But what happens when a Scout earns his Eagle as early as 14? Does a Scout no longer have any challenges to achieve or ways to improve their skills? For Dexter Ellis— who wanted to prove to his troop that he could earn his Eagle before his 14th birthday, and did so— becoming an Eagle Scout was just the beginning of his Scouting career. Dexter would go on to earn all 138 merit badges, a feat fewer than 18 Scouts per year earn, according to the registry site meritbadgeknot.com.
The quest for All 138 Merit Badges
“I originally was just rolled into my Boy Scout pack when I turned eight, but what drove me to all the merit badges was what I call the Eagle path,” Dexter explained. “I was like, what’s next? So I decided on earning all the merit badges and just started earning them alphabetically.”
Dexter’s mom said he is incredibly self-motivated. She remembers coming home one summer to find Dexter already working hard on his merit badges. “He had already accomplished about four of them and even called and set up the appointments with the various counselors. All I had to do was drive him to all those appointments.”
We all know that setting a goal is easy, but following it through to completion is a whole other story. So, when asked how he was able to stay motivated in order to complete every single merit badge, Dexter’s reply was simple: “It’s just that constant need to be a part of the BSA that has kept me going. I love going to camps, I love being outdoors, and so any chance to keep doing that, I will take.”
Julia Oldroyd, Dexter’s Scoutmaster, said that not only determination but a lot of careful planning went into making Dexter’s ambitions into reality. “He set SMART goals and worked steadily and independently for several years, making great progress,” explained Julia. “Once I became his crew advisor I encouraged him to finish this goal, and we worked together to find merit badge counselors and materials to complete the remaining requirements.”
Determination, careful planning and much encouragement from leaders surrounding Dexter were all truly essential in helping Dexter juggle his Scouting aspirations along with all of his other responsibilities and interests. In addition to Scouting, Dexter is an excellent student and is also on the Provo High Varsity Ballroom Team, where they have intensive year-round training and are the State Champions and National Finalists. “Even with my dancing and my friends and family taking up time, Scouting is one of the things I love dearly. I do it because I love it and not because I am forced to,” Dexter passionately explained. “I do it because every accomplishment reminds me of my commitment to the morals behind Scouting— because awards are great— but Scouting is designed to teach you how to be a good person, how to work hard, how to learn, how to be able to hold your ground in the face of trials, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without Scouting.”
The amazing thing about working on merit badges is that Scouts get involved with activities that they never would have been exposed to had they not been in Scouting. For Dexter, working through all of the merit badges was where he discovered a new-found passion, horsemanship.
“My favorite merit badge was Horsemanship, hands down. I love horses and being around them, and so I’m pretty sure I actually earned Horsemanship four times,” Dexter’s mom also commented that “he loved Horsemanship so much that we arranged a trade with a local stable for riding lessons. At 13 he was mucking stables at 4 a.m. in order to earn his lessons. I lovingly drove him and slept in the car. ”
But not all merit badges are created equal. For Dexter, completing the welding badge proved to be the hardest challenge of all the badges. “[The welding merit badge] was the second to last one that I earned. Drive and desire only get you so far— around 110 far, I learned,” explained Dexter. “The last 28 were sheer white-knuckled determination and an iron-hard will,” Dexter said the only way he was able to finish all of the merit badges was with the help of his Scoutmaster helping him find resources and encouraging him to keep going, even when he wasn’t sure he wanted to. “I was already so close, so we found a way and I finished them all,” said Dexter. “Although, I hear 2018 is bringing three more, so I guess I’ve got a few more to achieve in January.”
Even with a large number of merit badges to complete and the difficulty in accomplishing certain ones, Dexter’s mom said she never once doubted that Dexter would earn all of the merit badges. “Once he put his mind to it, there was no stopping him. The biggest challenge was some of the harder ones that required equipment. With all the local counselors so willing to help, and the great Scout Camps with resources such as all the water-related ones, it became a lot easier than I thought it would be.”
When asked if all the hard work and countless hours of dedication to earn all 138 merit badges was worth it, Dexter enthusiastically replied, “I love scouting, and so I went above and beyond what most people even know to exist. The benefits of that? I’ve been able to help, influence and train the younger scouts I’ve interacted with and helped them grow. And that makes the stress worth it. Every bit.”
What’s Next for Dexter
For many, if not most Scouts, earning the Eagle award and all 138 merit badges would be enough for someone to feel more than accomplished, and would justly merit a break from overachieving for a bit. But for the Scout-enthusiast Dexter, he still has a long list of things to look forward to and even more exciting things to accomplish in the Scouting world.
“Just because I earned all 138 merit badges, doesn’t mean I’m done. I have other awards to earn as a youth and I fully intend to stay involved in Scouting,” stated Dexter. “In fact, this summer I am the Senior Patrol Leader for Timberline. Timberline is a Leadership camp for Scouts, where Scouts who’ve previously attended return to being the staff for following years. I’ve attended Timberline eight times now with two more times coming this summer.” explained Dexter. “It is one of the highlights of my whole Scouting experience. I highly recommend everyone attend. Feel free to come to our course, Oldroyd-July 9th, it’s going to be awesome.”
Dexter is also currently loving Venturing, having received the Ranger, TRUST, and Quest Awards, as well as his Venturing, Discovery, and Pathfinder Ranks. He will soon finish requirements for the Venturing Summit Award, the highest award of Venturing. In addition to his growing list of accomplishments, Dexter will soon receive his 5th Silver Palm— having already earned 16 palms thus far. He has also already earned his Varsity Letter and all 27 Varsity pins, four Nova Awards, the National Outdoor award— with all 6 segments— and at least 2 gold devices on each. He has also done a trek at Philmont, hiking over 80 miles with a heavy pack—one of the most difficult experiences of his life, and really wants to earn the International Duke of Edinburgh award in the future, but it is not available in the council currently.
“After the summer, I plan on serving an LDS mission and when I return, I hope to attend medical school to become a Psychiatrist. That’s the goal,” said Dexter of his future plans.
Dexter’s Future is Brighter Than Ever
Truly, Dexter has shown that there is no limit to what one can accomplish in the Scouting world. For someone like Dexter who loves Scouting so much, there is always something new to learn, a new experience to gain and new ways to grow and pass off wisdom and knowledge to others. And with all that he has learned in Scouting, there’s no limit to what Dexter will be able to accomplish in the future.
“Scouting has prepared Dexter to be successful in anything he puts his mind to,” affirmed Dexter’s mother. “It has shown him that hard work does pay off. That dedication to a task has internal rewards. It has taught him the value of honesty, loyalty, and kindness. He lives and breathes the Scout Oath and Law every day of his life.” she proudly stated.
“The process of achieving his Eagle and Venturing Service awards, as well as all the Merit Badges has opened his eyes to so many opportunities in life and has really helped him see what he is passionate about and what he wants to do as he grows up,” she explained, beamingly.
She also credits Timberline to teaching Dexter skills he will use throughout his family life and future career. “The leadership skills learned there are part of his personal blueprint. He has been Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Quartermaster, Troop Guide, and Photographer. He doesn’t just know the leadership skills, he lives and loves them and is passionate about sharing them. If you have not attended Timberline, you absolutely should. It changed Dexter’s life. He is going to be an excellent missionary, husband and father,” she added.
Dexter gratefully remarked that Scouting has given him a set of morals that he will never ever forget. “I wear my old shining sword medallion with me every day to remind me of the Scout Oath and Law because they are truly a set of morals that will point you north in life towards success and accomplishment,” Dexter heartedly expressed. “The most important thing I learned from Scouting, I suppose, is how to be a man of honor and integrity— which Scouting has helped me become.”