Lifelong Boy Scout Mike Olsen of Double Oak has been appointed Tonkawa Boy Scout District Chairman for the next two years.
Some might shrink from this challenge, but not Olsen. On any given weekend, he can be found rappelling down steep cliffs, heading up High Adventure canoeing expeditions, and hiking treks longer than most would care to contemplate. Olsen, a father of eight, makes Scouting seriously cool.
With much the same optimistic spirit he had when he undertook Philmont Scout Ranch’s legendary 75-mile hike, Olsen is stepping boldly forward, ready to enthusiastically serve an organization that has been part of his life for as long as he can remember.
Attaining the rank of Eagle at the age of 14, Olsen was the second of eight brothers to achieve Scouting’s highest honor, a feat so remarkable his family was featured in the 1998 edition of People Magazine. There has not been a gap in his Scouting activity for over 40-years.
“It’s hard for me to know what’s Scouting and what’s Mike,” says Heather Olsen, Mike’s wife of 25-years. “Scouting has made him incredibly honorable. There is a sense of honor that comes from the Scouting program that helps young men live up to commitments and set goals.”
Mike knows something about that from his 20 plus years of adult leadership experience in Scouting. He has served as District Advancement Chair, helping many boys finish their trail to Eagle Scout, going the extra mile in many cases to ensure boys have the best opportunity to attain their goal. While remaining firm and consistent to the values and rules of the Scouting program, he has created a positive environment for the boys in their Eagle Scout Board of Review.
While attending a Wood Badge program, he envisioned a local regional Scout camporee geared towards bringing Varsity and Venturing age scouts together. With the help of others, he executed the planning of an event that evolved into a council Mountain Man Rendezvous that has served thousands of area boys.
His strong sense of community inspired him, along with Lewisville City Council member, TJ Gilmore, to involve local leaders on Eagle Boards of Review, enriching the Scout’s Eagle experience and providing the community a window into how Scouting’s focus on service benefits everyone.
Olsen earned Tonkawa District’s Bryant S. Hinckley Award in 2008 for “distinguished service by a Scouter whose efforts have benefited [scouts of all ranks] over time” and also received the District Award of Merit in 2015 for “Scouters who render service of an outstanding nature at the district level.”
As District Chairman, Olsen has set a number of goals, but his main focus is, and always has been, the young men themselves.
“Youth are very hard on themselves and often each other. Developing self-confidence and an awareness of their identity is so critical in today’s society. There are so many things competing for their time and attention, including activities at home, school, and church. They also have the challenge I didn’t face as a youth to figure out the proper use of technology and social media. Scouting provides the perfect programs and safe environment within a scout’s patrol to allow boys to develop self-confidence, character, leadership, and provide opportunities to give service in their communities with other youth their age who share similar ideals,” said Olsen, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts with over 37,000 units serving half a million boys.
“Duty to God has always been part of scouting, but National [Boy Scouts of America] is making a bigger emphasis on it,” noted Olsen. “At the district level I want to see if we can help the Scout leaders take a larger role to help our Scouters plan how they will fulfill their Duty to God. Scouts are going to be asked that question. I want to make sure they map out a plan with their Scout leaders. I believe, for the most part, that our scouts are doing their Duty to God; I just think it’s our job as leaders to help them reflect on how they are doing that and try to think about that more.”
Submitted by E.J. Ray