[July 21, 2018] A week at Boy Scout camp finished up late last night and we made it home safely and are happy to be back with our families. The troop’s adult leaders and boys holding leadership positions, all of us, came home with a greater appreciation of what practical leadership is about and its realistic application.
One thing I liked about the experience was that adult leaders insisted that senior scouts exercise their leadership. Adults provided guidance and assistance but the boys run the troop and make the decisions. At a weekly meeting this is pretty easy but at a 6-day scout camp leadership is more complex and difficult to apply.
For example, on one occasion we observed the troop’s senior scout go to the front of the food line and sit at a table with his buddies of his age group. I asked the troop a simple question, “When do leaders eat?” The senior scout’s answer, “Oh yeah, leaders eat last.” I was proud of him at that time because he realized in the practical exercise of leadership that he made a mistake and what his correct behavior should have been.
More importantly, his behavior gave the adult leaders a chance to talk about why leadership matters and why. It’s the “why” leadership matters that counts. If you correctly teach practical leadership, then finding the right opportunity is something you must always be on the look for. In this instance, the senior scout also realized that he had to spend time with the new scouts and set the example of how a good leader behaves.
It is a pleasure to see the mental development of boys at Boy Scout camp. It gives us a chance to see them mature in just a few days of fun and challenging events, earning merit badges, competing in outside games, and living the outdoor life. It also means overcoming challenges to get all the boys to different locations across the scout reservation on time and prepared.
For a young teenager, this is a complex business. Building the confidence of our scouts is important but not doing it falsely by telling them they did a good job when they didn’t do it right. We show them what right looks like and then turn them loose.