Chapter 3 - Aims, Methods, and Content

This chapter describes the aims and methods[1] of the White Stag Leadership Development program. Before we describe the substance of these ideas, we must first understand the terms themselves.

The organizing principles of White Stag form our organizational philosophy, or our aims. The aims form a model that promotes positive development of individual character, attributes of citizenship, and emotional fitness: in other words, leadership.
These aims are shaped by specific values. We like these to an arch: take away any stone and the arch falls. So it is with these values: remove any and we cannot call it "White Stag."
The leadership competencies is our content. They are summarized in Chapter 2 - "Program Principles and in detail in the companion volume to this work, Resources for Leadership.

The interrelationship of these three axis—the aims, methods, and the content—can best be illustrated as a three-dimensional matrix, as shown in Figure 3-1 below.

The content of the eleven competencies in our diagram is not fixed in concrete. As our assessment efforts indicate a need for change in the curriculum, the content and the manner in which these competencies are presented is amended.

The methods of White Stag incorporate those of Scouting: a personal code of conduct based on the ideals expressed in the Girl and Boy Scout Oath, Promise and Law; the Patrol Method; the outdoor program; advancement (in outdoor skills and knowledge of leadership); positive adult and peer role models; uniforming; adventure; competition; and cooperation.

These aims and methods do not mean that the program is geared for Scouts or Explorers only. It is not. The leadership curriculum is generic and applicable in all arenas.

The program outline following identifies for each of the components identified above:

Program Aims

The aims are the focus or result of the methodologies. These should be the result of the program. In other words, it is our aim to promote the positive development of individual character, attributes of citizenship, and emotional fitness: i.e., leadership.

Leadership Development. We inspire individuals to engage life as an ongoing adventure, to challenge themselves, and to lead others to pursue excellence.

Character Development. We encourage people to do what is right, no matter what, and to serve themselves and others.

Personal Fitness. We encourage individuals to accept physical and mental challenges, to surpass their own expectations, expand their knowledge, skills and abilities, and strive for continuous personal improvement.

Citizenship Training. We help individuals to develop a positive attitude, influence those around them, join in, and shape their community.


The program has defined a set of values that govern how the program is implemented. These values form the foundation for achieving our aims. So essential are these values, just as if one were to remove a stone from an arch, the arch would fall, and we could not call the program "White Stag."browse

Leadership competencies. In his research for his master's thesis, Bela identified 80 characteristics of leadership8. He condensed these into eleven leadership competencies which he then proposed be taught in a systematic process using six developmental levels tailored to the various needs of youth as they mature. These competencies are:9(13)

Outdoor learning. The outdoors environment provides a context for learning that is physically demanding and entirely different from that experienced everyday at home and in school. The outdoors stimulates new ways of thinking and approaching both task- and group-related problems. As participants learn they can exceed what they perceive to be their physical limits, they find their mental capacity also grows. We use the physical environment to tire the individual and open their minds to new ways of thinking. We do nothing indoors that can be done outdoors and encourage physical fitness through outdoor activities. Using the outdoors avoids the negative association of a standard classroom environment.

In addition, the program utilizes Scoutcraft skills to provide opportunities to practice leadership skills. Banathy commented:

...the leadership development process of White Stag takes place on the territory of Scout crafting. For example, a very first planning function that the leaders-in-training are to accomplish is related to the setting up of a camp site for their group.... The learning goal here is to learn how to analyze the task, how to plan and organize for the task, how to go about accomplishing it by using all the potentials of group, how to execute the plan, how to evaluate performance, how to correct, etc.(1)

Evaluation attitude. In his master's thesis, Banathy wrote:

Growth in leadership and improvement of leadership performance are dependent upon the leader's willingness to change, his ability to define the kind of change he needs and the experience of the particular change desired.

In this sequence, the leader's ability to define the kind of change he needs is predicated upon his competency to evaluate. Changes or learning in the desired direction can be brought about only by a continuous self-analysis and evaluation of goals and achievements. Learning to evaluate and analyze becomes, therefor, an objective of great significance.(2)

Spirit and traditions. One of the distinctive characteristics of the program is a body of ceremonies, traditions, songs, code, and spirit-related activities. These include a re-telling of the White Stag Legend based on thewhite stag of Hungarian mthology.

Bela wrote,

The name of this leadership development design is WHITE STAG; it is also referred to as the White Stag method of leadership development.

