Badge of honor: Good Shepherd parishioner earns every Boy Scout merit badge
COLLEYVILLE — Since he became a Boy Scout in 2016, 18-year-old Vincent Micheli has accomplished something that fewer than 1% of scouts achieve — earning all the 138 merit badges scouting offers.
It’s an impressive feat. There are 2.6 million scouts who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout since 1910, and 21 merit badges are required for Eagle rank. Fewer than half of 1% (roughly 500 scouts) have earned all available merit badges since 1910.
Actually, Micheli has 139 badges because one of them was later renamed.
Age 18 is the fixed deadline for Boy Scout advancement. I thought I had finished all of the merit badges with woodwork in January, but due to a strange discovery I found myself earning my last merit badge four days before my birthday,” Micheli said. “The reason I have 139 merit badges, despite the current number offered by BSA [Boy Scouts of America] being 138, is that they had renamed the ‘Medicine’ merit badge to be ‘Health Care Professions’ merit badge.”
The Scouts let him keep both.
A parishioner at Good Shepherd Catholic Community in Colleyville, Micheli is a senior at Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving.
Micheli was inspired to scouting by a popular animated movie.
“I became a Cub Scout in first grade because I had watched the movie Up and wanted to be like Russell and earn patches. It was surprising to learn that the ‘Wilderness Explorers’ had a real-world counterpart,” Micheli said. He became a Boy Scout in March 2016.
Micheli attained Eagle Scout rank on March 22, 2018. He was in seventh grade and had recently turned 13.
He first earned a merit badge in astronomy through a class at the National Scouting Museum.
Which was the toughest to earn?
“That’s a super interesting question since in terms of physically challenging requirements, the completion of the in-total 150 miles for cycling and completion of the in-total 70 miles for hiking were both quite difficult,” he said. “Also, overcoming the anxiety of getting my SCUBA diving license was difficult. Even still, I think that I would say bugling was the hardest merit badge to achieve. Learning 10 bugle calls with no prior musical experience was difficult and took months of dedication.”
Which was the most enjoyable?
“Although not my favorite topic or activity, the badge I enjoyed earning the most was fishing. I was at my troop’s shooting campout, but instead of doing rifle or shotgun like most scouts, three friends and I got with the fishing merit badge counselor and made a day out of the fishing merit badge,” Micheli said. “We sat on the dock, talked over the requirements relating to answering questions, each caught a fish, and then took the biggest fish back to camp with us. I don’t like the taste of fish so much, but that bass tasted great — the whole experience of the day and earning the badge was very wholesome.”
Micheli, a member of Troop 1905 in Colleyville, said his Catholic faith helps him chart a life course.
“Catholicism provides a good baseline for my life. My education is obviously Catholic, but my troop is also mostly composed of Catholics. Scouting teaches a certain attitude towards God and others which I think is corroborated by Catholicism,” he said. “Scouting has religious emblems, and I have earned the four that Catholic youth can earn and have the Chi-Rho award for that.”
Micheli said his parents, Angela and Bill Micheli, are supportive of his scouting efforts.
“My parents have been very supportive. Near the end of my journey to earn every merit badge, I was losing steam, but my mom urged me to continue to finish the last seven merit badges,” he said. “My mother has been very helpful — she always said that as long as I find the merit badge counselors and events, and do the work, she would be happy to drive me wherever I needed. My dad rode many of the longer cycling miles with me and he went on the long hiking treks with me.”
Cistercian Headmaster Father Paul McCormick said Micheli’s efforts are commendable.
“As a former scout, I am all the more amazed by and proud of Vincent’s most incredible accomplishment. It speaks volumes about his unique passion for scouting and his fierce tenacity in setting lofty goals for himself and laboring, methodically and creatively over many years, to attain them,” McCormack said.
Biology teacher Tim Parker, Micheli’s form master at Cistercian, said he believes his student’s drive comes from within.
“I really think it's intrinsic,” Parker said. “I just think he sees it as a really difficult and challenging accomplishment that requires a great deal of dedication and perseverance.”
Micheli’s parents are proud of him.
“We wanted him to stay involved with scouts and this was a great way to remain active and to provide mentorship to the younger scouts. Vincent’s hard work and perseverance have led to his success in meeting his goal and will be wonderful attributes to carry him through life,” they said. “But the thing that we are proudest of is his humility in realizing and appreciating others for the many hours and great knowledge they shared with Vincent as he was reaching his goal.”