Mrs. Tami Leonhardt – “Ahyoka” (2015)

The Venture Crew 312 naming ceremony is borrowed from Native Americans, who used to bring braves before a council of chiefs when they reached a certain age and awarded them names, which the tribe forever more used in referring to them.

To be eligible for naming, at a minimum crew members must have been a registered Venturer and active for at least the past two years, held a leadership position and made a significant contribution to the crew and graduated from high school.  That is the minimum.  That doesn’t mean someone who qualifies is automatically named.  Naming is an honor we bestow upon those whose time with us deserves special recognition.

During this ceremony, individuals are given their Indian names along with their English translations.  The names may appear whimsical or have multiple meanings.  Each is chosen because it reflects a crew member’s essence, what makes them special to us.

Named members are forever listed on our crew website, have a lifetime membership in the crew and are presented with a plaque and their Native American nameplate, which they are to wear on their uniform.

I’d like to now call forward our first recipient, Tami Leonhardt.

As you can see, not all our recipients are youth.  And this honor is long overdue.

Of course, I had to trick Tami into coming by asking her to help present some Sea Base awards.  Because I knew if I asked for her help, she would be there. She’s like that.

Tami has been with us since 2011.  She joined along with her son Nick, who would eventually become an Eagle Scout at Troop 95.  Nick became our treasurer then focused on Eagle, marching band and girls, not necessarily in that order.

Tami stayed active with us until recently, when she bowed out to devote more time to her parents.

Along the way with us, Tami was a regular on trips and helped chaperon our last Kodiak expedition on Lake Murray, a week-long war canoe and leadership training adventure we hold in July; and last summer’s trip to Florida Sea Base, a week-long sailing journey in the Florida Keys.

Both of these trips were actual adventures.  Things don’t always go as planned.  We ran into some fear and trepidation by Mormon women at Camp Barstow during our Kodiak trip and Tami was our only female.

On our Sea Base trip we were robbed in Fort Lauderdale and we had to ride out a pretty bad storm at sea.

None of that wiped the smile off of Tami’s face, which is pretty constant, as is her laughter, one of the nicest sounds you’ll ever hear.

She has one of the largest smiles in the universe and also one of the largest repositories of energy. She is naturally caffeinated.

When we went backpacking last year on a coastal section of the Palmetto Trail, we stopped for a rest and two people were missing.  Tami and another youth were out front and setting a fast pace and saw no need to stop.  And this was after recent foot surgery.

When we went on our annual waterfall trip over Labor Day weekend, it was no surprise to see Tami climb the cliff to jump over Quarry Falls.  She loves adventure just as much as any of the youth.

It’s just very difficult to keep her down or hold her in one place.  When we went to Sea Base, her husband and older son were moving him to Texas.  Nick was in Columbia.  Tami celebrated her birthday at sea with us.

And that is the way she is.  She is a blur of motion but willing to share herself with you at a moment’s notice.  She is incredibly encouraging to our youth, always friendly, always giving.  Her heart and her smile are her essence.

When it came time to think of a name for her, I was tempted by several choices.  There was she who will not let anyone paddle in front of her, which I thought was appropriate.

Of course, the Indians were not familiar with caffeine.  So no names for the one with the energy of the sun.

I also was tempted to name her after a fish.  Because she certainly swam like one at Sea Base, darting everywhere to see the latest discovery by some of the youth when we snorkeled.

I also didn’t see an Indian name for the competitor.  If you have ever played a game with Tami you know that she does not see it as a game.  When we played a friendly game of ping pong in Sea Base, she became a little obsessed.  Apparently she has had quite a lot of practice at that with her family.

And then I ran across a Cherokee name that seemed to get at her essence.

So tonight, Mrs. Leonhardt,  I am honored to bestow you with the Cherokee name, AHYOKA, which means she brought happiness.


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