as Astronaut Michael Finke who helped me earn Space Exploration and countless other wonderful people who I could list for quite some time.

As far as the significance, as I said it took a bit less than eight years to achieve. In the 100+ year history of Scouting in America, fewer than 500 people have accomplished this goal. For reference, the extremely prestigious rank of Eagle was earned by over 60,000 people in the year of 2019 alone (I say this not to minimize the award of Eagle Scout, but to provide a frame of reference for how rarely this is achieved).

I'm excited to do my first AMA! Ask away, Reddit.

Edit: thanks for all you comments, but I think I'll be headed off for now. Might still pop in occasionally to answer questions.

Comments: 764 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

pythonProgrammer101717 karma

I’m an Eagle Scout with only a couple months left before I age out, what is the one MB you would recommend getting before I can’t?

Meritbadgeguy480 karma

Seeing as you have programmer in your name I would assume you have programming/digital technology.

Honestly it really depends on who you are and what you want to get out of scouting. Find one that will push you to your limits, physically, academically, whatever. Find one that will open your worldview.

Things kind of suck this year so I'm sorry if you have to age out before quarantine ends. Maybe something like cycling/backpacking could take you sightseeing/push you?

nIBLIB156 karma

Which one most pushed you to your limits physically and academically?

Meritbadgeguy387 karma

Not to seem repetitive but Cycling physically and Nuclear science academically.

Outside of badges the mile swim was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I think it took me about two or three hours (everyone else was on a swim team and finished in less than half of that).

crazy4schwinn150 karma

I swam the mile swim for the Life Saving Badge. That was probably my hardest one when I was in scouts. Wilderness Survival was also a tough badge because of the amount of potential discomfort you have to endure (depending greatly in climate). Congratulations! You’ll have more palms than will fit on your badge!

drinkymcsipsip75 karma

I earned both the Life Saving Badge and the Wilderness Survival badge in the same summer. During the overnight for the Wilderness Survival badge, we had a sizable black bear walk right through the middle of the camp a few hours after we went to sleep. No one moved and he left everyone alone, but I wasn’t the only one who almost shit his pants that night.

swazy13 karma

How long did you have to camp for to get the badge?

I suppose setting up a camp like you planning on being there a long time is part of it because you can do a lot of half assed stuff if your only there for a few days but it will bite your ass when week 4 arrives and you have a rat problem

Meritbadgeguy10 karma

I believe it's 20 nights in total, among other requirements like cooking and first aid

Edit: was mistakenly talking about a different badge. It was only one night

swazy10 karma

That's a decent amount of time.

I've spent nearly a year living in a tent in the bush for work and I think 20 days is when the novelty was starting to wear thin.

Meritbadgeguy5 karma

Oh sorry, for some reason I thought you were talking about the camping merit badge. Wilderness survival was only one night. Much less hardcore than 20.

Meritbadgeguy7 karma

Oh yes. I was actually thinking of that at first but I think it was less than a mile so I went with mile swim. Also very difficult.

Christof318 karma

For someone who isn't a competitive swimmer, even finishing that is an accomplishment. Well done. I think back to my days in the pool and I think we were usually around the 30 minute mark in 1500m freestyle, short course. That is after years and years of training though.

Meritbadgeguy26 karma

There was a lot of floating on my back and trying to catch my breath

KillEmWithFire4 karma

I remember doing the mile swim in the fairly gross lake at Camp Roosevelt. A guy in my group was a competitive swimmer and did 7 miles that same day. Overachievers lemme tell ya.

Meritbadgeguy8 karma

I hate overachievers.

f4te505 karma

what are you gonna do with all the ladies?

Meritbadgeguy1011 karma

Expand my skin suit collection

Meritbadgeguy887 karma

Uh, I meant treat them with respect

Meritbadgeguy793 karma

Sorry, autocorrect

spankymuffin71 karma

Great. I came to this thread to hate on you for gloating about the goddamn boy scouts, but now I think I like you.

diffcalculus53 karma

Hello, future skin

Meritbadgeguy98 karma

Don't forget to moisturize

hodlrus23 karma

Is there a funny guy badge? Because you just made a lot of internet peoples laugh.

Meritbadgeguy20 karma

Thanks haha

GnarKillYou5 karma

Ah yes, the skin suit merit badge!

Meritbadgeguy9 karma

Guess what it's made of

GnarKillYou5 karma

I don’t know, what?

