Lander boy scout becomes first in Wyoming to earn all 142 merit badges

James Hyrum Whiting of Lander has earned all 142 merit badges that the Boy Scouts of America currently offers. He is the first Boy Scout in Wyoming to accomplish this. James is 16 years old, the son of James and Camille Whiting. He is a member of Boy Scout Crew 4083 and his scout leader is Derek Sandall. James has loved scouting since he was a little boy. He earned all of the ranks in the Cub Scout program, including the Arrow of Light, and was also awarded the “Todd Skinner Reaching for the Summit Award” by his Cub Scout leaders. James began earning merit badges at the age of eleven. Early on, he set his goal to earn all of the merit badges. He earned his Eagle Scout award at the age of 13, and has so far earned nine Eagle palms. His Eagle project, which he called “The Softball Field Improvement Project,” was awarded Central Wyoming Council’s Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award by the National Eagle Scout Association in 2013. James comes from a family of Eagle Scouts. His father is an Eagle Scout, and all five of James’s brothers are also Eagle Scouts. James’s parents felt it was important to support James in his goal to earn all the merit badges, which usually involved driving him to the various destinations necessary to complete the requirements for each badge – including taking him to Blue Lake in Wendover, Nevada, where he completed the Scuba Diving merit badge after a couple weeks of Scuba Diving classes in Utah. James attended many Merit Badge Pow Wows and Boy Scout camps. He toured mines, rode horses, volunteered at a doctor’s office and an animal hospital, visited railroads, built a robot, learned how to sail a small sailboat, and much more. He learned various skills, including welding, drafting, paper making, theater, programming, and art. He got to participate in fun activities like cycling, snow sports, whitewater rafting, kayaking, climbing, motor boating, and flying in a small airplane. [image: Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.24.07 AM.png] James knew that no one in Wyoming had ever earned all 142 merit badges, and he wanted to be the first one to do so. “I’ve learned lots of skills that can be used throughout my life, whether it be in an emergency situation or while choosing a career. Boy Scouts is about creating great leaders, and I wanted to become the best leader I could possibly be. Because I immersed myself into our culture through earning these badges, I feel that I can relate to each person that I may meet and, in so doing, be able to bring together the most diverse groups of people. My goal is to serve. As I continue fulfilling my duties as a Boy Scout, a member of my church, an athlete, a Student Council representative, and citizen, I hope to create a better image of what an American should be. I can only do that through my actions, which is why I will continue to climb mountains -- not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” [image: Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.23.42 AM.png] James’ mother Camille said, “I’m so proud of James for completing this goal. He has always been a very determined and self-motivated person, and I never had any doubt that once he had decided he was going to earn all the badges, he would accomplish his goal. More merit badges were introduced by the BSA while he was working on earning all the badges, so he just added these to his list and kept on working.” Scuba Diving and Astronomy were James’ favorite merit badges. Composite Materials was the hardest, and Fingerprinting was the easiest. Veterinary Medicine was the most immersive merit badge because he got to watch an actual surgery. The Bugling merit badge took the longest to complete because playing the bugle did not come naturally to James. It took five years to complete all the merit badges, some of the badges taking six to twelve months to finish. The road has not always been easy. James suffers from Crohn’s Disease, and while working on the Backpacking merit badge, he became very ill and had to be evacuated temporarily from a hike in order to receive medical care. That didn’t stop him, however, and he completed the merit badge a couple months later after his health had improved. “Some of the badges were more challenging than others,” his mother said, “but James has never considered that he might not be able to do something. If he sets his mind to it, he can do it. And he does.” [image: practicing nov13 (1).JPG] James is especially grateful to his scout leaders and all of the merit badge counselors who donated countless hours to help him complete and pass off all of these merit badges. They were excited about his goal and were very willing to help him finish the various requirements. He recruited school teachers, members of his church, and people throughout the community to be his merit badge counselors. At times, he traveled great distances to meet with a counselor and pass off a badge when there wasn’t a merit badge counselor available in his area. He really enjoyed the times he got to observe professionals in their work environment and learn from their expertise. “My merit badge counselors were awesome,” James said, “I could not have done this without them!” Now that James has completed this goal, he has set his sights on new goals, such as graduating from high school with his Associate’s Degree, earning the Congressional Award for Young Americans, and serving a two year mission for his church. *Story and photos h/t Camille Whiting* #county10 #news