For John Davis, once a Scout, always a Scout

By The Active Age | August 1, 2022

Courtesy photo Scout leader John Davis, center, was recognized in a ceremony attended by the prince of Luxemborg and king of Sweden.

When John Davis is involved in something, he’s passionate about it.

“I don’t need to head anything up, I just want to be very involved in it.”

Which probably explains why he’s been a Boy Scout since 1951, when he was 11 and growing up in north London, England. Davis, who’s lived in Wichita since 1969, was recognized as a Baden-Powell Fellow by the World Scout Foundation during a ceremony in Dublin earlier this year. The Scouting movement was started in England in the early 1900s by Robert Baden-Powell, a soldier and writer. 

Davis said that when he was growing up, there weren’t a lot of organized activities for kids, and he instantly took to scouting activities like camping and kayaking. Davis rose to a Queen Scout — the British equivalent of an Eagle Scout — then became a Scout leader in 1959.

He moved to Wichita for a job in the aviation industry in 1969, then spent most of his career working on environmental issues for Sedgwick County. Meanwhile, he became an Explorer advisor for teen Scouts, trained other adult leaders and joined the board of the Quivira Council, which serves Scouts in central and southcentral Kansas.

Currently, he helps inspect Boy Scout camps and also works at international camps. In the last five years, he’s volunteered at camps in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. There are about 57 million Scouts in 172 countries and territories, a number that’s increased partly because most troops have become co-ed.

“It’s grown immensely in the last couple years, especially in developing countries,” Davis said.

Davis said Scouting gave him “an ability to handle people of all ages and backgrounds and treat everyone with respect.”

Not to mention meeting his wife, Jenny, on a Scouting expedition in Switzerland. Jenny, who died in 2016, was a Girl Guide, the female equivalent of a Boy Scout at the time.

The fellowship ceremony was held at the historic Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, with new fellows presented to King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Crown Prince Guillame of Luxemborg, whose families are longtime Scouting supporters. Davis said that although there wasn’t time for much small talk, both were “very sociable,” and he informed the prince that he’d met his grandfather at a Scouting event in 1963.