Remembering Kent Clayburn, devoted advocate for international Scouting

Kent Clayburn, a devoted Scouter whose visionary leadership as the BSA’s international commissioner established valuable connections around the world, died on July 20 after a seven-year battle with cancer.

Clayburn, an Eagle Scout, spent more than 50 years in service of Scouting — much of it while representing the Boy Scouts of America on the world stage.

As international commissioner and a member of the BSA’s international committee, Clayburn traveled the world, visiting more than 50 countries to see how they put their unique fingerprints on the Scouting movement he loved so much.

At each stop, Clayburn strengthened the BSA’s connections with other national Scouting organizations and the World Organization of the Scout Movement, using his professional skills as a financial manager to make decisions that were both Scout-focused and fiscally responsible.

He was also instrumental in adding youth positions to the BSA’s international committee — ensuring that young people had a literal seat at the table.

Friends and Scouting colleagues say Clayburn was uniquely suited for these prominent roles because of his optimistic spirit.

“Everyone liked Kent because he made a difference,” says BSA National Chair Dan Ownby. “He was always fun to be with — even when you had to discuss difficult issues.”

BSA National Commissioner Scott Sorrels says Clayburn’s relentless positivity could best be summarized by the three words that became his catch phrase: “It’s all good.”

“Kent will be long remembered for his kind soul and incredibly positive approach to his Scouting adventures,” Sorrels says. “I am blessed to have hiked the Scouting trail with him.”

While Clayburn cared more about building personal connections than receiving awards, his Scouting service was recognized with regularity.

In 2009, Clayburn received the Silver Buffalo Award, the BSA’s top honor for volunteers. In 2017, he was given the Bronze Wolf Award, World Scouting’s highest recognition. And in a virtual ceremony held earlier this year, Clayburn received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, which recognizes Eagle Scouts who have reached extraordinary national-level recognition.

Welcoming the world

Clayburn’s legendary service to Scouting might have been most felt at those grand celebrations of Scouting known as Jamborees. He served on staff at six BSA National Jamborees and four World Scout Jamborees.

At the 2011 World Scout Jamboree in Sweden, Clayburn served as deputy camp chief. At the 2019 event, held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, Clayburn took on the role of operations director.

“He brought to the table a world of friendships that served the Jamboree well,” Sorrels says.

Lou Paulson, incoming BSA international commissioner, says words can’t explain the impact that losing Clayburn will have on the BSA and the youth of the world.

“Anyone who spent a moment with him knew what a special person he was,” Paulson says. “Kent’s vision for the future of international Scouting will carry on and be part of his enduring legacy.”

A lifelong Scout and volunteer

Clayburn, who was born in 1956 in Kansas, spent most of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a third-generation Eagle Scout — following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in earning the highest rank in Scouting.

After high school, Clayburn earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University–Chico and a master’s degree in business administration from St. Mary’s College in California. His held a number of positions in financial management before founding Clayburn Wealth Management.

Outside of Scouting, Clayburn was an active community volunteer. He served as president of the San Francisco Bond Club, raising money to bring financial education to high school students. He also coached high school basketball for 10 years.

Clayburn spent his final days surrounded by his wife, Constance, and their daughter, Alexia.

Clayburn was preceded in death by his son, Evan Clayburn, who was also an Eagle Scout. Evan Clayburn, a polymath who played several musical instruments and recorded six albums, died of colon cancer in 2019.

Remembering Kent Clayburn

A virtual memorial service will be held for Kent Clayburn at 6:30 p.m. PDT Aug. 18 on this Facebook page.

Friends can share thoughts, stories and remembrances by posting them here. What you share may be used during the program, and all will be given to the family. If you plan to post a video, please keep it under two minutes long.

At that event, friends and fellow Scouters can remember a man whose kindness and positive attitude — that reminder that “it’s all good” — changed countless lives.

“He was a leader, a mentor and a friend to everyone,” Paulson says. “He is already missed.”

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.