John Hartman – “Awanata” (2010)

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

To be eligible for naming, crew members must have been a registered Venturer and active for at least two years, held a leadership position or made a significant contribution to the crew and graduated from high school.

During this ceremony individuals are given their Indian names along with their English translations. The names may appear whimsical or have several 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 tonight with a plaque and their Indian nameplate, which they are to wear on their uniform.

I’d like to call our first recipient forward now, John Hartman.

John is the third member of the Hartman family to receive this honor, the first being Edward, then Cindy.

John has been a member with us for four years. One of the things I learned about John early on was that some things he likes and some things he doesn’t. He likes caving and backpacking and doesn’t especially like skiing or water sports.

I also learned that John is pretty much indestructible. He went with us on our Montana backpacking trip three years ago and his group crossed the Continental Divide twice. He never complains, just keeps plugging along, no matter how steep it is or long the trail.

Another thing I learned early about John is his intelligence. We have a lot of smart youth in this crew. Some win scholarships. Others, like John, seem to know the answer to anyone’s question.

John has served twice as quartermaster and took his job very seriously. He still does, in fact. I catch him every once in a while giving unsolicited advice to his sister Hope who currently occupies that post. John has completed the Venturing Leadership Skills Course and last summer completed Kodiak, our 50-mile Lake Murray war canoe trek and advanced leadership training during a cool week in July. John sat in front of me in the canoe so I can attest to the fact that he is a good paddler.

When it came time to name him I first settled on the name for strong, because John is unbelievably strong. Whether he is carrying a heavy backpack over the Rockies or paddling a giant canoe in unholy heat, John doesn’t quit.

But then I did some more research. I might tell all the youth at this point that although I don’t have a sweat lodge, as the ancient chiefs had, I spend a LOT of time mediating on a name. I may go through have a dozen and spend weeks or months sifting them over in my mind. Eventually, a name hits me and I know it is right. And so it was with John.

Native Americans had special legends and stories about certain animals. And one they revered was considered tough, wise, reliable, steady, intelligent, stubborn and very persistent. There were several famous Native American legends of this animal and eventually they became absorbed into a famous children’s tale about a race between two animals, one very fast and reckless, the other more methodical, persistent and intelligent. All of you, of course, know who won. I have no doubt that whatever course John pursues, he too will be a winner. I might also mention that this animal has a special place in this crew, which long ago named one of its favorite meals after this creature. It is my honor, John, at this time, to award you the Native American name Awanata, which means, Turtle.


Comments are closed.