I once had the pleasure of learning from Harry Kraemer, of the Kellogg School of Management. He taught that leadership is not something one waits for until an invitation arrives. Leaders start leading by the choices they make, the actions they take and the ones they refuse to take. Even a five year old can be a leader, finding a ball and asking his or her friends to start playing.
These past few days, accompanying a rock climbing trip with eighteen teenagers and seven staff members, I found myself enjoying seeing leadership unfold before my eyes. The counselors functioned as a strong unit where strengths based management was incorporated. Check-ins were continuous as were an un-erring good attitude. It is a truism not to be taken lightly: happy counselors lead to happy campers.
There was also leadership seen amongst the campers. I brought my guitar, not to play but to be used during downtime. At least 8 campers took turns playing songs and teaching each other chords. People shared and supported each other. The same thing happened on the mountain.
They say the sign of a good performer is that he/she makes something difficult look easy. That is my impression of the workings of this camp unit in particular and the Institute in general. Lots of structure, lots of training, a commitment to warmth and excellence, these are not easy but they pay off in genuine fun and organic wisdom building.
In short, I would say to the Reform Movement: stop worrying about the Pew Study bemoaning the future of American Judaism and start following the simple, time-tested rules.
Or to cite a local story. The Green Bay Packers, decades ago, were a horrible team. Their new coach assembled the players on the field and said, “Men, we are going to go back to the basics.” He pulled out on object and placed it before the team. “I mean the real basic, basics. Gentlemen, this is a football.”
The coach was Vince Lombardi. The team did pretty well after that.