NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — North Kingstown resident Josh Lamothe was among eight people honored Jan. 30 by the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America with the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor a council can give to an adult volunteer to celebrate their long-term volunteer work and commitment to the organization.
A native of South Kingstown, Lamothe has 23 years of volunteer experience with the Boy Scouts between his time as a scout and adult volunteer with the Narragansett Council and several other councils across the country. Currently, he works as the Cub Scout Camping Chair and Outdoor Ethics and Conservation Chair for the Southwest District of the Narragansett Council and Den Leader for Cub Scout Pack 5 North Kingstown, of which his son is a member.
As outdoor ethics and conservation chairman, he teaches classes for Leave No Trace, a non-profit that focuses on education on how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly in order to preserve the land for future generations, as well as the Tread Lightly initiative, which teaches how to properly use mechanized recreation vehicles such as ATVs and boats.
“It goes hand-in-hand with conservation as far as fixing issues that are out there or helping prevent conservation issues,” Lamothe said.
Lamothe is also a veteran of the US Army, having served five years a commissioned Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) warfare officer where he advised commanders on related threats and worked on anti-terrorism/force protection assessments. He served two tours of duty in Iraq in 2005 and 2007, receiving two Army Commendation Medals and the Bronze Star Medal.
His wife Kris is currently in the Air Force, so the family frequently moves, but Lamothe has stayed involved with the organization wherever he goes, and while he’s enjoyed being a part of all councils he’s been involved with, being awarded the Silver Beaver from his childhood council is extra special.
“I’ve spent 12 years as an adult volunteer and every few years I’m moving councils, so you show up new and every time I volunteer and get as much involved as I can at the district and the council level and then I move, so being able to come home having grown up in Rhode Island and earning my Eagle with the Narragansett Council, coming back here and having them recognize my service was special,” Lamothe said. “It was more special earning it, or being recognized with the Silver Beaver here than I think it would’ve been with a different council, so still special anywhere else, but it was definitely humbling to come back and be able to be recognized here.”
Growing up in South Kingstown, Lamothe said he recognized his love for nature and the outdoors at an early age.
“Ever since I was young, my parents always said I have a love for animals,” Lamothe said. “We had a few dogs, a few cats, but beyond that, a love for wildlife. I enjoyed being outside. Every day after school I’d ride my bike to the next neighborhood over with some friends and we had a fort where we’d play outside and explore.”
While he grew up along the beaches and trails of South County, Lamothe wanted to experience more of what the outdoors had to offer, an opportunity he said he wouldn’t have had without the Boy Scouts, including introducing him to one of his favorite places on Earth, the Philmont Scout Ranch in Colfax County, New Mexico.
“Seeing the Rockies for the first time (I) just fell in love,” Lamothe said, adding the experience meant so much to him that he decided to head out west to attend the University of Northern Colorado and volunteer at the ranch over the summers during his time at school, and now returns every year to teach Leave No Trace classes.
Following college, Lamothe joined the Army, something he was partially inspired to do through the Boy Scouts spirit of service and something which left a lasting impact on him.
“Scouting encourages service, but not necessarily military service,” Lamothe said. “My time as a Scout definitely helped me prepare for my time in the military, and then, beyond that, having served in the military definitely helped me become more comfortable talking in front of people, (it helped make me) more confident in outdoor skills.”
“I don’t think there’s anything that can really prepare you to lead little kids other than leading little kids,” Lamothe said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t say there was anything in the Army that prepared me to be a den leader, but as far as being a leader in general in scouting, the military puts you in positions that challenge you and then hopefully (you) succeed and where you don’t it provides you mentoring to help you grow and succeed the next time.”
Lamothe says he takes that approach and applies it to scouting, teaching his scouts that while they’re not always going to succeed in everything that they do, they can’t let that discourage them from trying.
“Youth are at an age where they try something and often times if they don’t understand it or they don’t succeed right away, they’ll get frustrated and they won’t want to do it again, but being able to bring them back in and coach them and help them understand better and provide more opportunities to succeed, it builds their confidence and whether that’s elementary school kids or high school kids, that’s important as youth develop, to be able to help them see how they can succeed or even if they don’t, still learn from it and call that a success,” Lamothe said.
He has also never lost that passion for the outdoors, expanding on it as he’s grown.
“For me, going outside is a place to recenter yourself away from busy everyday life,” Lamothe said. “I’m also a runner, so I like to go trail running anywhere I can around Rhode Island, sometimes I’ll drive further away, but the local trails around my neighborhood, you can’t always go out for a hike every weekend, but getting out for a trail run is nice.”
He also is an accomplished backpacker, having done both the Appalachian and Pacific Trails in addition to backpacking through many National Parks.
“I just like seeing the different areas of our country, it’s just a beautiful country,” Lamothe said.
Scouting is also a family affair for the Lamothes, with his wife Kris also coming from a scouting family and his son now a Cub Scout.
“My son has really been raised in scouting as I was volunteering even when he was born, so having him grow up around scouting and then when he was finally in kindergarten and able to join as a Tiger and able to wear a little scout uniform, that was great,” Lamothe said. “For him we could now go to his meetings instead of always just going to my meetings, so he was excited about that and excited to get to do the things that he was seeing the other boys and girls do what he’d been watching for five years.”
Along with Lamothe, the Narragansett Council also awarded the Silver Beaver Award to Raymond Chartier, Joseph Riccitelli, William Begin, Alphonse Barthe III, David Bacon, Paul Capuano and Carol DuBois.
For more information on the Boy Scouts Narragansett Council, visit their website, narragansettbsa.org.