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Badges? These brothers are earning ALL the stinking Boy Scout merit badges

George Atala has earned all 137 merit badges, while brother Andrew is on the verge

George Atala (left) earned all 137 merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America earlier this year, while Andrew (right) will soon. Contributed photo (Atala Family)

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At the moment, there might not be a busier seamstress than Yara Atala, and it’s all thanks to her sons, George and Andrew.

George, 16, and Andrew, 14, are Boy Scouts who have spent the last few years earning merit badges, which doesn’t make them all that different from other Scouts.

But what does set them apart is the number of badges they’ve earned in a short time.

Earlier this year, George earned his 137th and final merit badge offered by the Boy Scouts of America.

By the end of this month, Andrew will join him and earn his final merit badge.

Since mom is the one who sews the badges on the sashes, that’s been a lot of sewing for Mrs. Atala. There have been so many badges that each boy has needed two sashes to hold them all.

“I did a couple, but I did a really bad job,” Andrew said. “[My mom is] pretty good at it.”

But Yara Atala has been happy to do the sewing, given how dedicated her sons have been to earning the badges since they started during their respective fifth-grade years.

George said his favorite one to earn was the engineering badge, while the hardest was life-saving.

For the life-saving badge, George said he went to a nearby pool, picked up a 20-pound dumbbell from the bottom of the 15-foot deep end, and swam up to the surface with it.

“I just want to inspire a lot of people,” George said. “Scouting isn’t as popular as it once was. Hopefully, I can inspire young people (to) reach their goals. Anything you set your mind to, you can accomplish.”

Andrew said his favorite badge to earn was in scuba diving, while his least favorite is the final one he is about to complete: Bugling.

Even still, he’s never played a brass instrument before, and yet, he’s persevered, and is about to reach the finish line in terms of badges.

“For me, it wasn’t really about how people see it as an achievement,” Andrew said. “I was honestly just having fun. By the time I did all the ones I liked, I only had 20 more, so I decided I might as well just go for it.”

Both teens have also earned their Eagle Scout designation, which required a service project.

George raised $4,000 and bought duffle bags for foster kids in Detroit, filling the totes with supplies such as coloring books, toothbrushes and teddy bears.

Andrew and other Scouts raised $6,000 and put in a statue of Jesus at his church/middle school, although it was a longer process than the boys realized, especially considering the pandemic.

He first had to research, then order, the statue from a maker in Italy, have it shipped overseas to Michigan, and then install it by digging a 3-foot hole and pouring in a concrete foundation.

Despite not having any more badges to earn, both brothers insist they aren’t done with scouting.

They both want to give back and inspire other Scouts in their troop, which is Troop 755 in Northville, by serving as mentors.

“We’re still pretty involved and want to inspire a lot of people to do what we’ve done,” Andrew said.

And the best news of all? Mom will finally get a break from all that sewing.


About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.