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This stellar Boy Scout has legions of merits

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Friday, December 28, 2001



Scripps Howard News Service


ALTAMONT, Utah -- A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.


For Jedadiah Curry, add ambitious, goal-oriented, and downright driven. And the 16-year-old Eagle Scout has 123 merit badges to prove it.


For the record, that's every Boy Scout merit badge -- from American business to woodwork, including some that have since been discontinued. Jed completed the requirements for his final merit badge last month, making him one of only a handful of Scouts to pull off such a feat and fulfilling a goal he has had since age 8.


Jed, a high school junior, always has been on Scouting's fast track. He quickly earned every Cub Scout award, then moved on to Boy Scouts, where he started collecting merit badges at age 11. He got his Eagle badge at 12.


That's the point at which most Scouts ease up. They get the required 21 merit badges for their Eagle, then pull back. Not Jed. The pride of Troop 266 quickened his pace and went on to earn nearly six times the required badges.


"In my 25 years of professional Scouting I've only seen one or two who have done that," said Kay Godfrey, information officer for the Boy Scouts' Great Salt Lake Council.


People are even more surprised when they learn about the physical ailments Jed endures. For starters, he must take up to 20 pills several times a day to combat cystic fibrosis, a strength-sapping genetic disease he was diagnosed with as a baby. He spends at least an hour a day hooked up to a machine that breaks up mucus in his lungs, and packs a battery-powered device on camping trips that does the same thing.


To treat his Type I diabetes, Jed checks his blood four or five times a day and gives himself insulin injections.


Then there's the asthma. It needs attention, too.


All these maladies might lead one to believe Jed is a sickly youth. He's not. He swims, runs, plays baseball, and performs in plays.


And for much of the past five years, Jed has been piling up a troop-load of merit badges. Some were easy. He polished off mammal studies at a single camp. And woodwork? "All you have to do is carve something," he says.


Most of the water merit badges -- from swimming to lifesaving to water skiing -- were a breeze, too, at least for Jed. "Swimming is one of the best exercises for cystic fibrosis," his mother, Penny, explains.


Although Jed has every merit badge, he remains active in Scouting. But what if new badges are created before he turns 18? Will he go after them?


"I'm through," Jed says.


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I didnt know there was a Woodwork merit badge either and I too wonder how someone can be in scouts for five years and and receive 123 merit badges. Thats more than 24 merit badges per year, what kind of life can one have with school work, friends, church, family and anything else beyond Scouts? That is why I put this article in the politics and issues forum.

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I agree this is quite a feat but why? What did he learn in the process? An Eagle at 12? That hardly seems possible considering he started at age 11. The time requirements for ranks are 10 months plus 1 month for his personal fitness for rank. Some merit badges are 90 day badges! Something seems amiss to me.


I had a Scout in my Troop who had the same idea. He never really "earned" a merit badge. He learned nothing and is no longer in Scouting


Ed Mori


Troop 1

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I agree with Dedicated Dad. There is little chance that Jedadiah could have actually had any life outside of Scouting. Sadly, when so much time is apportioned to "collecting merit badges" I don't think he had any spare time for his troop.


In addition, if I recall correctly, you need a minimum of 16 months just to get from First Class to Eagle. Add that to the time it presumably took to get to First Class, and you have a time in which it would be almost impossible to get in less than two years.


However, I must admit that I am not very shocked. After several years on camp staff, I have seen adult leaders tell me that their Scouts have done some requirement they couldn't have, in my opinion. Also, there are some merit badge counselors out there who will count Cub Scout experience towards merit badges. Like it or not.


Again, I don't think he gained anything from his experience.

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My own son (possibly two) may end up getting all the merit badges, so I must speak in defense of that.


Yes, Scouting is a major part of our lives, but we also homeschool, so we use the merit badges as part of the learning experience. The youngest just finished all the optional merit badges for Eagle and the other has enough for 1 or two palms.


They are working on Eagle required badges, and they are also taking their time to advance through ranks (one is almost Life and the other just has his BOR for Star). Though they will probably have all the badges they need, I expect that getting Eagle won't happen for another year or more because of needing to work on a good Eagle project.


I believe that they would do well in life if they have covered the full spectrum of what is offered in merit badges. Of course some are easy and others hard, but my goal is to have them well exposed to life, and what better way than working through many different areas?



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Most Scouters on this site probably endorse your sentiment. While I do NOT take offense, I do disagree. I have met some 12-year-old boys that were very mature. They are the exception. Still, they do exist. For the boy who truly focuses on scouting as his primary activity, the badge and rank requirements for Eagle are very do-able in two years. I agree with Brad Andrews though. A good project will likely prevent many of these boys from obtaining Eagle before the age of 12. I think your statement is unfair and does not take into consideration the will, dedication and maturity of some individuals. My son will have most of his Eagle requirements completed before his 12th birthday, if not all, with exception to the project. He'll probably take his time and do a good job on a worthwhile project before his 13th or 14th birthday. Regardless, I know without a doubt, his level of effort and the quality of his work on these badges, match those of older boys in and out of our Troop. In fact, being an Eagle has nothing to do with age. It's about learning life skills and developing character. That being the case, I know of some 17-year-old Scouts who have obtained Eagle, but fall much shorter in character than my 12-year-old son. If your concern is in regard to the badge work, then here too I think the statement is unfair. Some 12-year-olds are doing college course work. Why can't 12-year-olds be capable of earning 21 merit badges when there are some earning 21 credit hours at John Hopkins?


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With the inseption of the "any scout can work on any badge" rule and "merit badge midways" many scouts can receive the 21 required badges much sooner; however if they finish their project at age 12 it is the parents who gave the leadership and not the scout.

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Im sorry but the extra high skilled merit badges, Life Saving, Shotgun, Bugle-ing and any that I have neglected have got me stumped for an 11-12 yrld. Please forgive my skepticism but this exceptional Scout is more than a prodigy, he is an exceptional athlete and highly skilled to be anything he wants to be. Look forward to his election into politics and/or your physician; this boy is going far!

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Or he got signed off on some things when he shouldn't have.


My youngest son got to go to winter camp this year and told me that none of the boys were able to do the shooting required for one of the shooting merit badges, but they got the merit badge anyway.


I don't know if this youth really did all the work or not though, I just know the system does have drawbacks.


If he really did, I would have to agree with DD that he really is a prodegy.



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I am sorry, but I have to agree with our esteemed Mr. Riddle. I have yet to see a 12-year-old so exceptional. Not saying that he couldn't, but usually with boys so young, they rarely get anything out of the experience. A badge, sure, but rarely do they do any leadership in their project. Eagle is more than just a badge. It is a certification that you are skilled to lead, that you are prepared and have devoted time to your troop. That tends not to ring true in this case of a paper eagle.


I think that most of the troops that these incidents happen in are rather weak ones. Their leaders have no courage to say no and stand up to the standard of what the requirement was intended to prove.

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