Boy Scout Troop 2066 of Barlow hosted its seventh Merit Badge College on Saturday at West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Emerging Technology Center.
The Merit Badge College was the largest that Troop 2066 has hosted, with 145 scouts from 33 different troops from across the country combining to earn 249 Merit Badges. Over the last seven years, with the help of WKCTC and Troop 2066, scouts from across the country have earned 1,017 Merit Badges.
Colette Buford, Merit Badge College director, attributes the ongoing success of the Merit Badge College to her son Caleb, who serves as the event coordinator.
"Caleb has done a really great job of recruiting teachers, which means there are more class opportunities and leads to more scouts who come," she said.
While Saturday marked the largest Merit Badge College hosted by Troop 2066, it was also the first time that girls were allowed to attend the annual event as Boy Scouts. Of the 33 troops in attendance, six to seven of those were all female troops.
There were 22 Merit Badge classes offered Saturday ranging from animal science, art, cooking, first aid and plumbing to law, citizenship in the nation and citizenship in the world, among others.
McCracken County Circuit Judge W.A. "Tony" Kitchen and McCracken County Courthouse opened the doors and allowed the scouts who were earning the Law Merit Badge to use one of the courtrooms.
The success of the Merit Badge College would not be possible without the help of the community, as local community members serve as facilitators for the Merit Badge in their respective fields of expertise. Before Troop 2066 started the Merit Badge College, Buford said scouts would have to travel four to six hours to attend a Merit Badge College.
"Eventually, I was like, 'Our troop could do this,'" Buford said.
One of the requirements of becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest achievement rank in Scouts, is to earn 21 Merit Badges, so to be able to earn up to two merit badges at the college is a significant opportunity.
Caleb Buford has experienced the Merit Badge College full circle, as he started out attending them as a scout and is now the coordinator for the one hosted by Troop 2066.
"It's really great to have the experience to being able to attend them and learning from mom (Colette Buford) and being able help now is very rewarding," he said.