Merit Badger

My New Merit Badge Quest

merit badger personal questJosh McCoy, 14, made headlines earlier this month by earning all 135 Boy Scout merit badges. It took him three years to get them all, ranging from American Business to Woodwork, from Disabilities Awareness to Pioneering. He isn't the first to accomplish this feat (252 Boy Scouts have also accomplished this in the organization's history) and he probably won't be the last. So I wonder, if he can do it then I can do it, right? First of all, I'm just way cooler than a 14-year-old. I'm a grown up. I have a college degree. I have a great job at I live on my own and don't need my parents' permission for things. I have an advantage in awesomeness. Plain and simple.

Second of all, I don't see any reason why I can't do it eventually. Sure, I don't have a summer camp to help me. I'll probably have to find instructors for some of these badges, or perhaps spend a year back home in Hawaii to tackle some of them, particularly the water-based badges (there isn't exactly easy access to a lake or ocean in St. Louis). So, it will probably take me longer than three years to get this done, but I'm not going to let that stop me or scare me out of doing this.

Third of all, I think it would be cool, as a woman, to go after and to accomplish the requirements in each of the merit badges. I was never a Boy Scout, for obvious reasons, so I couldn't really do this when I was younger. I also think that many of the skills associated with these merit badges are fascinating and worthwhile to learn. As I learned in fourth grade, "Reach for the stars. You won't always get them, but you won't end up with a handful of mud either." Stars or mud, here I come!

So, I'm gonna do it and get all the merit badges! Consider it a new life quest or pursuit, versus a New Year's Resolution or an abundance of free time. Adventure is fun, and I could use a little more adventure in my life. I am sure this will take me longer than a year to complete because I still have a job to go to five days a week. I anticipate this will take me 10 years, and within this time I am sure the Boy Scouts of America will add a few more new merit badges to conquer. In the meantime, I've outlined the rules for this life quest/adventure of mine and devised a few immediate steps to get me started, such as picking the 10 merit badges that I'm going to complete first.

My First 10 Badges

The Plate

  1. First Aid
  2. Personal Fitness
  3. Cooking
  4. Reading
  5. Pets

The Dock

  1. Emergency Preparedness
  2. Personal Management
  3. Citizenship in the Community
  4. Athletics
  5. Fingerprinting

Merit Badger Rules

  • Five badges will always be on the plate at any one time.
  • For the five badges on my plate, I can complete the merit badges and their requirements simultaneously and in any particular order. Meaning, I don't have to complete the First Aid merit badge before starting any of the requirements for the Personal Fitness merit badge.
  • After I complete a badge on my plate, I will then choose the next one from the dock. After choosing from a badge from the dock to move to the plate, the next badge on the dock will be chosen at random from a jar.
  • Before starting any the requirements of any merit badge, I am to read the pamphlet first.
  • For each merit badge, I will find five news articles related to the merit badge topic and submit them to
  • I am not allowed to use or its resources to complete any of the requirements for any badge, with exception of the rule listed above.
  • The definitions of "troop," "patrol," "family," "scout" and "counselor" will be fluid, depending on the badge and requirement. Obviously, I am not a scout and I do not have a patrol or a troop, so I will choose who will fit those definitions on a case-by-case basis.
  • When I am required to explain or to discuss something, I will write in up as a blog post. When I am required to discuss something, I do have the option to do a video instead of a blog post if I so desire.
  • When I am required to demonstrate something or to participate in an activity, then I will take photos and/or shoot video as proof of the demonstrate or activity
  • When given the choice among several requirements, I am to choose meeting with someone and/or visiting a location over the other choices since these are more difficult and time-consuming than most other requirements.
  • When given the choice among several requirements, if all the choices are equal, then I can choose whichever requirements I am most interested in completing.
  • There is no timeline to completing this venture or to complete any specific merit badge.

What's Next?

Now that this is announced and out there in the world, I will get started on reading the pamphlets for my first five merit badges. I need to choose my six books for the Reading badge, schedule my doctor and dentist visits for the Personal Fitness badge, and document the proof of my cat Flop-a-Set for my Pets badge.

Photo via dmuth