Santa Paula Times

Former Scouts were on hand to honor their Troop 307 leader Kay Hara (right) when he received the Boy Scouts of America National Hall of Leadership plaque from Garrett Wilkinson (left). (Photo by Jeremy Anderson)

Dr. Kay Hara honored with Boy Scouts inclusion in National Hall of Leadership

May 06, 2011
Santa Paula News

A dedicated former Scout leader was honored Saturday with inclusion in the Boy Scouts of America 100th Anniversary National Hall of Leadership (NHL). Dr. Kay Hara of Santa Paula joins 300 recipients of the award nationwide, each representing a Boy Scouts Council. His inclusion in the NHL for the Ventura County Council was recognized April 30 during the Camp-o-Ree held at Camp Willett near Ojai.

According to the BSA website, the NHL “is not a hall or building in the traditional sense, but its purpose is just as significant. The National Hall of Leadership provided an opportunity for anyone to recognize outstanding leadership by a Scout, registered leader or Scouting volunteer who made a significant difference in the life of another by the extraordinary service they have given and the Scouting virtues they have modeled.”

The NHL was created as part of the 100th anniversary celebration to “gather these powerful stories and share the significant and positive impact Scouting leadership has on the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

More than 7,000 nominations were received nationwide, and all nomination stories will be part of the BSA 100th Anniversary archive at the National Scouting Museum. One individual was selected from each council to represent all the nominees of their council and the gift of leadership given by the Scouts and Scouters of that council to the communities they serve each year.

Garrett Wilkinson “led the charge” in nominating Hara, who he called “an unsung hero of scouting” in Santa Paula. From 1984 through 1990, Hara was the Scoutmaster for Troop 307 in Santa Paula and “arguably the best Scoutmaster in Ventura County Council,” whose influence on the dozens of boys in his troop was profound and lingering.

Wilkinson said Hara mentored eight Eagle Scouts, numerous repeat staffers at the Camp Three Falls, and “a highly involved cadre of Arrowmen. But the real story did not become evident until years later,” when Hara’s former Scouts grew to be “a fascinating collection of lawyers, mechanics, teachers, coaches, architects, nurses, soldiers and law enforcement officers - quite a broad spectrum of people - and to a man, they all agree: The men that we are today all owe Kay Hara a debt that cannot be repaid.”

Wilkinson said Hara “had a tremendous impact on my growth as a person, as a citizen.... Scouts can do exceptionally well if they have exceptional leadership,” and he and others were “incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Hara as our Scoutmaster.”

Wilkinson noted he and other Scouts had other mentoring figures in their upbringings, “the usual collection of relatives, coaches, and teachers and so on. But all of us hold Kay Hara in a place of higher esteem” as “an incredible role model.”

An active outdoorsman, “knowledgeable in many things, yet soft spoken and humble,” Wilkinson said his troop was a “hiking troop; the Los Padres National Forest and the High Sierras were our playground.” Under Hara’s guidance, the troop acquired a reputation for solid Scouting skills and exploring the limits of what Scout troops could do at that time, such as rock climbing and rappelling.

Wilkinson said Hara took to heart the Scout mantra to be prepared, and his medical skills - Hara is a podiatrist - were sometimes required: “He once pulled over eighty cactus spines out of my legs while we were camping on Anacapa Island. And he was incredibly patient... he let us make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.”

Notable also was Hara’s modesty: “He never sought the limelight” and, Wilkinson said, “This accolade is an opportunity to acknowledge his profound contribution to so many men.”

And the next generation of boys: a former Hara Scout, Leo Genet is a leader of Troop 302; and Wilkinson, now a resident of Orange County and a Scouting volunteer, has a 6-year-old son Tommy who in a few months will become a Tiger Cub.

There were several hundred Boy Scouts and leaders in the audience when Wilkinson presented Hara with the award, including former 307 Troop members Jeremy Anderson, Dan Barrows, Leo Genet, and Kay’s son Mark Hara. Kay’s wife Shirley also attended, as did former Assistant Scoutmasters Andy Anderson, Jeremy’s father, and Steve Rogers.

Bagpipers offered musical accompaniment as Kay, touched by the efforts of his past Scouts, walked offstage. Afterwards, “We all met up at Zapparelli’s in Santa Paula, where we held an impromptu Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Jeremy - better 22 years late than never! - and watched a video presentation” of circa 1980s troop photos.

Wilkinson said Hara was also presented with a U.S. flag that was flown from the USS Constitution in his honor. The display case for the flag was “engraved with the names of the 75 Scouts who had been in the troop during his tenure as Scoutmaster.”

According to the BSA website, “Our communities are better places to live, work, and play because of leadership - expressed in extraordinary acts of service - by Scouts, Scouters, and Scouting volunteers over generations.”