PILOT MOUNTAIN — Longtime Boy Scout leaders Ray Lambert and Jason Smith were honored with the District Award of Merit Tuesday night when the Dogwood District of the Boy Scouts of America held its 2012 Annual Recognition Banquet.
The banquet was held in the fellowship hall of the First United Methodist Church in Pilot Mountain.
In recognizing Lambert, retired Senior District Executive Phillip Thompson noted that the District Award of Merit is the highest level award on the district level.
“It isn’t better than any other award necessarily, but it’s certainly an honor to be a recipient,” Thompson said.
Lambert has been in scouting for more than a quarter-century and has served as assistant scout master, scout master, troop committee chair and was a member of the district Eagle Scout Review Board.
Walking to the stage to accept the award, a visibly moved Lambert seemed surprised at the standing ovation offered by the 120 scouts, scout leaders and officials in attendance.
“Thank you,” he said succinctly. “This is an honor and I really appreciate it.”
Smith signed up as a scout leader when his son joined a Cub Scout pack nine years ago.
Now that his son is a member of the Boy Scouts, Smith serves as assistant scout master, committee chair and advisor for the district’s Adventuring Crew.
He was tapped as co-scout leader of the year last year and was named a member of the Order of the Arrow of Wahissa Lodge #118 in 2010.
Fighting back tears, Smith told the crowd that “situations” prevented him from being a Boy Scout himself.
“I appreciate everything scouting has done for me (since becoming involved),” he said. “I wasn’t in scouting, so this is a chance for me to fulfill my dreams through my son.”
District Activities Chair Donnie Diamont presented Elizabeth Cashatt with the Cub Scout Leader of the Year Award, while Scoutmaster Phillip Hart was named the Boy Scout Leader of the Year during the banquet.
The guest speaker for the evening was Bradley Taylor, the chief of the Order of the Arrow Wahissa Lodge and chairman of the National Order of the Arrow Conference Museum.
Taylor, who is a senior with a double major at High Point University, told the crowd that scouting is about more than learning to tie a knot and camping trips.
“What is scouting?” he asked. “I was never pressured to get involved in the scouting movement, but my family knew how it could change my life.”
Taylor said scouting is about “adventure, learning, challenges and responsibility.”
“The promise of scouting is this and more,” he said. “I can say to all the scouts out there that there is one thing to know: You can achieve greatness only by seeking out a purpose with the end goal in mind. If you know what you want, you can achieve it. But you have to have a purpose.”
Taylor said the most important skill he has learned is “servant leadership.”
“Be one who is first among equals, putting the needs of the group ahead of his own needs,” he said. “Know that by putting the needs of the group ahead of your own, people can work together to achieve the greatest success.”
He said scouting has laid the foundation for service to others.
“When I think about scouting, I think about leadership, cheerful service and optimism,” he said. “As a senior at High Point University, I may just be beginning my life, but scouting has given me the skills necessary to recognize and fulfill opportunities.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.