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A Scout’s tale

Once I knew a young Scoutmaster whom I shall call Alan. He headed the computer operations for an oil-field company in the early 80s, and of all his sterling attributes, his ability to organize and manage was surely his greatest. As a Scoutmaster, Alan never left anything to chance. Scout meetings and camping trips ran smoothly, and when a problem popped up, he had a protocol in place to solve it. The boys in his troop thrived under his calm, assured leadership.

But there was a occasion in Alan’s life, before he became a Scoutmaster, when he encountered a big problem for which he had no solution.

Early in his business career, Alan was sent to attend a business meeting in Toronto. “Everything is taken care of,” he was told. With a ticket provided for him, he flew from Dallas to Toronto, then took a shuttle bus from the airport to a luxury downtown hotel, where he would stay.

But when he tried to check in, no room had been reserved in his name, much less paid for. Alan barely had enough money in his pocket to buy a cup of coffee in the hotel dining room—paying for a room was impossible.

He stood at the marble-topped counter, stumped. He thumbed through his wallet, hoping an overlooked $100 dollar bill would jump out. His Sears credit card was no help, nor the photo of his pretty wife. In desperation he fanned through the plastic pockets of his wallet again, when the desk clerk shot out a finger and stopped the shuffle on Alan’s Eagle Scout card—the card that he had carried in his wallet since he’d earned it as a teenager.

“Monsieur,” asked the desk clerk, “you are an Eagle Scout?”

“Yes,” said Alan.

The hotel desk clerk said he would stand surety for the room, and Alan was soon checked in. The rest of his business party arrived the next day, and the apologies flowed. There had been a huge mix-up, but it was soon sorted out and the business meeting was a success.

Now Alan could have been more “Be Prepared” for his business trip, and an Eagle Scout card is not a good luck charm. But the guidelines a boy learns in Scouting carry forward forever, and Alan had taken an oath. There’s no such thing as an insurance policy to guarantee success in life, but “On my honor” is a good place to start.

Eagle Scout Patch

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

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