Meet The Grand Canyon Council's 2021 Honorees
Join us at the program preview, Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 9:00am – 2:30pm at the Heard Scout Pueblo to grow your Scouting program and celebrate our volunteers!
Congratulations to our 2021 Council Honorees who received the following council awards and recognition for their outstanding contributions, dedicated years of service, and leadership to youth and Scouting in Grand Canyon Council. Their years of dedicated service and many hours of hard work have touched the lives of many Scouts, and for that we are appreciative and want to recognize them for their dedication to the Scout program.
Throughout 2022, the Council Connection will feature each of our distinguished council award recipients and their individual contributions in Grand Canyon Council.
North Star Award: Awarded to individuals of distinguished service to youth by a non-registered Scouting supporter:
Meritorious Service Star: Awarded to volunteer leaders for their dedicated service and noteworthy service to youth, to Scouting and to their community:
Alana LaBelle (May)
Anuj Bhatnager (June)
Cody Mikita (July)
Douglas Wright (August)
George Chartier (September)
Justin Crowder (October)
Scott Robert (November)
Seth Wilson (December)
On behalf of the Council Awards & Recognition Committee, we extend our personal congratulations and best wishes.
Eric Hiser / Council Awards & Recognition Committee Chair
Christopher R. Kaup – North Star Award
The NORTH STAR is presented for distinguished service to youth in a local council. It is awarded to individuals of distinguished service to youth by a non-registered Scouting supporter. This award joins the prestigious Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope and Silver Buffalo awards, recognizing significant contributions to Grand Canyon Council and the Boy Scouts of America, respectively.
This year we are recognizing Christopher R. Kaup for his years of dedicated service and many hours of time, leadership, expertise and hard work in the bankruptcy and related legal matters. Chris continues to be of tremendous support in Grand Canyon Council, and we take great pleasure in awarding him the North Star for his distinguished service to youth.
Chris is a shareholder and member of the Board of Directors of Tiffany & Bosco, a multi-state law firm based in Phoenix. He chairs the firm’s Commercial Bankruptcy & Creditors Rights Group. He is a graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa, and received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Chris has served on the boards of several nonprofits including the Grand Canyon Council, the Penn & Wharton Club of Arizona, the Turnaround Management Association, Arizona Chapter, and the Private Directors Association.
For the last 2 years, Chris has played an invaluable role for our Council in the national bankruptcy saga. First, along with our Scout Executive, Andy Price, Chris has served on the special Ad Hoc Committee at the national level. This committee of 8 councils has served as the crucial representative of our 250 local councils across the country in negotiating on behalf of all 250 local councils to get us where we are today, which is on the 1 yard line from victory. Second, Chris has served on our own special legal committee of the Board, advising our committee and board regarding how we should deal with the most complex bankruptcy in US history. He has spent countless hours, almost all of which pro bono, helping us through this difficult process and we couldn’t be doing it without him.
Chris has been happily married to his wife Debra for almost 30 years and has two children, Mackenzie and Abigail.
Congratulations to you Chris and Thank YOU for your dedication to Scouting in the Grand Canyon Council!
Alana LaBelle – Meritorious Service Star
Alana LaBelle currently serves in the Gila River District as a Den Leader, Advancement Chair, and Assistant Cubmaster for Pack 71. She also supports 2 Council Committees, the Cub Scout and the STEM Committee, which impact youth throughout the entire council.
Alana was instrumental in organizing a STEM virtual tour of lab spaces in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration for the Cub Scout STEM Nova “Tech Talk” Award, along with the teaching and implementation of STEM throughout the Gila River District. While on the Cub Scout Committee, she chaired several committee events, one of which was a really fun and successful GPS Geocaching Duck Hunt. Alana also created Animal Tracking Expedition courses, which included animal information, maps, animal signs, and animal tracks. Scouts used all of the clues to deduce which animal they were following. Alana ensured each Cub Scout was able to track their animals, learn, earn a patch, and have fun.
In addition to serving on the Baden Powell College Staff, Alana is a member of the Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Committee on Scouting. She has received the District Award of Merit for her service at the district level and has earned several Unit level leadership awards, the Den Leader Training Award in 2018 and the Cub Scout Leader Award in 2020. In addition, despite the pandemic, Alana finished her Woodbadge training and earned her beads.
