Every spring, a column in the Daily News-Record outlines every Scout from the Massanutten District to earn the Eagle Scout rank. Behind the names, faces and countless stories of growth into the highest rank in Scouting is one person: Kemper Dadisman.
Thirty-seven years ago, Dadisman decided to enroll his son in Cub Scouts. What started as occasional help around the den turned into years serving as an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 40 and eventually advancement chair for the Massanutten District. For the hundreds of Eagle Scouts who have graduated from the troop during that time, Dadisman has been the coach guiding and cheering them on.
Dadisman served in virtually every volunteer leadership position with Scouting, from district commissioner to Eagle coordinator, and this year he stepped down from the Eagle Board of Review.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Dadisman said. “I had no real great desire to be anything, any great leadership position. I was just there to help, mostly.”
Dadisman never was a Scout himself, but his ties to the organization run far back. His father-in-law, Glen Robinson, was involved in the first national Scout jamboree held at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Robinson was a member of the Boy Scouts of America for 79 years, receiving the Eagle Scout Award, the District Award of Merit, Vigil Honors and Founder’s Award in the Order of the Arrow and the Silver Beaver.
During Dadisman’s nearly four decades in Scout leadership, he ran at least 12 camporees, including one at Seneca Rocks that was attended by 1,200 Scouts.
“When my son got involved in it, I decided, ‘Well, let’s just see what’s going on here,’ and it just kind of grew on me, I guess,” Dadisman said.
Jim Battaglia is the Scout executive and CEO of Scouts BSA Virginia Headwaters Council, which oversees 13 counties in Northern and Central Virginia. Battaglia met Dadisman three years ago and has both watched and learned as Dadisman has demonstrated invaluable dedication and service, he said.
“Kemper is one of these volunteers who are virtually irreplaceable. … Many folks don’t do it for as long as he has. In fact, few do,” Battaglia said. “There’s no gratitude you can say to him. He’s a true scouter and true community-oriented person.”
District Executive Joshua Calderon has worked with Dadisman in recent years but first met him as a Scout. Growing up in Harrisonburg, Calderon began Scouting at age 12 at Troop 40, based out of Asbury United Methodist Church, and began working closely with Dadisman at age 16 while working on completing the Eagle Scout requirements.
Calderon said Dadisman was an incredible help in helping make sense of the tremendous loads of paperwork and assignments associated with the rank, and as an adult, Calderon continues to look to Dadisman for guidance.
“I actually came back to Scouting and I saw him again, and it reminded me that I have a little bit higher of an expectation to lead by,” he said. “There’s personal touches he put into it. It made a lot of big difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
Jim Kaeli, district chair of the Massanutten BSA, has known Dadisman since moving to the area in 1995. For as long as Kaeli has been district chair, he remembers Dadisman serving on the advancement committee, which Kaeli said he’s done with grace in a pivotal role to nurture the youth through their teens and corral them through the challenges of rising through the ranks.
“He chose to focus on an area that probably had the greatest impact on the youth, which is making sure the boys got the support to become Eagles if that was their wish,” Kaeli said. “That’s a great legacy he has.”
Dadisman said helping and watching the young boys climb into the highest rank has been his greatest joy and what kept him in the program for 37 years.
“It’s just been fun watching the boys mature and grow up. That’s what I’ve enjoyed most, and I’ve truly enjoyed the advancement of it, the boys being recognized for what they’ve done,” he said.
After nearly 40 years of dedicating upward of 20 hours each week, Dadisman is stepping down from his roles as advancement chair and will continue serving with Troop 40 as charter organization representative for Asbury UMC before fully retiring.
“Kemper was part of the old school. He did it for so many years and loved what he did,” Battaglia said. “He’s going to be missed. He’s just one of those people that you’re sad to see go but you understand, and I think the world of him. … In my opinion, there’s only one Kemper.”