Standing here beside Jonathan I feel very old. You see I’ve known Jonathan since he was a little boy. Hard to believe now he was ever a little boy. Jonathan and my son grew up together in Scouting. They lived in different neighborhoods, went to different schools and had different friends, but followed the same paths in Scouting. Jonathan’s father and I became good friends as a result. Jonathan became a leader in the troop and then an Eagle. He came to us a couple of years after we had started and it wasn’t long after that before he became president. He served two terms.
But what makes Jonathan’s story special is what he did next. Jonathan went to USC and stayed involved. Even after he turned 21. He became the only youth in our 7-year history to go from youth member to adult leader in the crew. And he remained active even after enlisting in the Navy and going through Officer Candidate School. He has been a fixture at campouts even while he was studying nuclear engineering at his duty post in Charleston. This summer he will be leaving for Groton, Connecticut to complete his training.
Jonathan has always been an enthusiastic leader, full of ideas and opinions. All of the youth know what it’s like to argue with Jonathan. One of the funniest moments with him came when his sister camped with us last year. Watching the two of them argue around the campfire was hilarious, neither one giving any ground. Among my favorite – in retrospect – memories of Jonathan was the time as a youth he invited BOTH a former girlfriend and a current girlfriend on the same campout. The look on his face at the end of this weekend was priceless.
Many of our crew traditions we owe to Jonathan. We would not have Glow Stick Wars, Taboo, or tentless camping without him. There is a whole series of board games he introduced to members over the years. And sometimes crew members won. His taste for elaborate dining in the outdoors in stuff of crew legend. He used to even bring a chef’s hat. Presentation, Jonthan would say, is everything. He has remained cheerful under almost any circumstances. A smile is almost always on his face.
When it came time to decide his Indian name, there were lots of possibilities to choose from. He is a strong leader, quite vocal, quite competitive, quite ambitious. But there is one characteristic of Jonathan that is unique. One, and I’m sure many youth in the crew have already made the mental leap to know where I am going with this, one characteristic that has frightened small children and scared herds of animals away from the forests in which we camped. And yet it is something that has delighted and amused many, many crew members. So much so that some of them even ask him to do this.
I am talking about his laughter, of course. Sometimes hearing his laugh would cause the crew to laugh which would then cause Jonathan to laugh. If someone ever watched us outside the campfire I am sure they thought we were all intoxicated. But his laughter is reflective of a cheerful heart and one that has brought us love and friendship and much fun over the years. So it is with deep pride that I tonight I award you the Alogonquin name of Ahanu, which means, “he who laughs” Congratulations!