Rosemount freshman earns all 137 Boy Scout merit badges
After hours of drifting in and out of sleep, the hum of the lightning began to fade from Matthew Condon's ears. The immediacy of each thunderous response retreated as the storm stepped its way down the mountain, taking with it a share of the anxiety imposed upon its arrival.
It was the last night of the last trip for the last merit badge Condon needed to complete his goal of earning every Boy Scout badge available — 137.
For 10 days prior, Condon and Venturing Crew 1776 trekked nearly 100 miles through the Black Elk Wilderness of the Black Hills National Forest, setting camp in a new place each night with few breaks during the day to maintain their pace through the rain and mud.
The final morning, as Condon packed his wet gear from his flooded tent, he welcomed what he anticipated to be the shortest hike of their trek. At roughly 15 miles, it was the longest.
"You just had to keep yourself mentally positive, because you knew there was going to be some end to this at some point," he said.
And there was.
At the conclusion of the trip, the Rosemount High School freshman completed the requirements for all 137 badges — a feat fewer than 400 Scouts have achieved in Scouting history.
"Once I finished that one I was just so excited," Condon said of his backpacking badge. "It was my favorite badge, it was the most fun to complete."
That trip, that drive, seem to epitomize Condon and his fearless foray into the world opened to him through Boy Scouts.
There were moments when he felt like giving up. But he didn't.
Condon lost his father to cancer in 2008 at 4 years old.
"My husband, he battled cancer for 10 years and it was not an easy childhood, especially for my oldest," Condon's mother Sheila Condon said. "So we had Matthew in the midst of all this. It was a tough road for them, but my husband was so positive all the time."
Sheila Condon said both of her boys got their father's positivity and work ethic.
With help from his older brother and recent Coast Guard Academy graduate Ryan Condon, the younger brother worked his way through the merit badges.
"It's the things that people don't see that impressed me the most about them," Sheila Condon said of her boys.
Many times the boys needed to get up and shovel to get to school or ride bikes to their activities.
"He and his brother are just examples of how hard work pays off," she said.
His biggest supporter, according to Matthew Condon, was his mother.
Every time he wanted to quit, she would keep him going, he said.
"She was the one who helped me push through everything," he recalled.
Aside from Scouting, Matthew Condon is an honor student, participates in cross-country and track as well as volunteers on occasion at the Dakota County Heritage Village, to name a few.
He also did the requirements for two legacy merit badges, World Brotherhood and Bookbinding — which aren't officially recognized.
"Matthew loves Boy Scouting more than any person I've ever met," Sheila Condon said. He earned Eagle Scout along the way, his project taking nearly a year to complete — which is an entire story in itself — and now sits inside the Rosemount Middle School to provide assistance for those less fortunate.
Each badge, Sheila Condon said, took an average of 15 hours to complete.
To top it all off, upon his return from the Black Hills, Matthew Condon went to a Minnesota Twins game with family and friends. During the game, he stuck out his arm and stopped a foul ball from hitting a small child in the head. For that, he was awarded his Medal of Merit in October 2018, shortly after earning his final merit badge.
At 14, even with all the merit badges earned, Matthew Condon said his commitment to the Boy Scouts remains.
"At my Eagle Scout board of review I made a promise to the interviewers that I was going to stay active in Scouts," he said. "I follow through on my promises."