June 2020 News/Columns

Waypoints: Trust, by Geremy Olson

Dan and I received this “Voyageur’s Award” from the man we paddled out of the wilderness that night. Photo by: Geremy Olson


Waypoints: Trust

Learning to fish and live life.

by Geremy Olson

Sometimes earning someone’s trust means swallowing a bitter pill.

Trust is an important commodity that is learned by example


WayPoint: You may want to be trusted or even feel that you deserve to be trusted. Remember trust is built one decision at a time and can be broken with only one wrong decision.


I will never forget back in the dark ages when North Dakota had a fishing opener the week after Mothers Day in May each year. The night before fishing opener, my sophomore year in high-school, we received 14-plus inches of snow. In spite of the snow it was warm outside and I was packing to go out and catch some fish when my dad deflated my dreams of an epic day on the water with the words “not today.”

What was so frustrating to me was the weather wasn’t any worse than it had been all school year and I never got the “not today” comment when it came to school. Worse yet, my friends went out that day and crushed the fish on the tailrace while I was at home licking my wounds and shoveling a lot of snow.

I didn’t raise a fuss I experienced that day because I respected my dad. Deep down I knew he had a reason for me not going that day and I needed to listen without complaining. My respect for his decision payed off because for the next two years of school I was free to go fishing anywhere and anytime I wanted as long as I didn’t break his trust. Believe me when I say I fished a lot. It was not uncommon for me to come home from fishing overnight to shower just in time to make it to school.

I wasn’t allowed to go fishing that May Day, my sophomore year in high school, but dad was just fine with having me work outside. I was bitter but obviously managed a smile for the camera anyway.

It was two years after the snow storm fishing opener when my dad and I were on a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota with a group of scouts and leaders. Things went pretty well for the first couple days as we paddled our way along the Canadian border. I didn’t know it at the time but one of the adult leaders had been struggling with an illness but figured he would get better with the prescription and some fresh air during the trip.

After supper one night dad came to me and my best friend, Dan, and said, ”I need you two to get him to the emergency room.”

Instead of getting better, the other leader’s condition had worsened. I knew it had to be bad because dad was asking us to go at night.

I grew up fishing at night in a canoe and the dark didn’t scare me. But wilderness canoeing is very different. It’s easy to get lost in the daytime with all the islands, points and channels combined with the reflections of the trees. One trip we helped someone who had gotten lost twice before they made it one mile from the entry point. That night we knew we would be navigating by map, compass, flashlight and counting strokes; all while not being able to see the person in the front of the canoe.

Long before our overnight canoe trip, Dan and I had been learning how to survive in the outdoors together

It took a little over five hours to get to a landing and another hour to get our patient to the emergency room. Dan and I slept in the van that night, grabbed breakfast and paddled back to the group, that was waiting for word, camped near the Canadian border.

Dad has never told me why he never let me go on that May fishing opener and yes, I was bitter about it for years. However, I respected his decisions and two years later he trusted me with a task most people couldn’t achieve even today with a GPS. I only needed to be selfish once with my decision making and I would have lost the trust I had earned in those two years. Since then, I have learned that it doesn’t matter how old a person is, selfish decisions break trust, regardless if there are people there to see it or not.

You may want to be trusted or even feel that you deserve to be trusted. Remember trust is built one decision at a time and can be broken with only one wrong decision.

(Geremy Olson grew up in the outdoors. After being burned as a volunteer firefighter, he had to figure out how to teach outdoor skills to his children from a wheelchair while learning to walk. Today he is an inspirational speaker, Fellowship of Christian Athletes North Dakota Coordinator, ND AIM Tournament Director, Outdoorsman, Producer, Wildfire Consultant & Public Speaker (GOspeaks.live) He is also the proud father of the owners of Missouri Secrets Tackle.)


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