By Jeff Becraft
The third year we did our Leadership Weekend, Camp Cooper had the equipment to do paintball. I told them, “Absolutely we are doing paintball.” To be honest, the initial reason for doing it was simply to get out there and have some fun. But what we discovered is that there are an incredible number of leadership lessons involved in the sport.
One year, my team was advancing through the wooded course and I was behind a tree that was no more than 12 inches wide and about 15 feet away from a bunker. Three guys were in the bunker and they were seriously lighting up my tree. Paint was splattering all over the other side of the tree. I was pressed against the tree sideways and even sucking in my diaphragm to be as thin as possible. Paintballs were zipping past me… phft, phft, phft… right in front of my helmet and face and flying past my backside. I yelled out to my team, “Somebody shoot at that bunker!”
In leadership circles, that would be called communication.
And some of my teammates started shooting at the bunker. When they did, the three opponents had to lower down in hiding. When they did that, yours truly leaned around the tree and positioned the barrel of my marker right at the bunker. When one of the guys would stick his head up to see what was going on or to fire back, I would take them out. All three guys were eliminated this way.
After a paintball match, there is a buzz in the tent. Everyone is talking at once: “Man, I can’t believe you shot me out!” “I was sneaking up the side and then…” “Who was that that went running up the left side?” “I had you! I had you!… and then so-and-so got me!” It is one of the funnest times of the whole year. (Now, I realize that in a formal sense, “funnest” isn’t a word… but it is in Youth Corps.) In tent conversations, people would probably say, “Man, Becraft took out all three of those dudes.”
But in reality… on my own… I was pinned down, trapped, no where to go. It was my team coming into action that opened up the opportunity. There are really very few individual events in life.
We really do need each other.
It’s a great day to have a great day!
Jeff Becraft is the Executive Director for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].