Junior Leadership Development Academy, Empowering the NEXT Generation
We have seen promotion videos, Facebook posts and heard other Commanders talk about Junior Leadership Development Academy (JLDA). You may be wondering if it is everything that it is made out to be. You may have never experienced it or even know what it is all about. Will it stand up to the hype? My experience through serving on staff as well as having many Rangers graduate JLDA, says yes, it will meet or exceed your expectations.
I have served as Patrol Advisor for Adventure Training Camp (ATC) (no longer available), Camp Commander of Ranger Training Camp (RTC) (the replacement to DTC/ATC) and just recently I had the privilege to serve as Camp Commander of a newly developed Action Camp called Shooting Sports Action Camp (SSAC). If you look at my 13 plus year career as a Royal Rangers Commander, serving at three camps and observing other JLDA camps, it may not sound like a huge commitment. Many of the years my work schedule did not permit me to have the time off to be at camp. Though I couldn’t be there, I always had our boys attend. We saw the value of junior leadership training from the very beginning and it did not take any time for us to see the benefits that came through JLDA. The boys were more confident in their skills, decision making, and understanding of their role in the Outpost as a Junior Leader.
In my opinion, there is no better camp that Royal Rangers offers. I have seen first time Salvations, deliverance from addiction, healed relationships and boys baptized in the Holy Spirit at the altar of a JLDA camp. I have seen a boy who wasn’t very excited about Royal Rangers get recharged, refocused and set new goals for his life after attending JLDA. I have seen Commanders rediscover their passion, mission and calling at a JLDA camp. But the lasting result that is easily identified after camp is over is the sense of responsibility and state of maturity that a young man possesses at his local Outpost when attending Junior Leadership Development Academy.
JLDA is a process. You can’t receive all of the benefits I am talking about by sending them just one time or by rushing them through the Academy to earn their saber as quick as possible. The process works best when he comes back year after year and when the young man is able to apply what he has learned at his local Outpost over a period of time. Age and maturity also plays a role in the results you will see. We encourage our young men to continue to go through other Action Camps even after earning their saber to gain more experiences, apply their leadership knowledge and continue to develop as a man of God. It teaches them that leadership development is a journey, not a destination, and that serving God and people is a part of the culture of a Ranger leader.
Action Camps are not just for young men. This year was the first time Oklahoma had a Commander attend an Action Camp. He was a Ranger Kids Commander that wanted a new experience and he was able to do it with his son. The father and the son were able to work in the same patrol and experience the challenges, time shortages and accomplishments together. We see many advantages to having a Commander in a patrol, so if you have been hesitant on “pulling the trigger” with this new way of training, I would encourage you to give it a try.
I believe there are many reasons for you to support your district JLDA camps. If your District does not have what you are looking for, there are also several options for Action Camps throughout our Region that you may want to take advantage of. Whatever you decide to do, I hope I was able to shed some light on this powerful tool Royal Rangers has called Junior Leadership Development Academy.
Kasey D. Bruce
NSSP Field Advisor