There are currently 140 merit badges in the Scouting program and Jacob Warner, age 18, from Highland, UT earned all of them. He will be awarded the remaining merit badges at the Alpine Fifth Ward court of honor, tonight, Dec 17, 6:30 to 7 pm at 98 East Canyon Crest Road in Alpine, UT.
Jacob is a senior at Lone Peak High School in Highland, UT and has been a member of the Boy Scouts for seven years. He started as an 11-year-old Scout and dove head first into the Scouting program earning all the ranks one by one until he received his Eagle Scout Award in January of 2010, a little after his 13th birthday.
“Scouting became a passion for me,” Jacob said. “Not just for ranks and awards, but for the amazing experiences and knowledge I gained through the program.”
At age 11, Jacob earned his first merit badge— swimming. At age 17, he completed his last merit badge— sustainability. Everywhere in between he learned about career opportunities, hobbies and skills such as chemistry, diving, scholarship, athletics, entrepreneurship and more. Some merit badges even took him out of state to Boston, Maine, California, Guatemala and Belize to complete many of the requirements for certain badges. Eventually it became a family tradition that after topics like a high school course of subject matter, he would exclaim, “I have that merit badge!”
For many, the rank of Eagle Scout is the crowning achievement of a boy’s Scouting experience. For Jacob, that just wasn’t enough. Even after family and friends pushed him towards other activities outside of Scouting, he remained committed to learning the Scouting way. He joined the Order of the Arrow, a service-oriented extension of the Boy Scout program. He quickly became the chapter chief for two years, contributing over 700 hours of service with the local community and with other organizations. He was awarded the Vigil Honor, the equivalent of the Eagle Scout Award within the Order of the Arrow.
Jacob didn’t just complete all of his achievements in Scouting— he pushed for excellence in all areas of his life. He became an All-State Varsity member of the Lone Peak Cross Country and Track Team, and was captain during his senior year. He played on a local soccer team, registered in 10 AP courses, worked several paying jobs, and taught piano.
“I took the Scouting motto to ‘Be Prepared’ to heart. I truly wanted to be ready for anything, and that meant I needed to gain every experience available to me.”
He loved getting to do incredible things such as sailing a small boat in the ocean— but Jacob admitted that at times things got stressful and overwhelming. One of the hardest merit badges for him was learning how to play the bugle with braces. But with the help friends and family who supported him, he was able to push through the tough times and be a finisher.
“These badges came to mean something more than just a design cloth, but evolved into a representation of the great blessing of what life has to offer. It taught me the importance of perseverance, knowledge and experiencing new and unfamiliar things. I wouldn’t trade the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve gained for anything.”
Rebecca Warner, Jacob’s mother, said she doesn’t deserve much of the credit for Jacob’s accomplishment. She simply would search for merit badge classes and pow wows, drive him to some places, and gave gentle reminders from time to time.
“I just let him know, often, that I was here and 100% supportive of him and this effort,” she said.
Once school began— with six AP classes, the ACT to take, work, Alpine Youth Council, track season in full swing and many extracurricular school activities— Rebecca sat Jacob down, and again, asked if earning all the merit badges was still something he wanted to do and that she would support him whatever he chose.
“Mom, of course, I am going to complete all of them, it’s something I want to do!” He said.
“As we drove to Lehi to meet with a merit badge counselor to have his last merit badge signed off, I sat in the car and just cried with relief and joy. He did it!” She said.
One of Jacob’s previous Scoutmasters, John Magnusson was always impressed by Jacob’s perseverance.
“Jacob has always been self-motivated like no other Scout I have ever worked with. He was always on the move, always independent, and never afraid to stand out from the crowd. I don’t believe peer pressure has ever been an issue for him,” Magnusson said.
Magnusson added his encouragement to helping Jacob with his goal. He noticed how some boys gave Jacob grief about the work he was doing on some of the lesser-known merit badges.
” I would go out of my way to make sure and let him know how awesome I thought it was, and that I would one day be able to tell him how proud I am that he’s earned all the possible merit badges.”
Author: Melany Gardner | Editor, The Boy Scout | Wasatch District Executive, Utah National Parks Council