Carly Wise Basinger – “Onatah” (2012)

And now I’d like Carly Wise Basinger to come back here.

I lavished praise on Carly before and talked about a lot of serious stuff.  But this is about her name so I’m going to be a little less serious.

You see, when it comes to Carly, there are so many things that I have memories of, both as president and before,  such as:

—her love of tents.   In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen her in a tent.  But then again, when you can wrap yourself in your favorite shower curtain or hang from the trees 20 feet off the ground, who needs a tent?

—her half-empty view of things, a little bit pessimistic, which she has promised to work on and has resulted in sunny weather forecasts even when it rains;

—her inability to salute.  I’m not sure if she’s just never seen anyone do it or feels like her crippled-hand style is her own brand;

—her tolerance of wearing the Venturing shirt – for a while – during meetings as long as she doesn’t have to tuck it in or use all or many of the buttons.

—her love of Boy Scouts.  This was especially true last year when some young Boy Scouts observed that she was hiking barefoot on the Rim of the Gap trail – one of the state’s toughest – and suggested she rethink that.  Carly loves hearing suggestions from Boy Scouts.  She was so thrilled that she insisted on blowing past their troop on the trail later on, still barefoot, of course.

–her love of the phrase better to ask forgiveness than permission.   Permission, of course, requires  some patience and acceptance of authority, so there is that.   She is quite practiced in asking forgiveness.

—Her willingness to let Cyrus win.  Carly and Cyrus have competed in countless activities over the years but losing to Cyrus never really gets to her.  Of course, there was that time she and Cyrus kept scaling the rock wall at the Camporee to see who could reach the top first.  She didn’t give up trying to beat him even after 3, 4 or 6 times.

I’m poking fun at her, of course, but she has been an outstanding leader in her two years as an officer and I will miss her dearly.

Carly is one of a few young women in our group that are environmentalists.  And she is quite forceful in making sure the crew understands the importance of our environment, even to the point of asking each year to teach them about leave no trace principals in camping and fussing at them when they litter.  I still remember her standing on the beach at Dreher Island scolding the crew for leaving some trash.

So when it came time to honor her with a name, I wanted to incorporate her love of the outdoors with her love of people and sense of responsibility.  And as it just so happens, there is a legend of an Iraquois female that seems to fit.   Her job, you see, was to watch over the corn crops.  And all of you know how vital a crop corn was for the Native Americans.  But this woman was curious and adventurous and one day she wandered from the fields in search of dew.

It was then that the Devil snuck up behind her and captured her, dragging her beneath the earth into a dark cave.  While she was gone, her crops were scorched and the sun, who loved her, sent out all his rays to find her.  She sent visiting birds her location to the sun, as well as a pledge never to shirk her responsibilities again if she ever made it up to the surface.  Finally, some sunbeams found her in the cave and she used the light to guide her to the ground above.

From that day forward, she tended to the crops.  And as a reminder of her promise, her long, jet black hair was turned to sunny gold.

Native American legends like this one have many lessons and meanings.   The story of the corn goddess is a tale of responsibility, redemption and the ultimate environmental struggle.   Carly’s time with this crew has been one of responsibility, balancing her love of exploration and wandering with her role as a leader.  It hasn’t always been easy.  In fact, Carly has sometimes wondered if anyone in the crew was listening to her.   Sometimes she has wandered.  But she’s always made it back to tend to her crew.  So tonight, Carly, I award you the Iraquois name of Onatah, which means Corn Mother.


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