Meritbadgeguy12 karma

Fabric. They all are

Logelirim276 karma

What was your last badge? My dad said he helped someone with Signs, Signals and Codes and that was their final one

Meritbadgeguy350 karma

I finished my last three on the same day. Signs signals and codes was actually one of them, along with dog care and pottery.

whootdat120 karma

Did you go to any summer camps? That usually where scouts get their pottery badge (easiest).

Meritbadgeguy174 karma

Oh yes. I think I spent a month in a tent at various camps one summer. Great source of merit badges as well as scouting experiences.

Logelirim27 karma

Idk this was at the 2017 National Jamboree and I don’t think they did Dog Care there

Meritbadgeguy31 karma

Different guy then haha.

wadebosshogg14 karma

When did you find the time for dentistry and fingerprinting?

Meritbadgeguy41 karma

Fingerprinting was pretty easy actually.

Dentistry I did over a summer towards the end.

KJ6BWB10 karma

Do you own a dog and a reptile or did you borrow them from others to care for, for the merit badges?

Meritbadgeguy20 karma

Yeah, I had to borrow those. Definitely made it tougher, especially with keeping logs and stuff.

weed-n64158 karma

What was one badge you unexpectedly really enjoyed earning?

Meritbadgeguy245 karma

Not in terms of "I didn't like it going into it but changed my mind" but more of an "I had no idea what I was doing before I started." My first one was Nuclear Science and was very involved. I had to do a ton of research on my own before meeting at an Engineering firm that taught the rest of the class. It was very eye opening to what merit badges were and I really enjoyed it.

Another would be Drafting. I actually wasn't even registered but I had a free period and they had an open spot so they let me have a seat and take it. I had no idea what it was but then I got to use $1,500 CAD software on high end computers and learn about the world of Drafting.

overtOVR125 karma

Are you familiar with the story of the Radioactive Boy Scout, who built a highly radioactive model reactor in his potting shed after earning the Nuclear Science merit badge?

Meritbadgeguy106 karma

I am actually. My experience wasn't nearly that extreme, unfortunately.

Fynn_the_Finger20 karma

Alright, pop quiz, see if you can remember your Nuclear Science badge.

What's the annual whole body ionizing dose limit for radiation workers as set by the NRC. Bonus points, what's the limit for extremities?

Meritbadgeguy23 karma

I don't remember those being requirements haha.

thunder-thumbs148 karma

Do you have ideas on areas that should be badges but aren’t?

Meritbadgeguy179 karma

That's a tough one. With 138 there's a pretty broad scope already. Someone asked me about what badge I would add and I told them not a new badge but adding building/identifying parts of a PC for the computer related badges but that's not quite the same. I'll let you know if I can come up with a better answer though.

mdm538244 karma

Are there badges for e-commerce and investing?

Meritbadgeguy66 karma

American business kind of

see-bees40 karma

I taught that one! Not a boyscout, but I was a college student with a professor who was very involved in BSA. So our student organization at college did a 1-2 day merit badge day event where you could knock out a good handful of badges

Meritbadgeguy21 karma

Those are great. Went to similar things nearby several times

Heylion1109 karma

As a former scout who dropped out after finding the non-rank-requirement parts of scouting way more rewarding, what has been your favorite experience non-merit-badge-related from scouting? Or alternatively, has pursuing merit badge requirements ever led to an interesting experience that went further than just your requirements?

Meritbadgeguy144 karma

My favorite non badge related experience was our summer trip to Israel (try to ignore the politics haha). I was fortunate to join a troop that did about a dozen summer trips each year (there were different levels and obviously it was impossible to go to all of them). It was my last summer before aging out and I had saved a ton of money from selling coupon books over the years (I believe about four grand in total) to help pay for it.

This was my first time out of North America and it was incredibly eye-opening and rewarding. It was the perfect balance between rough scouting trips and sightseeing/tourism as we stayed outside and in hostels but also saw historical sites like the walled city and Masada (hiked up at like 4am to see one of the most incredible sunsets edit:sunRISES I've ever seen).

The last few days were spent camping at a Scout camp for the locals (not some Americanized thing). Met some really fun people and had a great time exchanging culture and gifts.

Heylion114 karma

A summer trip to Israel sounds amazing! I think part of the reason I ended up leaving was because of how unmotivated my whole troop was at planning awesome experiences. I still had my fill, especially with National Jamboree 2017, but I'm super happy that you got so much out of scouting!

