U.S. Army veteran Dale Clay served his country for 27 years, served in Scouting for more than 40 and has now has been awarded one of the highest honors Boy Scouts of America bestows on their registered volunteers – the Silver Beaver Award.
Clay became active in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in 1971 at age 13 and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1976. Clay was the first black Scout in El Campo to make Eagle Scout, and that means a lot to him.
“I’ve always made time for scouting, and being an Eagle Scout helped me when I entered the Army ,” Clay said.
As an Eagle Scout, Clay entered the U.S. Army as a Private First Class and said his scout training in map reading and first aid gave him a leg up on his military training.
Clay served as a helicopter mechanic in the Army for six years, making first sergeant and becoming an aviation maintenance manager for seven years before retiring from the military in 2005. During his tenure he was deployed to bases all over the world including Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Germany. While serving in the military he always found time to support scouting.
“When I was in Germany, I worked as a counselor for Boy Scouts and we’d canoe down the Rhine and camp in the countryside,” Clay said.
Graduating from El Campo High School in 1978, Clay earned his associate’s and bachelor’s degree while in the military, then achieved his master of business administration in human resource management from Columbia Southern University after retiring from military service.
El Campo Mayor Chris Barbee maintained a friendship with Clay and corresponded regularly with him while he was deployed. Barbee shared some of Clay’s stories in the Leader-News on occasion.
Clay’s service in scouting has won him accolades such as Scouter’s Training Award, Unit Leader Award of Merit, Commissioner Arrowhead Honor, Whitney M. Young Jr., Service Award, the Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow and a lifetime membership in the National Eagle Scout association.
Over the years Clay has been a Scoutmaster, unit commissioner, roundtable staff, assistant district commissioner, staff member at summer camps, merit badge counselor and as a member of the Council African American Committee on Scouting.
“On the Council African American Committee we are creating new initiatives to address diversity in Scouting, not just people of color, but girls in Scouting as well,” Clay said. “Girls like the Boy Scouts for the challenges. This is no slight to the Girl Scouts program, but they see the Boy Scouts as more challenging, and they like it,” Clay added.
Clay currently serves as Order of the Arrow chapter advisor and as waterloo district camping committee chair in the Austin area and is always working for diversity in scouting.
“I am the only black man in the Order of the Arrow,” Clay said of his chapter.
The order is an honor society of the BSA made up of Scouts that best exemplify the Scout Oath and law in their daily lives.
The Silver Beaver Award is a council-level distinguished service award given to Scouters who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council. It is the highest honor that a local council can bestow on a registered volunteer.
“I’ve had some great honors as a Scout. I’ve been to Houston Rockets and Oilers games and I’ve been to Detroit Redwings hockey games, but my biggest honor is having three Scouts from my troop become Eagle Scouts,” Clay said.
At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, Clay will receive the Silver Beaver Award at the Frank Fickett Scout Training and Service Center in Austin. Clay and his wife Patricia live in Hutto and have 10 children and 32 grandchildren.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.