COMMITTED TO SCOUTING
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
Each winter, caves appear just beneath Anthony Lakes' snowscape.
The snow caves are not carved for emergency purposes but by Boy Scouts participating in the annual Klondike Derby at Anthony Lakes.
Judges evaluate the snow caves at the Klondike competition.
All remnants of the snow caves, of course, disappear as winter evolves into spring. The snow structures lack timelessness, unlike the lessons taught by the scout leaders who oversaw their construction.
Scout leaders like Bob Carter of La Grande.
Carter is the Boy Scouts' district commissioner of the Northeast Oregon region. He is also one of the most respected Boy Scout leaders in Northeast Oregon.
For proof look no further than a list of recent winners of the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor a Boy Scout volunteer can receive. Carter received scouting's highest salute in 2002 after serving as a Boy Scout leader for 22 years, the past 10 as district commissioner, a volunteer position.
"I really appreciated it. It was nice to be recognized,'' Carter said.
Jerry Brookshire, a local Boy Scout volunteer, believes that nobody is more deserving of the honor.
"He sets the bar for morals and ethics. He is a phenomenal individual, kind, caring and compassionate,'' said Brookshire, who earlier served as the Northeast region executive for the Boy Scouts.
Carter has played an important role in the development of scouting in Northeast Oregon. For example, he helped start the annual winter Klondike Derby at Anthony Lakes about 20 years ago. The event is a competition in which scouts test their skills in events in things such as fire building, crevasse crossing and map and compass work. All of this is done while the scouts are snow camping.
Carter likes serving as a scout leader in part because it gives him a chance to see boys develop confidence in themselves. He cited rock climbing trips he has accompanied scout troops on as an example. On some of these trips rock climbers have to rappel down the sides of rock faces.
"Some have have never rappelled before. They are scared to death,'' Carter said.
Often the fear in their eyes is soon replaced with a look of confidence.
"All of a sudden they develop a lot of courage in one afternoon,'' Carter said.
Whether rock climbing or hiking, Carter finds it easier to get the attention of youths when they are on extended trips and have fewer distractions.
"When they know they won't be home for a week they tend to learn a few more things,'' Carter said.
Ventures Carter has made with scouts include three 50-mile hikes. Two were made in the Wallowas and one was made along the Washington coast in Olympic National Park. The hike on the Washington coast was among the most memorable of Carter's scouting trips.
The stretch of coast line is covered with rocks thatjet out along the coast. Hikers have to wait for the tide to recede before they can go around some of the rocks.
"It was a very nice trip but I'd rather hike in the mountains,'' Carter said.
Mountain hiking is one of Carter's hobbies. Two weeks ago he and Eric Valentine of La Grande hiked 130 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail from Lake of the Woods to Willamette Pass.
Valentine is a former longtime scoutmaster and is now a local scout volunteer. He believes Carter's contributions to scouting have been invaluable.
"Without Bob's enduring commitment to the well-being of the Eastern Oregon District, we would have floundered on a regular basis. He has always been available to plug holes before the dam burst, so to speak,'' said Valentine in a letter supporting Carter's Silver Beaver nomination.
Valentine is a retired Union County Circuit Court judge.
Carter has worked closely with Valentine and other scout leaders on many projects including the training of adult scout leaders. Carter said that the objective when training scout leaders is to show young people how to lead themselves.
"You want to develop boy-led troops. You want to teach (the scouts) to be leaders,'' Carter said.
Carter admits that sometimes it's hard to resist the temptation to step in as an adult leader when a challenge arises. Carter said that ultimately it is best to give the young scouts the opportunity to tackle challenges head on.
Scouts also take notable leadership roles when completing their Eagle projects. Carter has served in advisory capacity for many scouts completing their Eagle projects. In La Grande, scouts in recent years have done everything from install shelters, lights and benches at parks, to put in sprinkler systems at churches.
The community service nature of Eagle projects has long impressed Carter.
"The big thing is to get scouts to serve the community. They focus their energy on serving others,'' Carter said.
Completing an Eagle project is is a labor-intensive, time-consuming task. This explains why nationwide a small percentage of those who join the Boy Scouts go on to become Eagle scouts.
"It involves a lot of work for a young man,'' Carter said.
Carter advises scouts to take a long-term perspective when tackling their Eagle project.
Carter moved to La Grande from Oakridge in 1965. He became involved in scouting after his son, Scott, joined. Bob Carter did not intend to stay involved in scouting as long he has.
"I surprised myself,'' he said.
Carter earlier worked at Boise Cascade for 32 years before retiring. Now that he is stepping down as the Boy Scouts' district commissioner he plans to spend more time doing traveling with his wife Jeri. He will continue working as a Boy Scout volunteer when he's in La Grande, however. Carter has no plans to completely step away from scouting.
"Once you have been in it for 10 years it sticks with you,'' Carter said.
Whether he realizes it or not, leaving scouting is not an option for Carter.
"He's not going anywhere (to get away from scouting). We're not going to let him,'' Brookshire said.