Boy Scouts set to present King with Silver Buffalo
Word of the honor surprised the semi-retired businessman who splits time between Janesville and North Carolina.
"I don't get involved in things for the sake of getting an award or pat on the back," he said. "I do it to be involved in something I believe in—Boy Scouts.
"It's the most meaningful movement that's impacting the lives of boys positively in character building—in values, in loyalty, in doing the right thing and in learning skills that are going to help them become young adults and good citizens of our country."
When King is honored Friday during the banquet at the Boy Scouts of America's annual national meeting, he will receive the Silver Buffalo Award for distinguished service to youth. According to the organization's website, the Silver Buffalo is "the highest commendation of invaluable contributions that outstanding Americans make to youth."
Since the award's inception in 1925, only five other Wisconsinites have been bestowed this honor.
Don McChesney, regional director of the Northeast Region for the Boy Scouts of America and past Scout executive for the defunct Sinnissippi Council based in Janesville, said King is deserving of the award.
"Steve is a remarkable volunteer for the Boy Scout program," McChesney said. "He's tireless in his service to young people, and gives his time, energy and resources to help develop a young person's full potential. He really, really believes in the Scouting program and the results it has on young folks today."
King, who grew up on the south side of Chicago, first got involved in Scouting as a boy and stayed with it until college. After starting his career and raising a family, he returned to the organization 15 years later—when his boys were old enough to join.
Participating in camp and other outdoor Boy Scout activities and making an Indian headdress with hundreds of feathers remain some of King's fondest memories of Scouting.
After starting as a volunteer assistant Scoutmaster for his oldest boys' troop in Whitewater, King became involved at the council, district, area, regional and national levels of Scouting.
King will relinquish his three-year presidency of the Central Region of the Boy Scouts of America next week to become national vice president for the organization's supply division. The division provides hundreds of Scout shops with uniforms, socks, books and other supplies.
Looking back, King said his biggest contribution to Boy Scouts has been trying to help the organization grow.
"I don't know how well I've done since the growth in Scouting has really gone down over the last several years for a number of reasons," he said.
But King continues his efforts to stabilize those losses and return Scouting to a flourishing organization.
"I've been pretty active in trying to create a new paradigm for marketing Scouting," he said. "I'm trying to find resources to develop more—double and triple—district executives in communities, trying to reverse the trend of consolidation/mergers and bring more boots on the ground in terms of local Scout professionals."