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, Erin Lesslie.
I have known Erin for years. Her older sister, Mandi, was a crew member. She used to have an email signature that read something like, I’m the blondest brunette you will ever meet. Yes, she sent that over the Internet.
Erin looks a lot like Mandi did then and sounds exactly like her. I’ve caught myself too many times saying Mandi in the past year instead of Erin.
And while there are plenty of differences between the two ladies, they both have an impish grin and a constant twinkle in their eye s that makes you believe there is something up and you won’t know about it until they decide to tell you.
That said, Erin has been an extraordinary leader in a crew with a history of extraordinary leaders. One of the privileges I have as the advisor is working with the crew president. And most of their work occurs out of sight of most crew members. So I see a lot that others don’t. Erin has always taken her leadership roles seriously and cared about those around her. She is wise beyond her years.
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 Erin.
She could have received the Growth Award for going from Historian to President, Spirit Award for her constant cheerfulness, Public Service Award because of all the time she devotes to others. And tonight she received Officer of the Year honors.
But this award is bestowed by the youth, not the adults.
The youth are asked to select one of their own that has most demonstrated leadership, service and spirit and who best represents the crew and Venturing.
It helps if you are active. Erin has been present at almost every meeting and trip, though she missed the first several meetings as president, or left very early, because of commitments she had in theater. Maybe you will see her one day on stage or screen. She is, by the way, comfortable in talking in front of people, something that helps if you are president but also in life.
It also helps if you have a sense of humor. And I can’t mention this without talking about the shirt. You see, Erin, as wonderful a leader as she is, has a bit of a casual attitude about uniforms and hers has gone from being worn loosely, unbuttoned, to being draped over a chair to being left behind at places. For the adults, sometimes guessing where Erin’s uniform shirt went was much like the game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
But the winners of this award, in my experience, are mostly chosen because they have earned the respect of crew members. The kind of respect you get by helping others without being asked. By offering to do tasks assigned to others. By being a friend to all and listening to anyone, even if what they say is not what you want to hear, by smiling even when you don’t feel like it, by encouraging the group and reaching out to those who need someone to talk to, in summary, by serving those you lead.
For her service to others, for her outstanding sense of responsibility and leadership, I am proud to proclaim Erin our 2015 Outstanding Crew Member of the Year.