North Star Scout Earns Every Merit Badge
January 10, 2018
“I think that’s an attribute of the Scouting program,” said Erika Bailey. “Having that ability to try different career fields and different interests to figure out what you really like, and what you really don’t like.”
For Nigel Bailey of Troop 942 at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in the North Star District, that meant trying 137 different career fields and interests. The 16-year-old has earned every single merit badge available in the Boy Scouts of America, including the exploration merit badge just released last February.
“I don’t think any of them were tough,” said Nigel. “Some were expensive or took a lot of time, but none were really hard to obtain. Cycling took a very long time.”
To help reach this momentous achievement, Nigel created a spreadsheet to stay on task.
“He had a spreadsheet that he would go over with me,” Erika, Nigel’s mother, explained. “And he basically plotted this out where he only did one thing for a merit badge a day. It wasn’t like he sat down and crammed for a merit badge. He would decide three months at a time what merit badge he was going to work on.”
While some badges were more fun than others, some of his favorites included scuba diving, veterinary science, and welding. Nigel even takes a welding class a couple days a week now at North County Tech “just for fun.”
In addition to picking up new hobbies and exploring different career paths, Erika sees how Scouting has helped her son in social settings as well.
“I think he’s able to talk with anyone,” she said. “I think most children his age want to stick with their own age group, but he can walk into a room with senior citizens and spark a conversation. He can walk into a room with little kids and play with them.
“Merit badges have made him contact a merit badge counselor. I couldn’t step in and say, ‘hey, could my son talk to you?’ It forced him out of his comfort zone to have to get used to calling a total stranger on the phone, setting up an appointment and working with our schedules to see if it fit. It gave him a lot of life skills that he just wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Although this 16-year-old Eagle Scout has already reached Scouting’s pinnacle and then some, he has no plans of ending his involvement anytime soon. With four younger siblings currently involved in Scouting or joining soon, he intends to help them along on their journey as well.
“I was absolutely proud of him,” said Erika. “He is so driven that I figured one way or another, he was going to get it. It was absolute mom pride at the realization of his dream finally coming to fruition.
“It’s the last merit badge… until they add another.”