Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Team Building: Tying it Up

James Farnsworth and Clint Lawton ~ headed to Timberline
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into as we loaded up our 50-pound backpacks and headed off for a week of leadership training at Timberline (NYLT) in Southern Utah.

We showed up to find what seemed to be hundreds of Scouts lined up in perfect order and dressed in full Scouting uniforms standing at attention. We looked nothing like them, and we were worried. If ever there had been a ragtag bunch of kids, we were them; having barely been thrown together as a team, and with our uniforms in disarray. We tried to look like we had it all together as we ran on to the parade grounds to join the assembly, but our veins were filled with fear and our ranks were already filling with contention.

While other patrols had been together for several months and had already made their way through the inevitable stages of team development that we would soon be learning about (forming, storming, norming, and performing), we had only just begun the storming phase. We argued like three-year-olds as we set up camp; bickering about who was going to do the dishes, and picking on each other for looking funny. We were on the brink of giving up, going home, and never hanging out with each other again when a wise Scout leader intervened and instructed us to "Get together as a team". To drive home his point, he grabbed a length of twine and literally tied us together! He secured it to my wrist, then wrapped it around the next boys wrist, and so forth, until our entire patrol was connected at the hip... ahem, wrist.

Yes, we could have easily slipped out of these bands, but to our young minds this was an intriguing game that forced us to figure out how to get along. From that moment on we worked in very close proximity with each other in everything we did. If we needed to make dinner, we had to divide up the jobs so that we didn't make a mess with the rope hanging between us. If one of us needed to go talk to the quartermaster to get something, we all did. Just imagine the resulting hilarity that such a predicament would produce! At the end of each night the Scout leader who tied us together would come to our camp and ask us how our teamwork was progressing. He wanted us to give him a report about how we were learning to do things as a team, and then he would council with us about what we could do better. Because of this wise Scout leader's guidance, we were quickly able to come together as a high performing team.

As youth we unknowingly are taught the way to be the leaders of the next generation in a fun and exciting way through the Scouting program. We are taught everything from team development to leadership and even how to be a good follower. These skills are vitally important as we transition from boys to young men, from missionaries to fathers, and eventually as we become the leaders of the next generation. I will be eternally grateful to Ed Twitchel, the Scoutmaster who tied us together, and to the many other leaders who taught me in my youth.

Whether we are currently a Scout leader or not, we need to be in tune with the Spirit, and open to creative ways that will engage our youth. It might be as simple as taking the time to bring a team of ragtag boys together, as formal as sending them to a National Youth Leadership Training, or as bold as hosting your own Stake NYLT this summer. Each of us needs to take action in order to help our youth become what Heavenly Father wants them to be: the leaders of the next generation.

For more information about Timberline - NYLT offered in the Utah National Parks Council, click HERE.



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