HENDERSON, Nev. — Aaron, 17, and Joshua Egbert, 14, are two of only about 200 Scouts in the history of the American Boy Scouts to have completed every merit badge available, today a total of 137.
In fact, it takes two sashes for each boy to showcase the hard work and knowledge he has gained during his time in Scouts, having learned about aviation, engineering, medicine, computer science and many other careers, along with physical activities such as motorboating, kayaking, cycling and archery.
It hasn't been a path walked alone; Aaron and Joshua agreed completing every merit badge has involved the whole family, determining vacations and trips for the past few years. Yet neither the boys nor their family would trade it for anything.
"It's been a family thing," mother Allyson Egbert said. "My three daughters were always very supportive. Whenever we would go somewhere and do something unusual they would ask, 'Does this have something to do with a merit badge?' It often did and they learned a lot too."
While the elder Egbert completed his Eagle requirements while only 12 years old and continued to pursue many other merit badges beyond the 21 required, it wasn't until his court of honor that his family learned it was his goal to complete every badge available.
"He kind of surprised us both by saying he was going to go get all of the merit badges," father Martin Egbert said. "I didn't know that that had been his thought, so once he made that statement it was like, 'OK, this is going to be challenging.'"
And the boys will be the first to say it has been a lot of work, but Aaron explained it had been something he had set as a goal since he was an 11-year-old Scout.
"One of my friends and I both decided we would get all of the merit badges," Aaron said. "It was both of our desires to pursue a task that few people had done before."
As the older brother, Aaron was already devoted to his goal before his younger brother entered Boy Scouts.
"Aaron decided to go for all the merit badges, so, of course, since I'm his younger brother, I have to go for all the merit badges," Joshua said.
Aaron admitted the two have been pretty competitive in their mutual goal. And they reached that milestone this summer, with Aaron finishing in May and Joshua just a few months after.
"I kind of had the lead of being the older brother and starting a couple years earlier," Aaron said. "He tried to catch up, but I guess I still pulled out in the end."
When asked why they put so much time and effort into their quest, Aaron and Joshua both said the experience and skills they have gained through the Boy Scout program have been invaluable.
"I thought Scouting was a great tool to be able to progress and learn new things, and I thought that getting all my merit badges would be able to help my understanding of a lot of different fields," Aaron said.
"Doing every single one was a good way to grasp all of the knowledge that I could through Boy Scouts. The Eagle requirement required us to have 21 merit badges and I thought that was a great accomplishment, but I thought that I could go on and do all of them. I'm glad I did it."
Once Joshua turned 11, both brothers began to work on badges together. Joshua also completed his Eagle requirements at age 12, just before his 13th birthday.
"My first merit badge was composite materials," Joshua said. "That was a pretty hard one to start out on; I had just turned 11. Aaron was already working on it, so I decided that would be my first one because I had the opportunity to do it."
Working together as brothers has made the massive project of achieving 137 merit badges mean a little bit more.
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