Larry D. Olsen, ANASAZI Founder

Larry Dean Olsen was born in 1939 near Jerome, Idaho. His unquenchable curiosity in Native American cultures lured him to the great desert wastelands of the Western United States and their ancient inhabitants. As a boy, Larry trekked into remote canyon areas and became adept at living off the land.

Larry’s training came as he experienced survival at its most primitive level. He emulated the Anasazi or “Ancient Ones” and carefully replicated the lifestyle of the Primitive Paiutes of the Great Basin Plateau areas of the western United States. Using tools and weapons of stone and bone, digging roots and trapping game, suffering cold nights without bedding, and hot days without water or even shoes, Larry gained a unique understanding of man in harmony with nature.

In the 1960’s, Larry began teaching classes in outdoor survival in the Division of Continuing Education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, sponsored by the Department of Youth Leadership. His approach to survival, based on the idea that survival training is best achieved by learning to live off the land without previously manufactured gear, won wide approval.

Over the next several years, thousands of university students field-tested Larry’s concepts. In addition to learning survival skills, Larry’s courses proved to be a vehicle for helping young men and women establish lasting values, exercise courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and above all, develop a compassionate respect for human life and its relationship to nature. While at BYU, Larry developed a primitive living course for adjudicated youth from the courts in Utah County. In 1969, he and his staff won a national award for “Youth Rehabilitation Though Outdoor Survival.”

Larry wrote the first edition of Outdoor Survival Skills for his students. The book created an enthusiasm for outdoor education. Outdoor Survival Skills is also well known to the National Parks Service and is sold in the U.S., England, Canada, and Italy. After reading Larry’s book, Robert Redford invited Larry to serve as the technical director for his movie “Jeremiah Johnson.”

In 1988, Larry founded ANASAZI Foundation with his long-time friend and partner Ezekiel Sanchez. ANASAZI Foundation was the first program of its kind to be licensed and later nationally accredited as a behavioral healthcare provider. Larry and Ezekiel are often referred to as the grandfathers of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare field.

Larry completed a bachelor’s degree in Education at BYU with graduate studies in English. He is a Wood Badge trained “Scouter” and has written instructional manuals for the Boy Scouts of America.

Larry is married to Sherrel Eslinger of Twin Falls, Idaho, and they are the parents of ten children.