On the list of unlikely global competitions for teenagers, this one sits on Row 1 of Column A: a Microsoft Excel world championship.
But sure enough, it’s a thing. Each year, students from around the world compete to see who has the sweetest spreadsheet skills.
This year, for the first time ever, an American won the Excel trophy at the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship in Anaheim, Calif.
And it wasn’t just any American.
It was Eagle Scout John Dumoulin of Troop 1390 from Woodbridge, Va.
Prepared for the pressure
John, a 17-year-old rising senior, became an Eagle Scout in March 2015, conquering the tough list of requirements completed by the 6 percent of Scouts who earn Scouting’s highest honor.
Two years later, to win the Excel championship, John had to best 560,000 candidates from 122 countries who had entered the competition. At the finals in Anaheim, John and 150 others were given 50 minutes to re-create completed spreadsheets.
John told me that Scouting helped him Be Prepared for that kind of pressure.
“Scouting has given me the mentality that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to, no matter how challenging the feat may be,” he said. “This helped me in the competition.”
Excelling at an early age
John started getting into Excel in middle school, where he loved tracking baseball stats using the software. When he got to Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, John channeled that hobby into something that will serve him well in a future career. Through the school he earned several Microsoft certifications, including one for Excel.
At first, John’s passion for a seemingly mundane program bewildered his friends. But they quickly understood.
“Being a baseball player, my friends were confused when I told them I was competing in an Excel competition, but after I told them what it was they were really supportive and proud of me,” John says.
Surely their support will grow further once they learn of John’s prize for winning the world title: a $7,000 scholarship, a big trophy and an Xbox.
John used his skills to help his troop, too. He created a troop calendar in Excel and used it when tracking his progress toward merit badges like Family Life and Personal Fitness.
Of course, John’s hobbies and Scouting experience extend beyond the borders of his laptop screen.
His Eagle project was entirely analog: he preserved trees at a park in Lake Ridge, Va.
“They had an issue with beavers damaging the trees and creating debris on the walkways,” John said. “My volunteers wrapped wire fencing around trees to help preserve them for the park, and we finished with an area cleanup.”
John’s favorite Scouting memories — so far — include learning to ski with his troop, whitewater rafting and his Eagle Scout ceremony.
“Scouting has taught me to strive for excellence and go for high achievement in everything I do,” John said. “I’m glad to bring the Microsoft competition into the world of Scouting and hope for the growth of technology and STEM work in Boy Scouts continues.”