In my 20 years as a Stockade Chief Ranger I was always on the lookout for Christian men who were passionate and committed about investing in the next generation to serve as Rangers in the Stockade I led.
I stumbled onto a secret that I will share with you that resulted in men asking me if they could become Rangers in our Stockade. I know it’s hard to imagine because one of the biggest challenges we often face is finding leaders, but it’s true and it might work for you as well.
Each year at the end of the school year we would drive from the rolling hills of Southeast Pennsylvania to the mountains in the northern part of the state for a weekend campout. We would invite and encourage as many dads of the boys who attended our Stockade to come on the campout with their sons. Our reason for this was twofold. We wanted to make an easy on-ramp for a dad to spend an entire weekend with his son in the company of other men and their sons. We also wanted to introduce the dads to the core of what Stockade was about: building godly men of today and tomorrow.
This campout was planned to be the most awesome weekend a Stockader could imagine: sleeping in tents, dirt, action, fire, fishing, adventure, and lots of bacon.
We got up Saturday morning and headed for Rose Valley Lake for the express purpose of catching our supper. There just seems to be something men find very satisfying about hunting for their food. We often did pretty well filling our stringers, but plan B was hot dogs if the fish didn’t cooperate with our plan. This trip sometimes pushed dads outside their urban comfort zone. We could often identify them as they arrived by their new white sneakers and equipment with the tags still attached. But it never took long for them to relax and to start having a blast spending this time together with their sons.
We would come back for a lunch of sandwiches and soup and then went on an afternoon hike up the Mountain (conquering mountains, by the way, is another very manly thing to do). This was followed by free time for the boys to play together and for some of the men to catch some trout from the stream to round out an assortment of fish for our supper meal.
The evening was spent playing Capture the Flag followed by a campfire time. By the time the flames had relaxed into embers the younger Stockaders were invariably curled up on their dad’s laps falling asleep. Sunday morning we had our traditional pancake breakfast followed by a worship service set in the midst of the beauty of God’s Creation.
It was usually sometime around lunch, as we were getting ready to leave, that dads would begin to wander over to me to thank me for the awesome weekend they had spent with their son. These two days that began as a one-time experience began to open their eyes to the way Brigade could help them spend consistent and rich time with their sons on a weekly basis not just once a year. So the conversation often led to additional questions about how he could become involved as a leader in the Fall. I also made sure to extend this great opportunity to those men who didn’t approach me.
So, as odd as it might sound, I did some of my most successful recruitment of leaders at the end of the year! Plan an awesome weekend campout, invite the dads to come and spend the weekend with their son, and see if this isn’t replicated in your unit as well.
Chief Ranger Joel Fiscus