Anyone who knows Erin and this crew also knew she would be standing here tonight.
She is a two-time former president and two-time treasurer who has accomplished something no other crew member has in 18 years of our existence, receiving the Crew Member of the Year Award in consecutive years.
She’s also received our public service award.
Those accomplishments and honors more than qualify her for a naming.
But there is much more to Erin than those leadership posts and awards. As I have said in the past, Erin cares tremendously about people and has shown how much she cares in all she does.
As I said last year, If you know Erin at all, you have heard her at some point describe her work with Camp HUGG, a week-long day camp for special needs youth. Youth staff are paired with campers for activities at Camp Kinard in Batesville-Leesville and escort campers to different places, such as the zoo. She has done this for several years. If you want to see her eyes light up, ask her about her work with those youth.
She has been a constant at our various service activities as well, from our food drive to Haunted Forest, where she has freaked out children and adults alike with her crawling creature gig. In fact, one of my favorite Haunted Forest stories was when a little Cub Scout saw us one year walking to the trail and asked Erin if she was going to scare him. She explained gently that scaring was fun and that was what they were supposed to do, to which the boy explained that he peed in his pants when scared. Erin quickly promised to spare him.
She also has cared about those she leads, always reaching out to crew members. She is constantly looking for ways to help people. I guess it’s in her DNA. On the rafting trip, we had a storm Saturday night. She was one of the few still up and talking with others when I observed our guests had left clothing and other items outside their tent. She immediately scooped them up and placed them under our dining tarps for protection.
So it should come as no surprise that Erin plans to take the next year and devote it to Americorps, a non-profit that places youth in communities to do service work.
Of course, all of this goodness should come with an asterisk. Because while she has a heart of gold, she will be the first person to tell you she is not perfect. If you want a demonstration of that, just ask her to get up early and meet you somewhere. Alarm clocks have been a challenge for her, as have directions. I’ve cringed in the past when I heard she and Isaac were trying to find us somewhere. There is a phrase for that.
Her tendency of leaving her uniform at various locations is crew legend, as is her desire to not really wear it but drape it over a chair or stuffed in a bag.
But she is 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.
Her final leadership post with us is leading her dad, Mrs. Myers and five other youth to Florida Sea Base this summer for an exciting, week-long adventure aboard a sailboat in the Florida Keys. There are no alarm clocks there. But there are night watches so the rest of you might consider her past before assigning Erin a time to stand watch.
I will miss her, not just because of her maturity and leadership but also because of her heart, which made this crew better in the years she served us.
When it came time to name her, there were quite a few choices, from female chiefs to wanderer to likes to sleep a lot.
But one of the images that I will forever have of her is her growth through this crew and the way she has touched so many lives with her heart.
Her Appalachian Trail nickname got at that.
So tonight, Erin, I am proud to award you the Cherokee name Ad-Se-Le, which means, Blossom.