Scouting is all about family in the LaBelle household, where Alana leads the girl Tiger Den as well as a boy Webelos Den. Her love and enthusiasm for Scouting provides so many fun opportunities for her children and the Pack. To Alana, Scouting is truly a fun family adventure in so many wonderful ways for youth and her family. Her husband, Jeffrey and three Cub age children, Josiah-Webelos, Savana–Tiger and Hana-Tiger are 4 great reasons Alana is all about Scouting, exemplifying Scouting in her daily life with friends, family, and those she meets along her journey. Thank you Alana for your energy, enthusiasm, and love in so many areas of the Program. For this and so many reasons, we celebrate you and all you do to deliver Scouting in the Grand Canyon Council. Congratulations!
Anuj Bhatnager – Meritorious Service Star
Anuj Bhatnager currently serves in the Central District as the Pack 6 Committee Chair, Nova Award Counselor and Supernova Awards Mentor. As Committee Chair for Pack 6, Anuj has helped guide and recruit dozens of volunteers, and under his guidance, over 100 youth have earned their Arrow of Light. In an effort to always improve the program Anuj regularly takes on different volunteer tasks that go above and beyond the scope of Committee Chair. Nobody needs to ask Anuj to do more, he simply does it to better Pack 6. With his help the pack was able to provide a quality program where the vast majority of kids earned their rank even in the midst of a global pandemic.
Attitude is everything! … In 2020 Anuj attended Wood Badge and completed his ticket given the limitations of Covid restrictions. During that time, he finished his PhD, volunteered in other religious, educational, and athletic organizations, while raising 3 wonderful kids. Even when the task at hand is frustrating or difficult Anuj works to follow the 12 points of the Scout Law, specifically by being cheerful which helps better everyone around him. Pack 6, Central District, Grand Canyon Council, and our community at large is a better place because of Anuj. His character exemplifies the Scout Oath and Law in every way.
A closer look … Anuj has previously served as a Den Leader and Tiger Leader in the Pack while earning the Adult Religious Emblem. He believes Scouting happens from the ground up, locally first, creating a strong base for council to build upon, working to recruit and promote the training of volunteers and parents. Jumping to help any leaders that need guidance, Anuj visits other den meetings to make sure they are functioning properly and is always happy to welcome anyone into Scouting. With his guidance, his daughter was one of the first girl Arrow of Light Scouts in the nation and his son has regularly earned every adventure loop for his year.
Anuj has previously served as President of the “Dad’s Club”, a service oriented group at Archway Veritas School, a religious educator in his community, a volunteer in youth sports programs, and conducts research work at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
Thank you Anuj for your ambition, dedication, commitment and focus on growing Scouting in Pack 6 as an important priority for your family and the Program in Grand Canyon Council. You are an example of true Scout Spirit – in wonderful ways that help make every Scout and Scouter a better person in service to youth and Scout families! Congratulations Anuj!
Cody Mikita – Meritorious Service Star
Earning his Eagle Scout award in 2009, Cody started his adult Scout volunteer adventure soon thereafter as a Webelo den leader for Pack 735. He has also served as an Assistant Scoutmaster for troop 253 and 735 and is currently an Assistant Scoutmaster in troop 777. In addition, Cody is the adult OA troop representative in addition to being a founding member of both troop 735 and 777. “Working with Cody is always a pleasure because of his experience, willingness to teach the ideals of Scouting, and work with the youth on new things.”
Learning and Leading: Woodbadge trained, Cody has shown continued interest in learning more to support the leadership required to run a troop and serve the program effectively. With an unwavering willingness to give of himself to assist the boys in the troop and Order of Arrow, Cody fully lives and believes in the training and development opportunities Scouting offers. Cody earned the Scouter’s Key and Scouters Training Awards which exemplify his ongoing continuous learning and application of Scouting principles. As a younger Scout leader, Cody feels he can relate to the youth and help them learn the “boy-led method” while at the same time, coach the adult leaders to understand how and why this principle is so important in Scouting.
All In… and More: Supporting youth through the ranks to Arrow of Light and earning activity pins, Cody guided 8 youth to the rank of Eagle with 2 more on their way. He enjoys, camping, hiking, fishing and being outdoors, teaching axe, rifle, archery, and fire safety. As a Vigil Honorary in the Order of Arrow, Cody received the Centurion Award during the National Order of the Arrow Conference in 2015. Cody was Vice Chief of Service for many years and restarted the member service projects at Council camps. As a ceremonialist for the Ordeal, Cody continues to teach others and leads Cub Scout and Scouts BSA OA ceremonies. NRA certified, archery certified, and working closely with our Council, Cody enjoys teaching youth how to maintain rifle and archery equipment. Cody currently has his CNA and Paramedic licenses and works as an intake nurse at a leading plasma center. Cody enjoys supporting the YMCA as a T-ball coach and an MS Walk volunteer.
