Mrs. Michele Gibson – “Shima” (2008)

I can tell you that while many people might like to stand here while someone extols their virtues in front of an audience, Mrs. Gibson is not one of them. In fact, I can assure you she is feeling uncomfortable right now. She far prefers being out of the spotlight and leaving the accolades to someone else.

But her time has come.

Mrs. Gibson has been in Venturing 7 years, joining in 2001 with her daughter, Ali, then an eighth-grader who was recruited by a former president of ours one day at school.

There were some lonely days during her first year with us, as we were trying to build our crew up. Some meetings it was just the three of us. But eventually they came. And those who joined came to love Mrs. Gibson.

My own daughter, who had then moved to North Carolina, told me after meeting her two things about her that have been repeated by countless youth: She was in incredibly good shape and as a youth leader, she was ‘awesome.’

You see, teenagers, like pets, instinctively know when adults like them or not. And they knew right away that Mrs. Gibson liked teenagers. Of course she had a lot of practice. She is the mother of four kids, three of them girls. Two of them joined our crew. And she spent many years employing teens at the restaurants where she worked. She forgot more about how to manage youth than most youth leaders ever learn.

Some youth couldn’t get enough of her. One former young man was so starstruck by her than he would almost curl up in her lap. On one outing his mom was a chaperone and she walked up as he was sitting beside Mrs. Gibson, his head on her shoulder. Mrs. Gibson told him that his mom was there. He looked up at her for a second then then turned his head back to her shoulder.

Mrs. Gibsson’s fitness has long been a hit with the crew, except for her daughters. She would wake up early on a campout and urge others to go with her on a morning jog. Not something the advisor ever did ‘ or Ali.

And for all those of you in the crew that think you are a firebug, Mrs. Gibson is the original. I remember one trip to Edisto Beach when the park had forbid us to build fires. ‘Just a couple of sticks’ she would say as she lit a match. Then one stick led to another and well, Mrs. Gibson can’t be stopped with fire.

For more than five years she served as the chief female adult in this crew, attending almost every meeting and going on most of the outings. She was so committed to this group that in 2005, when we were scheduled to go to Sea Base in Florida, she volunteered to be one of the adults on a sailboat ‘ even though she cannot swim.

Even when she stopped being a regular advisor to start a restaurant business with her husband, Mrs. Gibson did not give up on Scouting. For three years she coordinated the Cub Scout Haunted Forest at Camp Barstow, where 800 Cubs and their parents come each year to have fun in a variety of events. She has no child that was Cub Scout age. But she agreed to lead the event anyway.

For her leadership in Venturing, she was recognized in 2006 with the national Venturing Leadership Award.

When it came time to think of a name for her, we were sorely tempted by the Indian name for the ‘restless one,’ since she has a hard time sitting still. But given what she has meant to dozens of youth, there really was only one name to select. You see years ago, a former president of the crew, who had a crush on one of her daughters and not-so-secretly wanted to be adopted into the family, started calling her ‘Mama G.’ Well, he never did get adopted. That’s a whole nother story. But the name stuck, because every youth who has ever known her as a youth leader, a friend of one of her daughters or worked for her has looked at her as a mom.

So it is my honor tonight to award you the Navajo name, Shima, which means, ‘Mother.’


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