Meritbadgeguy17 karma

I was at 2017 Jambo as well. What troop were you in?

That was another interesting experience. I went in 2013 as well and had an awful time, partially because they had really overhyped the high adventure activities so I spent all my time waiting in lines and didn't get to do any of them (they kept getting rained out and canceled) and I really only got to do 3 scheduled things (out of four at that). I spent so much time waiting and being disappointed I didn't get to do the main stuff: meeting people and learning about scouting. On top of that, they were totally unorganized and massively understaffed (heard about volunteers doing 16-hour shifts)

In 2017 it was a much different experience (the downside was my council charged the same price in 2017 for a 20 hour bus ride with like two food stops each way that they charged in 2013 for a chartered flight and three days of sigh-seeing in DC and hotel stay). Shaped by my previous experience I focused less on the adventure stuff (and ironically did more), but I got super into patch trading (was able to get the full monty python set including the coveted thousand-eyed monster center patch), saw some of the exhibits, and met up with some old scouting friends I hadn't seen in awhile that moved away or that I hadn't met at home. Also saw my uncle who I don't see often since he worked on the medical staff.

Scruffy44213 karma

Scouting is only as good as it's leaders.

Meritbadgeguy8 karma

Absolutely. I was fortunate to have some great leaders surrounding me. Major respect to every one of them.

Noname_left29 karma

I was in until 18 and an Eagle Scout too. I found the merit badges to be the least fun part of scouts. We had a very active troop and would camp every month somewhere in Colorado. We had adults who would design challenges for us and twice a year all the troops would get together for more formal scouting skill competitions. That’s where the fun was at. The badges just seemed like homework.

Scruffy44212 karma

I had hit Life at 14, but didn't get to my Eagle board of review till 2 days before my 18th birthday. We had a really active troop and I just sloughed off the requirements until the very end.

BeHard9 karma

You sound like me, I dropped off my paper work 2 days before my 18th. Was life rank for like 3.5 years. Did my Eagle Project in about 8 week and scoured merit badge books to find the fastest ones I could knock out for my last 3. But I’m still an Eagle damnit!

Meritbadgeguy7 karma

My first SPL after switching completed his BOR about a day before leaving for westpoint. He's probably using his eagle more than I am.

Meritbadgeguy1 karma

Yeah, camping and trips were the highlight of my scouting experience as well. However those and badges are not mutually exclusive, but maybe not for everyone.

SheriffBartholomew93 karma

How were you able to find teachers for all of those badges?

Where did you get the money for some of the more expensive badges like SCUBA?

My other question isn’t about badges. Did you plan and finish your Eagle Scout project yet? I assisted with three separate Eagle projects for friends (I was a Life Scout) and found each of them to be quite challenging and rewarding. If so, what did you do?

Meritbadgeguy130 karma

Honestly most of the cost of scouting wasn't in the badges themselves. SCUBA was done through a nearby(ish) summer camp that was probably in the $200 range including food/land use etc. Snowsports I went on a road trip with my dad to stay with some cousins I had near the east coast. Teachers were available within the troop, during weekend merit badge events, summer camps, and some just by picking up the phone and asking people in related fields to become registered and to help me. Many of them were largely self-taught though and consisted of completing a workbook and some activities and showing the counselor what I did. For the costs that were there, I was fortunate to have my parents pay a lot of it, but I earned about $4 thousand over the years doing fundraising events (you would sell an item and get to keep a percentage of the earnings) which essentially all went to the two international trips I was able to take as a scout (Israel and Canada).

As for Eagle, that I actually finished long before the badges. It took me about 14 months and $600 to create a relaxation room complete with a desk, mural, paint, and other significant improvements at a domestic abuse center here in town. I was one of six finalists out of 1,500 projects that year for the award for the best project in the area.

FreakGamer49 karma

Congrats! I'm an Eagle myself, but certainly didn't go for this endeavor, it's super impressive. Let me ask you, do all your merit badges fit on your sash? Like does it fit on just the front, or did you have to cover the back too?

Meritbadgeguy58 karma

I wear them front and back and the sash is actually only large enough to fit 126 of the 138 badges. A friend of mine who was one of the adult leaders was kind enough to sew an extension onto it that looks very subtle and allows for the rest of the badges to fit.

diffcalculus21 karma

How many times have you heard a variation of Office Space flairs jokes?

Meritbadgeguy20 karma

Actually only once

siecakea46 karma

Hi! Eagle scout here that stopped out at 33 merit badges haha.

