Honouring a Great Scouting Leader
Contributed by Scott Garner of the Stirling Alberta Stake
On May 25, 2013, Gordon Rice of Stirling, Alberta was recognized for 33 years of faithful service to LDS Scouting. One hundred and forty people crowded the Stirling Community Centre to show their gratitude and honour this great friend and Scouting leader.
Scouter Rice’s assistant leader of many years, Drue Pitcher, was the keynote speaker for the evening. He told several humorous and inspirational stories of their time together and explained the way in which Scouter Rice took a personal interest in each boy. He assisted them in planning, executing and recording their personal progress to earn merit badges and obtain their Chief Scout and Queen's Venturer awards. Scouter Rice would assign boys to work in teams to teach the concepts of scouting and at camps, they would practise those concepts and develop the applicable skills. He was also a great cook and taught the boys the art of cooking roast beef meals with all the trimmings over a campfire. This meal often included pineapple upside down cake for dessert. A duty roster was prepared and assigned at the start of each camp allowing each boy to assist with the chores without a moment of complaint.
Drue explained that Scouter Rice keenly understood that Scouting is based on fun and adventure, not just passing mandatory requirements without enjoying the full experience of being a boy. For example, rather than having a Scout carry a pack for 25 miles from one point to the other, he opted to put a fishing pole in the boy's hand and have him walk up and down the riverbank enjoying fishing while covering the same distance.
A letter sent to the organizing committee by former Scout Michael Hicken was read: “I didn’t realize at the time what a sacrifice it must have been for Scouter Rice to give that much of his personal time, when he had a young family of his own, he was building a new house, and maintaining a career. He is responsible for my receiving the Chief Scout award. He would meet with us monthly and get out his binder to track our progress. I am not sure if I would have had the focus or drive to reach this goal without his direction. I remember his even disposition on our camping trips. He never raised his voice, and yet managed to maintain order with a group of unruly 12-14 year olds. Scouter Rice is the finest example of selfless service that I can identify from my youth.”
Scouter Rice received a framed certificate of achievement and as a beautiful crystal etching presented by Joy Wilde, former Area Commissioner and last year's “On Your Honour” adult leader recipient. A standing ovation by everyone was a wonderful way of saying thank you to him.
After accepting the award, Scouter Rice acknowledged the positive aspects of Scouting and the impact it can have on youth. He expressed his gratitude to his family for this experience. He especially thanked and paid tribute to his wife for all her support and encouragement over the years. “She was always there to help dry out the tents and pack up all the equipment so it could be in shape for the next camp.”
The evening was a fitting tribute to an exemplary leader.