A former St. Helena Troop 1 Scoutmaster has been honored for his outstanding contribution to the Boy Scouts.
Griffith received the Scouts’ Silver Beaver Award on Saturday during a ceremony in Walnut Creek.
The award is the highest honor a Scouting council can bestow on an adult volunteer. Previous winners of the award who were associated with Troop 1 include Robert Darter, DeWitt Garlock and Gregory Hunter.
“Next to being an Eagle Scout, this is probably the most enjoyable recognition I’ve ever gotten,” said Griffith, who moved from Angwin to Occidental a few years ago.
Griffith has been involved in Scouting for 60 years. His late father, a Scoutmaster and district commissioner who Griffith described as “my hero,” inspired him to become a Scout and achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in 1960, two days before his 15th birthday.
“The core activity of my life has been my Scouting experience,” he said.
Griffith said his life is full of lessons about the value of Scouting.
When he was drafted into the Army in 1968, he and the other Eagle Scout in his training battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina were named acting platoon leaders. When they graduated from basic training, they were both able to skip a rank.
His status as an Eagle Scout got him appointed to a staff position, which prevented him from being shipped off to Vietnam. He spent the rest of his three years in the Army teaching recruits how to read and working in the finance corps at Fort Bragg.
Having learned the proper treatment of the American flag as a Scout, Griffith was chosen to serve on color guard during military funerals for soldiers killed in Vietnam.
“Once I handed a flag to a widow, and once I handed it to a mother,” he said. “That totally changed my attitude about the American flag. One of the greatest things that Scouting does is teach good citizenship and respect for the American flag.”
Upon leaving the Army, Griffith was hired to work for Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems – based on, once again, his status as an Eagle Scout.
Griffith went on to lead St. Helena’s Troop 1 from 2007 to 2012, leading as many as 30 Scouts. The troop received the Silver Unit Achievement Award from the Mt. Diablo/Silverado Council in 2011, and Griffith earned the Unit Leader Merit Award in 2012. With the help of his wife Mary, he has also chaired the council’s annual wine auction for the last few years.
Griffith has maintained a connection with Troop 1. A few of the Eagle Scouts from Griffith’s tenure remain close friends with him, and in July, at age 74, he will accompany Troop 1 on a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, covering 62 miles over 10 days.
“If I can come back from Philmont and physically feel good, I will be very happy,” he said.
“I’ve had two employers look at me and say, ‘You’re still a Boy Scout.’ And I say, ‘You’re right.’”