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Junior Leader Training -- White Stag Leadership Development

Leadership camp sees an increase in international students

Posted: 08/01/2011 01:30:32 AM PDT
Santa Cruz Sentinal

Editor's note: the following story illustrates the impact White Stag has on youth's lives now and in the future.

BOULDER CREEK -- Students from Taiwan graduated side-by-side with their American counterparts on Saturday after a week at White Stag summer camp.

While White Stag has seen international students over the years, this is the first time this many students from one country has enrolled in the camp.

White Stag, established in 1958, is a nonprofit leadership camp focused on teaching kids skills necessary to be effective leaders as well as contributing members of a group.

"We learn about how you can be a leader, what happens when something goes wrong and what needs to be done to fix it," said Rachel Tatley, 10, a camp participant.

The camp is set up so that adult influence is at a minimum -- campers learn from other campers and participants learn to work cooperatively on projects.

The campers are organized in phases, and within these phases comes new responsibilities and skill sets. Phase one focuses on being effective members of a group; phase two focuses on leading small groups; and phase three is troop leadership, in which leaders essentially learn how to manage others.

Adult presence at the Santa Cruz Mountains camp is only meant to supervise, ensuring that the camp is a safe place for the participants.

"That's not our purpose, to teach hiking, to teach camping, to teach cooking. That's just a byproduct of what we do," said Brian Phelps, a parent volunteer and once a camper himself. "[Our purpose is to] utilize the capabilities and skills in a group, to utilize the resources of the group."

Youth leaders at the camp joked that they had calculated the amount of time they've spent over the months planning the summer leadership camp -- they determined 11 percent of their lives were devoted to White Stag.

It is this unique set-up that now draws Taiwanese students to Boulder Creek and to White Stag.

Terry Ho, the Chinese coordinator for the camp, promoted White Stag with World Journal News in Taiwan because he believed the camp offered something that could not be experienced elsewhere.

"White Stag tries to give [students] training, top-level knowledge to learn how to be a leader in the future," Ho said. He said he appreciated the hands-on experience that White Stag brought to the table and that "the classroom approach" seen at other summer camps "is not enough."

Ho, who currently lives in the United States and works with the Cupertino Boy Scouts Troop 452, said he has seen his own son's growth through Scouting and wanted to give students from Taiwan the opportunity to experience that as well.

Coco Hu, 15, a camper from Taiwan said that she was drawn to White Stag because of the Scouting opportunities -- as of now, there are limited Scouting options in Taiwan.

Hu said her favorite aspect of the camp was night hiking and learning more about Scouting overall, but that she also did learn tangible skills that she will carry with her.

"Evaluations and counseling," Hu said. "When I am a leader in my class I can use those skills."

She said she would recommend visiting White Stag to her friends back home, saying her experience has been "great" -- her enthusiasm and sincerity is infectious.

Participants in the camp are asked to create plans and goals, carry them out, and then evaluate their work to see what they have accomplished and what they can improve on. The process asks the participants to evaluate themselves and critically think about the ways they can be more cohesive and effective in the future.

Working through language barriers and culture shock, the Taiwanese and American campers spent the last week camping, hiking and providing for one another through their own ingenuity.

At the graduation, participants received a neckerchief in a graduation ceremony -- a symbol of their time at White Stag and a reminder of the skills they have learned and will continue to hone.

Copyright © 2012 Santa Cruz Sentinal.

Special Leadership Camps Held at Pico Blanco

Herald Special Writer
Monterey Peninsula Herald
September, 1977

Late at night with flickering lights guiding them through the trees along the Little Sur River the youths of Pico Blanco White Stag camp wend their way through the redwoods. At each direction point they are reminded of one of the Scout laws until they reach the "Fire of Life," which they build on in brotherhood as they receive their coveted White Stag neckerchiefs.