At the time of the initiation of this leadership developmental process a stylized emblem of a white stag was designed as the program symbol. This symbol was used as the badge of the Fourth World Jamboaree held in Hungary.3

The White Stag Legend is used to inspire in the participants a desire for reflection, continuous self-improvement, and pursuit of higher aims and goals. The spirit and tradition activities are used to communicate specific vision and values that include characteristics of servant leadership, compassion, enthusiasm, kindness, and selflessness.

Since its inception, the White Stag program has evolved several ceremonies that use the symbolism of the White Stag to recognize individuals' progress and levels of achievement. They include Baden-Powell's farewell speech from the Fourth World Jamboree, and a recitation of the White Stag legend. These ceremonies are used to communicate the program's vision, values, and ethics. The program has also developed a number of traditions, for example, woggles, waist ropes, staves, berets, and patrol names.

The participant ceremonies typically include a initiatory neckerchief ceremony, a legend ceremony, a graduation neckerchief ceremony, and a final tri-phase graduation ceremony at the end of summer camp. The youth and adult staff may also participate in additional ceremonies at various times during the year. All of these borrow themes from the thewhite stag of Hungarian mythology.

Hands-on learning. The White Stag program emphasizes use of specific experiential learning methods in the context of ourdoor education. These help participants retain what they learn about the eleven leadership competencies.

Patrol method. Baden-Powell wrote:

The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. It cannot help itself! The formation of the boys into Patrols of from six to eight and training them as separate units each under its own responsible leader is the key to a good Troop. The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty. 4

Hurdle method. Banathy defined the Hurdle Method as: approach used as an application technique in leadership development. The hurdle is a means to teach what was previously called the "leadership set" which is a readiness to be ready for and be able to act in a situation for which one is not ready. Unexpected tasks or problems are put before the leader and his group for which they have to organize themselves quickly and efficiently in order to find a solution or to accomplish the task.5

Direct approach. Banathy asserted that:

In conventional...leadership training programs, leadership learnings have not usually been defined as specific learning objectives, but as a by-product of other learnings or activities. This indirect way of training for leadership is what the White Stag Method challenges and transforms into the direct approach.

The Direct Approach to leadership development is conceived as one having a specific terminal behavior defined as leadership learning objectives...6

Banathy went on to define specific leadership behaviors and learnings, including the leadership competencies.

Manager of Learning. Banathy initially defined Manager of Learning in part as the Project Approach:

First, the leader-in-training is confronted with a leadership situation in which he is to act as a leader. In his attempt to act as a leader, he will internalize the need to have available some knowledges [sic], skills or techniques.

Second,. having internalized the need for learning because of the attempted action, the trainee enters a period of teaching or exposure...designed to teach skills, techniques and knowledges [sic] needed to cope with the situation...

Finally, having received instruction and having had proper practice, the leader-in-training engages again in an actual leadership performance, during which he will have a chance to compare his performance exhibited before nd after the instruction.7

Infinity principal. According to Banathy, leadership development must be ongoing:

Leadership behavior cannot be developed during a few weeks, not even during severalmonths. Essential leadership knowledge can be learned in some weeks; it will take months to learn leadership skills; it requires years to shape leadership behavior."10

The White Stag badge denotes an ever ongoing, a becoming process. In the case of the White Stag leadership development program it means the long-term process of leadership development and the never-ending process of becoming a person, with a special emphasis on using difficult situations as opportunities for growth.11

...leadership development will no longer be perceived as a single training course or as a one-shot event, but s a continuous sequence of closely chained and highly structured learning and experience-building opportunities, as an infinite challenge to change, as the nevelr-ending process of becoming a leader.12

The infinity principle of growth in leadership is what the White Stag symbolizes in this leadership development process.13

Uniforming. A uniform displaying the White Stag logo is a visible reminder of the program's founding vision articulated by Baden-Powell at the conclusion of the 1933 World Jamboree. The uniform reminds the individual wearing it of their commitment to the program's values. It instills self-esteem in the person and pride in the program. It eliminates class and socio-economic distinctions. Wearing a uniform improves member's behavior and lessens the impact a person's personal wardrobe.

Program Content

The leadership competencies, which have been developed into eleven general categories for the White Stag program, were derived from over 80 specific descriptors of leadership behavior originally defined by Béla Bánáthy. However, because of the differences in maturity and experience among girls and boys, these eleven competencies (our curriculum) is divided into what we call "Phases."

Each phase of the curriculum is designed to reflect the needs of young people at a particular point in their own personal development. When they are young and just beginning their leadership development, they need to understand certain basic elements of working within a group situation; as they mature and broaden their outlook, their leadership development needs become more sophisticated.