It is for these and so many reasons that Cody has earned the Meritorious Service Star! Congratulations, Cody! Your Scouting community is very fortunate to have you as one of their dedicated and committed Scout leaders, coach, guide, volunteer, and friend! Thank you!
Douglas E. Wright – Meritorious Service Star
Douglas Wright would definitely be considered a long time, committed and dedicated Scouter … and when you get to know him a little bit more, you will understand why Scouting has always been a part of his DNA! Douglas’ contributions to Scouting encompass a wide range of areas and equate to over 30 years of service to an organization he truly loves! Today he serves as the Advancement Chair and a Committee Member of Troop 2 in the Lost Dutchman District.
During his service to Scouting, Douglas was a Scoutmaster for 6 years and during that time, he mentored over 30 Scouts to achieve Eagle Rank. Part of that process included organizing 18 Eagle Court of Honor ceremonies. When the LDS church left Scouting, Douglas continued working with Troop 2 from Gilbert. Having received three mentor pins shows the impact he has had on the lives of these youth. Douglas is a friend to all and lives up to the Scout motto. He gives 100+% to everything he does.
Douglas participated with the Baden Powell University Faculty as the “Storyteller”, playing the role of Lord Baden Powel. Using his “funky stick with the seeds inside”, he would share wonderful stories about Scouting, demonstrating his passion for Scout service and the mission of the movement. Woodbadge trained in 2010 and following up as a Troop Guide in 2013-14, Douglas continued to learn and share his knowledge and expertise in an array of Scouting activities and events which include; hosting the Arizona State Fair BSA Exhibit, Heard Pueblo Cub Scout Day Camp; Cub Scout Olympix Chair; BALOO, OWLS and Cubmaster Trainer; and a Webelos Den Leader. During this time, he earned the Boy Scout Leader Hall of Fame in 2011, the Scouter Key in 2012 and the District Award of Merit 2019.
Douglas is totally vested by demonstrating “Boots on the Ground” in how to lead his Cub Pack, Scouts BSA Troop and Venture Crew. Quoting a fellow leader, “Young men at all levels have learned from his skills, observed his example, have given service to others, achieved awards for personal advancement and earned funds to support BSA activities. Anyone who is willing to go to camp five years in a row, investing his time and resources understands that Douglas Wright has earned the privilege of being recognized for his efforts.”
For example, he hosted the flag fundraiser project to raise funds for Scout Camp R-C and Geronimo, and dedicating hundreds of hours to planning and facilitating Scouting activities at our Council camps, in addition to leading 10 scouts on a 65 mile 2 week hike through Philmont park in 2010. Throughout these experiences, Douglas continues to lead by example. He is a friend to all, making sure to include everyone and that nobody gets left behind.
Outside of Scouting, Douglas has served as the United Food Bank food coordinator, Arizona Junior Achievement mentor/presenter 1987-88, United Blood Bank & United Way Chair and participant, Rotary Club member and Parks and Recreation volunteer;
“As my father, I witnessed Douglas stay up many a late night making sure everything was prepared and ready to go for Scouting activities. At the same time, he balanced his work and home life being a wonderful father and husband. My father made time for anybody who needed help and led with a tremendous example. Growing up my dad did not have the privilege to be a part of a Boy Scout troop. However, he made sure to give that opportunity to as many leaders as possible. He makes me proud to be his son and an Eagle Scout.,” says his son, Jacob Wright.
Without a doubt, Douglas Wright has share so much of himself in Scouting, given so much dedication and commitment to the youth and leaders, and has truly impacted the lives of so many over the years. We celebrate an incredible volunteer who heartily deserves to be honored with the Meritorious
Service Star. Congratulations Douglas… for all you are, and all you’ve done and continue to do for the future of Scouting in Grand Canyon Council. Thank you! Scout On!
