Towering Pines Blog

“Arguing is part of the process” and other Leadership Lessons

Posted by on July 21, 2018

“Arguing is part of the process” and other Leadership Lessons

Teamwork and trust are needed to “Save Your Bacon”

The Men of Seneca (C11) and Apache CITs (C12) recently went to a nearby Ropes Course to develop their teamwork and leadership skills.

As the two oldest cabin groups and next generation of Towering Pines staff, it was important for these young men to begin learning how to smoothly function together a team.

Leave no man behind in the “Croc Pit”!

Mandy is a teacher, past camp counselor, and mother of 4 sons. Dan is a teacher, soccer coach, and 25-year veteran of the ropes course.

Led by Facilitators Dan and Mandy and supported by TP staff, the day began by having the campers define what they needed to have a “successful day.”  By proxy, these values also define the necessary traits of an effective leader at camp. The young men came up with this impressive list:

  • Safety
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • Trust
  • Participation (“Go ALL in, don’t leave anything behind!”)

For the rest of the day, these values were then tested via several problem-solving initiatives (both low and high elements).  The challenges were designed to reveal how the campers would react in situations where teamwork was required for success, i.e., situations that are “easy if you work together, impossible if you don’t.”

The Facilitators and TP Staff purposely stepped back to let the young men figure things out on their own. Since they may someday become Cabin Counselors, the young men need to develop the independence and self-assurance to calmly solve issues.

As expected, there were frustration and arguments. But with the occasional reminder about the importance of communication, fractious individuals were able to coalesce into a single team and overcome most (not all!) of the initiatives.

This kind of teamwork on the “sling shot” results in…


…an exhilarating experience like this!

Each activity ended with two reflective debriefing questions:

  • What did you do well as a group?
  • Where does the group need to improve?

Using this iterative process of discussion / trial & error / reflection, the Men of Seneca and Apache learned several important lessons about teamwork and leadership, including:

  • Arguing is often a part of the process – but realize that it’s a starting point to a team solution, not an excuse to give up.
  • Some problems need EVERYONE’s input – so the extroverts need to practice listening, and the introverts need to practice speaking up.
  • Frustration is often due to feeling unheard / unvalued by the rest of the group. Which led to the realization that…
  • Listening is a VERY important part of Leadership – possibly the MOST important part.
  • There’s ALWAYS an opportunity to support the team/camp – so take the initiative to help, i.e., don’t wait to be asked.

The young men need more training and maturation before they can become a Towering Pines Camp Counselor, but a day at the ropes course was a solid start down that path.

Still smiling at the end of the day!