By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published April 30, 2009
Choosing from among his 121 Boy Scout merit badges, David Cano has a special fondness for two of them: water skiing and bugle. The first because he doesn’t own a boat and doesn’t get to a lake to practice too often. The second because it was a challenge and his last one to complete a 10-year project.
Learning 15 calls made him “practice the bugle day in and day out until my lips got sore,” said David, who last played a trumpet in high school band three years ago.
“It has to sound like a tune is supposed to sound,” David said.
David, a junior at Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, joined the rare ranks of the Boy Scouts as he became only one of three Scouts in the country to earn every single merit badge and more. In 2004, he earned Boy Scouts’ highest award, the Eagle, but also went on to receive all 20 Eagle Palms, which demonstrate Scout spirit and leadership ability.
He may be the first Scout to achieve such a record in Georgia. And he may be the only Hispanic Scout to ever achieve such success. According to published reports, only two Scouts have accomplished as much, one in Texas and one in California.
It is a goal David set for himself when he started in Scouts 10 years ago.
“I did it for the knowledge. I wanted to expose myself to as many things as I could,” he said.
David, 17, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 1776, Marietta. At Blessed Trinity, he is the punter on the football team. On his own time, he develops Web sites for small businesses. He hopes to become a medical doctor. He has also performed several roles as a cast member of the Roswell Dance Theatre’s Nutcracker production for six years.
He is the son of Rodrigo and Rosa Cano. His brother, Steve, is also an accomplished Eagle Scout. The family worships at St. Ann Church.
“Scouting teaches boys and young men to make ethical decisions in life and to equip them with life skills that will benefit them, their friends, and the society at large. I highly recommend Scouting,” wrote Rodrigo Cano in an e-mail.
A native of Colombia, Rodrigo believes Scouts are a worthwhile way for young men and immigrant families to “melt in with American families.”
“I do not see a better and faster way to immerse ourselves into the American culture,” he wrote.
The community recognized David’s achievements. He was lauded at a special Court of Honor ceremony at the Atlanta Area Boy Scout Council’s Volunteer Service Center on Sunday, April 19. And in March, the Georgia State Senate saluted David for his achievements.
Nearly a million boys participate in Scouts and only about 5 percent of boys become Eagle Scouts. To accomplish this award, David earned 21 merit badges, served as a leader in his troop and completed his community service project, building an outside classroom on the grounds of Queen of Angels School in Roswell. The project took 491 man-hours to complete and it is still used today.
A very small number of Scouts earn all 121 available merit badges—100 more than needed for the Eagle rank. David’s unique experience is he did just that and also fulfilled the 1,674 additional requirements to get 20 Eagle Palms, the last one of which will be awarded to him in May.
To earn an Eagle Palm, the Scout must be active in his troop for at least three months, demonstrate Scout spirit, demonstrate leadership ability, earn five additional merit badges beyond those required for Eagle Scout rank or last Palm, take part in a Scoutmaster conference, and complete a committee board of review. David did that 20 times.
David’s experience took him to unique places, from Alabama to Montana, and from the Huntsville and Orlando Space Centers to the CNN anchor desk. He biked 150 miles, hiked 158 miles, camped 126 nights.
David has been a member of Troop 1776, chartered to St. Ann’s Church, for seven years. There are few roles in which he hasn’t served, having been troop librarian, assistant patrol leader, troop guide, quartermaster, among many others.
In addition to serving his troop in these leadership positions, David was an altar server and a member of Blessed Trinity’s Model United Nations, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the National Honor Society.
After his upcoming birthday, David will be too old to be a Scout anymore. But he intends to continue being of service to the Boy Scouts’ program.
“I learned about goal setting. That’s one thing in life you are going to need,” he said.