Ben Hayes, who was just 14, didn’t waste any time in chasing his first merit badge, which was in hiking. After that, he moved on to railroading, which was his largest love, in order to get his second badge.

“I like trains,” says Hayes, whose parents enrolled him in Boy Scouts in the hope that it would help their son, who has autism and faced bullying in elementary school, develop new social skills. Hayes’s parents enrolled him in Boy Scouts in the hope that it would help their son. “I like trains,” he says.

Hayes had achieved all 21 of the organization’s merit badges by the time he was 13 years old, qualifying him for the Eagle Scout rank, the organization’s highest. However, he did not end his speech there. Before the COVID-19 epidemic stopped face-to-face teaching and approvals, he had already accumulated 99 merit badges; after that, he continued to acquire additional badges while being compelled to work online and participate in Zoom conversations.

According to WZZM-TV, he ultimately ran out of time this summer after obtaining all 139 merit badges that the Scouts provide. This is an accomplishment that is only attained by one-half of one percent of Scouts.

Doug Ogden, the pastor of Lebanon Lutheran Church and charter sponsor for Ben’s Troop 1048 in Whitehall, Michigan, says, “Because Ben is on the autism spectrum, it looked like when COVID hit and all the structures in life started falling apart, that Ben was going to be in real trouble because he requires a lot of structure.”

“According to what Ogden said, “instead of breaking apart, he grasped onto every single one of them, even those Scouting accolades that some of us weren’t even aware existed.” Because he is quite skilled with computers, to begin with, he quickly learned how to connect to events that were taking on in other regions of the county as well as other regions of the globe, and he was immediately attracted to all of the possibilities.”

Ogden adds that since “Scouting is such a beautiful network nationally and globally,” there were individuals eager to chat with him online from all around the world. “Scouting is such a wonderful network nationally and internationally.”

“All of us from the very beginning was making sure that counselors and award-givers weren’t going easy on him because of some of his issues,” he adds. “We were making sure that they weren’t going easy on him because of some of his challenges.” “But it was very evident that the counselors’ honesty was at its greatest level, and he was doing all that was being requested of him,” the speaker said.

Rebecca Shannon, Hayes’ mother, adds that she doesn’t believe the fact that her son was able to complete the activity on Zoom made it any less enjoyable. However, this did result in some schedule conflicts from time to time, as when Hayes’ companion for the completion of his merit badge in-home repairs turned out to be someone who lived in Japan.

Shannon notes that there is a significant gap between the time zones. “Therefore, doing house repairs at three in the morning because someone didn’t notify you that he opted to do it [then] was an intriguing experience,” the speaker said.

She explains, “Once he realized there was a method to make new friends in other countries, he wanted to continue continuing down that route.” “Once he established that there was a means to make new acquaintances in other countries,” she continues. “Normal procedures for earning a merit badge include completing the required tasks, then conferring with a merit badge counselor to go through those tasks or exhibit them to the counselor in person. These children collaborated on films across many time zones, which resulted in a more engaging experience for the audience. Therefore, I believe that he was able to get more from them.”

Beginning with hiking, which Hayes describes as requiring “a lot of walking,” and railroading were both straightforward options for the super Scout. Shannon responds, “Just a few, like 500,” when she is asked whether her kid has any model trains set up in the house where the family lives.

“While other kids collect baseball cards, mine collect rare trains,” she says. “When other teenagers collect rare cars, mine collect unusual trains.” “After earning the merit badge, he was essentially qualified to instruct others on the subject. After his time in the Air Force is through, he plans to pursue a career as a locomotive engineer.”

Hayes also breezed through the requirements for his badges in art, first aid, and emergency preparedness. The organization states that “a scout must provide a clear plan on how to assist people in any number of situations” for a scout to earn these badges. Hayes did not have any trouble accomplishing these requirements.

Care for the dog, precautions against fire, and compliance with the law are all present and correct. The merit badge for filmmaking was definitely one of his favorites. Hayes produced and recorded a video, which he then uploaded to his channel on YouTube in order to earn that particular one.

He describes the film as “simply primarily being a movie with trains in it.”

The one merit badge, reptile, and amphibian research was the one that caused Hayes’ mother to hesitate. She utters the following phrase: “I didn’t believe he’d do that.”

The truth of the matter is that Shannon didn’t want him to do it either, especially if it meant bringing a snake into the home. “I lucked out,” is what she says. “Because one of his math instructors had one in the classroom, he was able to see it five days a week, which counted as one of the things that he needed to complete,” the teacher said.

The last badge he received was for golfing, which Hayes describes as “sort of challenging” since he is left-handed and everyone else who participated in golfing is right-handed.

Which of the additional problems did you encounter? “Swimming, because I had to get over my fear of water,” he tells. “I had to get over my fear of water through swimming.” “And climbing, which is basically the same thing since I have a phobia of heights,” she said.

He also had to get over early anxiety about having straightforward conversations with other people. Shannon, whose son’s self-assurance grew as he accomplished more, including earning the public speaking merit badge, believes that those days are over now. “No more,” she says.

In 2019, Hayes plans to use his portion of the proceeds from an ongoing troop fundraising to help pay his visits to the National Jamboree in West Virginia and the World Jamboree in South Korea, where he wants to finally meet his dispersed internet pals in person for the first time. According to Shannon, now that he has his social skills under control, he is able to stand up and talk for himself to anybody. “During the previous year, he made $40,000 in popcorn sales.”

Ben has been raking yards and mowing lawns to collect money for a project that he has been working on for the past two years. This project, which he has been working on “just because that’s what he wanted to do,” according to Shannon, has seen him fill and deliver more than 150 snack bags each month to staff members working through COVID at a local hospital.

Hayes presented his mother with a whole new kind of difficulty as a result of all of his achievements: how should she put all of those badges on his uniform?

According to Shannon, “They stopped creating the 40-inch sash [for merit badges] since there wasn’t a lot of people getting them all,” which is why the sash was discontinued. “As a result, we used our imagination. He has the sash that is 36 inches long, and it can store around 120 or so, and the rest of the seeds are sown on the inside.”

Says Ogden: “I believe that his fellow Scouts have a newfound respect for him as a result of all that he has accomplished and the manner in which he has pursued his objectives. Because he is earning each badge one after the other without missing a beat, it’s possible that some of them have been encouraged to go for their merit badges with a little more vigor.”

They are aware of the fact that he has developed into a self-assured young adult, according to what he says.

This is also true of Hayes.

He adds, “The lesson I learned is that not everything is easy, but if you work hard you will get to your goal.” “The lesson I learned is that not everything is easy.” The phrase “to be accepted by peers who do not criticize you” takes on a whole different meaning when used in this context.

By Anna

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