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Issue 379 – January 10, 2014


It’s 1936. Berlin. Jesse Owens is running away—quite literally—with a bunch of Gold Medals. But he’s not the only American to do this. Marjorie Gestring has just taken Gold in the 3-meter springboard. And—get this—she’s just 13 years old! The Olympic Committee’s chairman is about to drape the ribbon-and-medal over her neck when several of her trainers step forward. “Hey, hold on there!” they shout, the head trainer grabbing the ribbon from the presenter’s hands. “Y’all can’t give that to her! She made all her practices back home in the States, but she’s missed a bunch of them in the past couple of weeks. We can’t let you give a medal to somebody who doesn’t show up, can we?” So Miss Gestring is told to get off the riser and go sit down. “You can try again after we see you showing up more,” the head trainer throws over his shoulder as he walks back to the benches.


Harvard’s dean steps to the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he begins, “we are happy to announce that, at age 16, Jonathan Stone has successfully completed the entire curriculum for the Bachelor of Arts degree.” There’s a hush over the audience…the anticipation of something unique. This would make Jonathan the youngest person in the history of The Crimson to ever accomplish this. “But, ladies and gentlemen,” the dean continues, “the board of this great institution has reached the conclusion that Mister Stone isn’t quite mature enough to understand the significance of his accomplishment. “So, Jonathan,” he says, glancing downward to the bright-eyed young man sitting in the first row, “come back in five years and we’ll award you your degree.”


“Anais Caradeux wins the World Cup in freestyle skiing!” the PA system blares. “Anais is just 15 years old,” says the disembodied voice. The awards committee steps forward with the cup—a splendid piece of engraved Sterling. “Not so fast there!” the voice says. “Anais didn’t show enough spirit on the half-pipe. The committee doesn’t feel he’s ready to receive this gift from us.” A pall of apprehension sweeps over the crowd. “So, Anais, why don’t you come back next year and try again. And maybe show a bit more spirit next time?”


You’re a Scout who’s just completed everything for Eagle, when a bunch of seriously misguided buffoons, stuffed full of false self-importance, start building a road block that has nothing whatsoever to do with the stated requirements.


Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Write to Please include your name and council. (If you’d prefer to be anonymous, if published, let me know and that’s what we’ll do.)

[No. 379 – 1/10/2014 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2014]


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

Read Andy's full biography

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