Bill Bailey, Distinguished Citizen

Published 7:32 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

Editorial by Bobby Tingle

The Orange County Sabine River District, Three Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America, honored Bill Bailey Tuesday night. Among other things in his life, Bailey gave a tremendous amount of time and effort to many young men in Boy Scout troops.

Bailey received two honors – the Distinguished Citizens Award and the North Star Award.

The BSA North Star Council website, gives a description of this award.

“The Distinguished Citizen Award is presented to individual community leaders who provide outstanding civic service to the adult and/or youth in the community. Those who receive the award are not necessarily Boy Scout volunteers, but rather individuals who personify what the Boy Scouts stand for – good citizenship, outstanding moral fiber with a dedication to others, and for living their lives by the Scout Oath and Law. The recipient is honored at the Distinguished Citizen’s Dinner.”

According to the BSA website,, the North Star Award is a, “High-level award presented by councils on the behalf of the National Court of Honor for nonregistered volunteers who have made a significant contribution to Scouting”.

Bailey is the first ever to receive this award from the Three Rivers Council.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Bailey, recently, prior to the awards dinner. Bailey has been described as a humble man and I agree. But it was evident he is also confident and has a desire to aid and benefit others.

Bailey began his career as a Boy Scout like many others. His parents probably enrolled him in a troop or pack. As a member he attended meetings with other scouts. They participated in competitive events, earned merit badges, earned special recognition awards, went camping and learned a lot about self sufficiency.

At age eighteen he was in the military service where his first job was air traffic controller of a United States Air Force base. While serving in the military for thirty years he moved as his assignments changed. But one thing remained consistent; he served as a volunteer with Boy Scout troops on whatever base he was stationed. As a result of his life of service to scouting, the day he left the service is the day he began a career as a Scouting professional. Although he has been retired from Boy Scouts for many years his contributions are well known. Tuesday he received two awards honoring his selfless service.

My son joined a Boy Scout troop when he was eleven years old. As he advanced in rank, earned merit badges and participated in events I became more and more impressed with this organization.

Boy Scouts camp and spend time outdoors. But there is so much more.

One particular camping trip the scouts divided themselves into two groups. The younger scouts were in one group the older scouts were in the other group. The first morning when it was time for each group to prepare their breakfast the older scouts looked like a well-oiled machine. They had planned well, kept it simple, executed their pland and soon had a wonderful meal. The younger group resembled something a bit worse than chaos.

This was my first camping trip. I felt sorry for those young scouts I wanted to help but I noticed the other adults were ignoring them.

By design, I now believe, the adults had more food than they needed to feed themselves. The wisest of those adults struck a deal with the youngsters, we will share our food, if you will wash our dishes, along with yours. That was pure brilliance.

The next morning the young boys operated like a well-oiled machine. They learned in one failed meal the value of teamwork and planning.

In order to advance in scouting, young men have to earn merit badges. Among the hundreds of merit badges are several that are required to advance in rank. Scouts must learn the basics of cooking, first aid, personal fitness, personal management and family life. They also have several badges related to their role as a public citizen within their community, the nation and the world. Scouts must learn communication skills such as public speaking and written communication. First responders might be called in to train scouts in lifesaving skills and emergency preparedness. Camping skills as well as environmental science skills are required as well. Elective courses include such things as courses on computer hardware and archery.

My son earned one badge unexpectedly. While on an overnight camping trip in early spring he prepared for the expected moderate temperatures. Overnight the temperature dropped more than was expected. At one point, in the area of the campout the temperature dropped to the freezing point, thirty-two degrees Celsius. That drop in temperature earned him the Polar Bear badge, awarded for camping in sub-freezing temperature.

Thank you Bill Bailey for your years of service and dedication. Enjoy your well-deserved recognition.


Bobby Tingle is Publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at