Tom Carter has had an interesting life wherein he learned life lessons from several “chiefs.” Tom is known to Tribal Members as Sagamore Little Swift Charging Ram, and one of his earliest camp memories was dealing with an unknown Chief following his first Call Night at Bartle.
Tom relates that his strongest and most vivid memory before becoming a Tribesman was after his first call night as a first-year camper at Bartle. The ceremony had closed and he was standing near the fire when he noticed he had broken the leather thong of his camping totems from the troop’s monthly campouts. He was looking on the ground for them when he felt a presence over him. He was most surprised to see a Chieftain in all of his tribal attire asking Tom what happened. Tom explained what happened and that Chieftain stayed there helping him look for those little plastic discs. All the hundreds of campers in that council ring and it seemed to Tom that Chieftain was just there to help him. Tom says, “That left a lasting impression on me and how I really first saw Mic-O-Say.”
Later in life, Tom worked doing advance work for eight years for another “chief,” President George W. Bush, the 43rd “Commander-in-Chief” of the United States.
But let’s go back to the beginning of Tom’s MOS experience…
Tom was in Troop 240 from Harrisonville, which he says is one of the older troops in the Council. He says he was “very fortunate to be in a troop with a great bunch of guys and more importantly a wonderful bunch of leaders and fathers.” Troop 240 had monthly camp outs, two big float trips a year plus camp at Bartle. Tom also notes the Troop had its own Drum & Bugle Corp and participated in many parades and Council events in Kansas City.
Tom notes the Troop 240 leaders became Honorary Warriors as they were helping their sons, Tom and his father included. Tom notes an important aspect all Tribal Members should remember with respect to the young Scouts. “I saw how much the Tribe meant to them and how serious they took it. That had a direct influence on all of us. Everyone considered it a great honor to be a Tribesman.”
Tom vividly remembers Call Night of his first summer at camp.
“My reaction to Call Night was the sound, speed & quiet. The sound of the drums that seemed to vibrate within me. The speed of the runners bringing the Called Braves to the Tribal Council. The strongest reaction I felt was to the quiet when the Tribal Council member spoke to the campers who would not hear their names called.” Tom notes “the silence besides the crackling fire, and sounds of the woods when he wasn’t speaking had an energy that still affects me every time.”
And Tom remembers what it felt like to be called as a Brave. “The thing that struck me most about being a Brave was two things. I genuinely felt that I was being tested. I did not want to let anyone down including myself. I respected everything so much that I saw in the Tribe and wanted to be a part of that. It was also the most serious thinking I had done on important issues in my life.”
Like many Tribesmen, Tom spent summers on the camp staff. He recalls the men who influenced him most. “Pappy Grube, Don Ross, Bill Lewis just to name a few (who) had an enormous influence on me. I saw how they conducted themselves as Tribesmen and men…. Through them and my own experiences I saw how you could genuinely have a lifelong impact on a young Scout in a single session. Tom says the examples of those men made him realize what a great opportunity, influence, and responsibility one person could have.
Like most Tribesmen, Tom eventually had to “get on” with his life and his career. He credits his successful transition from Scouting to his career to the life lessons learned in scouts and Mic-O-Say. After graduate school he became involved in government and politics, eventually landing as assistant Secretary of State to now-Senator Roy Blunt. Tom says his MOS values were with him every step of the way. He chartered a troop in Jefferson City that camps at Bartle and Sen. Blunt and his son Andy are both members of the Tribe. Sen. Blunt is a Sachem.
Tom’s “Pappy Mounts” reside in a wooden case made by his father, and during his time in Jefferson City the case hung on the wall in his office in the Capitol. Tom relates a particularly memorable story. One day a select group of Scouts from around the state were at the Capitol visiting the Governor and other elected officials. They stopped by Secretary Blunt’s office, and one young man introduced himself as a Tribesman. Tom took him into his office and showed him his claws. That young Tribesman was Aaron Guest, now a Medicine Man and one of Tom’s better friends. Tom notes the reach of the Tribe is, indeed, amazing.
Tom’s stint with Sen. Blunt led him to an assignment in the George W. Bush administration doing advance work for the President for eight years. Tom now does government consulting. He says, “The skills and values I learned in Scouts and in Mic-O-Say are played out daily in my life.”
Tom says the influence Mic-O-Say has had on his life can’t be measured. He says his reflections from going through the Brave Ceremony formed the character of his life. Those reflections made him who he is, with the support of his family. He says Mic-O-Say gave him values, a sense of purpose and instilled in him the importance of responsibility.
Tom calls it a privilege and responsibility to continue to grow and be a positive influence on others. He mentors many young men and says the values with which he mentors came from Scouts and the Tribe. He says it matters not if those he mentors are in Scouting or not.
Mic-O-Say and scouting showed Tom there are “no small things.” He says, “You never know what matters, or what will be a point of positive influence to young men, or how you treat and interact with anyone.” Tom says it all goes back to “friendship and warmth” in your heart.
Tom Carter learned the lessons of leadership, friendship and warmth from many chiefs – inside and outside of Mic-O-Say - and he continues to pass those lessons on today.