Then and Now: Larry Carpenter
Larry Carpenter is currently a member of Wa-Hi-Na-Sa Lodge of Middle Tennessee Council #560. He is attending NOAC 2004 with his lodge contingent as an adviser and a father. In 1975, things were very different. He attended the 1975 NOAC as an honored guest of then National Chief, Brad Haddock. He was invited to attend because he was then serving as the National Exploring President.
Q. How was the National Exploring President elected?
A. He was elected at the National Exploring Congress, which was held each year in Washington, D.C. The election process was similar to the way current political parties nominate their candidates for President of the United States. Around 3000 delegates would come to the conference. Delegates would stay up most of the night giving speeches, and voting until they narrowed it down to two candidates. At that point everyone would go to bed and the final vote would be taken the next morning. Once the winner was declared, they would get in a limousine and drive to the White House where the President of the United States would give him the oath of office. It was neat for me because after Gerald Ford gave me the oath, I got to present him with the Silver Buffalo award since he was the first Eagle Scout to become President.”
Q. How has Exploring, and Scouting in general, changed since you were President?
A. "There is a lot more specialization these days. In the 70's there were two exploring programs, high adventure and the career oriented. This often created confusion within the program because there wasn't one clear purpose. Today, it is much more clear with venturing focusing on high adventure and outdoor things while exploring focuses on career development."
Q. What is the biggest difference you notice between the 2004 NOAC and the 1975 NOAC?
A. "I’d have to say all the women walking around these days. In the 70’s women weren’t allowed in OA."
Q. Give us an idea of what being the National Exploring President was like.
A. "It was a full time job. I actually took a year off from college to do it. During my term, I visited 37 states and seven foreign countries. I was in the White House four times as a youth advisor to President Ford, and even got to watch the Apollo/Soyuz space launch sitting next to Ted Kennedy."
Q. How has being the Exploring President affected your life?
A. "It taught me at a young age how to lead a very large organization, and really how to communicate. Being the Exploring President actually lead to my career choice as a business major."
Q. What is your current job?
A. "I am the owner of my own business called "FaithWorks." We are the world's largest distributor of Christian products - everything from books and music to videos. We represent over 300 companies that carry 4,000 products."
Q. What is your current role in Scouting?
A. "Today I'm a Scoutmaster and sit on my Council's Executive Board. I was a Venture Crew Advisor until my daughter became too old for the program. I was also Clay Capp's Lodge Adviser when he was the National Order of the Arrow Chief. I'm not involved at the National level anymore."