Outstanding Crew Member of the Year 2008: Christine Burke

One of the most special awards we give out each year is the Outstanding Crew Member of the Year. It’s awarded to that crew member who has most demonstrated outstanding leadership, service and spirit. Someone who lives the Venturing Oath each day. But what makes this so special is that the winner is selected by the youth, not the adults. By secret, or semi-secret ballots, they have given me their choices throughout the last three weeks. I’ve told them to take this award seriously and not to use it as a popularity contest. And they listened. In fact, most of the youth who received other big awards tonight were the multiple vote getters in this award, including Casey who is our runner up.

Normally, this award passes from one youth to another. Sometimes they are seniors, sometimes they are presidents but we have never had a repeat winner. Until tonight. Please help me congratulate this year’s winner, Miss Christine Burke.

Christine is in her third year as a Venturer. She has served as crew secretary twice, vice president, liaison officer and is nearing the end of her first term as president. She is the first president since Jonathan Wallace to be a child of the church where we meet and that church also has recognized her talents and asked her earlier this year to be on the search committee for a new priest.

Like all presidents, Christine has felt angst about her job, about whether, at times, anyone is listening to her, whether she is doing an effective job.

The truth is, she has done an outstanding job and though she may not always see what she wants to from her leadership perch, she is very definitely heard. In fact, I would argue that it is impossible for Christine Burke not be heard anywhere on this planet. As I’ve described her before, Christine is loud, brassy, funny, opinionated and brutally honest. Christine is not the type of lady you ask whether what you are wearing looks good if you want a sympathetic answer. She will tell you how she feels whether you want to hear it or not. But she also is the type of friend whose shoulder you can cry on or go up to and tell her some news in your life and she’ll smile and say, “Cool.”

And even if the title she has carried sometimes hasn’t meant she was in charge, she somehow took over anyway. I remember once we were packing to go out of town and I asked her to be sure everyone was in a vehicle. And she said I don’t really like bossing people around. And I looked at her and said, “Now that’s not true, Christine.” And she smiled and said, “Well, yeah I guess I was feeling a little lazy.”

Of course, the reason she is up here is because Christine cares about the people she leads and about her responsibility. She hands out praise more than criticism. I remember the night we arrived for our Labor Day trip at the Outer Banks. The youth begged to walk on the beach and so the adults consented as long as there was no swimming. Christine was in charge and without prompting kept a constant count of everyone to be sure we were certain of their safety. And while she might not always think all the crew members are listening, and even though there are times when the planning goes awry, the crew still respects her and never has a doubt about who its leader is.

So it is my pleasure to recognize Christine – again – as the Outstanding Crew Member of the year. Congratulations!

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