What do you feel is the important life lesson that you have taken away from scouts, and are you a member of the OA?

Congrats by the way! That is no small feat, I've only seen like 1 other person that has done what you've accomplished.

Meritbadgeguy46 karma

I'm brotherhood in OA but have been relatively uninvolved with that side of scouting recently, unfortunately.

And a major lesson has been finding goals and sticking to them, even above what is considered standard. I saw countless people work on Eagle and either finish early and leave or wait to start until they were 17 and then get it at the end. Eagle is a great accomplishment and it's rarely achieved but it doesn't have to be the end goal. It was obviously a significant goal for me, but not the only one, and that's what kept me active. Along the way I wanted to go on an international trip, I wanted to join OA, I wanted to become ASPL and then SPL (essentially vice president and president), I wanted to earn the NOA badges, I wanted to become a climbing instructor, and obviously, I wanted the merit badges. If something interests you, don't just do what is considered by others to be the standard or the end goal and lose interest afterward. Find something new to hunt for.

Applying that to my future, I want to earn an Engineering degree, but I'm also in the honors program and have my eye on a few different minors. Who knows what I'll search for next?

siecakea11 karma

I'm glad that this was a great experience for you! I too saw lots try to make it to eagle but fell short due to outside interests, but it's just one of the hurdles you face as you grow older in the troop. I can definitely say that being the SPL in my troop has helped give me leadership experience, and I owe most of my ethics to scouting.

Meritbadgeguy9 karma

Yeah, I tried as SPL to do stuff like that. It always seemed like something was destined to go wrong but I hope I did a good job of staying on my feet. Was pretty difficult to run a troop of nearly 300 scouts, I will say that, but I had a good support system with the adult leaders and some of my ASPLs.

chrisb99326 karma

Completing a badge at an average of every 3 weeks for 8 years straight, do you feel like you really earned the badges, or just attained them? And having attained them, do you think you've retained the skills you learnt from the badges you earned 8 years ago?

I ask as a (former) UK scout leader, and nothing frustrated me more than seeing kids sheep dipped through as many badges as possible- the kids may have learnt something in September, but come Summer Camp the following July, you'd have to reteach them.

People with an extreme dedication to one particular activity or interest often lack the social skills to work effectively alongside people with a different interest to themselves- with this in mind, how is your life outside of scouting?

Meritbadgeguy55 karma

That's a fair point, but I feel like it depends on the person and the motivation. Had I been only doing it because I was forced into it by my parents it would have been completely different, but I only had about 5-7 in my first year and it wasn't until a decision I made for myself that I started actually trying for them all.

I couldn't tell you every detail about every badge for sure (someone gave me a pop quiz on Nuclear Science in another comment), but I put in the work and the experiences have each stayed with me. I feel like the purpose of merit badges are less to force you to become an expert and more to give you a wide variety of experiences that can lead to new passions and interests throughout adulthood, and I feel like I was able to do that just fine.

lez56622 karma

TIL that the boy scouts and the cub scouts are not the same thing (I'm not American). So actually, how do they differ? Do the cub scouts have similar badges and can you transfer your qualifications to their badges as well? Also, do the badges give you any qualifications outside of the scouts that you can leverage for your professional life?

Meritbadgeguy41 karma

Cub scouts and boy scouts are entirely different. Cub scouts does a good job of building up to boy scouts, but it is a completely different thing. Cub scouts was more of a family thing, where you'd have two meetings a month (one for your entire pack and one for your den (essentially age group) and then two campouts a year where the whole family comes and goes car camping.

Boy scouts is much more about doing things on your own, and it is rare to see families unless the parents are very involved with the troop (even then parents and children are usually in different groups). Also in cub scouts each rank is more of a completion award for getting a year older, while with boy scouts it's entirely up to you to finish it.

jelang1916 karma

What were your top 5 favorite badges ?

Meritbadgeguy69 karma

Climbing-Ended up really loving it and spent every year after that helping to run troop climbing events. When I was old enough I became certified as a youth climbing instructor, and I hope to recertify so I can return as an adult.

Space exploration-It was taught by a real astronaut. I believe he held the US record for most EVA time when I took his class.

Snow sports-Also the most difficult, but I went to visit my cousins who I hadn't seen in nearly a decade to find some snow. This was my last winter before turning 18 and my first time on a slope. Some members of the ski patrol found out about why I was there and gave me free private lessons and followed me down the slopes when I was ready so it could be recorded for the counselor.

