Jacob Sedlacek still remembers the day inspiration struck him. He was working on a project when an older Boy Scout approached him, wearing a sash full of merit badges.
“I want that to be me someday,” Jacob Sedlacek said to his mother in 2010. “I want to earn all the merit badges.”
That moment became a driving force for Jacob over the next six years. By his junior year at Triad High School, Jacob became the best Boy Scout he — or anyone for that matter — could be. Not only did he become Eagle Scout — Scouting’s highest achievement — but he sewed up every other honor the program had to offer, eventually sewing on 142 merit badges.
“I enjoyed being in Cub Scouts. I didn’t join as a Tiger Scout, and later on I wish I had, so I wanted to do it all. I didn’t want to regret not accomplishing everything I set out to do,” Sedlacek said. “I earned all the belt loops and pins as a Cub Scout, and the goal of earning all the merit badges as a Boy Scout seemed like the next logic goal. As a Boy Scout, summer camp was always fun and a great place to earn many badges.”
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To earn them all, Sedlacek traveled to many colleges and events for special merit badge days. He went to Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and all over Illinois.
“Sometimes there are no counselors for particular merit badges within the council and a Scout has to travel to events that offer those badges,” said Phil Reis, program director with Lewis and Clark Council, who awarded Jacob a Certificate of Recognition for his achievement.
“I crossed over into the Boy Scouts of America in November 2010, so this journey took me five years and almost eight months,” Sedlacek said. “ ‘Historical Carpentry’ was the first merit badge I earned, on Dec. 11, 2010.”
Jacob was awarded merit badges No. 141 and No. 142, respectively, this summer.
“My last merit badge was ‘Animation’ on July 10, 2016,” Jacob said.
That accomplishment meant Jacob had earned all the merit badges currently offered by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), including the four historical badges brought out in 2010 for the 100th anniversary of the BSA.
To get his backpacking merit badge, Sedlacek traveled in June with other Scouts from his home unit, Troop 1043 from Highland, and Troop 273 from Germantown, to Philmont Scout Ranch, the BSA National High Adventure Base located in Cimarron, N.M.
All his hard work has put Jacob in elite company. When he became an Eagle Scout in February 2013, he joined a group that includes only 4 percent of all Boys Scouts. The fulfillment of his merit badge objective is even more exclusive. No official records exist on Scouts who have earned every merit badge, and offerings have changed over the years, so the achievement is a moving target, year to year. However, according to a Feb. 3, 2016, article on The Voice of Scouting website, only about 300 Scouts have been cataloged as pulling off the feat. According to the records at the Lewis and Clark Council, Jacob is the first Scout in the local council to earn every merit badge.
Jacob said he could never have accomplished all of it without the counselors, who gave their time to help him. So, in turn, he’s now passing along all he’s learned to the next generation.
“I’ve already served as den chief to the Webelos at least three times,” he said. “(I would tell them) to start as soon as you cross over and go the merit badge days. Get the counselor listing from your council office, and hit it hard before you can drive a car. And start working, or getting involved in something else.”
About Jacob Sedlacek
Hometown: St. Jacob
Parents: Linda and John Sedlacek
Favorite Scouting activity: Scuba diving at Seabase, which is is located in Key West, Fla., in June 2014.
Hardest merit badge to earn: Bugling
Other hobbies outside of Scouting: Trap shooting on the Triad High School team
Plans after graduating high school: Plans to apply to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville