Ms. Karen Coleman – “Nuttah” (2013)

Not all of those recognized through naming in our crew are youth. This crew could not operate without the help of some amazing, kind, generous and caring adults. So we like to recognize them as well.
I’d like at this time to ask Karen Coleman to come forward.
Ms. Coleman joined us almost four years ago and has been a fixture of the crew ever since as an associate advisor.
Usually, adults who stay that long either go insane or leave when their kids graduate. But Karen has never had children in this crew, which is remarkable given her commitment.
Tonight is bittersweet for her. She loves the kids and the families of this crew but she will be taking a break from us for a while as her work schedule changes. So tonight is a chance to honor her and to say so long for a while. And I might add that I am sure she is uncomfortable being in the spotlight. She does not like speaking in front of people or being the subject of public praise. She would much rather serve in the shadows.
I’m quite sure she had no idea what she was getting into when she joined at the request of Jeff Nates, whom she has known for years through their Sunday School class. In fact, her first adventure with us was only the second time she had camped. And an adventure it was. The officers had scheduled a trip down the 18-mile Virginia Creeper bike trail in October of that year, hoping to enjoy the fall colors.
But winter had arrived early and instead of beautiful leaves we were greeted by snow. Our tents were covered with ice and the ride down the mountain was cold. We brought our own bikes that year so the adults were constantly taking the 45-minute trip up the twisty-turny mountain roads to the top of the mountain, where we also ended up camping.
To truly understand the challenge she faced, you also have to understand that she is cold-weather adverse. It is not unusual for her to be dressed in many layers in weather where others are in short sleeves.
I’m not quite sure why she came back after that trip but we’re all glad she did. She has been a mainstay not only at meetings but also on trips In fact, there were many trips that would not have been possible during the past four years had she not gone because she was the only female chaperon. She also accompanied us on our ultimate high-adventure trips to the Florida Keys and Glacier National Park in Montana.
I know all of us had a fun time at Sea Base, sailing for a week in the ocean. But no one had as much fun as she did. She especially loved snorkeling and watching all the underseas critters.
What many may not know is that she had to overcome two fears before going to either trip. One was the BSA swim test. She’s not a big fan of jumping into water over her head, especially if she can’t see below the surface. She’s also not crazy about bears. Or snakes.
But she overcame her anxieties, passing the swim test without a problem and not panicking when we encountered a bear on our first trail day in Montana. In fact, had that bear truly known Karen, he might have run the other way. Because this crew and its youth are like family to her and like a mama bear, she’s very protective of her cubs.
She also loves to have fun with them, whether its chair dancing in her car to her very favorite, loud music, or giggling while crawling through caves, or enjoying some of the tasty treats the youth have cooked.
The youth long ago noticed her commitment and she was awarded the crew’s Presidents’ Award in 2010.
And while she has watched the youth grow, she herself has grown. She’s never been a fan of heights, for instance, but climbed with us on the cliffs of Crowder Mt. and even went through a course to become a belayer. White-water rapids are another activity that is not one of her favorites. But she strapped on a helmet and sat in a raft through our day-long adventure two years ago on the Nolachucky.
She does all this because she loves the crew. And when she loves something or someone, she is all in. Her operating room patients know this at the hospital, where she puts her compassion to work as a nurse anesthetist. Her friends and family know this with the countless good deeds she does and her fellow worshipers know this in her Bible study and small groups from her church.
When it came time to name her, there were several things that come to mind. But the Native Americans don’t have a name for chair dancer. And while she who laughs aloud or she who is independent of the chiefs or she whose smile covers the sky all certainly fit, they didn’t quite capture her essence. She certainly deserves the labels brave or strong for what she has endured in her personal life. But one name seemed to surpass them all, a name that adequately describes all that she feels and has done for this crew over the years.
So tonight Karen, it is my honor to award you the Algonguin name Nuttah, which means “Great Heart.” Congratulations!

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