Bryon Quebbeman, a La Grande Boy Scout volunteer who enjoys helping young people build snow shelters and life skills,

received a top honor Wednesday.

Quebbeman was awarded the 2018 Gene Palmer Eagle Within Award at the annual Friends of Scouting Breakfast. The honor is given annually to the top local adult Boy Scout volunteer.

Quebbeman said he was stunned to receive the award.

“I was very surprised,” he said. “Everyone kept it a secret.”

He is a bit perplexed about why he received the honor.

“There are so many people who do much more than I do,” Quebbeman said.

La Grande Boy Scout volunteer Eric Valentine said Quebbeman is very deserving of the award. He credits Quebbeman with being instrumental in the success of the annual Klondike Derby for Boy Scouts at Anthony Lakes. Quebbeman has helped put on the event the past 10 years and has directed it the last five.

“He is ‘Mr. Klondike,’” Valentine said.

The competitive derby is conducted at Mud Lake Campground across from the Anthony Lakes Ski Area. An average of about 50 Boy Scouts take part in the event each February. The Klondike Derby tests scouts’ snow shelter building, sled racing, wall climbing, knot tying and fire building skills.

“It teaches the boys so much to be out in the snow and the cold,” Quebbeman said.

The snow shelters made in conjunction with the Klondike Derby are snow caves that stay warm even when the temperature is below zero. The shelters provide a shield from wind and hold in the body heat generated by those while sleeping inside.

If the snow cave is built correctly, “the temperature hovers around 25 degrees (inside the shelter) no matter how cold it is outside,” Quebbeman said.

Quebbeman, who grew up in La Grande has been involved in scouting since he was in grade school and earned his Eagle rank, scouting’s highest, at the early age of 13.

He credits the organizational skills of his mother, Elva, who took care of much of the paperwork, with making it possible for him to reach the rank of Eagle when he was so young. He also said that his father, Hurshel, who served as the scoutmaster of his troup, was a major source of inspiration.

Quebbeman has gone on to help many boys reach the First Class rank, and some have gone on to reach the Eagle rank, including his sons Andy and Michael.

Throughout his tenure as an adult Boy Scout volunteer, Quebbeman said, he has strived to help as many boys as possible reach at least the rank of First Class.

“I just like helping them anywhere along the path,” he said.

See complete story in Friday's Observer