Success in the Boy Scouts of America is somewhat measured in merit badges, patches and rank.
That makes Carter Harwell the leader of the pack.
Carter, 13, recently earned all 133 merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts.
“It’s fun,” Carter said of his aim to earn all the badges. “It’s a lot of fun to try and do this stuff. I met so many people along the way.
“I didn’t start Scouting thinking I’m going to get them all. It just kind of happened. I started working toward them.”
Carter, of Evans, believes he’s the 210th Boy Scout to earn every merit badge, including decades ago when only half the number of badges could be earned. The national Boy Scouts of America office doesn’t keep track of such statistics, according to BSA Public Relations Director Deron Smith, who said “It is a rare achievement.”
About a year after he began in Boy Scouts in Oct. 2011, Carter set his sights on earning all the badges.
“For any boy who earns every single merit badge the Boy Scouts of America offers is probably about as rare as a kid becoming the president of the United States,” Georgia-Carolina Council Scout Executive Jeff Schwab said. “There simply aren’t that many of them.”
Carter has earned the 15 badges missing from his doublewide sash, said John Estep, troop master of Carter’s Troop 578 in Augusta. Though Carter can buy the badges he’s earned, he’d rather wait until mid-December, when they’ll be presented to him at a quarterly Court of Honor ceremony.
“He very much makes Scouting a big part of his life,” Estep said, describing Carter as motivated and focused.
The badges Carter has yet to sew onto his sash include Whitewater, Insect Study, Electronics, Theater, Journalism, Plumbing and Public Health.
Carter, who also sings with the Augusta Children’s Chorale and is an avid golfer, is home-schooled through Georgia Cyber Academy. He said he most enjoyed the Snowboarding badge. The Backpacking and Wilderness Survival were some of the more strenuous badges to get. He was required to backpack at least one 30-mile trip, plus 15 additional miles other than the trip.
“That was definitely one of the more difficult ones,” Carter said. “They are definitely very difficult. They are very strenuous, too.”
Other badges were more academic, such as Bird Study, which required him to identify 30 birds and study them at a feeder for 30 days.
Carter even learned to play the trumpet to earn the Bugling badge. He was required to learn the instrument and play 13 different calls.
“That one took a little bit of time,” he said.
Carter said earning all the badges definitely introduced him to a lot of new and interesting people and led him to a lot of new experiences. Some, like ice skating and leather-working, he never thought he would enjoy.
“They are all so fun,” Carter said. “I’ve met so many great people.”
Carter is a Life Scout and registrar for the Order of the Arrow, a Scouting honor society.
“It’s a big deal,” Carter said of Order of the Arrow. “That’s mainly what I think I like the most. I’ve met tons of great people in Order of the Arrow. It’s like the official honor society of Scouts that is used to recognize exemplary scouts that exemplify the scout oath and law.”
Carter, who also is Senior Patrol Leader within his troop, already has another goal in mind – becoming an Eagle Scout before his 14th birthday on Jan. 6.
The average age of an Eagle Scout is 17.5 years old, according to Smith.
Carter still has five more years in Scouting and he plans to continue community service and projects.
“I’ll continue doing this,” Carter said. “I’ll probably try to get involved in Venture Scouting and do some of that. I’ll be involved in Scouting and my troop.”