The 16 young men depicted in a 60-year old black and white photo on the wall of Olympic National Park headquarters are about to get some company.
On August 12, SCA presented its Elizabeth Putnam Founder’s Medal to Olympic Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in recognition of the park’s deeply-rooted support of SCA’s mission. Olympic is not only one of two original SCA partner sites – along with Grand Teton National Park – it is also the only park to host SCA volunteers every year since 1957.
The outdoor ceremony was witnessed by dozens of special guests with ties to SCA’s past and present – including Olympic alumni Eric Rush (1958), Pat Dwyer and Marsh Bull (’61); Diane Dolstad, daughter of former SCA executives Jack and Enid Dolstad; and SCA skills instructor and “Lightly on the Land” author Bob Birkby.
Supt. Creachbaum accepted the award from SCA Board Chairwoman Margie Brown, and then delivered a heartfelt tribute to the woman whose likeness adorns the medal. “SCA is the best example of what human beings can be,” she stated. “Liz, you’ve made the world a better place.”
Liz then recapped SCA’s early years at Olympic, including the park’s quick agreement to field SCA volunteers, the Park Service’s initial skepticism over female interns (“Can you think of anything funnier than a girl in a ranger hat?” asked one official), and Liz’s experiences on the 1958 protest hike against a planned highway along the pristine Olympic coast.
From there, guests dispersed to hike near Hurricane Ridge – which was finally visible after several days of smoke-filled skies thanks to wildfires in British Columbia – or to view the world premiere of “National Park Diaries,” a documentary on SCA trail crews serving in Denali National Park and Preserve and Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.
Those who chose to watch the hour-long film narrated by actor Alessandro Nivola (“The Wizard of Lies,” “American Hustle,” “Face/Off”) used terms like “Inspiring!” and “Reaffirming!” to describe the experience.
“For me, this film shows that when you’re working as a team, everything is better,” added one viewer. “Everybody grows.”
In June, SCA kicked-off its 60th summer of service by giving Founder’s Medals to Grand Teton National Park and other Jackson Hole partners (above), and the Olympic commemoration added yet another anniversary highlight. Especially when Supt. Creachbaum promised to hang the SCA medal right next to that old crew photo.
For 60 years, SCA volunteers have conserved the mountains, rain forests and shorelines of Olympic National Park. And now Olympic is saving a special place for SCA.