This topic came to me as I was reading a former staff member's rumination about his current position. Many of you know of whom I speak; a staff member that worked through the ranks of CP for many years and now is coaching varsity sports. His ruminations were introspective of his short career; first as a JV coach moving on to being a varsity coach. When he looked back at his first year he found that he was not only coaching but "playing" the game and "officiating" the game as well. What I took that to mean was that he wasn't doing his job as coach. I think he had a line like, "a player should play; a referee should officiate; and a coach should coach..." Of course when I first read this I did chuckle as my first take was that this is too simple.....a man should be a man; a woman should be a woman; a dog should be a dog........and so on. However his point is right on; although we may have experience and/or opinions on other people's jobs, we need to focus on what our job is at the time. If you don't do that, then you will get lost trying to manage things that you have no control over. I thought his reflection was very thoughtful and fitting of a person that I have developed a lot of respect for over the years I have known him, beginning from when he first worked for me until now.
In my career I employ an ethos which I term a "passionate indifference." Each day in the course of my work I deal with individuals who have potentially life threatening issues. Dealing with those "issues" is the easy part, dealing with the individual, or more importantly the family of the individual, is the difficult part. Even more so if you connect on a personal basis with the individual and/or with the family. If I could not separate my feelings from my objective decision making I would not be doing my job. I would fail in my responsibility to make the right decision for that individual......even when the right decision may mean that the individual is no longer with us. There are other people who work with me whose job is to care for the needs of the individual without having to make a decision about the individual, or care specifically for the family and not the individual at hand. There are people who I depend on for information and act as a resource to help me make my decision, but I am the one who has to decide. I cannot do everyone elses job and be successful. I am sorry I am speaking in generalities, but the specifics are not important. The important thing is that I know what my job is and focus on my responsibilities so I can be successful which in turn benefits everyone regardless of the outcome. I take great comfort reveling in success from afar than being immersed in the celebration........that is for someone else.
I hope my former staff member picked up this understanding of focusing on what he needs to do rather than trying to do everything else as he developed his leadership skills at CP. One of the hardest things for staff members who start at Camp Parsons and work their way through the seasons is letting go of what they want to do and embracing what they have to do. We hire young staff to be employed "scouts". In other words, they work for us to deliver the program and their focus is not on their own fun but making sure that those scouts who attend camp are being served. However the best part of their job is that they can do it while immersed in the program. They can be with the scouts, go on events with the scouts, jump the pier with the scouts. They can still be scouts but with a purpose driven by us. As a role model they are to be seen, heard and known by the scouts, indeed scouts should want to be like them. As staff members continue on through out their camp career they eventually become directors of various areas. It is at this point where their immersion must wane. Their job is not being in the "fray", their job at this point is making sure the staff in their area are in the "fray". The director develops the program in their area and they get their staff to put it on and engage the scouts when they visit the area. This will continue as they move up the staff leadership ladder. I have often said to every Program Director that I have worked with that if every scout attending camp knows you by name but does not know the name of all the younger staff members, then they failed at their jobs. It is the PD's job to make sure that their staff are engaging the scouts at the front line. Scouts should not be interested in who the Program Director is. The Program Director should revel in his/her success when they read the weekly evaluation sheets that heap praise on their staff by name. Then they have done their job.
At this point in my scouting "career" it is my job to develop and train the staff, support the development of program, deal with scout and staff disciplinary actions and generally support Ken in all the things that he is responsible for. It is not my place to sing songs, be in skits, present program or even be the on stage face of the staff (who would want to see my face?). I pick the right people and let them do what they do best. Sure they are given goals and guidelines but the application is left to them and that is their job. I am successful only when they are successful.....anything less, then I haven't done my job.