COLUMBIA — The day began with an MIZ-ZOU cheer and it ended with some Missouri Boy Scouts one step closer to becoming Eagle Scouts.
About 300 volunteers and 790 Boy Scouts attended a Boy Scout Merit Badge University event at MU on Saturday. Beginning at 9 a.m., Boy Scouts ranging from 11- to 18-years-old gathered from across the state to attend merit badge classes.
Boy Scouts of America has specific requirements to become an Eagle Scout. One of those requirements is to earn 21 merit badges.
The Merit Badge University event offered 36 different classes to earn merit badges. According to the Boy Scouts of America website, there are more than 100 merit badges overall.
The event kicked off with a ceremony on Tiger Plaza near Cornell Hall with announcements, the Pledge of Allegiance, a recitation of the Boy Scout oath and an MIZ-ZOU cheer. The Scouts were then broken into groups based on classes they signed up to attend.
This is the first Merit Badge University hosted by Alpha Phi Omega, one of MU’s largest service organizations and a national co-ed service fraternity.
The fraternity is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America because the fraternity's founder, Frank Reed Horton, was an Eagle Scout, said Andrew Lovewell, an MU senior and Beta Eta Mizzou Chapter president. He has been an Eagle Scout since 2007.
Of the 21 merit badges needed to become an Eagle Scout, 12 must be in specific categories and nine can be electives. The required merit badge classes were full-day classes, and the electives were half-day.
Earning 21 merit badges is just one step to becoming an Eagle Scout and many require work outside of the class. Some merit badges have prerequisites, such as the personal management merit badge, which requires a Scout keep a three-month record of expenses and income, or the emergency preparedness merit badge, which requires Scouts to prepare and talk about an emergency plans with their family members.
After earning his first aid badge, Brian Roth, a 16-year-old Scout from St. Louis, was only four merit badges away from the required 21. Roth previously attended a merit badge university at Saint Louis University in 2010 where he earned his communications merit badge.
"For me it is good because it is a lot smaller time investment," Roth said. "It's almost like taking a really short class — you do your homework in advance and bring it to class, and you either pass or fail."
Jerry Ryan, Scoutmaster of Troop 336 from St. Louis, brought seven Scouts from his troop of 14 to the event.
Ryan’s son, Patrick, 17, was three merit badges away from the 21 required to be an Eagle Scout before earning his citizenship in the world badge on Saturday.
"I thought today was a good achievement because I have been needing this badge for two years," Patrick Ryan said, "As soon as I get signed off, I only need two more."
Patrick Ryan's friend David Walz also needs only three more merit badges to become an Eagle Scout. He said he was able to apply things he learned in his high school world history class to the citizenship in the world merit badge class.
"It was fun seeing what I learned from other places and applying it here," Walz said.