On the morning of Friday 23rd September 2016, I woke up and saw a group message sent to my alma mater WhatsApp group belonging to the Dragon Chapter, the old boys of the Dragon Scout Group family hierarchy. I was shocked and very sad to hear the passing of a senior Scout master from Hawaii, who lost the battle to an illness.
I took a walk down my own personal memory lane when I first met you, I was just a young boy scout. If my memories serve me correctly, I was just 15 when you came down and visited Dragon Scout Group in 1992, that was the first establishment of a long and still strong, ongoing Scouting friendship and bonding between Hawaiian scout troop that you led and Dragon Scout Group in Singapore. Never did I realised how long and wonderful this friendship and bonding lasted over two decades. I am very honoured (for a young teenager during that time) to be one of the first few Dragon Scout Group Scouts to have memories of meeting you in person in the school when you first visited us.
The first exchange was in 1994 when you led and brought the Hawaiian scout troop down to Singapore for the first exchange. I can still remember the time when you all came down for camping at Sarimbun Scout Camp and I was in my first year as a Venture Scout. The Dragon Scout Group went over in 1995 for the return exchange visit that I didn’t get to be a part of.
Even though there was a bit of a time gap in between the first and next exchange visit, the friendship was never lost. I was looking through the photographs that I took when you returned in 2007 for the exchange with Dragon Scout Group, with a group of Hawaiian scouts, leaders and parents. I was there to welcome the Hawaiian scouts at the airport, it was the start of a fun and enjoyable exchange programme. These were some very beautiful memories and I was very happy to be part of this wonderful exchange.
In 2012, the boys and girls of Dragon Scout Group visited Hawaii for an exchange and I decided to follow along too. This was one of the best travels that I had, it wasn’t just about how beautiful Hawaii is or visiting Big Island. Following along for this exchange trip gave me a chance to truly learn and understand a lot more about international scouting exchange and friendship even though I wasn’t active in the Scouting movement. Upon returning back home, I would pass it on to my junior leaders in my alma mater, Dragon Scout Group whenever I am able to, serving the role as a mentor (just an old boy coming back whenever I am able to).
When you came back to Singapore for holidays, it was always great to catch up with you along with my fellow scout leaders. We will never forget your kindness and blessings, with gifts from Hawaii!
Dear Sterling, goodbye and farewell! You may not longer be with us, we will miss you! Your legacy, your friendship, kindness and advice that you gave us will forever be remembered in our hearts, mind and soul. You are not just a Scout master, you are (and still will be) a leader, a mentor, a senior and a big brother in the international scouting movement.
Thank you, Sterling, for everything, the friendship, guidance, kindness and blessings.
We will continue to Pass-It-On, upholding the Scouting fire and spirit, spreading, building friendships and bonding through the international Scouting movement.