Lillian Burke – “Pachamama” (2012)

I’d now like to ask Lillian Burke to step forward.

Lillian comes from quite a pedigree when it comes to this crew, eclipsed only by the Hartmans.  She is the youngest of five girls, three of whom have been members of the crew.  Catherine was an early member and we still have photos of her in one of our scrapbooks.   Christine joined about 2006 and went on to become a two-term president.

Lillian joined under the shadow of Christine, who mothered her whether Lillian wanted it or not.  Eventually, Lillian created her own identity with the crew,  serving in a variety of leadership positions.  At one time or another she has been crew historian, chaplain’s aide (with an excellent first devotion she designed for the beach), vice president of administration , president and crew guide.  It is a remarkable leadership story.

About the only thing more remarkable has been her activities with us.  As one of our most active members, she completed two of the advanced leadership courses offered for Venturing, went to Sea Base, backpacked the Appalachian Trail and tried her hand at plenty of new experiences, from caving to rock climbing.  During her tenure with the crew she also became our tie-dye expert.

She has been the recipient of the crew’s growth award and Officer of the Year.  She was inducted into the Corps of Discovery and she graduated this week from Irmo after completing the International Baccalaurete program.

It’s a fun and impressive resume.  But times have not always been fun for her while with the crew.  She had a bad habit of disappearing from us at times or not being where she was supposed to be, especially when she was with one or two other particular girls.  She always apologized though.  Her school work also has kept her away much of this year, missing outings that I know she dearly wanted to attend.

We have several young ladies who are environmentalists and Lillian is among them.  In fact, she might be the only one in our group who has spilled blood while in an outdoor conservation program.  Last summer she was accepted in the Student Conservation Association, which places young people in parks and national forests around the nation to do trail building and service projects.

When she returned, she carried an impressive wound on her hand which eventually required surgery.  Not from the miss of an ax or a sharpened stone but from the slip of a knife during lunch.

Lillian not only is one of our most accomplished leaders she’s also perhaps the only one to be named with a genuine Native American heritage.  According to her mom, she is part ____________.

When looking for a name for her, I was drawn by a particular Indian story.  Native Americans are connected to the environment in a way that westerners are not.  It is part of their spirituality.

As noted in a speech attributed to Chief Seattle, leader of the Suquamish Tribe in what is now Washington state:

..Teach your children what we have taught ours;
that the Earth is our mother.
Because everything that will happen to the Earth,
will also happen to the children of the Earth,
If men spit on the ground, it is on themselves that they are spitting.
Man did not weave the web of life; he is but a thread within it…

There is a Native American female legendary figure whose primary teachings were love, service and work.  I cannot think of a better model to use with Lillian’s career with the crew and her view of life.  So it is my honor tonight, Lillian, to award you the Quecha name Pachamama, which means, “Earth Mother.”



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