Caleb Thomas – “Lalawethika” (2014)

The Venture Crew 312 naming ceremony is borrowed from Native Americans, who used to bring braves before a council of chiefs when they reached a certain age and awarded them names, which the tribe forever more used in referring to them.

To be eligible for naming, at a minimum crew members must have been a registered Venturer and active for at least two years, held a leadership position or made a significant contributions to the crew and graduated from high school.  That is the minimum.  Naming is an honor we bestow upon those whose time with us deserves special recognition.

During this ceremony, individuals are given their Indian names along with their English translations.  The names may appear whimsical or have multiple meanings.  Each is chosen because it reflects a crew member’s essence, what makes them special to us.

Named members are forever listed on our crew website, have a lifetime membership in the crew and are presented with a plaque and their Native American nameplate, which they are to wear on their uniform.

I’d like to now call forward our first recipient, Caleb Thomas.

Caleb has been with us four years, his whole high school career.

He was elected last year as our health and safety officer and is our current Webmaster, responsible for our website.  There’s some irony that Caleb is responsible for the site that will forever carry his name.

Caleb has been known among crew members for being quiet.  At least until he became comfortable in the crew.  He’s not the first introvert to be drawn out of his shell because of Venturing.  I am another.

He’s certainly not quiet on a ski slope, where he likes to race his dad or brother.

He’s been very active this year and busy outside the crew.  You might have noticed just how active he was in the crew by how many times his name kept getting called.

There are a couple things the crew might not know about Caleb.  One is that he’s academically gifted.  This year, he was one of three students at Dutch Fork High School to earn National Merit Scholarships, which he will use at Clemson University, where his brother studies.   He is a STEM graduate (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and a distinguished honors graduate.   He accumulated 62 college credit hours from Dutch Fork and will start as a junior at Clemson.

Let that sink in for a moment.  If you wonder why some people go through all the hard work and brutal testing of AP classes, that’s one reason.

The other neat thing about Caleb is his music talent.  Some of you might have noticed that when he sat down to the piano this year during our show and tell.  Actually, it is a talent that has been developing for some time.  He has been playing the piano since he was 7 years old.  He was the only 7th grader who made regional orchestra in middle school.  He played First and Second Cello in the Master Class at Dutch Fork since the 11th grade.   He played the Cello for the South Carolina Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Of course we are here to honor his value to the crew.  I would describe Caleb as intelligent, thoughtful, friendly, responsible (mostly), with a good sense of humor and the ability to continue toward his goals no matter what.  His mother said he has always had a good amount of common sense.  His parents have kidded him that he had the disposition of an 80 year old man when he was five years old because he is so well grounded. His dad says that one thing he has always noticed is that Caleb works hard to get ahead as quick as he can so he can pace himself at a speed that gives him a chance to finish at the top.

Let me give you an illustration of his persistence. Last summer, Jeff Nates and a female chaperon took a group of crew members on a tough starting section of the Appalachian Trail.  Jeff wouldn’t call this tough because to Jeff, that designation might apply to climbing up Everest.  It rained the first 2-3 days.  There was a lot of uphill and some of the youth were not prepared. Several became sick.

As a result, by day 3 five of the youth had left the trip.  Caleb stayed hiked on.  One night he slept without his rain fly on.  By morning he discovered he was in two inches of water.   Talk about a sound sleeper.   He was soaked but didn’t complain.  He just wrung out his clothes, packed up as best he could and marched.  It’s pretty much impossible to wipe his smile off his face, one of his many endearing qualities.

When it came time to name him, I had several choices.  Of course, there is no Native American name for he who wears an orange shirt.  And if there was I think Carly, Rachel and some others would have beat you to that years ago.  In selecting his name, I looked at something that had more than one meaning, something that honored not only his coming out of his shell to become a leader in the crew but also his talent in music.  Keep in mind that Native Americans did not have a name for music though obviously it was important in their culture. The closest name for that is noise, though it means something different to Native Americans than to us.  So tonight, Caleb, I am honored to bestow you with the Shawnee name, LALAWETHIKA, which means, he who makes noise.



Comments are closed.