George Chartier – Meritorious Service Star
The Meritorious Service Star is awarded to a Scout volunteer who has dedicated at least 5 years in a unit, district our council role. George Chartier has not only dedicated that many years and more, but he has served in a wide variety of leadership positions. Currently George serves as the Chartered Organization Representative (COR) for Pack 531 and Troop 531 and takes his role very seriously. “The primary responsibility of the COR is to help units be successful and provide coordination between the chartered organization and Scouting. They are a voting member of the council upon selection or appointment and serve to represent Scouting within the organization.” George serves in this capacity and beyond … always responsive to help secure program events and activities for the Pack and Troop to ensure success.
Giving back … George has donated a significant amount of time, talent and treasure to help both Pack 531 and Troop 531 succeed. He has helped run the Pinewood Derby for several years, created a Lego racetrack, helped assemble and install shelving inside of the Troop trailer, fixed the Pack’s cargo container, and has hosted multiple Pack and Troop Annual Planning Meetings and multiple Pack and Troop Committee Meetings. George helps ensure the Pack and Troop have a place to meet, and all youth and leaders have what they need to learn, share and grow the Scouting movement.
Multiple roles … In addition to serving as the COR of Pack/Troop 531, George has been a Lion Den Leader, a Tiger, a Wolf, a Bear, and a Webelos Assistant Den Leader for the Pack. Here is where he has had the opportunity to work with youth and help them be the very best they can be, learning as they grow through the program! For two years, George also served as Assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 531. In addition to COR role for both the Pack and the Troop, George actively assists his son’s Den while also assisting with the Troop. He is there … and you can always count on him!
Family Scouting … George is the father of four. His daughter is a Girl Scout, his wife, Rachael, is the Treasurer for Pack 531 and Troop 531, two of his sons are in Pack 531 and his oldest son is a Life Scout in Troop 531. He runs a successful Air Conditioning company known for its integrity and work ethic. George has actively promoted Scouting within the Christian Hunters of America organization which has provided Pack 531 and Troop 531 an invite each year to their annual Elk Expo. Here the Scouts help lead the opening flag ceremony and provide service to the 400+ attendees and Veterans in attendance.
George gives of himself consistently to the Pack and the Troop as the ideal Scouting parent, Scouting volunteer and business leader in the community. In addition, celebrating “Scout Spirit”, George received the William D. Boyce Award in 2020 for helping start Troop 531. Many are honored, as many are that know him, to be able to share this Scouting experience with him as a key volunteer. Congratulations to you, George, for your support of Scouting – living
the mission through your service, your strong commitment and dedication, while making Scouting a family program for everyone!
Justin Crowder – Meritorious Service Star
Justin Crowder has served in a wide variety of volunteer positions for several years for both Pack 531 and Troop 531. In his early Scout years, Justin served as a Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos and AOL Den Leader for the Pack as well as an Assistant Cubmaster as he experienced the Cubs moving through the ranks in the program, along with his sons. In addition to working directly with youth, Justin volunteered on the Pack Committee and later moved into the role of Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 531.
In addition to serving in the Pack and Troop, Justin participated as a volunteer leader for Cub Scout Olympix for 6 years, helping run this event each year, coordinating to ensure everything ran smoothly for the event. During the past few years, Justin has received trained leader credit in IOLS, received the Den Leader Training Award as well as the William D. Boyce Organizer Award for his role as a founding member in starting Troop 531.
As the Chairman of the Board of Trailhead Youth Foundation, the chartered organization of Troop 531, Justin oversees all board meetings, accounting and operational support needed for both the Pack and the Troop. He also aids with fundraising and logistics for all Troop equipment. Justin is a Merit Badge Counselor and is actively involved in a variety of behind the scenes work that makes the Pack and Troop run successfully with FUN!
Justin has brought his entrepreneurial and business expertise into strengthening Pack 531 and in the founding of Troop 531. As an Assistant Scoutmaster, the Scouts benefit from his management and leadership skills whether in a Troop Meeting, at Patrol Leaders Council meetings or while camping. He constantly challenges everyone through his work ethic to be better. Like many Scouters, his entire family loves Scouting – his daughter is a Girl Scout, his one son is a Second Class Scout, his other son is an Eagle Scout, his wife, Kristina, is the Troop Advancement Chair while he continues to volunteer where needed. Justin Crowder and his family are totally on board with Scouting through the Pack and the Troop and as a family, bring the movement to life through their love and commitment for the Program. It is for this and so many reasons we award Justin with the Meritorious Service Star! Thank you, Justin, and Congratulations!