Local Eagle Scout earns over 100 Merit Badges

(David Slone / Times-Union)

A Boy Scout can earn up to 138 merit badges during their time in the organization, but the average is anywhere from 35 to 40.

It takes 21 to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

Jeffrey Naundorf-Miller, 15, has 101 Scouting merit badges – or about 75% of the badges possible. And counting.

“Very few get over 100 and very few get them all,” said Ken Locke, Eagle Board of Review chairman for the Lincolnway District. The Lincolnway District includes Kosciusko and Whitley counties. Locke said he wasn’t aware of any Scout in Kosciusko County who had earned over 100 merit badges. “So for him to get 100 merit badges as an Eagle Scout, the percentage is really low. That’s amazing. It really is.”

Less than 2% of youth who enroll in Scouting become an Eagle Scout. Jeffrey, the son of Stephanie and Mindy Naundorf-Miller, joined Scouting when he was 7 years old. He’s a member of Troop 715 that meets at Trinity United Methodist Church.

Jeffrey said he earned 100 of his badges before becoming an Eagle Scout.

“(Scoutmaster) Dick McCleary was like, ‘I really want you to have 100 before your Eagle Court of Honor.’ That’s like the official ceremony where you get the emblem,” he said.

Stephanie said, “What happened was, he had 97 merit badges, and then Dick challenged him to get the last three. We had a month and a half to complete three merit badges. So he went out and spoke with an architect, we went and visited him in his office. So he had his architecture, he completed landscape architecture and golf as his final three before his Eagle ceremony. So that at his Eagle ceremony, he had, on his sash, 100 merit badges.”

Since then, he’s worked on several other badges. Eagle Palms are presented to young men who earn five, 10, 15 or more merit badges beyond the 21 required to become an Eagle Scout. They are bronze, gold and silver, according to scoutingmagazine.org. Locke said Jeffrey could earn eight or nine palms to pin on his ribbon by the time he’s 18 if he stays active in Scouting.

The first merit badge Jeffrey earned was for roller skating.

“They went to the roller rink here in town and knocked it out,” Mindy said.

While the golf merit badge was the one most recently presented to Jeffrey, he’s waiting for his horsemanship badge; he’s finished the paperwork and project for animal science; and is working on a (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Nova Award.

Stephanie said they have more lined up for Jeffrey this summer.

“I really don’t believe we should be on hiatus during the summer, so I’ve been kind of setting up these things, and I’ve got Dick working on archery. And then we’re also doing search and rescue with Winona Lake and Joe Hawn on Aug. 10, and then we’re doing the aviation on the 17th up in Fort Wayne. After that, the meetings will start back up,” she said.

Locke said the merit badges Jeffrey is getting into now are the real technical ones that take more time. “That’s why to get all of them is a challenge because some of them are pretty involved. Like aviation is pretty involved,” Locke said.

Jeffrey said some merit badges have more paperwork and more study to them than others.

“It’s almost like a syllabus for each merit badge,” Locke said. “Ideally, too, you want the youth to have contact with someone in that field, too. So that’s part of what he’s had to do.”

Earning the hiking merit badge was pretty challenging, Jeffrey said.

“That’s one of the Eagle requirements, but you have to go on so many hikes of varying lengths. It’s not like you can camp out, it’s a one-day thing. The last hike was like 20 miles that you have to do in one day. I did that and it was horrible and exhausting. But, it was like do three five-miles, two 15-miles and one final 20,” he said.

Stephanie said there was a 30-mile hike in the Grand Canyon as a finale.

Jeffrey cited the entrepreneurship merit badge as the more challenging one mentally to earn. He mows yards for money, and he had to record the time he spent mowing, gas used, how much he got paid and other information for three months. He also had to speak to someone who could be considered an entrepreneur.

Locke said it’s hard to tell how many hours Jeffrey put into earning his badges.

“He is being prepared for life. He knows a little bit about everything. Maybe not everything, but he’s learned a lot. That will carry him on in life. It does. You become a fairly well-rounded person. That is the plan of Scouting. That and to teach leadership. The first thing is leadership, the second thing is get out there and learn about life. He even knows pretty much what he wants to do right now, but he’s almost done this major career exploration to know what he likes and doesn’t like,” Locke said.

Jeffrey said there’s a lot to get out of Scouting, from learning to be responsible and personal management to being a decent human being, leadership and morality.

“I think it’s a very good experience for really children of all ages until 18. I think it’s a good experience that everyone should really be a part of it because you learn so much from it: how to survive in society, finances, personal management, responsibility, surviving out in the city. It’s very much a good experience you should be a part of,” he said.

Locke said, “That’s exactly what we want, too. That’s what it’s all about.”