Robert Averett had no idea he was receiving a special award from the Boy Scouts of America, honoring him for 70 years of service and participation on March 14. He was presented with a bronze statue of Robert Baden-Powell, who was the founder of the scout movement in 1907.
"We thought Bob had been in scouting for 65 years but we learned he had joined 70 years ago," said District Commissioner Mike Taylor, who presented the award. "It's an amazing thing to be involved in such a great service in the community for so many years. He has served in many different positions through the years and is a great example of someone who has been dedicated and committed."
Averett began his lifetime of scouting when he joined the Blazer Scouts in Aurora at age 9. His father had died in a tractor accident near their farm in Springville when Robert was just 5 years old, so he spent the summers with his Uncle Ray and Aunt Jane.
"Aunt Jane had a saying that an idle mind was the devil's workshop so she kept me hard at work, but she was always good to me," Averett said. "Aurora had a population of about 600 in the 1940s and our scout cabin was on Main Street, a block away from the church house. I started as a Blazer Scout, and then I had Trekkers, then Guide Patrol. We had about a dozen boys and we had the best activities with our scoutmaster, Glen Burr. He told us we were the only boys he would ever have since he didn't have any sons. He had a big influence on all of us."
Averett has many memories of the summers spent with the Boy Scouts near Sevier. Hiking, fishing, camping and working on merit badges were some of his favorite activities.
"I remember the 14-mile hike for my Tenderfoot," Averett said. "Glen Burr drove us out into the valley until the odometer said 14 miles and told us to find our way home. It was quite a difficult hike because we had to cross the Sevier River, which ran through that valley."
In 1951, Averett left during his senior year to marry his high school sweetheart Pat. The young newlywed was asked to be the scoutmaster and lead boys just a couple of years younger than he was.
"That bishop in Richfield took on a chance on me asking such a young man to be the scoutmaster," Averett said. "I knew he trusted me and I tried to do my best and work hard. When I was transferred by J.C. Penney to Carbon County, in 1956, I was the scoutmaster for the Lion's Club in Price. Alvin Gaudio told me I should hurry and finish my Eagle award because the rules were going to change. I finished my 21 merit badges and got my Eagle when I was 29."
Averett took his scouts from Price to Camp Maple Dell as one of the first troops to attend the newly built camp in Payson Canyon.
The Averett family moved to Springville where Robert began a career in insurance. He continued serving in scouting in many positions, including as district commissioner and an archery instructor at the National Scout Jamboree.
"I've been given a chance by people who could see a bit of ability in me," he said. "I've done whatever is asked of me from being a merit badge counselor to helping with national jamborees. I know that I was trusted to be dependable and work hard and it also helped that I had a truck and could drive it up to camp."
"I don't think a boy or an adult can make the scout sign and repeat the motto and the oath and not stay true and right. Scouting is a good program because it has truth in it and it gives boys somewhere to belong."
When Averett talks about scouting, the words trust, true and hard work are often repeated. The values he learned from his family and his scouting experience were passed on to his three sons, who have also served in scouting.
John, his youngest son, started as a cub scout tagging along with his father. He has served as adult leader since 1990, when he became an assistant scout master. He is serving as a unit commissioner overseeing the varsity and venturing programs and providing training.
"My dad dangled the car keys in front of me and told me my 16th birthday was approaching and if I wanted to drive I better get my Eagle finished," he said with a laugh. "On Mother's Day of that year I got my Eagle and I've been serving in scouting ever since."
John Averett became an assistant scoutmaster at the age of 27 and accompanied his dad to Wood Badge, Philmont and two national jamborees. He continues to be influenced by his father, who will soon be 80 years old.
"He's my hero and I don't say that lightly. He, and my mother, taught me my work ethic, to give 100 percent to my employer and to whatever I am asked to do. I've done a lot with my dad over the years and as his health declined I would go with him, and his example of determination and love of scouting was very obvious."