A valuable lesson on leadership for our youth leaders!

Leadership - What Makes a Good Patrol Chief?

Hi, my name is Jennifer, and I am 13 years old. We are members of a new FNE Explorer Company. Within our Company, we need to select a Patrol Chief, Assistant Patrol Chief for each Patrol. Our Troop leader, "Brown Bat" sat down with us to help us look at what makes a strong patrol chief. Before we started our discussion she asked us to write down the things that would make a person a good Patrol Chief, or a good leader, so I wrote down the following:

• Needs to be liked or popular in the eyes of the other Explorers
• It would be good if their mother is a member of the Company as a leader
• Should be personally emotionaly strong, this way she can stand up to anyone who won't do what she says as the Patrol Chief
• Should be "cool", likes the music I like, and is not afraid to talk back to adults if she does not like what she hears from them.

I felt good about the things that I had on my list and was sure that I was on the right path, boy little did I know that I would soon change my mind after "Brown Bat" launched her surprise program on us. I remember her saying:

"Being a good leader or a good Patrol Chief is not as easy as it seems, over the next four weeks we will take part in a number of activities that may change your mind as to what makes a good leader. I only ask that you go into this program with an open mind."

Little did I know what "brown bat" and the other Explorer Company leaders have in mind for me and the other members of our Company.

Week # 1 - a visit to a Food Bank

We arrived at the bank with the expectation that we would be stuffing boxes with food. While we did that all right, we read a book full of letters of thank you from users of the food bank. In these letters we read first hand the:

• Pain of not having enough food to feed your family
• The shame of having to come to the food bank
• The thanks to members of the public and organizations such as ours who donated food to food banks
• Pleading for help, and prayers that their lives would improve with the Grace of God

Immediately after our visit to the Food Bank we returned to our meeting place to talk about our visit. We soon discovered the importance of caring about others and doing our best to reach out to help others without being asked! Suddenly I could see a way that I could help the poor, or to feed the needy as Jesus has asked of us!

Week # 2 - a visit to a Seniors Home

Going to a seniors home would be so boring, what are we going to do when we get there anyway? And to top it off "Brown Bat" insisted that we go in our complete "Explorer" uniform. When we got there I felt out of step, I didn't know what to say or do! One of the staff came to us and invited us to come and visit the residents in their small one room apartments. We broke up into three groups of four and followed a staff member to each location.

At the first apartment, we knocked on the door, there was no answer. The staff member opened the door and went in; we were soon invited into the room to see an elderly lady sitting in her rocking chair. Being a little bolder than the other Explorers with me I went up to her extended my hand and said - Hello, my name is Jessica, I am an FNE Explorer, what is your name? Just then she started to cry with big tears rolling down her cheeks, as she watched us all step back not knowing what to do. Then in a small and halting voice she said "You are the first visitors that have come to see me in almost two years, I am so happy. I am especially happy that such sharp looking young ladies in their uniforms are here to visit me, when my daughter was young like you, she too was an Explorer. I don't see her very much anymore as she lives so far away in Vancouver." Before we knew it we shared stories of our adventures as an Explorer, and she about helping to build Canada when she came as an immigrant on a boat to Toronto better than 60 years ago! We laughed, joked and became best friends. Soon it was time to visit another resident, she much to my initial discomfort gave each of us a kiss of thank you and extended to us God's blessing. I felt really good inside when I went home that evening!

Week # 3 - A visit to our Group Pastor / Home Parish

Once again we questioned "Brown Bat" and her wisdom as we drove off to visit Monsignor Sheehy our group Pastor at our home parish. We arrived at an empty and quiet church, we entered the main lobby and awaited the arrival of Monsignor. We didn't see him come in behind us; he startled us as he expressed his welcome and commented on how sharp we looked in our uniforms. Boy, I thought, we are hearing once again about how sharp we look in our uniforms, I am beginning to like this!

Just like our visit to the senior's home last week at first we did not know what to do or how to get comfortable. Monsignor Sheehy didn't waste any time by asking us to share with him our name, who we are as individuals, our likes and dislikes and what question would you like to see answered this evening. But before we could answer his question he shared with us his experiences as a boy, a young man and then as a Priest. We soon realized that he enjoyed many of the things that we like today and that even Monsignor was an Explorer when he was younger - this came as a great surprise to us. His candour and easy way of speaking quickly put us at ease and soon we found ourselves sharing without fear or reservation our true feelings as we answered his original question. I learned some things about my fellow Explorers and our leaders that even I didn't know. I started to see my sister Explorers in a different light.

Monsignor Sheehy then changed his tone to a loving and peaceful one. He asked us one simple question if you are faced with a tough and difficult situation, what is one thing that you can do to help you through the problem? We offered several suggestions but after a "group" discussion we settled the issue by coming up with this answer or question "What would Jesus do?"

From there we reviewed the meaning of our Explorer Promise, especially as it relates to "Being faithful to God". We learned so much that evening that it would take many pages here to tell you all about it! But the one thing that we did learn... that I can share with you... the best leaders are those who pray from their hearts to Jesus to ask for help and guidance. We concluded the evening by praying the Rosary together with such feeling and passion that I felt that I had grown even closer to God and my sister Explorers by sharing this prayer together.

Week # 4 - A visit to our Timber Wolf Den

Going to visit a bunch of Timber Wolves didn't seam like much of an outing, but I also felt that the last two outings would be less than exciting, and how wrong I was. I have now come to trust our Explorer leader "Brown Bat" such that her plans are always there to help me grow as an Explorer and as a human being.

When we arrived in our uniforms, of course, it became immediately evident that we are sisters as our uniforms are similar to those of the Timber Wolves. I was amazed at how much the Timber Wolves welcomed us and even looked up to us as "big sisters". We set up an obstacle course and helped the younger Timber Wolves through it. We told the Timber Wolves (with help from Brown Bat and the other Explorer leaders) the story of Baden-Powell. We played a really exciting game where we had to carry the Timber Wolves over a make believe river, boy was I ever tired by the time that we carried the last Timber Wolf over the river! At the end of the evening we went home exhausted but feeling really good about our experience about our time with the Timber Wolf Den. As we left for home, Brown Bat reminded us to be prepared to come back to the next meeting and share with the Company the "human" aspects of what makes a good leader based on our experiences over the last few weeks.


What makes a good leader?

I bet that you can guess before you read what I have to say, I really changed my mind as to what makes a good leader as compared to the list that I started with that I wrote more than four weeks ago, so here goes...

• To sincerely care about others
• To be prepared to help without being asked
• To show sincere interest in what others have to say, to listen!
• Be prepared to ask for Jesus for help and guidance, to sincerely pray from our hearts
• To love others as Jesus loves us (and this can be really hard to do)
• To be a "positive" role model for those who I lead or those who are younger than me

Being a leader is exciting, and it carries a great deal of responsibility. Are you up to the job? I am with help from the Lord, our leaders and my sister Explorers!


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