Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Henry M. Jackson Heritage Auction
November 8, 2003

Good evening. I am honored to be here. Honored to be at this event whose namesake, “Scoop” Jackson, played such a significant role in the history of both Washingtons. And honored to have this opportunity to talk about scouting.

I have nothing but great memories of scouting.

It all started with a camping trip I took with my Aunt and Uncle when I was just five years old.

I will never forget the sense of awe I felt as we walked in the rain forest of the Olympic Peninsula. The thrill of standing beside a wild river waiting for a fish to strike. The feeling of being in another world, a beautiful world with all kinds of new sights and sounds and smells.

That camping trip fired me with an enthusiasm to explore the outdoors. But my parents ran a grocery store that was open seven days a week. They worked very long hours and worked very hard. No vacations, no time off. It was extremely difficult for my Dad to break away from the store and our family’s livelihood to take me camping. Knowing my interest in the outdoors, my parents urged me to join the Boy Scouts. I jumped at the chance.

More significantly, Scout leaders became an extended family – uncles and aunts and to a degree second dads.

I enjoyed scouting from the start. I felt the same sense of pride and accomplishment earning first class as I did achieving the rank of Eagle. I will never forget the look on my parents faces, beaming with pride at my Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

Very few young boys are involved in scouting. But I had more fun after I became an Eagle. I became active in the Order of the Arrow. Through all my high school and most of my college summers, I worked at Camp Omache (now Camp Pigott) in the Cascades.

Even now, many of my longest friends and most enjoyable memories are from my Scouting days.

I am immensely proud of my years in Scouting. And I am forever grateful for the guidance, values, camaraderie and fun I received, and for all that Scouting has helped me become.

Scouting has always been one of America’s most reliable developers of character and leadership. It teaches the ethic of service, and the discipline to get the job done.

And Boy Scout leaders have always been generous not just with their money –those treats to burgers, fries, and shakes, but with a far more precious resource --their time.

To millions of kids like me, that has made all the difference.

Today’s youth desperately need people to make a difference in their lives. Never have the pressures and challenges been greater.

The information explosion, an affluent society, and greater mobility make trouble easier to find. Pervasive pop-culture icons and pseudo-values make it easier for young people to believe they aren’t measuring up, aren’t cool enough, aren’t good enough.

Too often, kids today spend their free time with a video game, cable TV show, or Internet chat site. A drug or a gang or a street scene. And over-burdened, hard-working parents make individual attention and quality time more scarce. These are not good ways to become all that one can be.

The era of big government is over. Here in Washington, the number of state and local government employees per 1,000 residents is among the lowest in the country. Increasingly, we must rely on strong communities and non-profit organizations.

So scouting has never been more important. And it has never been more important to support programs like this that help young people.

Young boys—and now girls—learn many life lessons from Scouting. The American spirit of adventure and the gift of self-confidence. An abiding love of our environment. Compassion and caring toward others and the desire to help. Optimism, appreciation of diversity; and a lifelong commitment to service. And a sense of personal responsibility and self-discipline.

Scouting creates heroes. Not just those who perform death-defying acts of bravery, although scouts have been known to save the day and face danger to help others.

No, the truly valuable heroism scouting teaches is everyday heroism. The everyday heroism that makes a good and active citizen, day in and day out for the whole span of their lives. Reading books to children. Creating opportunities for other young people. Caring for neighbors. Speaking out for those who are unable or afraid to speak for themselves. Working on community projects. And building strong, safe and friendly neighborhoods.

Scouting trains the future leaders and everyday citizens we’ll need to make our country all that it can be in the years ahead.

Once a Scout, always a Scout. In my duties as a governor and as a dad, I rely heavily on those tried and true values and principles of Scouting. They serve as an invaluable guide to my actions and decisions. Scouts like me will be forever grateful to the Boy Scouts of America. And today’s scouts will be grateful to you for your support of the Mt. Baker Council. You are making a big difference, and an invaluable contribution to our youth and to our country. So bid high and often!

God Bless you, and have a great evening.

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