A Campfire Bear Story: Barking Up the Wrong Tree? Or Just Waiting for the Director?

Here is a leadership campfire story for you.  Grab your roasting stick, coffee is on, let’s enjoy our time!

Davey Crockett was a mountain man, politician, and leader.  His plain spun speech and folksy wit made him an outspoken but refreshing character.  His favorite pastime was bear hunting (or is it bar’?). Davy loved a bear hunt and the bigger the challenge the more fun, which lead to some colorful stories. I find a leadership lesson in one of these stories, so as camp people; let’s go on a bear hunt.

With his pack of dogs yapping on the bear trail, Davy was set to enjoy his pastime.  In time though, he became frustrated when his dogs kept stopping and barking up the wrong tree. When he arrived they would then be content to move on to bark up another tree until Davy caught up. This happened repeatedly and in his frustration the hunt was about to end.  Approaching his dogs one last time and ready to tear into his dogs instead of a bear, then he saw a bear in the clearing before him, “the biggest bear ever seen in America”.

The dogs did their job, treed the bear and Davy realized all along that the dogs had been doing their job; it’s just that they were not going to tackle a bear that big without their master.  The fight was on.  Davy shot the bear out of the tree. With his dogs at his side, he charged into that bear with his hunting knife and tomahawk.  Finally, in the middle of a great bear hug, Davy managed to shoot it one more time.   That thar’ bear was over 600 lbs.

Delegation is a fine thing. