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 the winner is selected by secret ballot by the youth, not the adults.
Please help me congratulate this year’s winner, Erin Lesslie.
If some of you think I just picked up last year’ s speech, you would partly be correct.
She has been selected for this honor two years in a row, a very rare feat in the crew’s 17-year history.
But there is a reason for that. Actually several.
I sometimes feel awkward saying things about this award because I don’ t select the winners. But that doesn’ t mean I don’ t notice things.
Erin is well respected by all. She takes her various crew roles seriously. She was recently elected to a second term as crew treasurer, after serving two terms as crew president.
Both of those jobs involve heavy responsibility and trust. The crew elects people into those jobs that they believe have those qualities.
She’ s also well liked. She’s friendly, interested in everybody and an advocate for all. She has one of the best people instincts I have ever found among young leaders. She understands people, listens well and sees the big picture. I will listen to her suggestions especially because she has unusual foresight and planning skills.
All of this doesn’t mean she’s perfect. Her sense of direction is non-existent. If not for GPS, she would be perpetually wandering the earth. And partly wandering to look for her uniform, which she likes to place everywhere but on herself.
She’s also been known to oversleep, as on the Badlands trip or for the trash pick-up for the St. Pat’s Festival.
But she holds herself to a higher standard and will beat herself up over mistakes worse than anyone else.
“I’m the worst person ever in the whole world,” she texted me after she overslept that Sunday.
She also carries what I have described as an impish grin and a constant twinkle in her eyes that make me wonder if she’s up to something.
She usually is, but it isn’t anything bad.
But the other reason she is standing here is because she not only cares about others but does something about it.
Whether it’s helping kids at Camp Hugg, spotting a drowning swimmer at a waterfall and directing others to save him, or helping to train crew members in leadership, Erin doesn’t just talk about problems, she acts on them.
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 2016 Outstanding Crew Member of the Year.