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. What makes this award so special is that it is that the winner is selected by secret ballot by the youth, not the adults.
Please help me congratulate this year’s winner, Austen Speare.
One of the common characteristics of recipients of this award is that they easily could have been awarded most of the other superlative awards tonight. And that’s true with Austen, who last year received Officer of the Year honors.
He could have received the Public Service Award because of all the time he devoted to community service this year and his willingness to volunteer so often.
He could have received the Spirit Award because he is generally sunny about everything and willing to help anyone.
He could have received the growth award because as good as he was last year as treasurer, he’s had to fill in a lot this year as first vice president. And a lot of those times were on short notice.
And he’s done an excellent job filling in, showing up at almost everything and organizing the crew. I can still hear his “Hey Guys” whenever he tries to bring order to a crew event.
Austen came to us two years ago, the younger brother of Aaron Speare. There are a lot of neat things I could say about Austen. He is exceptionally talented in music, as anyone who has heard him on the violin can testify. He gave a mesmerizing performance on the violin during our show-and-tell meeting earlier this year.
His salesmanship has no peer, as anyone who has ever watched him sell anything can tell you. I remember one of our youth watched him sell Camp Cards earlier this year in front of Kroger and was amazed he had sold one within a minute or two of approaching people. I think he sold 13 in a couple hours.
He also has a fun and mischievous side, often wearing a sly smile that comes from his latest adventure with Julian, whether it’s burning mattresses or trudging up the Appalachian Trail with sodas in his pack that Julian put there.
But Austen is being recognized tonight not because of things I noticed but because of things the crew has noticed.
Perhaps it is because he is so dependable. He’s at almost every event. He brings his uniform. If another crew member needs help with something, whether it’s a Corps of Discovery project or another task, he volunteers.
That doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He’s still learning. Earlier this year he and Michael searched the store looking for ricota cheese for lasagna, thinking it was a type of shredded cheese. They couldn’t find it so they figured cheddar was fine instead. They also forgot salad dressing, charcoal, syrup and a few other things. But then he was trying to make this menu up at the last moment, not really his fault.
What has made watching Austen so much fun as been his willingness to help or do whatever is needed. He’s very detail oriented and rarely sits still.
Being a leader in this crew means you understand the concept of servant leadership. That means serving the people you lead, not having them serve you. Austen understands that. And the crew understands that about Austen.
For his service to others, for his outstanding sense of responsibility and leadership, I am proud to proclaim Austen our 2012 Outstanding Crew Member of the Year.