Day Twenty-Two – The Crew Leader

[May the King] rule your people righteously…
That the mountains may bring prosperity to your people.                                          Psalm 72

I’ve hinted about him (or her) before – the Crew Leader.  The Psalmist referred to King David and his son Solomon, but for 12 days, a youth has become the ruler of righteousness, and may he rule the Crew with justice, wisdom and strength of character.

First day, the Crew Leader along with the Advisor meet with Logistics to learn some of the rules and helpful advice and a thorough going over of the itinerary, including marking the Crew map – a colored square around one camp, a triangle in a different color, and a circle in a third to indicate which camps are to be passed through (and where water can be found), which are to be campsites for a night, and which ones are for program activities such as shotgun yesterday, pole sparring today, tomahawk throwing in a few days.  Remember these are Scouts – fun activities.  No burro races for Troop One, though.

For three days a Ranger will lead the Crew and make sure everything is going to go well.  She or he will offer any advice, occasionally allowing the Crew Leader to get lost and then help him (or her) discover how and where they went wrong and how not to do it again.

Then on the third morning, the Ranger is gone and the Crew Leader panics!  He (or she) is anointed King.  And the heavy mantle of weight falls on his shoulders for the next week.  Will they get the gold medal or will there be a mutiny along the way?  And what happens when the best laid plans of mice and men…

Justice comes in the CL’s assignment of chores and a rotation of who does what which day.  Everyone must do their part or the Crew falls apart.  An arbitrary rotation doesn’t always work.  Some Scout may be adept at tying knots and throwing ropes over cables to raise the “bear bags” up out of the reach of bears.  Another may be proficient at making any trail meal not only edible, but enjoyable.  So why it may be ‘justice’ to have Sam be the cook today, it may be more ‘mercy’ to have John cook the main meals at least every day.  And all will say ‘grace’ far above justice and mercy!  (Pun intended).

This is only a sample of the responsibility placed upon a Crew Leader.  And it is a gentle, kind and understanding (if not tolerant) Adult Advisor who will sit back and laugh, and when needed offer helpful and kind hints.  Remember that the Crew Leader is young, inexperienced and scared stiff!  But I have seen many of them, as I mentioned a few days ago, grow from boyhood to manhood all in the course of a week.

While we think of Eagle Scouts as ‘getting a project done,’ it is actually an exercise in building leadership skills.  And I can think of no better way of learning leadership than being given the responsibility as a Crew Leader on a Philmont trek.

But please, pray for the King!  “May the King rule your people righteously.”

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