E. Setauket Eagle Scout reaches rare benchmark, earns all merit badges

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EAST SETAUKET -

An East Setauket Eagle Scout has earned every Boy Scouts merit badge possible – an extremely rare feat.

John Ninia, 17, received all 137 merit badges possible for his rank. Less than 350 boys have done that in the history of the organization, which dates back to 1910.

He also reached scouting's highest rank at just 14 years old and earned a William T. Hornaday Bronze Medal after completing three major environmental projects. Since 1917, just 1,100 scouts have received Hornaday medals.

"Boy Scouts gave me so many opportunities that I am grateful for, helped make me a more well-rounded person and a more interesting guy to talk to," the Ward Melville High School student says.

He says some of the badges take months to earn and credited his parents and scout masters for their support. One badge, in water sports, took two years to complete.

"I kept trying and trying," he says. "Finally, after going to camp, I was able to get up on the skis and cross the wake that I needed to."

Some of his other badges vary from welding to wilderness survival. Others are in scuba diving, shotgun shooting and bugling.

Ninia says he hopes to share the knowledge that he has gained through scouting when he starts college.

"I hope to help out younger scouts, so they can achieve greater things than I," he says.

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