Practical Leadership at Boy Scout Camp

By | July 21, 2018

[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.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Practical Leadership at Boy Scout Camp

  1. Ed Berkmeister

    I am late getting to post this week (I was in Canada on a business trip). Personally, having been a boys scout, I can attest to the fact that it was the best experience of my childhood and would recommend it to every boy. I will also note that it was the adult leadership that made this happen. Thank you Mr. Jonathan Freedman – a real man from west Texas – who helped me become a man.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Good point here Ed that the adult leadership is really what makes this happen. It takes dedication to the cause of helping young boys to make this all work out properly.

  2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed today’s article.

  3. Lynn Pitts

    Thank you Brig. Gen. Satterfield for another fine article on Boy Scouting and the practical side of leadership. Everyone should be reading this blog for a daily dose of good leader principles.

  4. Max Foster

    Most people these days simply don’t recognize the importance of boys being around men of good character. Opportunities such as this one, where boy scouts are in contact with adult scout leaders, are more rare than ever before and are often under attack by those who wish to make everyone the same. I applaud Gen. Satterfield and those scout leaders for doing the work necessary to help boys become better men.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Good point, Max. Thanks for your great, on-point comment.

  5. Doug Smith

    Another great blog post to enhance our understanding of “practical leadership.” I really do like this short series on Boy Scouting. Thanks.

  6. Watson Bell

    Nice article. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield.

  7. José Luis Rodriguez

    I enjoyed your two articles this week on the benefits of practical leadership from scouting. I agree that too much we teach our kids is “feel good” stuff and not real leadership that makes them better.

  8. Martin Shiell

    Great post today, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks.

  9. Nick Lighthouse

    This article reminded me of the great times I had as a boy scout. My dad always insisted I go to the meetings and to summer camp too. He was right about scouting making me a better man.

  10. Tracey Brockman

    I have always personally found boy scouting to be a positive benefit for those boys who participate. The adult leaders make all the difference. Looks like your boy scout troop has some of the better adult leaders.

  11. Janna Faulkner

    I’m sure there were many times when you saw the application of practical leadership at this Boy Scout camp. Hurray for the scouting program. Whether it’s boy scouts or girl scouts, these are the types of things that provide our children with hands-on experience to lead but also to have good, clean fun.

  12. Tony B. Custer

    I love it when your blog posts take me back to the fun times when I was a kid.

  13. Bryan Lee

    I’ll be recommending this article to all my friends. Well done and to the point. Practical leadership is something we need more emphasis on in our schools instead of the insane political based, feel good stuff they are teaching now.

  14. Army Captain

    This second post about your experience at Boy Scout camp is a great compliment to your first post a few days ago. It takes me back to the time I was a scout and all the good things we did in scouting. Thanks.

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