Recognition of Leadership and Impact: Jim Smith
Following dinner, on Saturday, September 30, 2023, attendees of the Fall Hike Weekend sat at the Buckskin Trading Post to recognize Jim Smith's life of service to Camp Read and the CRA.
Jim was recognized for helping get his staff off on the right foot as they started on our trails through life. He influenced all of those young men using “leadership by example” and setting the tone through mutual respect, teamwork, and camaraderie.
Because of his influence, they learned that a Camp Read Man should always do his best and never let another down!
Jim’s influence was so profound that he was responsible for getting five young men involved in Professional Scouting.
After several tributes to Jim, Ron Green read and presented the plaque to Jim.
John V. "Doc" Aliberto's Remarks
Tom Dietz proudly stood in for John who unfortunately could not attend.
John and Jim grew up in neighboring towns, John in Tarrytown and Jim in North Tarrytown. John was a scout in Tarrytown Troop 30, Jim in North Tarrytown Troop 11. They both attended Missouri Valley College and went into professional scouting.
John remembers Jim as the “Master of Camp Fire Program”. He recalls Jim working with the first Camp Ranger, Art Boland, on skits and fourth period games. (Many of these are recounted by Art and Jim on the Stories Page)
As John tells it, Jim thought we should bring some “culture” to the Camp so Jim and Art decided to do “Salfagio” starring: Art, Ira Feingold, and Roger Gallegan with Jim as MC. In later years Mickey Venuti replaced Ira. Salfagio was a mimic of a skit performed on the Ernie Kovacs TV show in the 1950’s. Art had the original song from the TV skit played on a 78 RPM record. Kovacs was a comedian, so this skit was far from “culture”.
They also tried enhancing “culture” with the “Klutz Ballet” which featured Peter Oberdorf (Petunia), Ira (Iris) and Art (Alfalfa). All dressed in toilet paper tutus and dancing to the Nutcracker Suite. Jim was the “Ballet Master” who would call out instructions as to what steps the “Ballerinas” should perform. All in good fun and for the entertainment of all.
John had a wool blanket that was over 100 years old and had belonged to his father-in-law. This type of blanket was used in certain regions of the country to display awards and to be worn at campfires. It is said to be the predecessor of the merit badge sash. John thought it most fitting that Jim had this blanket as a remembrance of their many days and years together. John sends his regards to all and a special thanks to Jim for being a lifelong friend!
John's 100-year-old wool scout blanket
Dick Trier's Remarks
Dick talked about becoming a staff member at Camp Read in 1963 as a provisional scoutmaster. Although he enjoyed his first three years in that role, it was not until he met Jim Smith that he truly began to understand how Scouting could be better served by helping home troop leaders have successful experiences at camp that could then help those leaders develop a great year-round program for their scouts.
Dick commented on Jim’s unique ability to recruit and develop a wonderful camp staff through his dedication, humor, and perseverance. As a camp commissioner under Jim’s leadership, he found that he could help home troop leaders meet the needs of all their scouts while making their stay at camp memorable. Dick shared a few memories of the years on staff with Jim, noting that many of those staff members are here still supporting Camp Read and honoring him.
It was through Jim’s example that he found that a career in professional scouting could help to develop more effective Scouting programs by recruiting and training excellent leadership for families and their children. After becoming a professional Scouter in 1969 he continued to work with Jim in Westchester Putnam Council for several years, enjoying his counsel, humor, and friendship. After working for the BSA for 43 years, retiring in 2001, Dick sincerely thanked Jim for his help in finding a career he loves.
Jim faces his staff as they honor him.
Bill Brucker's Remarks
Three People have made a significant and positive influence on my life; and Jim you are one of them.
I never dreamed that joining the Tomahawk Staff (back in 1966 I think) would have such a lasting impact on my life. During that time, I learned more about Principled Leadership and the Power of Teamwork than anywhere else. Leadership and Teamwork courses in college were just a review of what I learned at camp. And these skills have served me well throughout my career and personal life.
And Jim, you had everything to do with that.
What else I learned from you:
Power of Mentorship
Importance of Vision vs Goals: What’s a Goal without a Vision
Principle Based Decisions and Actions
Doing the Right Thing is more important than Doing It Right
Trust Yourself and Team
The Staff you built has largely become a Band of Brothers that have spanned the Years. Many of us are here tonight. We are all deeply in debt to you for Leadership, Mentorship and Most Important of All, your Friendship.
We are your Legacy and Living Proof that You Have Made a Difference!
Ron Green's Remarks
Before I speak about Jim’s influence on me, I wanted to talk about his influence on Ken D’Apice. Sadly, Ken passed away last year.
I have a picture from 1970 of Ken and Jim walking together at camp and Jim was talking to Ken and you could see Ken looking at him and looking up to him. Jim was a great mentor to Ken and influenced him. In fact after Jim was no longer at camp, it was Ken who continued Jim’s opening night program in the dining hall and led the songs Jim used to lead.
As for me, aside from being a friend, mentor and role model, Jim had a profound influence in two particular instances. The first one was my first day at Camp Read. I had been forced, against my wishes, to go to camp. I was actually thinking about quitting the Boy Scouts. Then I got to camp and the first night in the dining hall Jim led the program. He set the tone for the camp and led two songs after dinner and I was hooked, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I went into professional Scouting almost right after camp in 1980.
The second time Jim had a major impact was not just about my career, but about my entire life. I was the Scout Executive in Princeton, New Jersey and had been asked to interview for the Scout Executive position in Columbus, Ohio. It would be a major move to an area I knew almost nothing about. It meant uprooting my whole family. I was having a personal crisis about it. Jim lived in Brick, New Jersey and I called him for advice. Jim invited me to come visit to discuss the situation. He did research on Columbus and shared it with me. He was a great source of comfort, strength, and information. After visiting with Jim, I accepted the interview and got the job, and everything turned out well. It changed the trajectory of my career and was good for my family. Today our lives are completely different and better thanks to Jim’s advice and that move.
James J. Smith
Creator of Camp Read Culture of
Quality Program and Camaraderie
In Grateful Appreciation for your Leadership,
Mentorship, Influence and Impact in Developing
Professional Scouters and Camp Staff Members
Presented by the
Camp Read Association
September 30, 2023