It was a camping trip that was not unlike any other, and the Patrol Leader wanted to build a Pioneering structure with his Patrol. As a matter of fact, he wanted to build a tower. He had read a lot about Pioneering and loved every bit that he had done, but he didn’t get a chance to do it as much as he would’ve liked to.
Gathering his Patrol together, he told them of his plans. He told them about this design he remembered from a book that would build an 8-foot tall sturdy tower. His excitement was contagious, and his Patrol got on board whole-heartedly. They gathered plenty of rope and poles, and they were soon hard at work.
Everything was going smoothly. The Patrol Leader’s eager and direct instructions came fast and plenteous. Some of the Scouts were assigned to cut the poles to the correct length. Some of the Scouts were to cut the rope into the correct lengths for lashings. The Patrol Leader even seized the opportunity to teach a few new knots and lashings to the younger members of the Patrol.
The light started to fade as the sun sunk lower on the horizon, but the tower was starting to come together. Some of the Scouts held flashlights while the Patrol Leader and a couple of the older Scouts stood on boxes and finished the final lashings of the platform. Finally, all was completed.
A couple of the Scouts wanted to climb up to the top right away, but a couple of the Scouts were a bit apprehensive. The Patrol Leader had checked the lashings; he knew the design was a sound one and that the tower would certainly not fall. He assured the younger Scouts of this and promised them it would not fall.
They agreed to give it a go as the Patrol Leader quickly bounded to the top and stood up, showing them how secure it was. He remained at the top and helped a few of them up until here were five of them altogether on top. The lashings had not budged and the Patrol was in high spirits at their accomplishment.
The sound of a loud crack then rang in the air. The tower, indeed, stood sturdy and strong, but one of the key poles which held the platform on top broke cleanly in two under the weight. Most of the Scouts instinctively gripped tight to the platform and held their position as the center sunk in. One Scout, though, fell through the floor of the platform and landed on his back on the ground.
He sprang back up quickly and was none the worse for the fall. There were no injuries. There weren’t even any close calls. The Patrol Leader laughed off the matter with his Patrol and they decided to fix it up in the morning and give it another try.
But although the Patrol Leader didn’t show it, he was shaken by the incident. As the other Scouts started to get ready for taps, he quietly slipped away from the campfire light and sat down in the woods a short distance off.
The fact was, the Scouts had trusted him and his assurance that the tower wouldn’t fall, and he had let them down. Part of him wanted to shrug the incident off as an unfortunate but harmless accident. After all, the tower itself didn’t fall as he had promised. He didn’t have control over the fact that one of the poles happened to be unsound. And they were all such a short distance off the ground you would have difficulty even if you were intentionally trying to hurt yourself on the tower.
But the fact was that he was so absolutely sure that nothing would happen. What if it had been something more dangerous? What if, somehow, one of the Scouts had gotten hurt? He was the older Scout; he was the Patrol Leader. It was his responsibility; and that thought bothered him.
He thought about the leaders he had seen in movies and TV shows. They fearlessly led their teams into great dangers. They made reckless decisions and somehow managed to improvise on the spot and win the battle with no casualties.
The leader’s team was his family. They trusted him, and he always seemed to live up to that trust. But they almost never seem to show when things go wrong. Of course, they show small problems that the team overcomes, but they almost never show when things go really wrong. What if the leader led his men into a death-trap in one of his daring escapades?
A Scout is brave. If the situation ever arose, a Scout should not fear danger and be willing to risk his life to serve others. Of course, it is all well and good to be ready to sacrifice your own life; but when you’re a Leader, you would have to be ready to order your friends and those who trust in you into danger, possibly death, if the situation ever arose.
This young Patrol Leader thought about this, and he wasn’t sure he could do that. It was just campfires and hiking trips now, but behind the mask of carefree fun and adventure, he was a leader. It doesn’t matter how uncontrollable circumstances are; a leader doesn’t make excuses. A leader blames no one but himself if anything goes wrong.
He now understood that a true leader is under a very heavy responsibility, and this thought both humbled him, and scared him.