This evening, I sat at a table with two other people. As a group, we were conducting interviews. A teenager stood before us. He was asked questions. Some of these were questions whose answers he should know well–the answers he’d recited with a group at least once a week for months, if not years. Some of the questions were typical interview questions of the “How would our organization benefit if we put you in a leadership position?” sort. The young man to my right led most of the interview though I and the other person on our team added to the interview at times. The young man leading the interview tried to calm nerves at times, suggesting that the teenager take his time to think about it or to go back and start over when the teenager stumbled over words and was losing confidence. He offered praise for thoughtful responses and suggested more attention to certain details. He was poised and confident.
Early that afternoon, the same young man had emailed the schedule he’d written to various adults. The schedule outlined what our organization would do for 3.5 hours this evening with a group of teens. Individuals were assigned various tasks as the organization had as many as three different sets of activities occurring in some of the time slots. He’d consulted with his team for input, but otherwise had set the schedule himself. As he’s done for several weeks now.
When he arrived this evening, he greeted people confidently and directed people to their various tasks. He led the entire group in an opening meeting and then sent some in one direction and others in another. He went to lead a class of teenagers–as he’s done regularly for several weeks now–before he excused himself to come lead these interviews.
As I watched him, I thought how confident he seemed and how well he seemed to be directing others. These leadership skills could be used well in so many organizations. He’ll do well when he eventually leaves this group.
Some teens I know have taken a course on “Leadership” from Florida’s Virtual School, but somehow I doubt they got as much out of that course as this young man has gotten from what he’s doing. He’s had to read about leadership traits and skills and has sat through seminars and passed tests on them but eventually he had to learn by doing. The Young Marines (an organization for children ages 8 to 18 (or until they graduate from high school) is affiliated with the Marine Corps League–an auxiliary of the US Marines Corps. It was begun by people who wanted to share with children the positive values they’d learned while serving in the US Marine Corps. And as I looked over at my seventeen-year-old son tonight as he led much of the Promotion Boards for other Young Marines who wanted a position of leadership, I saw the vision of those people playing out in my son. He’s taken on more and more responsibility for how the group runs and for making it work.
And if anyone wants to find a Young Marines unit for their child, check out youngmarines.com Your child doesn’t have to be interested in the military, doesn’t have to want to someday become a Marine, to get a lot out of this program.
(photo from another recent day)