Scout leader Dr. Baldwin receives community service award

by Chuck Brown, UNMC public relations | April 13, 2009

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Jeffrey Baldwin, Pharm.D., will receive the UNMC Spirit of Community Service Award for his scouting activity.
A love of the outdoors was sparked in Jeffrey Baldwin, Pharm. D., associate professor of pharmacy practice, as he grew up in north central Pennsylvania.

"I came from a family that loved the outdoors," Dr. Baldwin said. "We loved to camp, hike and kayak."

His inner outdoorsman was born on those family camping trips, grew as he worked with his own two sons and hundreds of other Boys Scouts in his 25-plus years as a scout leader and it continues as he has helped young cancer patients as a counselor at Camp CoHoLo.

He was a Boy Scout himself as a youth. He came within a couple merit badges of being an Eagle Scout.

When his own two sons were old enough to be Cub Scouts, Dr. Baldwin and his wife, Sue, became active in the scouts and -- more than 25 years later -- they remain that way.

Sue Baldwin works at the Boys Scouts of America Mid-America Council and Dr. Baldwin annually runs the council's national youth leadership training program -- which is a week-long program where exceptional scouts learn leadership skills.

"We really got to see the evidence of what the Boy Scouting program can do to help young men develop," Dr. Baldwin said. "They learn to be self reliant and they learn skills early that really do build confidence -- whether they know it or not."

"I've gotten to know a lot of wonderful people through scouting. It's been a great experience and it's helped me connect with the community in a very deep and meaningful way."

Jeffrey Baldwin, Pharm.D.

For his scouting activities, as well as his role as a board of directors member and camp counselor with Camp CoHoLo and other service activities, Dr. Baldwin will receive the UNMC Spirit of Community Service Award during the chancellor's annual faculty meeting on April 21.

"Dr. Baldwin's remarkable community service contributions have had much local, national and, potentially, even international impact," his nominator said.

For Dr. Baldwin, the reward for his service and particularly his scouting activities has been the activities themselves.

They allowed him to be active with his own children. They allowed him to build a host of friends among parents and others who are active in scouts.

"I've gotten to know a lot of wonderful people through scouting," Dr. Baldwin said. "It's been a great experience and it's helped me connect with the community in a very deep and meaningful way."

But that's not to say the scouting life has been easy. It has demanded a lot of time from the Baldwins over the years. And it was while scouting that Dr. Baldwin experienced perhaps the most difficult night of his life.

On June 11 of last year, Dr. Baldwin was serving in his role as director of the national youth leadership training program at a camp near Little Sioux, Iowa.

Shortly after suppertime, a large tornado leveled the camp. Four scouts died and several others were injured.

"It was very hard," Dr. Baldwin said of the situation, which quickly escalated into a national news story. "But when you're in a situation like that, you just do the next right thing."

The campers benefitted from Dr. Baldwin and other leaders doing the right thing before the storm hit as well.

"Were it not for the tornado emergency plans for that camp that were developed and implemented by the staff under Dr. Baldwin's leadership, there would likely have been additional fatalities," Dr. Baldwin's nominator said.

During the rescue effort in the moments after the storm hit, Dr. Baldwin assisted emergency personnel in their medical efforts, helped identify victims in the storm and helped with camp evacuation.

It was in these moments in the storm's aftermath, as he watched the young men apply the skills they learned during their scouting years, that Dr. Baldwin found a silver lining amid the calamity.

For the scouts, Dr. Baldwin said, helping to remove wounded friends from the rubble and care for their injuries and the other first-response tasks required after the storm were the "next right thing."

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College of Pharmacy associate professor Jeffrey Baldwin, Pharm.D., with his wife, Sue, at a scouting dinner. The Baldwins have been involved with scouting for more than 25 years.
The response of the scouts immediately after the storm and in the months following the storm only bolstered Dr. Baldwin's faith in the young men in the leadership program he directed.

"This program prepares these young men to be leaders and it showed that day," Dr. Baldwin said. "The boys proved they were the right people to handle such a situation."

A week earlier, a non-scouting group was at the camp. Chances are, Dr. Baldwin said, that group wouldn't have been able to respond as effectively as the Boy Scouts did.

Repairs are being made at the camp and Dr. Baldwin and others -- including a number of campers and many of the youth staff from last year -- will be staffing the leadership program this year.

Not returning was never an option, Dr. Baldwin said. The lessons learned at the camp and the scouting experience as a whole are too important to give up on, he said.

"This is like a Phoenix," Dr. Baldwin said. "It's going to rise up again. It's too valuable not to."

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