SCUBA-I had never done scuba diving before and it was an amazing experience. After training in a pool for about 3 and a half days, we took two trips to a wonderful spring where access was heavily restricted (we had the coveted clearance to dive there, don't worry).

Cycling-Probably the hardest I've ever pushed myself physically for a merit badge, with maybe backpacking trailing closely. I chose the mountain biking option meaning less distance but each mile was much harder. I ended up biking almost 80 miles in total. I initially started at the same camp where I did SCUBA, but both classes had a major requirement on the final day that departed at the same time, so I had to finish my final 22-mile ride independently. I realized I had outgrown my own bike, but a local bike shop was kind enough to lend one to me for a few days so I could go out on my own.

slingblade131517 karma

with maybe backpacking trailing closely

Heh. Trailing. I see what you did there.

Meritbadgeguy17 karma

Pun unintended but I'll take credit for it anyways.

whootdat3 karma

Was the astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria?

Meritbadgeguy6 karma

No. Michael Fincke

Sharpman7615 karma

Opinion on girls joining scouting? I'm an Eagle myself but never went for a ton of merit badges, my calling in Scouts in summer camp staff (last summer I was Ecology director for the only open scout camp in my state). One of the best coworkers I've ever had at a scout camp was a girl, and personally I have no issue with letting girls in as long as they're treated the same as everyone else (i.e. not babied). Any thoughts?

Meritbadgeguy34 karma

I've heard arguments for both (I can't deny that adolescent boys act differently around each other than they do around the opposite gender) but I'm overall for it the way they have it set up. The rank of Eagle is something that provides a lot of value and it is something that girls were never able to earn before now. I've heard people say "Well why don't they just improve Girl Scouts" but to that I say that the prestige of earning Eagle is largely based on public perception and a century of reputation. That's not something that can be built overnight and I'm glad half the population is able to have something like that after they put in the effort.

DBZOverlord12315 karma

Did u ever BS a badge or req?

Im a B.S as well

Meritbadgeguy35 karma

Yes, I am currently earning my BS in Mechanical Engineering

cargonation14 karma

Which one was the most difficult and do you still remember anything about the first ones you earned?

Meritbadgeguy41 karma

I always come back to the same three for the title of most difficult:

Shotgun shooting-I just couldn't for the life of me hit moving targets. I was great with rifle shooting but as soon as there was motion involved everything changed. It took me probably a dozen sessions of shooting to finally make it.

Bugling-I'm not a very musical person and had never played any instruments besides some light guitar. Starting to learn the bugle with less than a year until the cutoff date was quite hard.

Snow sports-I live in a swamp. What can I say?

As far as the first ones, I earned two at a merit badge even offered by a large engineering firm within my first few weeks of scouting: Nuclear Science and Engineering. A bit ironic considering one of my last three was pottery. I had done a ton of research ahead of time and the instructors seemed to be relieved that the youngest person in the room wasn't going to hold them back. During the summer break, I went to a merit badge camp where I worked on about five more but only completed two or three, and then I switched to a different troop in the fall. It was not only my first Court of Honor (the ceremony where your awards are given to you) in months, but it was also my first with the new troop. Someone made fun of me, because, "You bothered to wear your merit badge sash when you only have two badges?" Oh how the tables have turned...

Learned_Hand_0113 karma

That’s interesting, my son just got his Eagle and shotgun shooting was one of his badges. It was not a difficult one for him, I think our family just has good aim.

My son couldn’t even be bothered to talk to a Merit badge counselor to complete his final two merit badges in order to get a Palm, just getting over the line was enough for him. Also, he never even bothered to get his badges attached to his sash. When he wanted to dress up he would just wear his OA sash.

Congratulations on your achievement!

Meritbadgeguy4 karma

Thanks!

makemeking70613 karma

Is there a badge for earning all of the other badges, sort of like a Platinum badge?

If not, there should be.

Meritbadgeguy25 karma

There is an unofficial one. Once you become an adult, the primary awards you receive are rectangular "Square Knot" badges that you put on the top right part of your uniform. There is one for having earned Eagle as a scout, some for highly distinguished accomplishments, etc. The person who runs the registry of scouts who have earned all the merit badges (where I found my sub 500 number mentioned before) has created an unofficial one of these that I received when I was recognized for completing this goal.

