PIEDMONT, Mo. (KFVS) - Most days of the week you’ll find Mark Smith tucked beneath the trees of Camp Lewallen in rural Wayne County, Missouri.
“This is my solitude out here,” said Smith. Instead, he’s always moving, always mowing, always fixing something. “We have 43 buildings out here and every one of the needs a little TLC at different times … you get to be mechanic, gardener, electrician, plumber.”
Mark volunteers his time to do maintenance and upkeep so that Camp Lewallen is always prepared for the hundreds of Scouts that converge and camp there.
“By the end of the week the kids are so worn out,” said Smith. “That’s our goal. We hope they’ve had so much fun they are just wore out before we send them home on Saturday.”
When hundreds of boys converge on the property s you can image in, a lot of things break.
“Boy, the pluming is fun,” said Smith with a wry grin. “Most of our plumbing has been in place since the 40’s so we always find new water leaks.”
But for Smith, all the back-breaking work he puts in is a labor of love.
“This place keeps me young,” said Smith. “I camped here, I don’t know how many times. Growing up I spent at least 5 or 6 summers at this camp – a week at a time. So, there are a lot of memories all over this camp.”
Smith doesn’t just keep the camp in working order for the campers. When the Scouts themselves are in need of repair, as the camp medical director, Mark’s got that covered too.
“Every kid that comes in gets the best medicine in the world,” said Smith pulling a package of ice pops out of the medical center freezer. “That fixes it if they’ve got an upset stomach, if they’re dehydrated – a Popsicle fixes everything.”
In the camp medical center Mark gets kids help for everything from blisters and cuts to sprains and the occasional broken bone.
At his real job as a paramedic with the Clearwater Ambulance District he handles far worse.
“He goes above and beyond every time, whether it’s the little old lady who broke her hip – he comforts her, or the family that just lost someone,” said Smith’s partner, paramedic Michele Shipley. “He goes above what he’s being paid to do.”
Going above what he’s paid to do is kind of Marks’ thing. Gale Graham is living proof that his extra effort pays off. Graham had a heart attack several years ago, and Mark responded to help.
“I flatlined,” said Graham. “Mark worked on me. He did CPR … basically he never gave up. A few minutes later I was conscious, and we pulled into the hospital and I said, ‘oh we’re here already?’ Mark caught a lot of flack for that because they all thought I was dead or dying. Well Mark did his job and he did his job well. Basically – saved my life. He’s been my hero ever since.”
Graham is just one of six people Smith is credited with bringing back from the brink. However, if you ask him if he thinks he’s a hero – he’ll say no. He says it was Scouting that prepared him for his career, pushed him to help others, and it’s Scouting that brings him back to Camp Lewallen every year.
“Scouting is my life,” said Smith. “It’s what made me who I am. The adult leaders who come out here with the troops that are the true heroes. They do everything. All I do is come out here and provide them a place to come and try to keep the place up and looking good.”
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