Summer camp merit badge encourages Eagle Scout’s welding career choice

Addison Foli thought he should head for a career in marine biology, but after one semester, he realized college wasn’t for him.

Back to the drawing board. What job should the Gainesville, Fla., Eagle Scout pursue?

His godfather — an electrician — suggested he look into a trade field. That’s when his family reminded him how much he enjoyed earning the Welding merit badge at summer camp in 2014. Bingo!

“It’s science mixed with art mixed with hard work,” Foli says. “You can make a career out of it.”

From camp to career

When Foli looked over merit badge classes to take at Woodruff Scout Camp in Georgia, Welding intrigued him, even though he knew practically nothing about it. It was a fairly new merit badge, debuting in 2012. He signed up and learned how to create a T-joint and tack plates together in a flat groove weld. It was a fun merit badge, and Foli talked about it a lot after camp.

When it came time to focus on higher education, however, Foli aimed for marine biology since he was on swim teams in middle and high school. The strong swimmer even received a lifesaving medal for rescuing friends and family from a dangerous rip current.

While he had a passion for being in the water, he discovered he wasn’t quite as passionate about the traditional academic studies. Piling up debt for years in college also didn’t seem too desirable.

Foli opted for a two-year welding certification program at Santa Fe College in his hometown. Thanks to a scholarship, Foli recently graduated with little debt. He also graduated with a job already lined up as a pipe welder and fabricator.

“I’d never look back,” Foli says. “I do something new and exciting every day. It’s a hardcore job, but I love it.”

Foster Scouts’ future

Foli’s story serves as a great reminder about what can happen at Scout summer camp.

“Scouting is the No. 1 reason why I’m where I am,” Foli says. “The merit badges are more than merit badges; they can be your future.”

It’s also a great reminder for merit badge counselors and Scout leaders to breathe life into their lessons. What you teach can inspire Scouts into lifelong passions and livelihoods. If you need a little inspiration yourself, check out Scouting magazine’s series on tips for teaching merit badges, including the Welding merit badge.

Scouts can also learn about specific careers through Exploring.

“If you don’t think college is for you, there are other options,” Foli says. “Explore all of your options.”

About Michael Freeman 50 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.