Tigard teen earns them all
Tigard Boy Scout one of few to earn every merit badge by age 15.
The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is Be Prepared. Boy, is George Christensen prepared.
The 15-year-old Tigard High School student has studied seemingly every subject imaginable, earned more than 100 merit badges to prove it, and he doesnt have plans to slow down.
George was 11 when he earned his first Boy Scout merit badge. Less than five years later, hes done the unthinkable for most scouts: Hes earned all of them.
Last week, George a member of Troop 843 in Tigard became one of only a select group of Boy Scouts to earn all 132 merit badges.
Its an exceptionally rare accomplishment, especially for a scout so young.
We are so proud of him, says his mother Liz Christensen. Its good to see him have a goal and then finish it.
Merit badges are awards scouts earn after learning a particular skill. You name it and there is likely a merit badge for it: Archery, photography, architecture, American business, bugling, bird study, traffic safety and nuclear science are all skills that can earn scouts merit badges.
Last week, George was awarded his final five merit badges from his troop leaders at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Southwest North Dakota Street, bringing his total to a staggering 137 four more badges than possible.
When the Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, it offered a selection of merit badges only available that year, allowing George to do what otherwise couldnt be done.
That number likely puts George over the top for the most merit badges earned by anyone across the country, says Liz Christensen. With those Centennial badges, we think he has more than anyone else in the country right now.
The Boy Scouts of America dont keep track of scouts who earn every merit badge, but its estimated that only six scouts will earn all 137 merit badges this year.
Such a good experience
George set the goal at an early age to earn every merit badge. I started with that idea from the beginning, he says. I didnt know how many there were but there are a lot of merit badges that people dont get and I had thought it sounded cool.
He worked hard, earning dozens of merit badges every year. I knew it wasnt impossible, he says.
George earned the rank of Eagle Scout the highest rank possible in Scouts at age 13 with more than 80 merit badges.
To earn his Eagle rank George needed to earn 21 merit badges by the time he turned 18.
A scouts uniform isnt complete without their sash, displaying the merit badges the scout has earned. George has to wear two sashes in order to display all of his badges.
George says his Mormon faith is what led him to get started the Latter-day Saints church has a long tradition of scouting but says he gets much more out of scouting than merit badges. Its fun, and its such a good experience, George says.
Learning about such a diverse array of subjects isnt far from the norm for George, says Liz Christensen. As a boy, George was always learning, so studying the far-ranging topics was far from new.
He has always been into learning, said Liz Christensen. As a small kid, he was always learning odd things about the world, so scouting really fit into his personality.
Learning is something the Christensens do often. Their living room is home to numerous globes and several sets of encyclopedias.
Six more merit badges
Every merit badge came with a set of challenges and obstacles to overcome, George says.
Some were physically difficult, like his shotgun-shooting merit badge, which took several tries to complete. Earning his fly fishing merit badge took several attempts as well, and he once accidentally caught his mother Liz Christensen with his hook.
Others were difficult to earn because counselors, who test the scouts on their skills, were hard to find.
It is often really difficult to find a counselor for a merit badge like welding, George says. You need to find someone who not only knows how to weld, but they have to also be a Boy Scout counselor, too.
That often meant traveling to find counselors able to test George on his knowledge, Liz Christensen says. When George attempted to earn his merit badge in search and rescue one of the newest Boy Scout badges there werent any local counselors qualified to test George on his skills. He and others of his troop worked with the Clackamas County Sheriffs Office, which organized a special class for the boys.
When we were trying to find a counselor who was qualified in farm mechanics, we just started calling farm stores, Liz says. There just arent that many people that do that on a regular basis.
In the end the family found someone willing to become a Boy Scout counselor so that he could work with George on his merit badge.
Which badge was the most fun to earn? George cant pick a favorite.
Whitewater rafting, or kayaking, he says. Oh, and fly fishing. And scuba diving, snow sports, and welding. Did I mention motor boating?
Now that he can count himself accomplished in everything from horseback riding to public speaking, George says he feels like he has done something worthwhile.
I think Im fairly well rounded now, George says.
And George isnt finished. The Boy Scouts of America has announced it plans to release six new merit badges next year. George is already planning to earn those.
I told him At this point, we can be done, Liz Christensen says. But he wants to earn the rest.
Next years badges include topics such as mining, animation and advanced computing.Add a comment