Mr. Jeff Nates – “Orenda” (2013)

And now I’d like Jeff Nates to come forward.
Jeff has been with us since 2008, joining with his son Stuart as a package set. It didn’t take me long to ask him to step in leadership roles. As a CPA, he was a dream come true to become our treasurer. As a former Scoutmaster, he also was a dream to become an associate advisor.
As a marathon runner and an avid backpacker, he possessed more energy than most of our youth.
It’s hard to discuss Jeff with a straight face.
Maybe it’s all the stories he has told of youthful indiscretions with fireworks and other dangerous toys.
Maybe it’s all the YouTube videos he sends me of a pair of guys who blow things up and take slow motion footage of it, inspiring Jeff in a way that is a bit scary.
Maybe it’s all his predictions on backpacking treks that don’t quite ring true for all us mere mortals.
Just ask those who have traveled with him on Appalachian Trail trips. His description of the day as flat hiking pretty much means the opposite, or good weather pretty much means rain.
Or maybe it’s the insane things he puts his body through, whether carrying a 70-pound pack or running an Iron Man, or a simple jog around the lake in cold rain and then shrugging off the ensuing cold.
His boundless energy is legendary. As well as his involvement with so much.
One time he sent me a classic Jeff Nates email: whirlwind day, candle burning on four ends now (two in middle)

He’s needed that energy for all the things he’s done with the crew, whether managing fundraisers, working with youth treasurers (one of whom left a collection of checks gathered over months in the shed), serving as a chaperon on our trips or heading up treks on the Appalachian Trail or Kodiak, our war canoe trek across Lake Murray.

His commitment was recognized by the youth in 2009, when the presidents honored him at a meeting with the Presidents’ Award. They gave him the award then because he was going to be gone to Sea Base with his troop at the time the award would normally be bestowed.

That commitment has shined ever since, whether it’s the commitment to his son and helping him reach the rank of Eagle Scout, or with his daughter and her swimming or orchestra, or his commitment to helping this crew with its finances, or the commitment to his family and friends or to his health, running marathons and triathlons.

And he’s done this all with a marvelous sense of humor. I remember a few years ago when he went to Sea Base, Jeff, a vegetarian, tried to motivate a group of boys to catch another canoe by promising them he would eat chicken if they did.

“They flew,” he wrote.

He’s constantly sending me jokes and reminiscing about his days of youth when he and friends would conduct pranks in Shandon.

When it came time to name him, Jeff certainly could have earned several monikers for his trustworthiness, his sense of humor, his seeming connection to everyone on this side of the planet.

But one phrase seemed to fit. Occasionally, Native Americans would run across someone whose actions they could not explain, sort of like watching someone attempt to backpack 70 or 80 miles in the mountains in a weekend or bike 70 miles around the lake or run 7 or 8 miles during lunch. Or walk up the steep side of a mountain and describe it as flat. Or argue with Hannah.

There’s also a phrase among backpackers on the AT to describe the finding of unexpected pleasures, which comes close to a phrase Native Americans used for those who seemed to possess supernatural abilities. So it’s my honor, tonight, Jeff, to award you the Iroquois name, Orenda, which means, Magic Power. Congratulations!

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