The Red Squad at Camp Shasta comprised teenage boys and girls. While they received no pay, they attended and enjoyed all the activities at Camp at no cost. Members of the Red Squad worked as assistants with the specialists and did the labor projects at Camp. Some of them were very mature and undertook their given tasks with total responsibility as full-grown adults. The story that follows is about one of them.
Every member of Red Squad was given the right to participate in all of Camp’s staff meetings, which usually took place in the evening after our nightly campfire. Most always came. Perhaps they were enticed by the food the kitchen would prepare. Even an Army moves on its stomach. Camp staff and Red Squad certainly did!
The Red Squad member I write about was his own person with his own voice. He did not relate well with his peers but always did an exceptional job when given a task, even if it was difficult. He was strong, capable, and even creative when doing a job. Still, as I mentioned, he was highly independent and seemed uninterested in interacting with the Red Squad as a social entity.
A few years later, as an adult, he became an entrepreneur, married, and had his first child. I was invited to attend one of his staff meetings, where I listened and watched his approach and way of relating to his staff. He spoke passionately about his vision while they listened intently, seemingly mesmerized. I remember he never once asked for anyone’s thoughts or input. He was the leader, and he knew what he wanted. Ultimately, his inability to see beyond himself shattered whatever dreams he may have had.
Much later, when I began to study power, communication, and relationships, I believe he was, at least to his mind, his staff, and probably a few others, “charismatic.” Yet, that was a bubble of his own making and one he could never escape.