CRYSTAL, Minn. (WCCO) – Anyone who was ever a Boy Scout will tell you that earning the rank of Eagle is the highest achievement possible.
But when a young Crystal man accomplished that feat by the age of 14, he decided to set his personal bar even higher.
Matt Borchers set off on a goal to earn all of the merit badges that scouting offers. He was determined to get all 135 of them, plus the four special merit badges only offered during scouting’s centennial year in 2010.
“I had to learn to play the bugle for the bugling merit badge,” Borchers said.
Merit badges are the basis for teaching young boys a variety of skills, such as backpacking, bugling, wilderness camping and welding.
“The toughest merit badge was signaling or aviation,” Borchers said. “I had to build a model plane, and I’d never built one before.”
By age 14, Borchers had successfully achieved the 21 merit badges required for the highest honor of Eagle Scout.
But that’s when he discovered his ambition was just kicking in. His fabric sash of stitched emblems would keep growing larger.
“There were 121 merit badges when I joined scouting, and I ended up with 139,” Borchers said.
One by one, skill by skill, Borchers knocked off every merit badge the Boy Scouts currently offers. That includes some that no longer exist.
But the hitch was that he had to reach them all by the time he turned 18, the mandatory age when a scout must leave the organization.
“That’s unique,” said Kent York of the Northern Star Council when he learned of Borchers’ achievement.
Scouting doesn’t keep records of such accomplishments, but York said it shows exceptional dedication.
“We don’t track this, but I’ve been with the council for 38 years, and I can just remember one or two, so I think this is quite rare,” York said.
Borchers said he was nearing his goal just a week before his 18th birthday when the organization added its newest merit badge, for digital technology. So he went to work and earned that one too.
Clearly, Borchers is a young man, driven by an appetite to learn, who’s true to the oath he first swore to, so long ago.
“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country,” Borchers vowed, holding up his right hand.
Last September Matt entered college at the University of St. Thomas and is planning to major in bio-engineering.