Doing a “Good Turn” to others isn’t something new to Lyle resident Rick Denis. He’s been practicing the scouting slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily” since the age of 7, when he began scouting in The Dalles.
It was this dedication to the Boy Scouts of America and his volunteerism to others that recently earned him the “Silver Beaver Award,” the highest award given in the scouting program. Recipients don’t seek the award, they have to be nominated.
Rick was nominated by the Mid-Columbia Scouting District, one of 16 districts in the Cascade Pacific Council which is based in Portland. Each district can nominate up to three individuals, the Mid-Columbia district nominates one to two people annually. The Mid-Columbia district serves scouts west to Cascade Locks and Stevenson and east to Rufus and Goldendale. It takes in the counties of Hood River, Skamania, Klickitat, Wasco and Sherman. This year, 23 individuals were presented the Silver Beaver Award during the Cascade Pacific Council’s Court of Honor held on Feb. 26 in Damascus, Ore.
The medal consists of a three dimension silver beaver pendant suspended from a blue and white ribbon worn around the neck. Recipients may wear the corresponding patch of a square knot, with a silver strand over a blue strand, on their uniform
“It really was quite an honor,” Rick said of the award and ceremony.
Rick began his scouting career under the tutelage of his father and scout master Lawrence Denis (who earned his Silver Beaver Award in 1967). His older brothers were also Eagle Scouts. Rick earned his Eagle Scout Award in 1967 and then went on to become an Explorer.
Rick has served as a Cub master, Webelos leader and committee member for Pack 398. Later, he was assistant Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster, committee chairman and Charter Representative of Troop 398 and Pack 312. He was a first assistant Scoutmaster during the 1993 National Jamboree and has served the Mid-Columbia District as a trainer, unit commissioner and membership chair.
As current charter representative for Pack 312, which serves boys in the Lyle, Dallesport and Wishram areas, Rick serves as the connection between the pack and its sponsoring club – in this case the Lyle Lions Club. Generally speaking, a sponsoring organization provides scouts with a meeting place and helps them financially.
“We have a real good relationship between the Lions and the scouts,” he said. “Our club, for example, is paying for “Boys Life,” a monthly scouting magazine, for all Pack 312 scouts. In turn, the Cub Scout Pack helped collect for the Lions annual Christmas Food Baskets. This year, we helped 88 families, 320 individuals.”
After serving the scouts voluntarily for years, in January 2015, the Cascade Pacific Council hired Rick as a part-time District Executive. In that role, he does administrative work, fundraising and is in charge of new pack formation.
Currently there are two types of scouting packs – traditional and LDS units. The Mormons brought scouting into the church as a youth program for boys many years ago. Currently White Salmon has an LDS cub scout pack, boy scout troop and venturing crew.
“A goal of mine for spring 2015 is to create a pack in White Salmon,” Rick said, noting this will be a traditional pack for boys ages 6 to 10. The United Methodist Church has already agreed to charter a new pack, as it has done in the past. An organizational meeting will be coming later in the spring.
“Volunteers will be needed as much as kids,” Rick said.
He added the effort is also continuing in the White Salmon area to recruit boys ages 11 to 18 for a White Salmon Troop. The American Legion has agreed to be this troop’s charter organization.
In his other life, Rick served in public education for 42 years, working as an elementary and middle school teacher and administrator primarily in The Dalles. He’s also done substitute teaching throughout the Gorge, including at Whitson Elementary School in White Salmon before fully retiring in December 2014.
Rick and his wife, Linnea, raised two sons, Ryan and Marc, who have also become Eagle Scouts. Rick has served as an elder and parish president for Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hood River, and with his wife and others headed up efforts to keep Vacation Bible School available for many years.
He is a member of Lyle Lion’s Club and serves as vice president and was awarded the Melvin Jones Fellowship from the Lions for service to the community.
Rick wants any boy interested in scouting to contact him at either 971-337-5916 or rick.denis @scouting.org.
Boy Scouts may also contact Scout Master David Roth at 493-0444 or david-roth @live.com.