Mandi Lesslie – “Amitola” (2008)

Mandi has been with us longer than any other active member, since 2003. She’s also a former treasurer of this group and one of my longest-serving pen pals.

I noticed her emails right away because they have always had interesting signatures: “So I’m a girly-girl; So I like pink. Get over it.” or “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Then there’s the one she’d rather forget, “I’m the blondest-brunnette you’ll ever meet.”

Now in case any one of didn’t understand that last one, let me read some excerpts from some of her emails over the years: “I’m no longer sure if I’ll come. It’s midnight right now and I have an essay to write, so who knows how long it’ll take. Hopefully, I can go to sleep in an hour or so tired, so tired. I hope I can come. See you tomorrow. Or later today, technically, maybe.

Ok, I know this is really bad considering I’m part of the crew and an officer, but I don’t know where the cookout is. This is probably because I missed the officers meeting on account of the beach but yeah.”

Or “I just realized, we had an officer’s meeting on Saturday didn’t we. I’m so sorry. I totally forgot and went to my friend’s house.”

Actually, those emails don’t give an accurate picture of this young lady, who has been unwavering in her devotion to this program and staying active despite a series of evil bosses who kept interfering with her plans to join us on various outings.

More seriously, a few months ago I asked the crew to write me their response to the question of what Venturing has meant to them. In all of my years in Scouting, I have yet to see anything come close to the beautiful words she wrote:

“It’s not venturing I like. What I mean is,while I love going camping and,thanks to venturing, whitewater rafting is one of my favorite activities,the program isn’t my favorite thing about venturing. what I like is what venturing has done to me. when I joined venturing,I was this shy little thirteen-year-old that didn’t speak,that didn’t take part in things,that got nervous if one person looked at her. I didn’t feel very included in venturing,except on outings,and it was only the inclusion on the outings that kept me coming. eventually,I started opening up to people.I found ways to involve myself,and I learned to speak up when something needed to be said.venturing gave me took awhile, but it came. I feel better about myself than I ever did before venturing. where I once shied away from responsibility, I now long for it.where I was once afraid of failing,I now have a thirst to prove I can succeed. that’s what venturing has done for’s given me self-confidence,and self-respect. it’s pushed me to my limits,and shown me that I can break past them,and that’s why I love venturing.that’s what I’ve always loved about venturing: that not only does it give me something to look forward to each week,but it gives me something I can take away and spread to someone else.”

One of the things I have always done when I spot Mandi is smile. At times she has asked me if I am laughing at something she has done or laughing at her. She does get into some interesting situations that can be amusing. But the truth is I smile because she brings a lot of happiness and joy to others.

When it came time to choose a name for her I was tempted by choices such as the Indian word for ‘talks a lot’ since Mandi is a very social lady. But in the end I was drawn to a name that simply describes what I see each time I look at Mandi. So it is my honor tonight to award you the Native American name ‘Amitola,’ which means Rainbow.


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