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What I Learned as a Patrol Leader

posted Apr 11, 2015, 6:43 PM by Pack 105   [ updated Apr 12, 2015, 7:13 AM ]
   I have been in a leading role many times in my life. I have lead my brothers in activities and I have been the captain of a sports team several times in school. But this time I learned what it meant to be a real leader.

    On February 7th, I participated in the Klondike Derby, an outdoorsman skills competition for scouts. Several groups of boys called patrols were assigned 8 different stations that test their outdoor scout skills. Each patrol had to work as a team to complete the stations.

    I was part of the Red Cobra Patrol. We decided that each boy would get to lead 1 or 2 stations. I was chosen to lead 2 stations. The first station I lead was the Flag station. We were required to build and raise a flag on the ground using pieces of wood, a patrol flag, and ropes. We had practiced 3 times a week so I thought it was all under control. Then suddenly one of my patrol mates forgot which knot to use to attach the patrol flag to the pole. The temperatures were really cold, we were assembling our flag on the snow covered ground, our fingers were freezing as we were tying the knots. And now things were not going as planned. We all had a panic attack. My responsibility as a leader was to not just know my part, but know everyone else’s part as well. I did not go up to him and try to do it for him. I told him to calm down and think. He was unable to do that so I reminded him and helped him with it. I learned that things do not always go as planned and that it’s the leader’s job to calm the team down and move on to a backup plan.

    The flag station was a success. We got the flag up the right way. We moved on and did 3 more stations and had lunch. Next up was the compass station which I was supposed to lead again. We had to follow 3 sets of azimuth readings and distances to get from point A. to point D. When we got to the middle, we had a little problem.

    My compass was pointing one way while 2 of my patrol mate’s compasses were pointing another way. I wanted to go the way my compass was pointing. At that point my coach who was observing us asked me, “What is the best decision?” I thought that if 2 out of 3 compasses were pointing in the same direction while one was not, we should definitely follow the 2 that had the same direction. Following my compass would be selfish. We could have failed the compass station if we followed my compass. Eventually we got really close to the right answer. I learned that the leader is not always right and that he should think about the team and trust their skills too.

    What I learned about leadership at the Klondike Derby will always stay with me. A leader is a person who doesn’t give up and always has a backup plan for everything. The most important thing about a leader is that he respects his team. That is the type of leader I want to be.

-Scout A, Webelos I