Above and beyond: Carmel Boy Scout earns all U.S. merit badges – and then some


Boy Scouts in the U.S. are eligible to collect up to 138 merit badges, and it’s a rare feat to obtain them all.

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Saint Cramer’s merit badge sash. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Cramer)

Carmel’s Saint Cramer has gone above and beyond. He has earned 140.

Ten weeks before his 18th birthday – and his exit from the program – Saint completed the cycling requirement to receive his final badge.

He exceeded the maximum number of badges available in the U.S. by earning two badges in Japan, including one that required him to become a blackbelt in judo. Saint’s mother is Japanese, and the family travels there often.

The BSA merit badge program offers a wide range of learning opportunities through a diverse mix of experiences. Scouts can learn trade and business skills, science, the arts and sports. Saint was most challenged by scuba diving but enjoyed it and wilderness survival the most.

“You get to learn a bit about how to survive off the land. It was definitely the most fun,” he said. “I was able to build a shelter and sleep outside for a night. Most people’s shelters that I was with collapsed halfway through the night.”

Saint became interested in Scouting in third grade. But it wasn’t until two years later when he was inspired by the youth adventure novel, “My Side of the Mountain,” that he decided to join.

“It was a lot about wilderness survival and stuff like that, and Scouts was a way to get outdoors and practice wilderness survival,” said Saint, a member of Troop 180 in Carmel.

When he aged out of Cub Scouts and entered Boy Scouts, he worked to earn enough badges to advance to the top rank of Eagle Scout.

Saint’s parents are supportive of his efforts, often including the whole family in the process.

“It was really a great experience for all of us, because in order to get all of them, a lot of times we would make family trips out of it,” said Daniel Cramer, Saint’s father.

The family took a ski trip so Saint could earn his winter sports badge and visited the National Railroad Museum in Wisconsin for the railroading badge.

“We did our fly fishing events down in the Smoky Mountains,” Daniel said. “It really became a family thing.”

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Saint Cramer with Scoutmaster Eric Sampson. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Cramer)

Eric Sampson has been the Scoutmaster for Troop 180 in Carmel since 2014.

“To have the drive to reach the rank of Eagle is a significant effort for any young person. However, Saint set the additional goal of earning all of the available merit badges that BSA offers,” Sampson said. “This goal took a great deal of perseverance, because some of the merit badges that he earned require a lot of effort or are not taught very often. The amazing support of Saint’s family and his pursuit of a lofty goal are inspirational.”

The BSA offers awards for specialized activities. Some involve collaborations with other organizations, others are prerequisites for certain merit badges. Saint has earned approximately 26. He received the Hometown USA Award by spending two weeks planting 100 trees in downtown Indianapolis for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

“I was exposed to so much that I wouldn’t have had the chance otherwise, even stuff I didn’t think I would enjoy,” Saint said. “But I pushed through and found some new interests. I feel like I know something about everything.”

Driven to succeed

Saint Cramer is the middle child of three, with an older sister and younger brother.

To earn his cycling merit badge, Cramer and his brother rode the Vandalia Trail from Coatsville to Ammo. His family met them at a local independent pizzeria before they got back on their bikes to complete the mileage and time requirements.

Saint Cramer, left, and his brother, Arch, at a Judo tournament. Saint earned a silver medal. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Cramer)
Saint Cramer, left, and his brother, Arch, at a Judo tournament. Saint earned a silver medal. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Cramer)

Cramer is ranked No. 13 in the U.S. in the International Judo Federation in the junior male 81kg division. He spent six years earning his black belt.

Saint attended Carmel High School his freshman year. He began homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic through Indiana Online Academy. He recently received his diploma from Greenfield-Central High school and is on track to graduate with honors.

After graduation, he plans to take a year off to work and earn money for college and plans to study finance.