As a representative of the Greatest Generation, with 83+ continuous years of active Scouting under his belt, Richard “Dick” Haas, affectionately known as “The Ancient One” (TAO) in NCAC, has reached a milestone few can claim this Father’s Day. With active Scouting roles for his Great-Grandsons and their Parents in Aquia District’s Pack 242 – Ronin as a Lion later this year and Stellan as a rising Wolf who just crossed over from Tigers – and TAO’s elder son’s active roles in NCAC Wood Badge leadership training and Aquia District Roundtables – TAO’s active Scouting legacy now stretches across 4 Generations of active Aquia District Haas Scouts & Scouters!!
There’s a Hebrew expression “Dor L’Dor” meaning “Generation-to-Generation” – Our family tree is filled with Scouts and Scouters who are proud to be among the living legacy to the leader of our band. We all want to wish TAO/Dad/Bonnka/Great-Grandpa a very Happy Father’s Day and express how proud we are of our Scouting Patriarch and Scouting Heritage! Happy Father’s Day to “The Ancient One” (TAO)!!
Who is TAO?
There aren’t a whole lot of active Scouters in NCAC who can compare with our TAO’s (Dad’s/Bonnka’s/Great-Grandpa’s) background as a WWII Navy Vet, awarded for life-saving heroism for actions after the war by rescuing the only two survivors from a bus which plunged into the East River in New York City (using Swimming & Lifesaving skills developed through both BSA and US Navy training), AND… AND (ready for this?!) TAO is a Scouter who actually shook the hand of the Founder of Scouting, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, at the Boy Scout encampment at the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens, NY when TAO was a 13-year old Boy Scout! He also met Dan Beard when TAO and his fellow Scouts stopped in at the Scouting Museum while hiking along the Palisades-Alpine Trail on the cliffs above the Hudson River in New Jersey. He also met “Green Bar” Bill Hillcourt, the Scouter who literally wrote the book on the Patrol Method, when Green Bar Bill was a Staffer on TAO’s Wood Badge Course in 1966. So, come on up and shake TAO’s hand and connect with this walking, talking, living history, should your Scouting Trails cross!
In a nutshell, our TAO’s continuous Scouting history is bracketed by meeting Baden-Powell in 1939 and earning Vigil Honors in the Order of the Arrow in 2019, where he earned the Vigil name “Tangitehewi Achgeketum” which translates as “Humble Teacher” = 80+ years of meritorious and noteworthy service! WOW! In 2013, friends and family honored him with a full-sized brick on the Camp Snyder Dining Hall flag patio.
Guess you can say my brother, Alan, and I were born into Scouting in Manhattan, New York City, as our Dad was Scoutmaster of Troop 712 when we were just wee lads. We went on many Troop campouts in all kinds of weather from the time we were about 5-years old until we were old enough to become Cub and then Boy Scouts in both Manhattan and later when we moved to Rockville Centre (RVC), NY. In RVC our Dad became our Scoutmaster again, this time of Troop 40, which turned out to have originally been Troop 1 back in 1910 (before having a lapse in its early chartering years) and this is the Troop that National BSA validated as having produced the first US Eagle Scout – Arthur Eldred. Proud Scouting history seems to find TAO! 😊
When our Dad would take Troop 712 to Summer Camp at Camp Nianque at Ten Mile River (TMR) Scout Reservation in upstate New York, Alan and I would live with our Mom in a wonderfully rustic (no bathroom or running water) cabin at Family Camp at the other end of Lake Nianque. We learned to “Be Prepared” as a way of life from both our Mom and Dad. Later, as Scouts we camped at multiple TMR Scout Camps, hiked the Red Dot Trail around that 26-thousand-acre Scout Reservation and eventually Staffed Summer Camp at Camp Ranachqua on that same Lake Nianque at TMR. When we had our own children, of course we got them and ourselves involved in Scouting – both in Girl Scouts and BSA. As parents, following TAO’s and our Mom’s, Rita’s, examples (Dick & Rita have been married for 64 years!), we got involved with our children in Scouting early on. Since that point, it’s been pretty much an all-hands on deck Scouting journey – our Parents spawned three successive generations of Scouts and Scouters in various Packs, Troops, Crew, Districts, Councils, Girl Scout and Summer Camp activities literally around the globe. A Scouting we will go, HEY!
The Legacy Continues…
TAO continues to inspire, train and impact untold numbers of Scouters and Scouts through his on-going servant leadership roles at monthly Aquia District Scouts BSA Roundtable breakout sessions and on NCAC Wood Badge and Aquia District Bear Claw leadership Courses’ Staffs. What’s Bear Claw? Another example of TAO’s legacy to Scouts across multiple generations. He started Bear Claw in his home District in New York before moving to Virginia and could have just let Bear Claw drop when he moved with his wife, Rita, to Virginia, but instead TAO brought it with him to share, planting new roots in Aquia District. So, his impact now also includes 30 years of Youth-led leadership training in New York and another 11 years (and counting) of Bear Claw in Aquia District. TAO has served on nine NCAC Wood Badge leadership courses and two National Jamboree Staffs. He’s been known to say: “I am entering my 83rd consecutive year in Scouting and am still learning. Keeps me young at heart!” He is active in his religious community at Beth Sholom Temple in Fredericksburg, VA and still golfs and fishes with his buddies from Falls Run.
Like ripples on the water from a powerful Scouting spirit dropped into our lake as a gift from the Great Spirit, TAO’s impact continues to move out in waves that extend beyond his (or our) visible horizon. TAO continues to be invited to speak to Scout units whose leaders want him to share Scouting’s history with their Scouts, Scouters and Parents. When he was presented his 80-year BSA pin at an Aquia District Roundtable during a time of substantial BSA policy changes and challenges, TAO used his time in front of the assembled Aquia Scouters from Packs, Troops, Crews, Ship, and OA Brothers (both Scouts and Scouters), to offer words of encouragement, placing these momentous changes in historical context based on his many decades of service and broader perspective of having lived through many changes in Scouting over that time He expressed support for the changes and assured everyone that Scouting would be just fine. This kind of powerful leadership example and guiding light is emblematic of what TAO brings and will continue to bring to Scouting with all his heart and soul.
As TAO told an audience during a recent Eagle Court of Honor: “So you see, I’m proof that no matter how long you’re in Scouting or how old you get, there are plenty of opportunities to give back to Scouting and the Scouts who are following in your footsteps.”
TAO continued with a challenge for all Scouts & Scouters across all time: “I hope you give back to your Troop and Scouting as long as I have and that you continue on the leadership trail – it can be a life-long journey and I’m proof that it can be done! The only question left is – what will you do next for your fellow Scouts, your communities and your Nation? A true Scout never stops serving others.”
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!! Dor L’Dor!! We all love you very much!!