Centennial Update: A Day In The Life of Donnie Stephens

By Jasper Davidoff

It is no surprise that our 2015 National Vice Chief Donnie Stephens is a busy person. Between his college studies, student government activities and, of course, the frequent burden of doing laundry ­ one might say that he has quite a bit on his plate. But laundry takes a back seat when you are the second­in­command of Scouting’s National Honor Society. Donnie, justifiably, gets a little scared about all that he must do.

“My biggest challenge this month has been preparation,” he said. “I’ve been making all my obligations but may not always be one hundred percent ready for each of them.” Donnie certainly has a lot of obligations. Donnie also serves as the youth leader for the thematics team for the 2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference, as well as a member of the planning team for the BSA’s contingent to the 2015 World Scout Jamboree. To top it off, nothing tends to happen as planned. Donnie frequently suffers through flight delays on his way to conferences and conclaves and numerous other curve­balls that he is learning to overcome. But for Donnie, it is not necessarily all about the tasks. While his vision of an ideal day consists of a blank to­do list and an on­time flight, he says that a perfect one is made “by forming bonds with new friends and making memories with existing ones.”

But the Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member’s life is more than just work, work and more work. Actually, Donnie’s position provides some awesome opportunities and great memories every day. “I am privileged to meet so many people this year,” he said, “but I specifically enjoy interacting with those brothers who have just been inducted into our Order. My fellow youth leaders across the country are an example of what this organization can help these brothers to achieve, and that’s an awesome thing.”

Donnie’s interactions with Scouters in particular give him a lot to think about. He is grateful for Scouters’ devotion to the cause of Scouting and to youth across the nation. One professional Scouter in Donnie’s home council, he says, “serves as my council’s program director, my camp’s camp director and my lodge’s staff adviser ­ all at once. His passion, perseverance, and willingness to forgo a night of sleep for the good of the program serve as my example in tough times.”

The position of national vice chief is certainly one that merits reflection. Donnie is learning a lot from his work and interactions with others. He contrasts his studies and extracurricular life with his role in the Order of the Arrow, saying that he has been “put in a position in which I work not for myself, but for others. This lesson of dedication for other’s sake is one that [he] will never forget.” He recounts his fear that his words and actions carry a lot of weight, and that he needs to be more cautious. However, “I came to the realization that nothing had actually changed,” he comments. “As Arrowmen ­ our actions are held to a high standard. This position has made me more aware of what was already true.“

As time moves on, Donnie chooses to focus on what the future holds for the Order. “Currently, we’re set to build upon our tradition of service in a way that Scouting, and the world, has never seen before,” he says. “I’m excited to be a part of a movement which cultivates a culture of selflessness in the minds of youth today.”

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