|ALF Circa 1985ish at Camp|
Here’s what I know:
As a leadership development professional I have worked with over 53,000 young people. Those experiences have been in outdoor programs helping influence their skills through amazing camp and leadership opportunities.
My family and I moved to the United States when I was 4 years old. And in celebration of our 50th anniversary two years ago, I spent that year reflecting on individuals and lessons that have made me who I am. I’d like to share a lesson about two of those great mentors and one of those years.
Here’s what I believe.
Small moments often teach you life’s greatest lessons. It was Benjamin Disraeli, who served as the British Prime Minister twice during Queen Victoria’s reign, and was quoted as saying, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
In 1983 as an 18 year old, I was working for a local camp in Southern California and I was one of the cabin leaders.
It was during that week that I discovered who I was to become. One evening, my junior leader, Mike, and myself were taking a break. It was raining and a bit cold so we went down to the KYBO to stay warm and dry.
Now a KYBO is a restroom and shower facility. There were some benches in the shower area and we sat there to stay warm and talk.
At one point the camp director, Ron Perry came in to say hello. Now Ron is this big gregarious guy who was one of those people that everyone just wanted to be around. He was tall with lots of curly hair and he spoke in this sing song mesmerizing way. I am sure each of you has known someone like this.
So we are in the KYBO, oh did I mention that KYBO, besides being a radio station outside of Barstow California - at camp KYBO or K Y B O stands for “keep your bowels open.”
When you’re at camp it’s really an important place to know where to go.
So we’re in the KYBO and in walks Ron and he starts asking us questions and just checking in. After a few minutes he asked, “So, how long is your break?” I told him we had to get back up to our cabin now. This is where it got interesting. Out of no-where, he pulls two soda bottles out of his back pockets and says, take 20 more minutes, I’ll go and watch your cabin for you.
He handed us the sarsaparilla and walked out. I turned to Mike and said, “Someday I want his job.”
I learned 4 things that day and later I found out from my mentor, John Maxwell, that those were simply Laws of leadership.
You see, Ron had this great moment of leadership with me. His influence sent me down this road and that impact was that simple.
By the time I was 25 years old I was the director at that camp. His moment of serving others, in that case Mike and I, he truly was adding value to what we were doing.
And since then, I have had the opportunity to influence the lives of so many at four different YMCA camps, a 4H camp, a Boys and Girls Club Camp and several Scout camps.
You see that day back in that KYBO, it wasn’t really what Ron said. It was really how he made me feel that had a lasting impact on everything I have done over the last 40 summers. He connected with me on an emotional level. I totally bought into him as a leader and then took on that mission and vision that he set. He gave me a reason to follow him.
As a youth and leadership development professional I have lived to demonstrate those lessons every day.
You see, campers find riches in themselves through the activities that build and nurture self esteem, personal growth and what I call positive risk taking.
My vision now is to carry those lessons forward in a camping program that I have been developing that serve teens and share those leadership lessons and so much more.
My promise is to help develop the best leaders that lead and guide campers and to discover within themselves their own riches.
I am eternally grateful to Ron and John and so many others. I want to thank all of you for checking in today and helping me keep my promise.
I am AL Ferreira and I have the greatest job in the world…serving others.
Part of this story is from our latest podcast so, please consider listening and following the Youth Development Professional guidebook (I’m the co-host) podcast at: