“127 Merit Badges x Two,” New Era, Feb. 1975, 6
Goals are great! Almost everyone sets goals, and everyone reaches some level of success or failure in his efforts to reach them. Some goals seem almost unattainable—like running the sub-9-second 100-yard dash, or vaulting over 18 feet. Some goals are strange—like wanting to make the longest banana split in the whole world. And some goals are just downright ridiculous—like seeing how many live gold fish you can swallow.
But two young men from Ogden, Utah, set a goal that was a learning experience, a great character builder, and a goal that, as far as we know, has never been achieved before, especially by two brothers. Since they have been Scouts, Chad and Craig Carson, ages 15 and 16, have each earned every merit badge that has been offered by the Boy Scouts of America. Each has 127 merit badges. This is actually more merit badges than are now offered because some have been discontinued since Chad and Craig earned them. Both boys are Eagle Scouts and have found the Scouting program an exciting general education in itself. Their dad has figured that they have done enough reading, research, and study to qualify as sophomores in college.
Craig and Chad didn’t start earning all those merit badges until two years ago. Chad, the younger of the two, had a little catching up to do, but once the brothers were working together, they spent some time almost every day working toward their common goal. During one summer they earned 48 merit badges. It took more than half an hour to read them all at the Court of Honor. They now have all 127, and they each need two merit badge sashes to display their awards because there is only room for 100 per sash.
When asked which merit badges had given them the most trouble, both Chad and Craig said that beekeeping was the greatest challenge. It wasn’t so much doing the work as it was finding someone who was qualified to teach them and pass them on the badge requirements. After some searching and one unsuccessful attempt to get together with a beekeeper, they finally found a man who was teaching a class in beekeeping at Weber State College, and they were able to complete the merit badge requirements with his help. By the way, Chad and Craig are still beekeepers.
Cotton farming was also a tough one. When the brothers decided to work on this, they had to send away for the book because it seems that no one really raises cotton around Ogden anymore. And after they got the book, they just couldn’t find any cotton seeds. But their mother remembered that she had been in the South some 17 years before and had picked a ball of cotton as a memento. And there are seeds in a real cotton ball. Chad and Craig took the seeds that were in that 17-year-old cotton ball and grew four cotton plants.
Craig and Chad say that the physical skill merit badges have been the most fun to earn. They have learned how to ski, swim, shoot, water ski, and do many other things that they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to do.
When asked if they thought they had missed out on anything because they had spent so much time working on all those merit badges, Chad said, “No, sir! We’ve been able to do more ourselves and as a family because we have set goals. When we were going to get our skiing merit badge, Dad had to drive us up to take lessons, and he decided that instead of just waiting around, he might as well take lessons with us. Now we all ski. It has been great for the whole family.”
Craig said, “It’s not really hard to earn the merit badges if you put your mind to it. Scouts could earn a lot more merit badges if they tried, and if they did, they would be glad they put forth the effort.”
So, on September 21, 1974, Chad and Craig Carson received the last of the merit badges they could earn. Both brothers give a great deal of credit to their mother and father. Chad said that his mom was always saying, “Come on! You can do it!” She would help them schedule appointments and drive them wherever they had to go. At the beginning of the summer, she would help map out a plan for which merit badges they could earn. Both boys also had high praises for their Scout leaders. The leaders challenged them and helped in every way possible.
Now Chad and Craig think there should be a merit badge given to help Scouts like themselves figure out where they can keep all the projects, models and charts that it takes to earn all those badges.