That is exactly what Scoutmaster Wally Rupp exemplifies. Wally has been a Scoutmaster for 44 years living and teaching young men Scouting’s timeless values of being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, clean, brave, and reverent. Scouts and Scouters will recognize these timeless values as the 12 points of the Scout Law.
Wally’s story appears in today’s Deseret News, which recounts a lifetime of selfless service to a myriad of young men who have come through his troops over the years:
Rescuing drowning boys, finding lost boys, performing CPR on injured boys; it all comes with the job description for Wally Rupp, a 78-year-old, iron-man Scoutmaster. Last weekend marked Rupp’s 38th 50-mile hike through the Uintas in his 44th year as a Scoutmaster.
He climbed the peak for the fourth time during a recent outing. Rupp exemplifies dedication to Scouting. With leftover scruff from the long hike, a bloody scab on his nose from a fall, weathered, leathery skin, and a strong, tall body, Rupp reminds one of a tree whose roots have become stronger and knots thicker with age.
“He’s a young man in an old man’s body,” said Nathan Cunningham, one of Rupp’s Scouts years ago who went on the hike last weekend. “He’s always moving and doing something. We have a good time keeping up with him.”
Rupp began his Scoutmaster career 44 years ago. He was serving as Young Men’s president for his ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he asked his brother, the bishop at the time, “to put me in as Scoutmaster, and don’t ever bother me again.”
And he hasn’t been bothered since, never having moved from the area or the calling. Even when his ward was divided, which happened twice, Rupp stayed at his station as the Scoutmaster.
Since beginning his Scoutmaster marathon, Rupp estimates he’s walked more than 2,500 miles in the Uinta Mountains. The “prettiest place” in all of the Uintas is Squaw Basin, according to Rupp.
Last weekend he scaled Utah’s highest peak, 13,528-foot Kings Peak, for the fourth time. “It was like making the final goal of my life,” said Rupp. “The kids were playing Frisbee and here I was with my tongue hanging out. I thought, ‘Oh boy, to be young.”‘
This story is amazing on several levels. One is that today in the Church, and even outside the Church, Scoutmasters just don’t serve this long in their callings. One of the problems with Scouting in the Church is that typically Scoutmasters don’t serve long enough, don’t receive enough training, and don’t put in the time like Wally Rupp to really make a difference in a Scout Troop. Wally is a Scoutmaster extrordinaire.
Another is the commitment he has shown over the years to Scouting and the young men whose lives he has influenced. He has guided over 200 young men through the rank of Eagle Scout, including his own eight sons. This rank is Scouting’s highest honor, and those young men who achieve it have truly achieved a milestone in their lives:
Over the years, Rupp has helped more than 200 boys earn the lofty rank of Eagle (including his eight sons) and pass tests for thousands of merit badges. “There were some guys that didn’t think I could get my Eagle, and Wally saw me through to the end,” Cunningham said.
While not active in Scouting as a youth himself, Rupp recognizes the advantages that come with being an Eagle Scout. “They’ve set their sights on something and accomplished it,” Rupp said. “I’ve got Eagle Scouts that automatically advance a rank and become a leader in the service. It always helps.”
In his decades of being a Scoutmaster, Rupp has earned some prestigious ranks, including the Silver Beaver. It hangs along with many other awards and pinewood derby cars in a cupboard at his home. He also received the “Scouter of the Century” Award from the LDS Young Men presidency in 2004.
Having retired from the Amoco oil refinery 19 years ago, Rupp now spends his time volunteering in the Jordan River LDS Temple, working for free for his two sons’ business and working out at the Salt Lake Community College gym across the street from his house. These activities, along with Scouting, have kept him busy since his wife died just over a year ago.
Rupp was hesitant to say how long he will continue to lead the boys through the rugged passages of adolescence. But his legacy already continues through generations.
“I still run into Scouts that I haven’t seen for years and years,” Rupp said. “An awful lot of them become Scoutmasters, and they say to me, ‘Show us the things we should do.”‘
He said he loves Scouting, a program that he says “makes men out of young men.”
It does indeed. It also makes good men better. My hat is off to Wally Rupp. Your Christ like service to the young men in your ward and your community is rare indeed.