By now those of you that follow Scouting on the Internet have read the story of one Coleman Carter. Coleman is an 18 year old Scout that has earned 121 merit badges. That is far and away more than the average of 30 that your typical Scout earns.
Coleman earned his Eagle Award at 13, that in and of itself is remarkable. For a Scout to earn his Eagle Rank he needs to have earned 21 merit badges, 11 of which must be from the Eagle required list.
Congratulations to Coleman for his achievement. That is one hard working Scout. He deserves all the pats on the back that are coming to him. You can read more about Coleman by clicking here.
OK.. now that we have given this Scout a pat on the back and recognized his accomplishments, let me share my thoughts on the issue of merit badges and the merit badge program.
First of all the merit badge program of the Boy Scouts of America is a great tool for developing and peaking interests in our Scouts. By design it is not a program to make the Scout an expert in any subject area, rather, the program reaches out to a Scout and begs that he learn more, try something new, seek out adventures, and explore the world around him.
The Eagle required list focuses certain topics that assist the Scout in becoming a well rounded young man.
So whats that got to do with our Scout that earned all 121? Well nothing really… except when you do the math. It is not impossible to earn all of the badges as we have learned. But what I would caution is that the program is not about merit badges. It is about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness. That is not to say that Merit badges are not important.. they are, but they are just a part of the bigger picture. If a Scout sets a goal to earn them all… help him earn them all. But not for the sake of having them, but for the sake of learning something about a skill, a profession, a hobby. The Scout needs to walk away from the experience better for it. The Scout needs to develop an appreciation for what he has experienced.
Merit Badges are a great part of the Scouting program… a part.
We never limit a Scout when it comes to achievement. I will tell you that when our Troop goes to Summer camp, I encourage the Scouts to have fun, that may mean they do not sign up for a bunch of merit badges, some do, but I want them to have fun. Mess around at the water front, hang out at the rifle range, shoot some arrows, and hang out with his buddies.
Summer camps are great opportunities for Scouts to earn merit badges, they are also great opportunities to grow and build memories of being a boy. They are only boys once, and we should not burden their experiences by forcing merit badges, rank or anything else on them at camp. It is their time to be a kid, have fun, and make memories.
There is always time for the Scout that sets his goals high and wants to achieve. Time is never an issue for the Scout that wants to become and Eagle. That is all part of the process.
I am proud of Coleman, and all of our Scouts that work hard to achieve their goals.
Seeing such positive story about Scouting is with out a doubt a wonderful thing for Scouting.
Have fun.. achieve… set goals.. and enjoy the experience.
Job well Done Coleman!
Have a Great Scouting Day!