In the Boy Scout world, this Food For Families stalwart is a superstar

Ellie Morrison. (BSA photo)
Ellie Morrison. (BSA photo)(KWTX)
Published: Nov. 16, 2018 at 5:55 PM CST
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A Waco woman who’s a fixture at the annual Food For Families drive in her role as a veteran local Boy Scout leader is also among the organization’s top national leaders.

Ellie Morrison is most recognizable when she’s wearing her Scout uniform; she wears it well and has for 35 years, but now she not only represents Scouts in Waco, but also serves Boy Scouts all over the country and those around the globe, as well.

“Stepping into the role of national commissioner is an honor and a humbling experience,” Morrison says in her statement published on the Boy Scouts webpage.

By assuming the role she joins Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh and former chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young Jim Turley, a 25-year Scout volunteer and the new national chair, to make up BSA’s National Key 3.

Key 3s—groups of three leaders—guide Scouting at every step from individual units to the district, council, regional and national levels.

The Scouting webpage credits Morrison as: “an assistant Scoutmaster from Waco, who has helped develop proven methods for creating and growing Scouting units.”

She’s no stranger to KWTX because she ramrods troops of Boy Scouts every November during the Food For Families drive.

Food for Families, held annually for nearly three decades on the Friday before Thanksgiving, has grown into the largest one-day food drive in Texas and area Boy Scouts do lots of the heavy lifting every year.

She started her romance with Scouting when her husband, Eddie, a retired physician, started a Scout group locally and told her “you’re going to have to run this,” she said.

Eddie is an Eagle Scout and the troop that the couple oversees at First Methodist Church has produced more than 100 Eagle Scouts during the Morrison’s watch.

“It’s a joy and a journey,” she said, “born of positive influence.”

Morrison says Scouting offers young men--and starting in February, young women--a base of knowledge about living life, about specific things like cooking or camping, and about being a credit to society.

The Scout office currently is preparing for the surge, Effie Delimarkos, communications director for the Boy Scouts of America’s National Service Center, said.

“While our mission remains the same – to prepare youth for life--we are excited to make Scouting something that more families can participate in together.

“So far, we’ve seen great interest in the opportunity with over 53,000 girls having registered in Cub Scouting this year,” Delimarkos said.

It’s a formula that works, and can easily be seen.

“Just look around you,” Morrison said.

“Those things we see, the bridges, the skyscrapers, the space shuttle pilots, those things you see, a lot of them were done by men who are Eagle Scouts.”

It’s all built on the enduring 40-word Scout Oath, that Scouts will say is a daily primer on how to live life: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

The Scout Law referred to lists 12 points that, if adhered to, makes each Scout a benefit to society.

Each of the 12 laws is a goal for every Scout, every day and meeting the mark is not always easy, but a Scout always tries.

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,” Scout Law says.

Seeing young people grasp those principles is a joy to watch, Morrison said.

One can’t tell by looking that Morrison is 70; her blue eyes are piercing, she steps at the pace of a teenager, quick-thinking and quick to respond, she’s hardened and principled about her responsibility in the Scouting culture and she is, without question, dedicated to her task.

She sells Scouting like she was selling ice cubes to Eskimos and she’s really good at it, but she credits what she’s learned in the trade.

“This is all because of the foresight of Robert Baden-Powell (credited as the founder of scouting in Britain in 1908) and what he brought to boys,” Morrison said.

The Boy Scouts of America and the version of Scouting they enjoy had its origin in London in 1909 where, on a foggy day, the story goes, visiting Chicago publisher William Boyce got hopelessly lost.

About a year earlier, January 24, 1908, the first edition of Robert Baden-Powell’s handbook “Scouting for Boys,” was published and English boys bought them off newsstands like lightening.

One of those “Boy Scouts” encountered Boyce on the street and helped him get to his destination, then refused a tip, saying a Boy Scout would not accept payment for a good deed done.

After all, Boyce’s destination was his hotel, which was pretty much across the street from where he was standing.

But the encounter so affected Boyce that when he returned to the U.S., he began organizing regional boy’s groups, like the Sons of Daniel Boone and the Woodcraft Indians into one organization, the Boy Scouts of America, which then was incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910.

It didn’t take long for the movement to spread across the country.

Not to be out done, in 1912 in Savannah, Ga., Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America.

Baden-Powell based his handbook on a military manual he’d authored in 1899 for the British Army and he quickly learned boys in Britain loved the lessons on camping and tracking, and observation of wildlife and soon the groups were organizing games based on lessons in the book.

The Scouting version of the book also became a primer for young boys, emphasizing the importance of morality, truth, doing good deeds and service to the community.

In 1916, Baden-Powell organized clubs for even younger boys, called Wolf Clubs that soon caught on in the U.S., too, in the Cub Scouts.

The first International Boy Scout Jamboree was held in London in 1920 and Baden Powell was named Chief Scout of the World.

He died in 1941 but left an unequaled legacy.

That legacy drives Morrison, she says, as she now serves as the 11th national commissioner of the BSA and is the first woman to serve in the role.

Outside of Scouting, Morrison has served First United Methodist Church in Waco in many roles, including director of Christian education and children’s ministries.