Springwood Scout leader John Clapham awarded a Silver Kangaroo

John Clapham has dedicated almost 40 years to the Scouts in Springwood and his commitment was recognised recently when he was awarded the movement's highest honour for adult leaders.

In December, the Chief Scout of Australia, David Hurley, presented Mr Clapham with the Silver Kangaroo Award for eminent achievement and meritorious service to the association for at least 20 years.

"I was a bit overwhelmed with it [the award] in the beginning," the Hazelbrook man said.

He became a leader at First Springwood Scouts in 1982 when his son John joined the pack. Mr Clapham had never been able to join the Scouts as a boy as his allergies made for restrictive after-school activities.

His son grew up and moved on, but Mr Clapham stayed.

"To me Scouting is such a wonderful organisation and does so many things for youth," Mr Clapham said.

"The idea of Scouting, it helped me, it changed me. It made me think I could do things."

The practical skills gained were a good confidence-builder, and over the years Mr Clapham would take the troop away to 18 Jamborees in Australia and New Zealand, as well as camping trips throughout Australia.

"I loved to make sure they understood the importance of nutrition. Camp was not just a sausage [cooked on the fire]. We would prepare and do a meal," Mr Clapham said.

"I had quite a love of cooking - I would use the recipes my wife [Robyn] used and multiply for volume."

He recalls challenging camping trips trying to secure tents in a dust storm in Victoria, and drilling holes into limestone in South Australia to get their tent pegs in the hard ground.

In the citation accompanying the award, Mr Clapham is described as a "strong role model for youth members, being courteous and polite and espousing Scouting ideals to the highest standard".

"Many of the leaders across the Blue Mountains see John as a mentor and will approach him for advice when confronted with a problem. He is held up as a model Scout leader by youth members and adults alike."

Mr Clapham moved to Valley Heights in 1972 after a stint in Cowra where he met his wife Robyn. They started a family in the Mountains and Mr Clapham opened a Singer sewing machine shop in Penrith. He worked as a sewing machine mechanic and still repairs machines today. "I love restoring the old ones," he said.


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