Chambellan11 karma

Which of the retired badges do you wish you could still earn?

Meritbadgeguy18 karma

Probably the four centennial badges. I started scouting right after they ended so I was never able to earn them.

buckles669 karma

Eagle Scout recipient here, congrats my dude.

What was the one badge you thought you’d hate doing but enjoyed and what was the one you thought you’d love but hated doing?

I only know of one other person who actually put in the time to earn all of them, so that’s definitely an achievement.

Meritbadgeguy10 karma

Hello fellow eagle scout. Was looking forward to wilderness survival but it was really cold so maybe that one. I think I also underestimated golf.

I tried to be pretty open minded with most of them so I don't know if I thought I'd hate any, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed genealogy and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents on both sides of the family (my grandfather who was a vigil member and very into scouting unfortunately passed away a week before my eagle board of review, but this was one of the biggest scouting related things I remember most doing with him).

buckles668 karma

Wilderness survival was definitely annoying. I’ll never forget “sleeping” underneath a tree the last night. It was awful lol.

Genealogy is definitely an interesting one I would bet, never got around to that one IIRC. Glad you got to experience that before he passed.

I see you’re interested in going into the engineering field, any specific ones in mind? (Currently on a break from school, but was in Chemical for my first 3 years and Instrument and Control Systems the last year.).

Meritbadgeguy3 karma

Mechanical right now. I'm looking to go to patent law at some point after. I've heard my school has a good underwater engineering program and i might look into it as well

NationYell9 karma

What was your experience like earning the Wilderness Survival badge? I personally loved it and helped my fellow younger scouts earn it.

Meritbadgeguy14 karma

I did it in the mountains of Colorado my first year as a scout, which, while it was summer, was very cold that night. We were allowed 10 essentials and nothing else, but were given food and water. I was freezing but was glad I did it.

At camps after that I saw younger scouts in my troop taking it and the rules were much more relaxed. One camp even allowed a sleeping bag and a tent. I felt like an old man screaming about how easy you kids have it these days. The only other time I've felt that way was when I did Search and Rescue and one requirement was to complete I believe a six hour government certified ICS course. They dropped that requirement soon after I finished it.

slingblade13158 karma

What did you do for your Eagle Project and how old were you when you completed that? Was it a project you’re proud of?

Meritbadgeguy22 karma

Yes, I was very proud. I created a relaxation area for the phone workers at a local abuse center. With the help of some prominent local artists I was able to create a mural, repaint the walls, reorganize a bit, and bring some positivity into it. Due to the vast difficulty of coordinating several schedules I had to replan major parts of the project and push back deadlines to the point that it took about $600, 14 months, and about a dozen volunteers to complete around the time I turned 14. I was actually one of six finalists (out of about 1,500 eagle scouts that year) to qualify for an award for the best local eagle project.

Burdwatcher8 karma

Ballpark figure, how many of them did you actually enjoy completing/ want to experience on their own merit alone vs. the number you did so you could complete the list? What percentage would you peg it at?

Meritbadgeguy8 karma

I mean I didn't always know what the badges were before I started but I tried to keep an open mind. Didn't like bugling though.

trennels5 karma

I liked that one, but I was a trumpet player :-)
Congratulations, man! Great work!

Meritbadgeguy3 karma

Hah. I wish I was beforehand. My counselor might have liked me better by the end of it.

pewzapdie7 karma

[removed]

Meritbadgeguy9 karma

Trick question. Murder is bad.

Portarossa6 karma

Dang, no merit badge for calligraphy, eh? :p (Congratulations, though. It's always nice when you reach a target goal, especially after eight years.)

If you had to ditch up to three of the merit badges from the current list, which would they be and why?

Meritbadgeguy12 karma

Cop out answer: Citizenship in the world, Citizenship in the Nation, and Citizenship in the community used to be a single badge that was then split. I'd just combine them back into one. Then I would combine communications and public speaking, which I always thought were redundant.

XenophonHendrix6 karma

What was the average amount of time per merit badge to earn one?

Meritbadgeguy24 karma

I really couldn't answer that. Some like fingerprinting can be done in an hour. Others like sports have a minimum of two seasons, so about six months to a year

abcedarian6 karma

An old woman is attempting to cross the street. QUICK- what do you do?

Meritbadgeguy22 karma

I'm pretty sure it was something basic like sewing two pieces of fabric together or putting a button on (maybe both). Sorry I couldn't help you haha.

