Curiosity drives achievement, say Explorers Club honorees

By Doris Lee McCoy

If you have a yearning for adventure and exploration, one place to find it is at the Explorers Club. It is an international organization, filled with people who want to climb new mountains, dive in the deepest waters, pass over Earth’s poles, and break new records.

The club’s 109th annual dinner was held on March 16 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City to honor John Glenn and Scott Carpenter (the two surviving astronauts from the Mercury Seven team), and producer/director James Cameron.

James Cameron and Doris McCoy. Courtesy

Glenn and Carpenter each received the “Legendary Explorers Medal” at the party, Cameron received the “Explorers Medal.”

During the reception, the honorees were asked to name the most important trait an explorer can posses. Both Glenn and Cameron agreed it is curiosity; if one wishes to expand one’s horizons in any way, it all starts with curiosity.

Brothers Jim and Mark Fowler usually bring exotic animals to the event, and it is not unusual to see a falcon flying around the top of the dining-room ceiling. The Explorers Club has its headquarters in the Lowell Thomas Building in New York City, where every floor is filled with sculptures, special club flags, and pictures of members, past and present. These include Robert Perry, co-discoverer of the North Pole; Sir Earnest Shackleton, who rescued his stranded crew in Antarctica; Chuck Yeager, the first person to break the sound barrier; Sally Ride, the first woman in space; President Theodore Roosevelt; Buzz Aldrin, the second astronaut to walk on the Moon; Jane Goodall and others.

John Glenn

When President John F. Kennedy challenged the country to become a leader in space exploration, an elite group, the Mercury Seven, were chosen to fulfill the challenge. They were considered to be the country’s best and the brightest. John Glenn, a retired U.S. Marine Corps pilot and a future U.S. Senator was one of those seven. He became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962.

Those of us who witnessed this triumph remember announcer Walter Cronkite’s on-air excitement over the successful orbit. Later, after Glenn left NASA, he was elected to the Ohio Senate as a Democrat, serving for four terms. At age 77, he again flew on the shuttle Discovery, and still holds the record for being the oldest man in space.

Annie Glenn with John Glenn at left.

Although Glenn is now age 91, he is in great shape and strongly involved with the John and Annie Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Both John and Annie were born and raised in New Concord, Ohio. (Side note: John, Annie and I attended the small undergraduate school, Muskingum College, in New Concord. John has made such a mark on the college that it named the gymnasium after him.)

James Cameron

Academy Award-winning film director and deep-ocean pioneer James Cameron became the first person to descend to the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth, on March 26, 2012. He went down below some seven miles in a single, piloted vehicle, which was co-designed with members of La Jolla’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who were on hand to celebrate with Cameron, along with the expedition’s Captain Don Walsh.

Cameron is also known for his feature-film, “Titanic,” for which he won 11 Oscars. His 2009 film, “Avatar,” which earned $2.8 billion worldwide, is the only film to surpass it financially. Cameron is the founder of the Avatar Alliance Foundation, a non-profit with the focus on studying climate change and the loss of indigenous lands and cultures.

— Doris Lee McCoy, Ph.D., of La Jolla, is a longtime member of The Explorers Club and the author of several inspirational books including, “The Magic of Gross National Happiness,” “Megatraits: 12 Traits of Successful People,” “Explorers of the 21st Century,” and “America’s New Future: 100 New Answers.” Her latest book is “Visionaries Change The World.”  Find all at

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Posted by Staff on Apr 4, 2013. Filed under La Jolla Life, Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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