The Purpose of this Site
Since I started this website several years ago I have enjoyed countless e-mails and notes from individuals and families regarding the efforts of their children in the scouting program. Most of them relate their children's excitement as they have read through the stories of great examples of scouts going above and beyond in scouting in their quest to learn and excel. Many of them have set the same goals, and I consistently am contacted about new scouts to add to the list that I first learned about when they were at merit badge number fifty or so. I am also often contacted by members of the media as they work on articles covering these scouts, and I continually try to influence their coverage of scouts by passing along feedback that I receive from readers--focus on the great stories these scouts have to share about their experiences in working through the many merit badge topics. These are the feel-good stories that are often missed in today's media.
Unfortunately, I have needed to deal with a website user’s inappropriate use of the information posted on this website. To be specific, there is an individual who has used this information as a platform to claim that his son has earned the most merit badges in the history of scouting. Personally, I don't concern myself much as to what people want to claim for themselves. However, this individual has taken it upon himself to attack and attempt to discredit individuals on this list who appear to have earned more merit badges than his son. This has included personal phone calls to individuals and parents demanding proof of their achievements in the form of signed blue cards. Dates and times of blue card signatures have been included as points of argument attempting to prove his son has been “first” to earn a merit badge. This individual has even gone to the length of calling council offices and other parties to complain about inaccuracies on this website. For some reason he believes that this would make a difference.
Another recent case (2011-2016) has been a father of a scout who has gone through great lengths for his son to be recognized for earning long-discontinued merit badges thus giving him a much larger number than other scouts. My comment to the father in 2011 was that if his local council accepted the completion of discontinued merit badges that I would accept it as well. The short of the story is that while the father recently presented a great volume of information to suggest that I should recognize his achievement he did not presented any information to support acceptance of these merit badges from his council. To be as fair as possible in a short description, part of his argument was that his son was working on discontinued merit badges while BSA was in the process of clearing any confusion by updating the 2011 Guide to Advancement to officially state that discontinued merit badges could not be earned. This was after my statement to him in early 2011 that I doubted that BSA National would officially recognize them and that I would only recognize officially recognized merit badges. However, when it all played out, there were inconsistencies in the number of merit badges he claimed his son was working on at that time (10) where he was hoping to achieve a "grandfathered" status under the new GTA as compared to a higher number of discontinued merit badges that he ultimately claimed his son earned (13). And considering that his son didn't complete these merit badges until late 2013/early 2014 it suggested to me that there was a small chance that he met the standard for earning discontinued merit badges. This standard says, "If actual and purposeful effort that is more
than simply incidental to participation in Scouting
activities has already begun by the time discontinuation
becomes effective, and work actively continues, then the
badge may be completed and can count toward rank
advancement." So amid the other inconsistencies in this father's story and without evidence that his council accepted his achievement of these merit badges I called his council office and spoke with his Scout Executive who had never had a conversation with this father about this subject, and he stated that they would not accept discontinued merit badges. So ultimately I declined to list his son with the higher number but offered to list his son with the number that did not include the discontinued merit badges. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a very nice e-mail from the father that includes the words, "inexcusable abuse of my late brother's name, unequivocal misinterpretation of BSA policy, offensive, coercive tactics, arrogance, bullying, outlandish suppositions, deceptive, degrading, detrimental practices, demeaning, distasteful", and more. Wow.
As you can imagine, these situations bewilder me. It is certainly not in line with the ideals of scouting or this website. While these people claim to want to maintain the "integrity of scouting" this is clearly not the motivation.
TO BE VERY CLEAR, the intent of this website is NOT to make claims as to which scout earned the most merit badges, earned them at the earliest age, or earned any merit badges "first". In fact, when this website was first created, I requested feedback from individuals who suggested that some of the wording on it had an elitist tone. Accepting this feedback, I changed some of the verbiage to reduce the tone. (This is impossible to completely eliminage as there are always individuals who will scoff at any high-achieving scout.) The primary purpose of this website is simply to highlight the stories of those who have set the significant goal of earning them all and who follow-up on that goal to accomplish it. These stories should be a great example to the many scouts who may otherwise simply look to accomplish minimum requirements before dropping out of the program. A secondary purpose that would hopefully gain strength through the accomplishment of the primary purpose is to support the concepts included in the award knot proposal submitted to BSA National Council that is listed on the site. Given the many comments from scouts and parents regarding the motivating effect of these stories we feel comfortable that we are at least fulfilling our primary purpose. It may be that National Council will never accept the concept of the award knot that we have proposed.
Given the stated purpose of this website, it should be understood that the specific numbers of merit badges and/or palms earned by scouts on the list are of little consequence. If these numbers were of consequence, the verification of information before we post to this website would be taken solely from actual council records rather than published news reports. (After all, writers of published news reports very rarely contact council offices to obtain official information.) We would also follow up with scouts who have yet to reach the age of 18 to either update their number of merit badges earned or remove them from the list depending on whether they have earned newly released merit badges. Given this stance, it should be understood by all users of this website that inaccuracies exist, and will always exist. I make reasonable efforts based on the purpose of this website to verify information knowing that it will never be 100% accurate. This includes the fact that if a scout is awarded a discontinued merit badge by his council twenty years ago I'm not going to claim that it shouldn't have happened. This is purely not the point of this website. So if any individuals wish to attempt to make claims beyond the scope of this website such as the idea that they have earned more merit badges than anyone in the history of scouting, or that they have earned a particular merit badge before anyone west of the Mississippi River (yes, this is one of the claims the person referenced above has argued), they can contact their local council or National Council to attempt to have them support their claims. Frankly, I don't see local or national leaders making this sort of request a priority as they most surely have better and more important things to do. Additionally I understand and everyone else should understand that even Scouts BSA's advancement records may sometimes be inconsistent with what has been earned and awarded at local levels.
Finally, this site is a private website, and I am not required by Scouts BSA or any other individual to publish specific information on this site. In other words, I reserve the right to refuse listing information on this site. Unfortunately, in all the years this site has been in existence, I have only utilized this right in the two cases listed above. I have had no other problems with any parents/scouts listed or to be listed on the site. I encourage anyone who has been contacted in a confrontational way by the individuals referenced above to contact me.
Let it also be known that I am referring to the behavior of the adult parents in these situations. I have had no interraction with their sons, nor have any of the actions referenced included actions of the sons. I am in nowise referring to anyone but the parents.
I do find it sad that due to the over-the-top nature of their parents that their great and significant achievements in scouting have to be shadowed.
Thank you for your understanding, and I hope that your experience with this website is a positive one. Eventually these individuals will find something better to do with their time.
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