As a youngster I was fortunate to spend four years living in a small town in the Eifel Mountains of Germany. On numerous occasions I visited nearby Bastogne, Belgium where the Battle of the Bulge was fought during World War II. The battle was one of the defining moments that made General George S. Patton an icon of military leadership.
While Patton was ambitious, egotistical, self centered and loved attention, he also had a reputation as a leader who cared deeply about those he led. In turn, his troops loved and performed spectacularly for him.
In his Letter of Instruction Number 1, Patton shared important guidelines for leaders in his Third Army. While written for military officers in a wartime environment, Patton's advice is just as relevant for leaders in summer camp settings as it was in those difficult days on the battlefields of Europe.
1. Remember that praise is more valuable than blame.
2. Use every means before and after combat to tell troops what they are going to do and what they have done.
3. Discipline is based on pride in the profession of arms, on meticulous attention to detail, and on mutual respect and confidence.
4. Officers must assert themselves by example and voice.
5. General officers must be seen in the front line during action.
6. There is a tendency for the chain of command to overload junior officers by excessive requirements in the way of training and reports.
Welcome to the Summer Camp Leadership blog. For those of us who lead summer camps, making a positive difference in the lives of young people is our passion. Turning that passion into a reality, however, takes more than the ability to lead songs, teach archery or plan craft projects. Creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes leadership. Leadership that creates a vision for the future, leadership that inspires and engages others, leadership that remains focused and stays the course. My hope is through this blog you'll find ideas, inspiration and tools to help you be a great summer camp leader.