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Eagle Scout earns 105 merit badges, wants more

by HELMUT SCHMIDT The Forum on April 24, 2013 10:59 AM

HORACE, N.D. — If you want to be the type of Eagle Scout who can soar with Travis Bruse, strap on a jet pack.

The 17-year-old has gathered 105 Boy Scout merit badges and is gunning for five more before he turns 18 in June.

That’s five times more than you need to become an Eagle Scout and one of the biggest hauls ever seen in the Northern Lights Council that includes all of North Dakota and parts of Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana.

His chockfull sash, which includes four badges that are no longer available, is missing only 30 of the 131 current merit badges a Boy Scout can earn. It’s a rare accomplishment that calls for a major commitment. Requirements vary for each of the subject-based badges, but they can be time-consuming.

Warren Wenner, assistant director of field services for the Northern Lights Council, said Bruse leads in badges among the council’s current flock of Eagles.

“I wouldn’t know if it was the highest in history, but it certainly is one of the highest” totals for the Northern Lights Council, Wenner said.

“I had 38 (badges) as an Eagle Scout, and I thought that was a lot; 110 is huge,” Wenner said. “I can only imagine what a feat this is to try and do that. That’s pretty incredible.”

The number of badges available has varied over the years, and the Boy Scouts of America doesn’t track the scouts who have collected all the badges in their eras.

However, a website called is trying. It lists 191 Scouts who have gathered all the badges.

It takes 21 badges to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting.

Bruse, a tall, slender, soft-spoken youth, was drawn to Cub Scouts in fifth grade, then jumped to Boy Scouts a year later. He likes scouting for the leadership experience and community service.

“Whatever you’re going into, it (leadership) is an important thing,” Bruse said.

Since becoming an Eagle Scout, Bruse has collected 11 Eagle Palms. Each palm requires earning five more badges. Most people settle for earning three palms (bronze, gold and silver), said his mother, Connie Bruse.

“He has been such a good role model,” accumulating more than 200 hours of community service, she said. “He’s just a really nice kid that likes to help a lot.”

Travis has been accepted to North Dakota State University and plans to major in architecture.

Like many local Scouts, some of the first badges Travis earned came at Camp Wilderness, north of Park Rapids, Minn.

The most enjoyable merit badges to earn were for climbing, rifle and shotgun shooting, and fishing, he said.

He’s also proud to have earned the badges for tracking, signaling, carpentry and pathfinding that briefly were reintroduced for Scouting’s 100th anniversary in 2010.

Now he’s seeking badges in law, journalism, metalwork, composite materials and space exploration.

“He just goes above and beyond in trying to learn more. He just continues to push the envelope. It’s been a pleasure to work with him,” said Steve Fischer, scoutmaster for Horace’s Troop 274.

“He’s always there, and he isn’t afraid to help out,” Fischer said.

Last week, the North Dakota American Legion named Travis its Eagle Scout of the year for 2013. He’s now in the running for that group’s national award, Connie Bruse said.

Travis said that if he decides to continue with Scouting after he turns 18, it would be as an assistant scoutmaster. But he said he’ll probably take a break.

“I think I’ll just go with college and stop by my troop every once in a while,” he said.

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