Edit: I have no idea how but somehow I misread it as "an old woman is attempting to cross-stitch."

datsun19786 karma

Is there one for sewing?

Meritbadgeguy9 karma

There is a textiles badge that is more in-depth but does entail sewing.

roguesubmariner5 karma

Hey as an eagle scout my who almost filled the front and back of my sash. I was wondering if you got to pilot a plane for your aviation badge? That was my favorite badge piloting a plane up in the air. Least favorite, truck transportation.

Meritbadgeguy6 karma

No I didn't get to fly. I was able to take it at an airport, however, and got to see a bunch of planes up close and talk to some pilots and then walked inside a stripped-down United Airlines jumbo jet that was waiting to be rebuilt for flying.

jwestenhoff5 karma

Eagle scout here.

Do you feel like you might have missed out on some of the other aspects of the scouting experience by focusing so much on merit badges?

Meritbadgeguy10 karma

I don't think so. I still had a pretty full scouting experience. I went to NYLT and NAYLE. Earned my Eagle and was given recognition in front of several thousand people for my project. I had the privilege of running one of the largest troops in the country as SPL. I went on some amazing trips, like whitewater canoeing in Canada and international scouting in Israel. I earned lots of other awards like palms, NOVA, and the NOA. All in all I think I spent those eight years to their fullest and I have no regrets about any of it.

Jeffery_G4 karma

So how many palms does that give you and of what type?

Meritbadgeguy9 karma

Basically a palm is just that current set of requirements, so bronze is 1 set, gold is 2, and silver is 3. In total I have 6 silver palms which amount to 18 total sets. I'm able to wear them as 3 sets of each, so 3 silver, 3 gold, and 3 bronze which I like the aesthetic of more than 6 silvers.

14694 karma

Is golf still a bitch to get? It was my only partial when I earned Eagle 15 years ago.

Meritbadgeguy5 karma

Seemed a little tougher than I expected but I was able to finish in about a day.

Amongades4 karma

How much money does it take to get all 138 badges?

I see you mention various international trips, so it seems like it's not cheap to acquire all the badges? If so, that's unfortunate, but as a ballpark, how much money would it take if my son wanted to try this some day?

Thanks and congratulations on your achievement

Meritbadgeguy11 karma

Obviously it isn't free, but the international trips are by no means necessary. Most of it can be done in in-state summer camps and local merit badge fairs during the weekend, along with some personal effort looking at databases and calling people to ask them if they can be your counselor. Summer camps are usually about $200-300 or so excluding travel but including meals and "room and board" (it's a field for your tent, but still) and you can get about 3-5 badges in a week, provided you look ahead for any prerequisites. Of course there's always going to be some badge that no one is registered to teach, so you might have to call around to find qualified people in your friend group or local businesses and ask for help. I will say getting my driver's license made things much easier (both for me and for my parents).

Also, much of the cost of the international trips I paid for myself by selling coupon books and stuff (raised about $2,500-4,000 over a few years which I was very proud of). If your son is that invested, it might be worth it to do something like that or get a summer job depending on your finances.

philipquarles4 karma

What are some of the rarest badges, and what percentage of scouts earn them?

Meritbadgeguy8 karma

In 2019 it was Bugling, stamp collecting, surveying, journalism, American labor, drafting, composite materials, landscape architecture, gardening, and American business, which seems pretty accurate from my personal experiences. I would add model design and drama, as those badges and some others like bugling, dog care, and signs signals and codes I had to ask someone to register to sign off for because it was so hard to find anyone registered.

kingdeuceoff4 karma

Very cool. What badges were hardest to find councillors for?

Meritbadgeguy5 karma

In my experience, Bugling, Drama, Dog Care, and Signs Signals and Codes.

OwenMerks4 karma

What was the badge that’s now retired? Are there any retired badges you wish you could’ve obtained?

Meritbadgeguy7 karma

The badge was Computers and was replaced with the much more modern Digital Technology (one of the requirements was to learn how to write in a word document which most kids know long before Boy Scouts these days).

As for other retired badges, I said in another comment the centennial badges. They were four merit badges that were brought back for a single year in 2010 to mark the 100th anniversary of scouting in America. I wasn't a scout until just after the year had ended so I never got them.

Thrasher14933 karma

I never got to experience boy scouts as a kid, for many different reasons. Do you know of anything that would be a similar experience for adults?

