EAST SETAUKET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In the Boy Scouts, earning 21 merit badges makes you an Eagle Scout.
But as CBS2’s Elise Finch reports, earning all of the badges offered makes you a rarity. That’s exactly what one Long Island teen has become – a super and elite Eagle Scout.
If you name it, John Ninia has done it – from cooking, to white water rafting, mining and scuba diving. It all started when he was in third grade. He joined the Boy Scouts and went to one of their summer camps.
“Most scouts earn around three to five merit badges, but I earned 11 that week. I remember on the way home, I was telling my dad and mom how I was going to earn every merit badge,” he said.
It took a while, but the 17-year-old final achieved the goal he set nearly a decade ago. He earned every single merit badge the organization offers – all 137 of them.
He had to learn new skills, plan and execute projects, even write reports. Water skiing took him the longest to master – two years. His favorite is welding.
“It’s just something that I never thought I would ever do,” he said.
Ninia’s parents, Jerry and Lynn, helped him earn all of the badges. They drove him around the Tri-State Area and traveled with him out of town. They say they’re incredibly proud of him.
“It took a lot of determination and a lot of hard work on his part,” Lynn said.
“Earning as many badges as John did, you become an extremely well-rounded person and a very versatile young adult — one who can converse with people from all walks of life,” Jerry added.
Ninia said earning all the badges doesn’t mean much if you don’t learn anything while doing it.
“I found them to be very helpful in letting me know what I’m into, what I’m not into, what to make a possible career out of,” he said. “I hope to study environmental studies when I go to college.”
So what’s the next thing this elite scout will earn? His diploma from Ward Melville High School.
The first merit badge Ninia earned was for art.
The Boy Scouts of America don’t keep count of just how many members have ever earned all the badges offered, but there are believed to be just a few hundred Eagle Scouts to do so in the organization’s 107-year history.