By E. Medosch
It’s awards season, and though there were neither paparazzi nor a red carpet at The Grand last Thursday night, the ceremony there that evening was no less thrilling than the Oscars.
The Long Beach Area Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) annual recognition dinner honored the work of those caring, responsible, ethical individuals who contribute to their neighborhoods and to the world at large.
There are some notable statistics regarding the Long Beach Area Council Boy Scouts of America. Master of Ceremony Jim Jeffery noted that this particular Council is the third largest in the United States. It’s been operating and assisting young people, adults and the Long Beach community for 90 years¬– which means that the BSA began in Long Beach less than ten years after the American Boy Scouts program was first organized.
At the recognition banquet, awards given were to those who’d earned, through diligent effort, the rank of Eagle Scout. Other awards were given for merit, heroism, commitment to the ideals and programs of the Boy Scouts (called the Silver Beaver Award), earning masters degrees in ongoing studies, and longevity of service. Ralph Bustram, for example, has been a member of BSA for 75 years. Bustram, along with Don McMacken and Steve Greving (with 40 years and 45 years, respectively) received the BSA Veterans Award. Though McMacken could not attend (he is serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan), he sent a special gift for each of the five Silver Beaver Award recipients.
Left to right, Valerie Adams, Albert Guerra, Bob Huss and Elsie Tuala
The Silver Beaver award is given to the adult volunteers who offer “noteworthy service of exceptional character to youth.” The five recipients of the award include Cal Heights resident Albert Guerra, Valerie Adams, Bob Huss, Denise Rainier and Elsie Tuala. Each of the five received a medal depicting a Silver Beaver, a commendation from 7th District Councilmember Tonia Reyes Uranga (who was in attendance) and a special American flag that was sent from Afghanistan by McMacken. The flags had each flown over the U.S. Army base in Kabul.
The Certificate of Merit for Heroism was given to Deirdre Atkinson, who, after scout safety training, saved her brother’s life by using the Heimlich maneuver.
As for the Eagle Scouts themselves, those who earn that rank account for approximately two percent of all boy scouts nationwide. They must complete a rigorous program, earning 21 merit badges, taking leadership training and assisting in community service projects. At the awards dinner, the Eagle Scouts received a standing ovation from a packed house. The group was the largest number of Eagle Scouts to be selected in the history of the BSA Long Beach Area Council. Jeffery told them how to wear their prestigious new badge. “Wear it humbly,” he said, “over your heart, not on your sleeve. And put back into scouting as much as you have received.”
So while Hollywood was handing out golden statuettes to movie stars, the real winners in Long Beach were the men and women, young and old, who’d given much of themselves to make Long Beach, and the world, a better place for everyone.
For more information about scouting, call the BSA Long Beach Area District Council office at (562) 427-0911.