GILFORD — When Carl Gebhardt and Gary Doucette came to the Daniel Webster Council Boy Scout Troop 243’s Court of Honor last week, they were expecting to watch Scouts receive merit badges and other awards.
They were surprised to find that they were being honored.
Gebhardt, 72, the scoutmaster, and Doucette, 61, a senior leader, both recently announced their retirement from Scout leadership at the end of this year.
Gebhardt served 43 years as an adult leader in scouting, with 32 years in Troop 243, 28 years as scoutmaster. Doucette served 26 years as an adult leader in scouting, having spent 19 years in Troop 243.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, the two leaders found themselves being honored by the troop with letters of thanks and paintings commemorating scouting.
“We weren’t listed on the agenda that night,” Doucette said with a chuckle.
“The focus is not supposed to be on the adults at this ceremony; we’re usually in the background,” said Gebhardt. “I appreciate it. My time in the scouts was my contribution to youth of America.”
Honoring the two leaders was important, said Kurt Webber, who will take over as scoutmaster in January. Troop 243 has produced 30 Eagle Scouts during Gebhardt’s time as scoutmaster and 23 Eagle scouts during Doucette’s time, an impressive feat for any Scout troop, he said.
“Carl and Gary have 69 years of leadership between them,” Webber said. “Both of them have made significant contributions to young men in Gilford.”
Scouts at the meeting congratulated them, and on the troop’s Facebook page, several former Gilford Scouts thanked their former leaders.
“Just wanted to say thank you … Not a day goes by without being confronted by a situation that reminds me of my time in Scouts. Scouting has truly had an immense impact on shaping me as a person and how I think about my impact on the world … You two will certainly leave a void.”
Gebhardt and Doucette said they are leaving the Scouts in good hands, as there are many younger Scout leaders ready to step in.
“It’s time to bring in some new blood,” Gebhardt said. “It will help to bring in younger people with new ideas; it will bring an infusion of energy.
Doucette said Scouting continues to be an avenue for young people to learn important life lessons and values, based on the 12 Points of Scout Law, which stress values like loyalty, helpfulness and kindness.
“If you follow the principles of the Boy Scouts, you can’t go wrong,” he said.