PROVIDENCE - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, February 22, 2023
William “Mike” Perkins always knew where his heart was. After all, he got into scouting in 1951, while living in Canada. Since then, he has donned the scout uniform, quoted the scout motto and even done a “good turn daily” all over the globe as part of one of the largest youth organizations in the world.
In those more than 70 years, this former longtime Tremonton resident and Bear River Middle School teacher (22 years), now living in Providence, has been in the ranks, learning, up front, teaching and at the top, directing.
Because of his efforts and his example, the Boys Scouts of America will recognize him with the Silver Buffalo award during a Court of Honor at their National Annual Meeting on May 31, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Created in 1925, Scouting’s highest commendation is bestowed upon those who render invaluable contributions and extraordinary service to youth. Just twelve commendations are given out each year to recipients across the nation and only about 800 people have been recognized in the past 98 years.
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“It is rather prestigious,” Perkins said. “I’m really rather honored that they would even consider me. I’m flabbergasted, quite frankly.”
Hearing his scouting history is all one needs to do to realized how qualified Perkins is for this award.
“I spent 30 years as a scoutmaster all over the place,” he said. “I’ve scouted everywhere you can think of in the United States and then I had American units in Korea and Germany. I spent another 30 years as a commissioner. I’ve staffed National Jamborees, World Jamborees – I think 18 of those – I’ve just done lots and lot of scouting things.”
He does it for one reason, and one reason only, he said. “It is about helping kids. I was a scout myself and after I joined the Army (served 25 years) when I was about 20, I didn’t do any for about six or seven years. I was in Texas and all of a sudden somebody asked me to do scouting and I was back in. And the kids I was helping appreciated it. They responded and began doing lots of things and that is why I liked it. I was helping kids.”
He found those same responses in other locations as he worked with youngsters eager to learn and put into action what it meant to be a scout. As he shifted his role to a unit commissioner and then a district commissioner, he was able to help other scoutmasters succeed in their efforts with their troops and packs, as well. In 2017, he received the rarest scouting award of all, that of the Hornaday Gold Medal, given for five decades of conservation work and dedication to the environment. It had only been presented 35 times in the 50 years prior.
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While Perkins is humble about the pivotal role he plays in all levels of scouting and the work he does in helping those under him become better citizens, others he has mentored are quick to give their praise.
Jared Olschewski of Brigham City, who scouted with Perkins for many years, said of the Silver Buffalo announcement, “I could not be more thrilled for him. In fact, I get goosebumps every time I think about it. He is just the most remarkable man and the most devoted scout leader I have ever met. He is as worthy of this as anybody ever has been.”
Olschewski said Perkins worked with him in his early years as a scout leader. “He took me under his wing as a very young adult leader and kind of showed me the ropes.”
It is what this lifelong scouter continues to do even today. Because that’s where his heart is.