The week's camp does not end here, because what they have received in leadership training will return to home and family, to Scout troop and school and to college and careers. No boy or girl is quite the same after being exposed to this program where they can make individual, contributions in challenging group experiences,

The "leaping White Stag" of an old Hungarian legend was the symbol of the fourth World Scout Jamboree held in Hungary in 1933.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the, Boy Scouts, told this group, "The White Stag has a message 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 and fresh adventure, and so to capture happiness. You may look on the White Stag as the true spirit of Scouting, springing forward and upward, ever leading you onward to leap over difficulties, to face new adventures in your active pursuit of the higher alms of Scouting ... aims which bring you happiness."

[Four] Boy Scouts, [three] from Hungary and another from America, [attending the Jamboree in] Gödöllõ Forest, were inspired by Lord Baden­Powell and enchanted by the White Stag legend. Years later they met again on the Monterey Peninsula and gave Scouting the White Stag leadership program.

In the summer of 1958, the Hungarian boy, Dr. Béla Bánáthy, [now] a department chairman at the Defense Language Institute, organized an experimental troop of two patrols for the purpose of trying out a leadership development program at the Pico Blanco Scout Reservation.

"Lord Baden­Powell was my own personal idol and I long felt a commitment to give back to Scouting what I had received," Dr. Bánáthy recalled.

He was working with Dr. Paul Hood, a research psychologist with Human Resources Research Office (HumRRO) on leadership principles.

"I saw in these principles an opportunity to develop the White Stag program for my three Boy Scout sons as well as a way to show my gratitude to this country and Scouting."

[One of] the American boy[s], Dr. Maurice Tripp, then president of a research corporation In Saratoga, assisted Dr. Bánáthy in the development of the White Stag program. In 1968 as a member of the National Boy Scout Council, Dr. Tripp was Instrumental in establishing the National Leadership Development Project, which has now spread world wide.

One week's camp at Pico Blanco may seem a short time to accomplish such idealistic goals as ability to live and work with others, adapt to changing environment or to solve problems and make decisions, but like the elusive White Stag It Is time enough to catch sight of him and continue to pursue these goals.

Béla Bánáthy likens it to the principle of infinity and reflects that this experience in an ever-expanding spiral--is the stimulus for continuous growth and development.

The program, he stated, "Starts with 11­year­old boys and girls, but it really should start at 4 or 5..." Then he added, "Or even at 6 weeks old."

Not only does the White Stag program increase self-confidence, but it prepares them to cope with problems in the real world, Bánáthy believes.

"I'm better organized and find that my experiences carry over into some situation every day," said Ann Miller, who attended her first White Stag camp a year ago.

Warrant Officer Leonard Williams of Fort Ord was recommended to the White Stag program in 1959 by his Watsonville Scoutmaster, Verle Shanks. He returned to the White Stag camp a few years ago as medic. This year his two sons, Robert and James, are in the program and his wife, Mary, and daughter, Deanna, also were at the camp.

He said, "I still get goose­pimples when the spirit develops. It's not there when camp starts, but I've never seen such group cohesiveness in any other organization, not even the Army. It's maximum esprit d'corps.

With a loose structural plan, the White Stag program enables boys and girls to come in at different levels, depending on the skills they bring with them. There is a place in the group for everyone, but certain minimum competencies or ages fall into various phases.

Douglas Pease was 11, but because of his skills came into the program on staff at Level Four as leader for Level One, even though he was younger than most of his group,

The candidates ire recommended by scoutmasters and leaders, but parents may also apply at the Scout council offices.

The Phase One, 11­ to 13­year­old Scouts should have minimum outdoor skills and concentrate on their development as members of a patrol. Phase Two is from 12- to 14 and need basic camping abilities as they develop into patrol leaders. The older group in Phase Three have activities similar to the Outward Bound Program and should be familiar with backpacking and wilderness living as they prepare for troop leadership. There are also three phases for youth staff and three phases for adult staff members.

Mission Possible is one of the ways they begin evaluating the talents of the patrol. Taking a list of 30 traits as diverse as fisherman, trivia expert, good cook, teller of tall tales, map and compass expert, astrologer, big eater, easy to talk to, hiker, etc., they match the members of the patrol with at least one of the qualities. Knowledge of the talents within the group is important for all the members. This is the beginning of the group dynamics that is the essence of the White Stag program.

