Thousands of kids just started their freshman year of college at CU-Boulder.
One of them is from Longmont. His name is Patrick Gibbs, and he’s an Eagle Scout.
Gibbs started college with all 141 merit badges from the Boy Scouts, half of which he earned before turning 14.
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“I feel very proud of myself. It’s a lot of hard work and I’ve had a really fun time doing it,” Gibbs said.
The goal was to earn all of the badges before this 18th birthday, which falls this month. He had already mastered coin collecting, whitewater rafting and reptile and amphibian studies. They didn’t all come easily, but he earned them all – except for one.
The final merit badge Gibbs needed required learning how to bugle. As he checked more and more badges off of the list, bugling stayed.
“I’m not very musically talented, or gifted. I played the clarinet in middle school and didn’t really enjoy it,” Gibbs said. “I was not very interested in playing a musical instrument again. I just put it off as long as I could.”
Gibbs had to play 15 military songs on the bugle to pin the badge on his vest. He practiced off and on for years, but in the summer before college, he spent hours playing the bugle until the very end.
“My sister, she’s definitely been really tolerant of my bugling because she’s in the house everyday with me whenever I bugle. She makes sure she puts on her music to block out my noise.”
Luckily for Gibbs, the entire family supported him. His dad Grey bought him the bugle on eBay three years ago. Grey looks proud when he speaks about his son, even if Patrick… well, even if he and his dad say Patrick has a ways to go before becoming a professional musician.
“Seeing him struggle, you know, it’s difficult. You always want to help your children,” he says. “Too many kids aren’t allowed to fail. They’re set up for success and they’re always told they’re doing great. We’ve always tried to be honest with Patrick, our son, and our daughter that it’s OK to fail. That’s when you learn. If you stand up after you fall, that’s when you start to be successful and achieve things.”
Patrick played all 15 songs well enough to earn his badge in August – therefore meeting his goal.
Next, he’s going to forget bugling and move onto an environmental engineering degree at CU. There’s little doubt that Patrick will earn that too, with a work ethic that can teach us all a thing or two.
“You need to get picky with yourself and say, ‘I need to get better at this, I need to get better at that,’ so if you can build yourself up and notice the good things, it’s very easy to keep doing things,” he said. “I’m almost done and once I’m finished bugling, I might never have to touch it again except to move it around.”
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