Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shawn Goldsmith Earns 121 Boy Scout Merit Badges

Shawn Goldsmith has achieved a rare feat, earning all 121 merit badges offered in the Boy Scouts of America program. There are twenty-one merit badges required, among other things to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Eagle palms are awarded when more merit badges are earned, combined with troop service tenure. The best part about scouting is that there is much more program offered than one could ever take advantage of fully. Leaving boys to make decisions about what is important to them and what they would like to learn.

Shawn's achievement is great, but at what cost? Earning merit badges is an important part of scouting, but it is not the only part. Was his focus on the number of merit badges earned, or actually learning what each merit badge program had to teach? I wasn't a big merit badge earner. I look back at all the things I did when I was in the Boy Scouts and realized that I probably came close to earning several merit badges that I wasn't even trying to earn. My focus was more on service to scouting. I did a lot for my troop and the district, and even the council. I helped perform many Eagle ceremonies, even though I never had one of my own. And I worked on countless Eagle service projects. I also enjoyed the outdoors, camping, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, etc. I learned a lot in the process. Looking back, I probably should have finished enough merit badges and did my own Eagle project, because now I have little to show for my time in Scouting. I figure that I'll make up for that as a Scouter now that Alex has started in the program.

Even though Shawn earned every merit badge, the timeline does not add up to earning all possible Eagle palms. It is possible to earn up to 20 palms, which would be displayed as six silver and one gold palm. (silver = 3 palms, gold =2) Each palm requires you to be active in your troop and patrol for at least 3 months after becoming an Eagle Scout or after the award of your last Palm. The Eagle rank would have to be earned by your thirteenth birthday. And at least five merit badges would have to be earned every three months. All requirements must be completed by your eighteenth birthday.

Shawn's 121 merit badge feat is commendable. I hope he continues with venturing, and as a scouter. I would also like to see his merit badge sash, which unfortunately, he isn't supposed to wear now that he is an adult!


Sailorgirl said...

This is such a great story! I hope he continues to set a positive example for all young people. Kudos!

Gino Lucrezi said...

Thank you for sharing this news with us (here and on SCOUTS-L)!

I hope your involvement as a scouter won't stop with the effort needed by your son Alex, but that you'll continue serving even after he'll move on to another section, or become a scouter himself!

BTW, I see you have a link to an amateur radio association... so I hope you're involved in Jamboree-On-The-Air too!


Donny Brook said...

It took him 5 years to earn his first 62 merit badges, but then only 6 months to earn the other 59? Have you researched all that is involved in obtaining a merit badge? Although it's not as hard as it used to be, it's still quite a stretch to accomplish something like that in 6 month's time. A dubious accomplishment, at best.

Troy Pugh said...

This is a great accomplishment. I thank the author for keeping it positive where others have degraded and doubted scouts who have accomplished such a feat. The question was posed, however, hinting that there was a cost involved in the accomplishment. Given what is known about this scout's other activities I would suggest that he isn't a one-sided person. I would have to say that the cost may be that he isn't very good at XBox games or hanging around the corner store because of his involvement in scouting. Thanks again for the comments.

By the way, I have added Shawn's name to my website, www.meritbadgeknot.com. On this website I keep track of scouts who have earned all the merit badges. I have also proposed to BSA that an award square knot be issued for such a feat--check out the details of the reasoning for this proposal on the website. It really isn't in left field as it first may sound. And it supports the author's final comment on how Shawn is no longer allowed to wear his merit badge sash as an adult scouter.

And regarding the "dubious" comment from the previous commentor, most scouts have to stretch to even get one third of Shawn's first 62. Just with that he has shown that he has much more drive than 99% of his peers. Why couldn't he get them all?

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