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Girl earns all Boy Scout merit badges

Kansas high school student Rebecca McCreight has earned every Boy Scout merit badge in existence, joining the fewer than 0.5% of American scouts to lay claim to them all. As one of the first girls to join the Boy Scouts of America, her achievements are being celebrated nationwide at a time when the organization is deeply mired in scandal.

McCreight made national news showing off her merit badge sash to local media, complete with 138 badges – “which is all of them,” she made sure to remind reporters. Her father, Scout Master David McCreight, bragged that “what a normal scout might take up to eight years to do, took her about 23 months.”

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Despite her father’s deep involvement in scouting, the younger McCreight cited her mother as her motivation for getting involved in the activity. 

Go out and do your hardest,” she told local media, suggesting other girls follow her into the Eagle Scouts. “Nothing is out of reach.” She admitted accumulating the merit badges wasn’t easy, stating, “It takes a lot of work to get them all done” and sharing a story about catching hypothermia while attempting to earn her small-boat sailing badge.

The Boy Scouts of America began admitting girls to their ranks in 2017 in the midst of a burgeoning sexual abuse scandal involving thousands of scoutmasters over a period of several decades. The organization sought bankruptcy protection in 2020 in order to pay off thousands of victims but continues to recruit boys and girls alike, avoiding public mention of its financial and moral troubles and seemingly relying on the good PR generated by scouts like McCreight and the organization’s wholesome image to draw in new blood. In addition to opening its doors to girls, the group revoked a ban on homosexuals as scout leaders in 2014, a year after it began allowing gay boys to join. 

Court testimony from 2019 showed the organization was aware of 7,800 former scouting leaders who had abused over 12,000 children, though one of the victims’ attorneys suggested those numbers far underrepresented the size of the scandal, arguing it could be bigger than the troubles facing the Roman Catholic Church.

READ MORE: Girl Scouts sue Boy Scouts for becoming a little too gender-inclusive

Nor is it just former scouts victimized by predatory scout leaders giving the Boy Scouts legal trouble. The Girl Scouts sued the group in 2018 for allegedly confusing potential members by opening their ranks to females, arguing the group’s marketing to girls would lead parents to believe that the erstwhile Boy Scouts now had sole purview over all scouting activities. The suit alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition, and brand dilution. 

The Boy Scouts’ ranks have declined precipitously from their 1972 peak of 6.5 million members, plummeting to just 1.12 million in 2020 despite opening their doors to girls.

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