Executive Director, Food Service
University of Oklahoma
Hometown: Vermillion, S.D.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Secondary Education, University of South Dakota
First full-time job: catering supervisor, University of South Dakota
Married. Wife, Susan; son, Larry, 17; daughter, Leslie, 15.
Being a Boy Scout opened a world of adventure to a young David Annis. Four decades later, he still gives back to the organization that taught him many skills and gave him many friendships. Annis spoke with FSD about scouting’s importance to him.
“I got into scouting as a kid in South Dakota, and I found that I had a lot of opportunities to do things through Scouts. There were opportunities for travel; I attended a national jamboree in Idaho, and then three years later, in 1971, I got to attend a world jamboree in Japan. [At one time] I seriously considered professional scouting or a teaching position with Scouting. And I stayed involved as I got older. I worked at the local Scout camp when I was 15 years old, and I did that for eight years. I spent five summers at the Philmont Scout Ranch [in Cimarron, N.M.].
When we moved down here to Oklahoma, I became an assistant scoutmaster with a local troop, and my son got into scouting. But he never made it past about two years with the program. He never really enjoyed the camping and outdoor activity like I did. But I still remained a part of the program, because I think it’s a great program for kids. It teaches them a lot of life lessons. I’m not as deeply involved as I once was. But I am still an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 777 here in Norman and I still look for opportunities to be involved.
I am an Eagle Scout. The Eagle Scout badge is something that you work very hard for, and it’s quite an honor, but as a kid you don’t understand the real importance of it. When you get into college and beyond, and you can put it on a resume, then you begin to appreciate the value of it. You become part of a kind of fraternity. I know that when I look at a resume or a student application and I see that the student was in Scouting or is an Eagle Scout, it makes me pay a little more attention to that applicant.
Philmont was a wonderful place to spend the summers. I started when I was in college, but even when I got a full-time job with the University of South Dakota, I would have the summers off, so the students would leave campus and I would head to New Mexico and then race back home the day before the students were to return.
I ran the camp headquarters dining hall. Every summer I would start out with a whole new crew. I had a couple of cooks who would come back every year but, for the most part, on June 1, I had to begin training people, and by the 7th or 8th they would have to be good enough to work the opening night banquet for 650 people. It was like starting a new job every year. It was a great experience for me, to try new things like ways to train people. And the side benefit was we were in New Mexico, in the mountains, and we could go to Taos or Santa Fe. It’s a beautiful part of the country.
My dad was a scoutmaster, and perhaps my strongest memory of Scouting back then was working at the local scout camp, and my dad would bring his troop out. I was able to interact and bond with my dad in a completely different way, and it helped me establish a stronger relationship with him.
The most important reason I remain involved in scouting is that it can mean the difference in a kid’s life. So many kids come from broken families and have no strong male role model, so you’re doing something good and making a difference.”