The Venture Crew 122, White Stag Leadership Development Program is designed to match these developmental stages. There are three phases in the Post's program. Each phase is organized in a parallel manner, each having three "levels": candidates, youth staff, and adult staff. Each phase has a specific purpose and content.

The purposes have been developed based on first, the underlying principles of our program, and second, the needs of our learners.

The content describes the design for candidates. It does not describe the training content for youth staff participants. Youth staff competency levels typically reflect those expected of the next higher Phase's candidate participants upon completion of the summer camp, plus additional development and practice.

The content described below is not set in concrete. As long as the purposes of the program and the phase are met, there are few limitations. This is how the Post maintains its dynamic nature. While the goals or purposes for the overall program change very little from one year to the next, the means or content may, depending on the learner's needs.

The qualifications required for participation in each of the phase programs are described in Chapter 4 - "Organizational Structure.

Patrol Member Development


To help young people understand and experience the purposefulness and power of the Patrol Method. They are exposed to the responsibilities of a patrol member, individually and collectively, and to elementary leadership competencies.

The youth develop:


In Phase I, Patrol Member Development, the candidates will develop basic level competency in:

The youth develop some competency to assume leadership roles which are usually distributed among members of a patrol in camp. These include cook, fire-tender, clean-up, Assistant Patrol Leader, and so forth. (Patrol Leader is a youth staff member role.)

In addition, they are given elementary instruction in a few basic camping skills including:

This is the only Phase that deliberately instructs candidates in camping skills, as they usually are inexperienced; however, the outdoor skills are taught only as a means to transmit the leadership skills.

Phase I typically hikes in to camp on Day One without backpacks, and goes for one short (one to two miles) overnight hike towards the latter part of the week.

The patrols are led by Youth Staff Patrol Leaders. Learning is primarily facilitated via the regular, day-to-day activities expected in a summer camp setting.

Patrol Leader Development


For leaders and potential leaders of patrols. They are exposed to all leadership competencies in carrying out the responsibilities of a leader of 6-9 others. The youth develop:


The candidates in Phase II, Patrol Leader Development, will develop an intermediate level competency in:

They develop a basic level competency in:

Phase II candidates typically hike into camp on Day One; take a day hike in the form of an extended "Adventure Trail" towards the middle of the week; and also take a three to five mile overnight hike.

The patrols are led by candidate-elected Patrol Leaders who rotate jobs on a daily basis. They are advised by a Youth Staff Patrol Counselor. The concept of "hurdles" is introduced. Learning is motivated via these overt "Guided discoveries," precipitating the need to learn the leadership competencies. special events, including the Adventure Trail, are planned. All participants are required to have certain minimum skill and experience requirements (see Chapter 4 - "Organizational Structure for additional information).

Troop Leader Development


For those youth leaders who will or are working directly or indirectly with two or more small groups. They receive intensive exposure to, and opportunity for extensive application of all leadership competencies in carrying out the responsibilities of a senior youth leader.

The youth develop:


The candidates of Phase III typically take an extended hike with their backpacks on Day One; take an extended day hike towards the middle of the week; and spend two nights in the field in quest of a "mountain top" experience.

The patrols are led by candidate-elected Patrol Leaders; they rotate jobs on a daily basis. A Staff Patrol Counselor plays an increasingly secondary role as the week progresses. Major challenges to the youth's leadership abilities in the form of complex hurdles are planned.

The candidates develop a high level of competency in:

They develop an intermediate level competency in:

They also develop an elementary level competency in:

The Youth Staff's level of skill is at least one step beyond that which they intend to instruct the candidates. In addition, the Youth Staff develop elementary competency in specific areas of Manager of Learning, including:

[1] A substantial portion of this chapter is from White Stag Aims and Methods, Fran Petersen, 1963.


^ Bánáthy, Bela (1963), Parameters of a New Design in Leadership Development, A Project Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Education, San Jose State College in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts. Masters Thesis
^ Ibid.
^ Ibid
^ Bela Banathy (1963). Parameters of a New Design in Leadership Development. The Leadership Development Project, 1-19.
^ Ibid.
^ Ibid.
^ Ibid.
^ Bela Banathy (1963). A Design for Leadership Development in Scouting. Monterey Bay Area Council, 25-29.
^ Béla H. Bánáthy (May, 1969). "Leadership Development - World Scouting Reference Papers, No. 1". Boy Scouts World Bureau.
^ Bela Banathy (1963). Parameters of a New Design in Leadership Development. The Leadership Development Project, 1-19.
^ Ibid
^ Ibid
^ Ibid

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.