Some talents are discovered by accident, as when Lonnie Collins picked up the conch shell horn at the Spring Camp Out and produced the loudest sound. He found his niche as conch shell bugler.

In order to implement the White Stag principles, candidates are given guided discoveries Instead of telling them to take notes, they are given information to pass around the group verbally. Like the old gossip game, it never ends the way it started. This is followed by receiving the same information, but writing it down. As they evaluate each process, candidates readily see that it is worthwhile to have a notebook and pencil with them at all times to write information, rather than to rely on memory.

The late Bruce Barton used techniques called brainstorming for the creative development of advertising campaigns. This same process takes place as the White Stag campers are presented hurdles, and the group discusses alternatives and ideas for reaching a specific goal or performing a task.

Teaching camping skills is a by­product, but not the objective. The camping skills in these hurdles are used for learning techniques which are instilled with a preplanned design. Mistakes are even part of the process as campers evaluate how they could have made better use of their resources.

Assigned the hurdle of making a safe river crossing, one patrol quickly placed a large log across the river. After a workshop where they again considered the task, resources and alternatives, they wrote a new plan. They then built a much safer crossing, supported by an island of stones in the center and with smaller logs lashed to shoreline trees to make a sturdy bridge that would not float away. This experience reinforced the importance of pre­planning and evaluation.

Allan Miyamoto, Silver Stag staff member recalled, "I used to be a shy person. It brought out my personality and identity. I began to see other viewpoints and realize that everything isn't just one way, but it's better to listen to everyone's ideas and then figure out what is best."

Use of all five senses might be written into a hurdle. Because they are well planned, usually a surprise or sense of fun is incorporated. A compass course was set to find a dinosaur egg. When the patrol reached the goal, it turned out to be a watermelon.

A Phase Three patrol saw a package dropped by an airplane, possibly survival equipment. When the reached it they found it contained their dessert, cream.

From early morning when "Tinker Belle" rings a cowbell as the signal for a dip in the cold river, Scouts make the most of every minute at the Pico Blanco White­Stag camp.

In the evaluating process they not only want to know was the job done and done right, but was it done on time.

The leader of the last patrol to arrive at morning flag assembly has the dubious honor of wearing the 'Late Clock' (a 4­pound wooden clock) all day to encourage promptness,

However, in situations bound by the clock there are often starters and not finishers, so there is 'White Stag time.' The clock is stopped, until the job is completed. It may mean a late supper, but the importance of sticking to a job until it is finished may develop a future Thomas Edison.

The group also evaluates itself and wants to know If everyone is helping, pleased with their work, and most important, eager for the next job. The latter encourages continual growth­where the White Stag infinity principle pulls them on in never ending steps. The doing of a job becomes more important than its pragmatic accomplishment.

"My three boys didn't have a single complaint about camp and they're still functioning as a group. It has also made me a different kind of parent. I'm willing to listen, learn and evaluate. We find we can't go back to the way we were," related Jean Kochems, who is now a White Stag director as well as camp cook. Her 11­year­old daughter, Kathleen, was a candidate this year.

During the year the White Stag staff and leadership meet once or twice a month, simulating camp experiences and planning for the summer Pico Blanco camp. (The camp was cancelled this year because of the Marble-Cone fire.)

Like the Scouts themselves, the White Stag movement is growing in depth and scope. Lord Baden-Powell encouraged the development of "Hands, Heart and Head." While hand opportunities are present, the skills of the head are the foremost purpose, but more and more the skills of the heart and character development are becoming an integral part of the White Stag program

It is also expanding toward working cooperatively with other agencies. Experiments now are being conducted on cooperative efforts in conservation by White Stag and the Alameda County school system.

Copyright © 1977 Monterey Peninsula Herald. ( [ ] indicate factual corrections. --Editor}