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The art of leadership: assumptions.

Simply defined, a leader is someone who has followers. Yet, the art of leadership encompasses more than simply having followers. For someone to have followers, she or he must have earned their respect and confidence.

Leadership occurs at all levels of an organization.

Owners, directors, administrators, counselors, counselors-in-training, campers - all are leaders in different situations.

Because leadership cuts across the entire camp community, it makes sense to examine what leadership means and to focus on how it can be nurtured and developed at all levels.

Leadership can be taught.

Although some people appear to be born leaders, all of us can develop leadership skills. We each have different leadership styles, but every person is capable of leadership.

Leaders have faith in people.

Leaders believe that human beings are inherently good and that people strive to do the right things. Thus, leaders trust others and draw out their best. Leaders expect the best performance and work to ensure that this performance occurs whether a camper is going on an overnight or a staff member is planning an all-camp event.

The best leaders are sensitive to their followers.

Those people who understand other human beings and seek to put their welfare first are the most successful leaders. Whether this means paying attention to camp board members, the kitchen staff, or a 7-year-old camper, leaders must know their followers and be sensitive to their situation.

Leaders don't say, "Get going." They say, "Let's go."

Good leaders are willing to take risks. They may not know the outcomes, but they have faith that everything will work out if everyone works together. Leaders see themselves as partners with others. The team is the ultimate focus of their efforts.

Leaders use their hearts as well as their heads.

Leaders analyze a situation with their heads but pay attention to what their hearts are saying. Leaders are a combination of the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. They must combine courage, brains, and heart.

Leader are self-starters.

Leaders are able to see a situation, analyze it, and respond. They combine elements of dreaming and doing. They take the initiative to find good solutions.

Leaders have a sense of humor.

In almost any situation, humor eases the tension, makes people feel more comfortable, and helps a group bond together. Leaders laugh with their followers and attempt to keep a positive attitude regardless of the situation.

Leaders are idealistic.

Leaders believe in the inherent value of camp and know that they can positively impact the lives of everyone at camp. They also realize that good leadership is essential for those positive experiences to occur. With effective leadership at all levels of the organization, children and youth learn how to get along with others, how to express themselves and listen to others, how to contribute to a community, and how to become good leaders themselves.

Leaders see the big picture.

Although leaders are flexible, they always have an idea of what needs to be done. They know that the ultimate value of camp is the good it does for children and youth. Camp directors know what is necessary for a successful summer at camp. Counselors understand how to develop programs that motivate campers. Camper leaders strive to develop teamwork within their groups.

Leadership is an art.

The art of leadership can be learned, nurtured, practiced, and embodied in many ways at camps and conference centers. We hope the ideas in this issue of Camping Magazine will help you and all the leaders in your camp or center embody the art of leadership.

Our guest editor, Karla Henderson, is a member of Camping Magazine's editorial advisory board. She is a professor of Curriculum in Leisure Studies and Recreation Administration at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is also an active American Camping Association volunteer.
COPYRIGHT 1996 American Camping Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Henderson, Karla A.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Mar 1, 1996
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