[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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.