Clark Larsen, 18, son of Tamara and Dan Larsen, of the Hermosa Vista Ward, Hermosa Vista Stake, recently graduated from Mesa’s Mountain View High School with honors and was recognized in the awards assembly, having earned two scholarships. Earlier this year, Clark was named the Grand Canyon District’s Scout of the Year.
In May, he achieved yet another impressive milestone, earning his seventh Eagle palm.
“It’s a unique accomplishment,” says his mother. “Very few Scouts get their Eagle Scout Award and even fewer continue to earn Eagle palms after that.”
After completing the 21 merit badges and other requirements for an Eagle Scout Award, Scouts may continue until the age of 18 to earn one palm every three months by completing an additional five merit badges.
Clark, who is a member of Troop 590, earned his Eagle Scout Award on November 22, 2011. Since then, he has completed 34 additional merit badges, bringing the total to 55 merit badges in all.
He says much of the drive to achieve the additional badges simply came down to wanting to be different.
“I didn’t want to be like everyone else,” Clark says. “I knew a lot of kids stopped after getting their Eagle, but I still had plenty of time; I had five more years to do something.”
Once he determined to move forward in the Scout program, Clark had a way of turning nearly everything he did into a merit badge.
“I was on a boat in San Diego, looked down at the fish and thought, ‘Hmm, there’s an oceanography merit badge I could earn,’” he says.
“I have 55 merit badges, which means I have 55 unique memories,” Clark says, and adds that each badge also represents a bit of education that could come in handy in the future.
“You’re always learning something,” he says, affirming that he has already seen how practical that can be.
At 14, Clark earned his Family Life merit badge by calling windshield companies and arranging to have a cracked windshield replaced.
Last year during a job interview, he used the skill he learned when completing the Communication merit badge.
He gives his mother much of the credit for his desire to pursue a variety of interests and for his accomplishment as well.
He says his favorite merit badges “are the ones I did with my mom (which is all of them).”
“She taught me what we call the Pizza Principle, which means not sticking to just one thing. That’s like being a plain cheese pizza, but there are lots of toppings in life.”
Clark was already in the habit of adding extra toppings to his life when, while in training for football, Clark broke his back.
“I had my eyes opened to the fact that it was good to have those other things—Scouting, piano, blah, blah, blah—and not just football,” Clark says.
Even though a broken back meant he couldn’t continue pursuing his dream of playing football, he was able to look forward, even telling his mom, “I guess the Lord has other things in mind for me.”
Clark is currently taking classes at Mesa Community College and will transfer in the fall to complete coursework at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, before leaving to serve a mission.