Scout Camp: 5 Youth Leadership Challenges

By | July 22, 2019

[July 22, 2019] This is my third article on Scout Camp; where I attended this past week (see the other two here and here).1 Today, I’ll write about the challenges our senior boys had to overcome and, using their own words, explain how they prepared themselves (or not) in advance of camp.

Young boys don’t have the relevant experiences or thinking ability of an adult. They are also easily distracted, focused on their immediate environment, and lack the foresight to plan ahead. These leadership challenges should come as not surprise. Even adults encounter them.

  1. Balancing personal requirements with team leader responsibilities: Experience matters and this is why many leaders fail. For our young boys, they struggled with getting all their personal tasks completed and then also overseeing the younger scouts. They prioritized their own tasks and thus did not complete their leader duties.
  2. Clearly communicating intent, expectations, and vision: It is the job of leaders to communicate what the future will be like and what we will do about it. This must be clear so that the ‘team’ can function to overcome obstacles and stay on their mission.
  3. Lack of specific, scout-related technical skills: This is a pretty simple idea. Being prepared means to identify, practice, and become trained at those skills that are required for success. Our scouts cannot plan adequately in advance and thus they were unable to master what they need to do prior to Scout Camp.
  4. Failure to observe problems: Another problem for our young boys was the inability to identify a problem, come up with a useful solution, and then get others on board to fix it. Certainly, their failure to ‘see’ a problem (especially in its early stages) is at the root of inexperience and why they stumbled in their positions of leadership.
  5. Not delegating responsibility: This is what we often see in junior leaders across all occupations and positions of responsibility. When in charge of completing a task or mission, inexperienced leaders lack trust in those around them. Thus, they are prone to doing the task themselves.

As we all know, leadership is difficult. In some way, all leaders lack abilities to balance requirements with responsibilities, fail to communicate early and often and with clarity, and fail to observe problems as they develop. Leadership at our Scout Camp was complex, ambiguous, and uncertain, especially for our young boys. Scouts in our troop that filled a leadership position learned a lot about these challenges. The question is how long that lesson will last.


  1. I plan on one more article in a few days. This one will be focused on the adult scout leaders; their challenges and failures. For example, there was a poor job in preparation for Scout Camp to identify all the major risks and then take action to prevent potential problems with them.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

27 thoughts on “Scout Camp: 5 Youth Leadership Challenges

  1. Jonathan B.

    This article is, indeed, one of the best I’ve seen on the subject of leadership challenges. It puts it all within the context of new, young boys who are likely experiences the first real leadership lessons of their lives. Rarely do we actually get to hear about the day-to-day effort of junior leaders learning the key skills and barriers to practical leadership. Thanks for a look in the window of boy scouts also.

    1. Mikka Solarno

      Well said. I thought we have a positive message here that needs to be read by other leaders. I find that many junior leaders are quick to complain they don’t have enough time to do their jobs and have a family. This article is a start; to recognize first the challenge and then work to get it all done.

    2. Wilson Cox

      I agree and I also like that the two previous blog entries were linked to for our convenience.

  2. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Great article, very inclusive of major leader challenges.

  3. Tomas C. Clooney

    It’s not often I come across a really practical leadership article. This is one of them.

    1. Kenny Foster

      Yes, and looks like we all get a little out of this experience by Gen. Satterfield and we didn’t have to endure the heat, humidity, and bugs.

  4. Dennis Mathes

    Your list of 5 things that challenge leaders is the best one I’ve seen. It encompasses the major efforts any leader will have to achieve to overcome the everyday problems leaders encounter. Thanks for this blog post, it’s the best one yet. I also agree with others who would like to see more than one additional blog on this topic.

  5. Andrew Dooley

    I think this article identifies the problems ALL LEADERS have and not just boys. They are at the beginning of their lives and this experience at their summer camp will stead them for life. Better to make mistakes now that they have adult supervision than to have them later and fail in an embarrassing moment.

    1. Roger Yellowmule

      Well said, Andrew. You are correct, this applies to all leaders regardless of level. In fact, the higher up you go in leadership the more likely this problem will surface.

      1. Mr. T.J. Asper

        Roger, you are sooooo correct. The more senior you become in an organization, the more the challenges mount up. This is an often-overlooked idea. I teach my students this in High School but only the football players seem to get the concept.

  6. Yusaf from Texas

    “Clearly communicating intent, expectations, and vision.” This is some great insight that rarely goes noticed until an organization fails. That is why I believe leaders fulfill such a valuable role in what they do PRIOR to any mission or task. Great article. Keep them coming our way.

    1. Anita

      I agree with you, Yusaf. I appreciate your analysis going to support Gen. Satterfield. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. Janna Faulkner

    Great article. I look forward to your next in this series. I would hope you continue with the lessons. I know your next one is the last one but try to write another. I loved this mini series.

    1. JT Patterson

      Gen. Satterfield, I agree with Janna. Please write one more, at least, article from your recent experiences at Boy Scout camp.

      1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

        Good news. I too would like to see one more additional blog entry on this topic.

      2. Xerxes I

        Excellent. I think I can say for all of us that we have enjoyed your series from Boy Scout Camp.

  8. Army Captain

    The first one on balancing leader and personal responsibilities have always been a huge challenge for those who lead. That is what makes leadership difficult and so I’m not surprised your scouts had this problem.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      As a business team leader, I agree. This is difficult and one of the reasons people don’t want to be leaders.

    2. Harry B. Donner

      Excellent support for Gen. Satterfield’s first point. Thanks, Army Captain. I always read your comments.

    3. Greg Heyman

      I appreciate you confirming the points made here. 🙂

      1. Army Captain

        Any time, Greg. These articles are spot on and this is my favorite leadership website and a go-to place for me and many of my friends.


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