HOLLADAY — Two brothers just completed their goal of earning all 137 merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America program.
Jacob and Matthew Seastrand, 18 and 15, have participated in Boy Scouts since they were 11 years old. The brothers are the youngest of nine children and were inspired by their four older brothers, all of whom also participated in the program.
Jacob Seastrand, a senior at Olympus High School, had already been a part of Boy Scouts for a few years when his younger brother came up with the idea to receive all 137 merit badges. The Boy Scouts previously offered 138, but one was recently retired. The goal was for both brothers to earn all 137 before Jacob’s 18th birthday, which is the cutoff.
Fortunately, the brothers were able to complete their goal just before Jacob’s birthday, which was on Sept. 28.
“At first, I didn’t think I was gonna make it,” Jacob Seastrand said. “We were doing bugling and scuba diving (last). Bugling is tough because you have to learn the instrument, and we were having a hard time learning to do that. We ended up figuring it out.
“I had my brother with me — that’s what kept me going. If it had been solo, I probably wouldn’t have finished.”
Jacob Seastrand had previously earned his Eagle Scout, the highest Boy Scouts rank, in 2014. The Boy Scouts of America website says that obtaining an Eagle rank requires earning 21 or more merit badges, including badges in required topics like emergency preparedness, cooking and personal fitness.
Matthew Seastrand, a ninth-grader at Olympus Junior High School, earned his Eagle Scout in 2017. He said that completing the goal was difficult, but rewarding since he got to spend a lot of time with his brother and learn new skills.
“My most favorite badge that I earned was one of our last: scuba diving,” Matthew Seastrand said. “I’d never scuba dived before. One of the requirements is to earn a scuba diving certification and that’s not some easy thing.”
Matthew Seastrand said that he and his brother worked with The Dive Shop in Bountiful for a few weeks to get scuba certified. After completing their training, they went out diving with their older brother.
The badge that Jacob is most proud of is search and rescue. He said it was particularly difficult to earn because the brothers had to do the training twice.
“We worked on it up at Camp Tracy and we did all the requirements up there, but the counselors said we couldn’t pass it off with them so we had to get it passed off with someone in our church area,” Jacob Seastrand said. “We had to refill out all the packages and basically do everything over again. But we grinded it out and with that merit badge, I probably learned the most.”
After graduating, Jacob Seastrand plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said he plans to study music or filmmaking in college once he returns home.
The boys' mother, Tina Seastrand, said that she thought it was important to involve all of her sons in the Boys Scouts of America program so they could learn life skills.
“The merit badges touch upon so many aspects of life and learning, and that’s what impressed me the most," she said. "It’s a very small sampling of a much bigger picture. It kind of makes you see how the whole world comes together.”
She expressed how proud she is that her sons completed their goal.
“You know, it was pretty cool to finish,” Tina Seastrand said. “We had been doing it for so long that it almost seemed impossible to get to the end. But they did it.”
While the brothers aren't the first or only boys in Utah to earn all the Boy Scouts merit badges, the feat is so rare that the BSA does not keep a formal record of the number of boys who have earned all the badges, according to ABC News.