Chapter 1 - Introduction

Why This Book

When was the last time as you were camping that someone woke you in the middle of the night, took your flashlight, told you not to talk--and to follow them to points unknown for reasons they would not explain? And you trusted them?

Most of our modern, civilized world is stripped of the shaping moments found in the White Stag Leadership Development ProgramTM. Even if an individual belongs to a Boy or Girl Scout troop, a church, synagogue, temple, or other social group, it is unlikely that they have had the kinds of experiences found in White StagTM.

During one week of summer camp, the White Stag program's impact on a youth's emotional or intellectual capabilities is necessarily limited. That is why the program's spirit and traditions are so extremely important. They affect individuals emotionally, securing in their hearts a desire to become better people.

The program's spirit and traditions help us positively influence people spiritually and emotionally. It's that experience, in addition to the exposure to the leadership competencies, that causes individuals to return again and again to follow the White Stag. And with that repeated exposure individuals begin to integrate the leadership competencies into their personal lives.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell

At the 1933 Boy Scout World Jamboree, Scouting's founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell spoke of the pursuit of the White Stag:

Each one of you wears the badge of the White Stag... I want you to treasure that badge when you go from here and remember that it has its message and meaning for you.

Hunters of old pursued the miraculous stag, not because they expected to kill it, but because it led them on in the joy of the chase to new trials and fresh adventures, and to capture happiness. You may look on that White Stag as the true spirit of Scouting, springing forward and upward, ever leading you onward and upward to leap over difficulties, to face new adventures in your active pursuit of the higher aims of Scouting--aims which bring you happiness.

These aims are to do you duty to God, to your country, and to your fellow man by carrying out the Scout Law In that way, each of you will help to bring about God's Kingdom upon earth--the reign of peace and good will.[1]

The pursuit of the mythical White Stag is never ending. As humans, we can never achieve perfection, never know all there is about leadership. The arrow topped by the infinity sign on the cover of this book indicates the never-ending process of leadership development, of moving towards the ideal in pursuing the White Stag. This symbol was first used by Béla Bánáthy on the cover of the original description of the White Stag program in 1963.

Follow the White Stag, this volume, and its companion volume, Resources for Leadership have been written based on the need for a clear, up-to-date reference on the primary facts of the program. Each book can stand alone or be used cooperatively. The first volume is intended primarily for members of the post or others interested in gaining in-depth knowledge of the program. The second book may be of use to anyone with an interest in leadership development.

Ironically, all of this has been written down so that it can be torn apart. It is not meant to be an absolute reference or arbiter of what is or shall be in the program. White Stag Leadership Development is a dynamic program. The program and these books will change as the needs of our community dictate, and as research alters our concept of the function of the leader and of leadership.

The likelihood of change does not nullify the need for an clear statement of why and how White Stag Leadership Development functions. We must know from whence we come before we can set our sights clearly on distant goals.

What This Book is About

This book is a guide to the program implemented by Venture Crew 122 whose special interest is leadership development. They learn about leadership experientially, by preparing for and leading a week-long leadership summer camp for other youth, called White Stag Leadership Development.

The book is one of a pair: this first one describes the processes or methods that are specific to the White Stag program. The second volume describes the theoretical foundations for the program and its leadership curriculum.

Follow the White Stag

Follow the White Stag describes a tried and tested system for presenting a junior leader training program. With more than 40 years of experience, having trained thousands of youth, this book relates the White Stag program's success is putting together what one Area III evaluator called a "useful and well prepared course. A close look by other councils may help them to upgrade their own courses. My highest certification and congratulations for a course well done."

In includes a volume of details for mounting a top-notch JLT program. It includes detailed information about how the youth and adult leaders of White Stag create a superior JLT program. This book identifies:

An appendix reproduces program founder Béla Bánáthy's white paper on leadership development published by the World Bureau of the Boy Scouts. A bibliography specifies the original materials which were relied upon to develop this book.

Resources for Leadership

Resources for Leadership describes the fundamental concepts of leadership that are the foundation of the White Stag Leadership Development Program. It describes:

The curriculum is based upon investigation into leadership conducted by a number of our members over thirty-nine years and includes research conducted by the U.S. Army in the 1950's and '60's. It represents our best thinking at this time, but it is not by any means complete. Others will subtract and add to this body of knowledge as needs require it.

Especially effective youth programs, according to developmental psychologists, integrate techniques appropriate to personality change on all three axis: behavioral, developmental, and social. White Stag operates on all of these levels. Because of this, individuals credit White Stag with life-changing experiences.

Who This Book is For

This book is intended for anyone with an interest in leadership, but especially for individuals with a desire to develop leadership in our youth. It specifically is written for White Stag leaders, but may also be found useful by educators, recreation leaders, camp directors, and camp counselors.

Readers who are not or have not been participants in White Stag should note that the White Stag approach described in this book is only one means of accomplishing the goal of infecting youth with an enthusiasm for acquiring leadership skills. You could, if desired, develop your own set of traditions and lore that evoke a spirit of your own design.

How this Book is Organized

This book is organized into nine chapters and one appendix as shown in the illustration below.

Copyright © 1981— , Brian Phelps. All rights reserved. Short portions may be excerpted for review and quotes. For copyright purposes, only introductory portions of this book are available online. Order the newest edition today.