Kerikeri Scoutmaster "What is leadership; what is it really?" That's the question put to 42 Scouts from around the North at a 'Sandford' training course at Matauri Bay, one they were able to answer by the time they headed home.
Scouts from Doubtless Bay, Paihia, Russell, Kerikeri, Kamo, Horahora and Ruakaka, aged 12 to 14, were put through a number of training exercises that Bill Miles, who runs the Kerikeri Scouts, said would not have been out of place in an adult environment, "albeit wrapped up in a very fun way".
"The weekend was fast-paced, and each individual's ideas about leadership and teamwork were put to the test," he said.
"Most came with a preconception about what it means to be a Scout Patrol leader, but all left knowing they've got a bit more to learn on the subject, and that perhaps is the truest test of a real leader.
"When you've got kids who have been hard at work for three days saying 'That's the best camp I've ever been on' you can probably sit back with some pride, knowing they have grown as individuals and that in a few short years these young people will be contributing members of our community."
Each of the Scouts had a turn at being the Patrol leader, and at being a team member, giving them an appreciation of what it takes to run and be part of a good team. Whether it was devising ways of collecting radio-active fuel rods without touching them or putting out a fire suspended three metres above their heads, the problem-solving and team work that they attempted would stand them in good stead amongst their peers, Mr Miles added.
But it didn't stop there. After administering first aid to some unsuspecting leaders, and trying to work out how a stick they were all holding kept rising when it should have been falling, it was time for a formal three-course dinner complete with guest speaker.
"Scouting not only offers young people a fantastic source of fun and camaraderie, but also worldly skills that many of us say is lacking in today's society," he said.
"Simple things like not leaving a team member behind, or waiting for everyone to be served before tucking into dinner, showing a guest speaker the proper respect they deserve or simply saying thank you to the cook; it all comes from the founding theologies that is at the core of Scouting.
"So, Northland, be positive in the knowledge that the Scouting Northland Sandford Class of 2012 is amongst us and will continue to realise the potential that is there in every young person within our community."
Mr Miles said Scouting was thriving in Kerikeri, with a current muster of around 140 Venturers, Cubs, Scouts and Keas. A very good programme had been put together four or five years ago, and kids were keen to get involved.
There was good adult involvement too, although there would always be room for more.
Meanwhile, fundraising for the jamboree that is scheduled for the end of the year was hitting its straps, Mr Miles said, and anyone who had any jobs to offer some very keen youngsters was warmly invited to contact him on (021) 952-406.