Meritbadgeguy3 karma

Obviously you could be a leader, but there are responsibilities involved that make it a very different experience. If there was something specific you're interested in like climbing, hiking, etc there are probably small local groups that do that kind of thing.

Oliumzen3 karma

My son did scouts for 1 full year. The 2nd year was interrupted by the coronavirus. The first year was way better, all about doing things together as a pack/den and earning belt loops as a team with the other tigers. The second year as a wolf the leader did everything at home with her child, and then another member also did everything on their own. It ruined the fun team building aspect of the first year my son and I both enjoyed. So we didn't make any effort to continue with scouting.

Does scouting continue on as an individual thing as you moved on completing badges yourself? Or was there a semblance of a team atmosphere that we originally experienced throughout?

Meritbadgeguy3 karma

Well the achievements and ranks themselves are an individual thing but you can find or lead classes to do them as a group, just everyone has to do the requirements. However most of the "team" aspect comes from the other experiences like campouts, activities, and summer trips. I would definitely recommend NYLT and then NAYLE as those are great leadership and teamwork training experiences.

WhirlwindofWit3 karma

I have no real experience with scouts so excuse my simple question. By the time you receive your merit badge for a subject/skill, how well-versed are you in that topic? Obviously you can’t be an expert at everything, but could you now hold an educated conversation and contribute to one with experts on nuclear whosywhatsits, for instance?

Meritbadgeguy4 karma

It really ranges. The idea is for you to get a good handle on it, but whether you remember everything years later depends on a lot of things. You don't have to be an expert, you just have to do the work and show some effort (unless you get someone who is really strict).

Fancy-Pair3 karma

What are some useful go-to knots to learn?

Meritbadgeguy3 karma

Square knot, variations of the figure eight knot, double fisherman's, and the two half hitches are all pretty simple and will get you pretty far

tbarb003 karma

How has your life changed in the 1.5 years since earning all those badges?

Meritbadgeguy9 karma

Well a big part of it has been quarantine so far so I'd say quite a lot lol. But in general since then I've graduated and started college, been in some articles and on the Kelley Clarkson show, made some new friends (some are probably reading this), and hopefully grown a bit (my beard has at least).

CheckoTP3 karma

What is one badge everone should try to do regardless of age?

Meritbadgeguy4 karma

The citizenship badges are always relevant, and more people could use the practice from the Communications/Public Speaking badges.

Ttthhasdf3 karma

where did you do the trek for the backpacking mb? The 20-mile hike? Did you do any online during pandemic? Have you thought about a Hornaday (they are changing it)?

The reason I ask about Hornaday is that you would have all the merit badges for it, and maybe or maybe not your Eagle project could count towards it. Also you'd have merit badges for NOVA awards and National Outdoor Awards.

Meritbadgeguy6 karma

I, fortunately, finished in 2019. Considering I had to make a massive push in the last eight months or so I'm not sure I could have done it this year. Most of the bikes/hikes were local and in state.

Did most of cycling at a summer camp except the final 22 miler that I had to do on my own. For the major backpacking trip we had planned a short summer trip and knocked it out, but I had to do one of the small weekend ones with my old troop as my current troop didn't have any backpacking trips planned before my 18th.

I didn't get Hornaday unfortunately. My eagle project was an indoor one at an abuse shelter and thus didn't qualify, and especially with time running out on my main goal I guess I lost sight of it. I did, however, earn the NOA (I don't remember if I finished conservation. It was relatively new and I might not have kept some of my records for it). I had over 200 nights of camping and fell just short of a second silver device for that segment. I just realized I never counted my SCUBA hours towards the Aquatics segment but I still earned a silver in it. Then various golds in some of the others and a few I finished with no devices.

I believe I got one of the NOVA awards but I don't remember which one off the top of my head.

forrealthistime993 karma

What's your favorite cereal?

Meritbadgeguy3 karma

Life and maybe corn pops

PlayerPixelated2 karma

Isn't it Scouts of America now? Or did only some swap over to that?

Meritbadgeguy3 karma

I think it is technically. Hard to undo a decade and a half of hardwiring though.

CallMeSpoofy2 karma

Favorite thing about the process? Or least favorite?

Meritbadgeguy2 karma

Getting to learn so many different things and meet so many different people

bcbole921 karma

How was the basket weaving merit badge?

Meritbadgeguy1 karma

Very easy haha. However, I wanted to save the easy ones for the end as much as possible (didn't work out for all of them) so that was probably one of the last 15.