About 5,000 Boy Scouts assembled in South Jordan this weekend for their annual fall "Jamboral" campout, and Sean Scott fit in like a tinfoil dinner — just another kid wearing baggy pants with a cell phone in the pocket.

But he sure did stand out when the Scouts held their formal program Friday night and gave the 13-year-old from the Mount Olympus area this year's "Medal of Merit," an award that recognizes "outstanding service in implementing the ideals and values of Scouting."

This past January, in a story straight out of Boy's Life, Sean saved a widow's house, and possibly the widow's life, when he smelled a gas leak and quickly alerted the woman.

Sean was collecting fast offerings — donations for the poor — for his LDS ward on Sunday morning, Jan. 6, when he was leaving the home of 85-year-old Betty Gallacher. As he walked between the house and the garage, a strong gas odor invaded his nostrils, and if there's one thing a Boy Scout can do, it is smell ...

But let's let Sean tell what happened, in his own words:

"I was walking past her carport and I just smelled gas, you know, so I was wondering if I should go tell her, so first I asked my dad, who was waiting in the car. 'I thought I smelled gas,' I told him. 'Do you think I should go tell her?' He said he would, so I went back and told her and she asked me where I smelled it and I pointed to her gas meter. I don't know, it just felt like it was the right thing to do. It's what they tell you in Scouts: If something's wrong just to fix it and stuff."

"He kept saying, 'Mrs. Gallacher, you have a gas leak, you have a gas leak,'" Betty Gallacher remembers. "I couldn't smell it. I guess I've lost my sense of smell. But he could smell it."

She continued, "I immediately called the gas company and they immediately came up and fixed it, replaced the whole meter. What made it more amazing was that I was leaving town the next day. I was going to Mexico for two weeks. My bags were packed and were right by the door. One spark and my garage could have been gone and maybe my house too when I returned. I went to church that day, his parents were there and I said, 'My gosh, do you know what that boy did?' It was wonderful. I'm glad he's getting his award."

Sean didn't know about the Medal of Merit until this past Wednesday. His Scoutmaster, Steven Knudson, let him know during the weekly troop meeting when he assembled his Scouts and told them that one of them was going to receive a prestigious award for acting in an exemplary Scoutly manner when something didn't pass "the smell test."

Despite all the clues, the fact that Knudson was talking about him wasn't immediately apparent to Sean.

"Like all the other boys, he was like who is it?" says Knudson. "Then it finally sunk in, hey, it's me!"

"Sean is as normal as normal comes in the package of a 13-year-old boy," says Knudson. "He is forgetful, scatterbrained and sometimes he sings to himself when someone is trying to give instructions. But every once in a while he really shows maturity and level-headedness."

And there's a house still standing below Mount Olympus because of it.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.