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Cottonwood Holladay Journal

Brother Boy Scouts achieve 100% merit badge completion

Dec 06, 2018 02:43PM ● By Josh Wood

Matthew and Jacob Seastrand working on one of their 137 merit badges together. (Courtesy of Tina Seastrand)

By Joshua Wood | joshw@mycityjournals.com

When Matthew Seastrand turned 11 and became a Boy Scout, he suggested something ambitious to his older brother, Jacob. Four years later, the two accomplished what they set out to do by earning every single merit badge available. Countless hours of work and 137 merit badges later, the two reached their goal and built a stronger bond in the process.

Matthew’s motivations for undertaking what seemed at first an outlandish goal were simple enough. “I like scouting, and I always found it fun and interesting,” he said. “I just thought it would be fun.”

Jacob and Matthew are the two youngest of nine children. Their four older brothers had all become Eagle Scouts, but none had attempted the feat that Matthew suggested. Jacob had already earned his Eagle, but still had four years at the time to earn more badges before turning 18.

“I didn’t really take him seriously,” Jacob said of his younger brother’s idea. “But halfway through, it looked like a possibility.”

The boys’ mother wasn’t so sure either. “As a parent, you say okay, but just think whatever,” Tina Seastrand said. “Then I said, how serious are you? This was going to take a lot of organization.”

Tina would look for merit badge classes and work to schedule them whenever she could. “Logistical help, that was my job,” she said. Sometimes, especially in the summer months when the boys were out of school, they would spend the morning working on one merit badge, and then head across the valley to work on another.

If one of the boys started to lose motivation, the other would push him to keep going, even on the most challenging projects. “The backpacking merit badge was the most challenging. It was summer and it was hot,” Jacob said. “It was the hardest but it had the best memories.”

Matthew agreed with that assessment, then added bugling to his list of most challenging merit badges. “I practiced for a year just to pass off some songs,” he said. The exposure to so many subjects launched new interests that he plans to pursue in the future, like wilderness survival and scuba diving, his favorite merit badge.

There were other benefits too. “In school, I find it surprising how much I know about things,” Matthew said. “I also plan to play football in high school and will stay fit.”

Four years of work and more time together than they could track made for an unforgettable experience. “It’s built a really strong relationship,” Jacob said. “We have a lot of funny memories.”

In the end, it definitely seemed to be worth all the work. “We had a lot of fun experiences, and it strengthened our relationship,” Matthew said. “One hundred and thirty-seven merit badges really bring you together.”