For Boy Scouts, the Eagle Scout is usually the pinnacle of accomplishment. Scouts have to earn 21 merit badges along the way to earning their Eagle, culminating with a project that benefits the community. Neighbor Thomas Farner achieved his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout before he turned 14, but didn’t stop there. He went on to earn all 138 merit badges that are offered by the Boy Scouts of America.
Thomas is a goal setter and couldn’t resist going for it. “It was just my nature from the beginning to want to get them all,” he says.
“Why don’t you set a realistic goal?” Thomas’ father Nathan asked him when he started the journey. “The answer was no,” Nathan says. According to a January 2018 article in USA Today, only 367 people had earned every badge since scouts began in 1910.
Thomas knew he had to move through the activities quickly, but as time went on, he began to appreciate the different tasks rather than just checking them off a list.
“Earning your eagle isn’t the last thing you do,” Thomas’ mother Ledith Blair says. “He continued to do other things, explore interests, and didn’t let that be the end of scouting. It was a launching pad.’
Scouts took Farner and his fellow scouts hiking up mountains in New Mexico, paddling through the Boundary Waters between Minnesota and Canada and scuba diving in a chilling rock quarry in Terrell. For his Eagle Scout project, he created Easter baskets that included music, bible verses and other items for homebound members of his church, Wilshire Baptist. He couldn’t have done it without the support of his family and friends who he often recruited to help him with different tasks.
Thomas is headed to the University of Texas this fall to study mechanical engineering, but the merit badges gave him exposure to many activities beyond the traditional camping, hiking and outdoor activities that are associated with Boy Scouts.
The quest to complete them all took him on adventures learning to waterski, joining landscape architects in the field and performing theatrical skits at his church. His final task was a public health merit badge that involved inspecting his house for unhealthy conditions, completed just weeks before his 18th birthday, which is when he aged out of scouts.
Between the 138 badges, Farner managed to graduate from the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas ISD in June where he was section leader in the band, was on the swim team for Woodrow and held down a job as a lifeguard at the White Rock YMCA. He was a member of Troop 42 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
While Farner missed out on the occasional high school hangouts and trips in pursuit of his merit badges, he knows that all his hard work is already paying off. “Once you set a long term goal, you need to set check points for yourself. It’s important to sacrifice that one time for the larger goal in the end, not letting anybody get in your way.”
But along the way to achieving his goal, Thomas made best friends with those who were often alongside him. “They are my closest friends and I’ll remember that forever,” he says.
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