CLIMBING THE HEIGHTS: TIPS ON ACHIEVEMENT PROGRESS
The group of hikers left the valley floor, moving with grace and energy. The huge mountain towered before them in the early morning sunlight, but their confidence was too high to be discouraged by its height. They chattered and laughed as they slipped into single file up the easy slope. But not for long. As the trail became steeper, they began to fall out of line—for a rest, for a drink, some even to turn back.
Then at a scenic viewpoint, the leader called a halt and took stock of his group. The ranks had been thinned considerably. The weak, the ones who lacked desire, the easily-distracted were missing. And it was obvious that only a few would reach the peak. Should he stop here and wait for the stragglers? Or even go back for them? Or should he choose a lower height? Or press ahead toward the top?
If he waited or turned back now, some of the hikers would be denied the accomplishment they sought— scaling the peak. Yet, as a responsible leader, he could not abandon the stragglers. Moments later, the decision was made. An assistant was sent down the trail to find the stragglers and bring them up as high as they would go. But the rest would go on!
First one dropped out with a blister, then another. As they climbed higher, the thin air hindered some. At last, only a select few stood on the mountain peak with their leader. But they stood there with satisfaction, knowing they had reached their goal.
The Chief Ranger’s or Captain's opportunity with CSB Achievement is quite similar to that of the mountain climber. The Achievement program is designed to help a boy or young man grow toward maturity in Christ, starting with Builder and Sentinel Trails, and moving through the Battalion Observer to Three Star, and ultimately to the Herald of Christ. Growth toward maturity is not attained in some haphazard way. The CSB Achievement program is an intentional plan that Christian men can use to help boys and young men grow systematically and at maximum velocity.
Though most young guys want to "grow up", today's sense of "entitlement" has the same effect on Achievements that a steep grade has on hikers. The Stockade and Battalion leader's challenge, then, is twofold:
1. Maximize growth, and
2. Maximize participation (and reduce dropouts).
How can a leader of boys and young men help them to grow? This is a tough question with few easy answers. However, built into the CSB Achievement program are several features which can help:
- Goal orientation. In today's youth-empowering world, the setting of objectives is often overlooked in the whirl of activities. Yet, if young males are to mature to live meaningful, productive, mature Christian lives, they must develop a goal orientation and be able to measure themselves against their goals. In Stockade, the boy is encouraged to think about his potential. And in Battalion, through both Adventure and Frontier Trails, the young man and his leader/mentor are guided to:
a. Set goals and objectives,
b. Make plans to meet those goals,
c. Do what is necessary to meet the goals, and
d. Evaluate their plans and experiences against the goals.
Hence, when the leader and Brigadier are together, the planning and setting of goals need to be as much of a priority as the completing of the Achievements.
Achievement in Christian Service Brigade is geared to a boy’s and young man’s interests and abilities. The Trail Guides include space and instructions for this, and the Achievement record pages are designed for planning. As the boy and young man compares his EDC or Target Date to his Date Completed, he can evaluate his progress, as well as his planning abilities.
Decision-making. Each part of the Brigade program moves a boy and young man toward
independent and mature Christian manhood. Because of this, each succeeding
level of Achievement is increasingly flexible with more options, allowing him
to make more and more decisions. As he progresses, the leader/mentor should
grow to become less of a judge and more of a trusted consultant. It is important
that the boy or young man knows for himself that he has achieved up to his abilities,
not that his leader/mentor is telling him whether he has or not.
While it requires diligence and wisdom to lead the few who will climb to the top of the mountain, motivating wide participation requires patience and imagination. The man who is sent back along the trail to encourage those who are lagging behind has a special challenge. Here are some tips to make this task more attainable.
- Enlist help. A typical reaction as leaders glance over the Achievement Trail Guides is, "How can I teach and guide young guys in all of these areas?” While few men are personally capable of instructing in all the skills and activities, they can give boys and young men the overall guidance needed for steady advancement. As the boy grows to maturity, his effort in Brigade does not require the mentor to know the “answers,” just how to find them. The mentor and young Brigadier can learn together. By taking a survey of the local church, a list of possible resource people with various skills and abilities can be developed. Linking an individual boy or young man with his father, pastor or another Christian man can speed Achievement progress. By spreading the responsibility for encouraging and helping the boy or young man in his Achievement, he is more likely to advance than if the Brigade leaders try to do it all.
- Use group learning experiences. Group learning is very exciting and natural for Brigade, but it is often neglected in terms of Achievement. The Post and Squad Meeting is already a group learning experience geared to Achievement. Often these guys effectively complete their Outpost Adventure and Mission Achievements together. This opportunity can be expanded to include Achievements from the group’s Trail Guides. The stimulation, questions and assistance from the group can improve Achievement progress and its quality considerably.
Will these tips guarantee success? No. Of itself, no system can change lives. But prayer, loving concern and the Holy Spirit can take these techniques and infuse them with vitality—with amazing results in the lives of young men. Now, off to that far-away mountain peak...