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What does it take to be a leader?

Andrew Williams of Somerset Boy Scout Troop 144 at the Grey Wolf Leadership Camp with the camp’s mascot, appropriately named Grey Wolf. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Andrew Williams (far right holding flag) was randomly placed in the “Rhino Patrol” group at the start of camp. Each patrol had to make their own “Patrol Flag” and march into the closing ceremony as a team. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

Andrew Williams of Somerset Boy Scout Troop 144 was selected to attend this year’s Grey Wolf program at Fred. C. Andersen Scout Camp in Houlton June 15-21.

According to Peter Leyden, committee chairman of Troop 144, Grey Wolf is the Boy Scouts Northern Star Council’s home for national youth leadership training.

“The Scouts learn advanced leadership skills through a series of experiences and challenges structured to prepare them for leadership roles in their own troop, their communities (faith and local) and in the future,” Leyden said.

Leyden called the training “challenging as anything I’ve been through.” It’s available to Boy Scouts and Venturing Crew (co-ed) members.

“The interesting twist in Grey Wolf is that while there are adult leaders present, their roles are usually relegated to oversight and they take a step back to allow other previously Grey Wolf-trained youth to train the new Grey Wolf participants,” Leyden said. “The youth train the youth and execute the program; the adults are just there as guides to the youth leaders.”

Participants are chosen by the Troop Committee and unit leaders, Leyden said. They are expected to pay their own way to the course. They are also ranked according to their commitment to Scouting, tenure and maturity. Kids must be 13 years old and have achieved the Scout rank of First Class to attend.

“Only a limited number of applications are approved from the Council so being chosen is both an honor and privilege for the youth,” Leyden said. “In addition, youth that complete the course are usually selected to be on staff for future courses.

“The primary factor in selecting youth to attend Grey Wolf is ‘attitude,’” Leyden said. “Potential Grey Wolf candidates are selected by observing how they maintain a positive attitude regardless of the circumstances. Individual Scouts are ranked based on positive attitude, Scout spirit and demonstrated leadership qualities.”

According to Leyden, the Grey Wolf program centers on activities that focus on core leadership skills, such as communication, creating visions, establishing goals, preparing plans, team development, problem solving, leading and teaching EDGE training, resolving conflicts, making ethical decisions, valuing self and valuing others.

Leadership skills are learned through creative and interactive group sessions led by previous Grey Wolf kids.

Each week-long session has about 80 participants divided into eight “patrols” of 10. Each patrol group has its own leadership structure, Leyden said. Youth take turns in their patrols holding various leadership positions.

“As a patrol we ran our program, our activities, our meals, our week,” Williams said. “It was the most fun I have ever had … an awesome week! We each rotated into the many leadership positions available in a Scout Troop and truly experienced ‘boy lead.’ We learned from our successes and failures and had a lot of fun doing it.”

The program also helps youth develop presentation, team building, problem solving, decision making, Scouting and troop operations skills. This is accomplished by playing games, working on Scouting skills such as pioneering and fire building, and using technology such as geocaching and GPS.

Mary Williams, Andrews’ mother, said she can tell a difference in Andrew after his week at Grey Wolf.

“I watched him in action at our troop meeting last Monday,” Mary said. “It was so notable the confidence gained on how to handle the room full of energetic boys and accomplish the tasks of planning the next activities. He was also fielding questions from parents of new Scouts that had just joined. It was a proud moment for me not only as a parent, but as an Assistant Scout Master.”

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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