The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Medal of Merit is awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has performed some outstanding act of service of a rare of exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the wellbeing of others.
When Scouts BSA member Leah Jo Maloney set out to hike Mt. Liamuiga on St. Kitts, she had no idea it would be a day that challenged her to utilize her BSA training. Leah Jo and her family set out on a guided hike to the peak of the island, which also happens to be an active volcano. Of the 32 people on the hike, only six wore hiking boots (four of them were Leah, her sister and her parents). Shortly after the hike began, six members of the group turned around when they realized the 3.47 mile climb up the volcano was not a nature hike. After three hours of walking through a steep, lush, dense, and very muddy jungle, the group made it to the summit.
The day took a serious turn as the group was in the early part of their descent. A woman in front of Leah Jo slipped and injured her knee, tearing her ACL. There were three doctors in the hiking group, an endocrinologist, a cardiologist, and a pediatric orthopedist. All three providers assessed the situation and determined that the woman’s knee would need to be stabilized and she would need to be carried for the remaining three miles. Neither of the guides nor the 25 other hikers had any sort of first aid or emergency kit. But Leah Jo did!
Utilizing her first aid training, Leah Jo jumped into action and offered her pink scissors, teal duct tape, and an ace bandage to the surprised orthopedist. Leah Jo then supported the woman’s leg as her knee as wrapped for stabilization. The women then had to be carried down the mountain. Once the group was safely back at home base, Leah Jo – remaining calm – helped treat the various cuts and scrapes that other hikers had received on their way back down the volcano.
Once the group was safely back at home base, Leah Jo helped treat the various cuts and scrapes that people had gotten on their way back down the volcano.
“Leah Jo, our current Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), has been a member of Troop 114G since it was founded on February 1, 2019. Although girls were not able to join the Scouts BSA program for older youth until 2019, linked Troop 114B has a 79-year legacy of helping boys develop Scouting skills and preparedness. Since day one, Leah Jo and other members of her troop have been learning the first aid and survival skills Scouts are known for. As soon as they join, new and younger Scouts participate in advanced training to build a troop legacy of their own,” says Shoshana Nash, Scoutmaster of Troop 114G. “Leah Jo attended NYLT in 2019 and is on staff in 2020. She credits her time in Scouts BSA as giving her the tools to not only help in this dangerous situation, but in her everyday life, her schooling, and her future.”
Most people in the group were woefully underprepared for the challenging hike, including the two guides. However, Leah Jo’s training instilled in her the need to always be prepared. Her commitment to the principles of Scouting literally saved the day. The DAC is proud to have awarded Leah Jo with the Medal of Merit in Scouting via virtual ceremony on April 20, 2020! Her exceptional character reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the wellbeing of others and she demonstrated that to the fullest on St. Kitts.