OTTAWA – The Ottawa District of Three Fires Council recently created the John “Mac” McKenzie Spirit of Scouting award to honor John McKenzie, an Eagle Scout who has dedicated his life to the Boy Scouts of America’s program for youth. The aim of this special award is to recognize Scout leaders who display unconditional devotion and enduring commitment to youth and leaders, much as McKenzie has done for the last 72 years. This award was first and recently bestowed on Bob Bucciarelli of Bartlett.
McKenzie was born in Decatur and grew up in Mendota. At age 9 – the youngest age at that time to join Cub Scouts – he joined Pack 106. At age 12, McKenzie graduated to Troop 106. He earned the coveted Eagle rank on April 6, 1950. That same year, he attended the National Jamboree at Valley Forge and seeing two U.S. Presidents – President Truman and, at the time, General Eisenhower.
McKenzie graduated from Mendota High School in 1954. Once he reached 18, he joined the Army, was stationed in Europe and was part of the Drum & Bugle Corp. After his service, he attended Illinois State University, married, and had two children by the time he graduated. He pursued a teaching career that saw him working with middle schooler and high schoolers. He spent 31 years as a classroom teacher and then was a substitute teacher for 29 more years.
In 1962, McKenzie and his wife, Doris, moved to Aurora, where they raised their five children. All four of his sons are Eagle Scouts, all are 50+ year veteran Scouters, and one received the District Award of Merit.
In 1971, McKenzie became active again in Scouting when his oldest son joined Troop 11 (chartered by Wesley Men’s Club) in Aurora. He quickly became Scoutmaster, as the position opened. After that, he served on the Troop Committee and as Committee Chair. Over the years, he has held various positions, including district advancement chairperson, district chairperson, summer camp program director and camp director. In addition, he is a mentor for adult Scout leaders (both volunteers and professionals).
McKenzie’s efforts have been recognized with many prestigious awards, including Silver Beaver (1977), Distinguished Eagle (1986), Silver Antelope (1989) and Council Alumnus of the Year (2019).
“Now I raise money,” McKenzie stated, matter-of-factly.
Over the years, McKenzie has developed relationships with Scouters and non-Scouting families. While he does not disclose his own giving publically, he has been recognized for his yearly efforts to raise a significant amount of donations. His never-ending efforts for donations to his beloved program help ensure its longevity and the impact it has on today’s youth, instilling leadership skills and character.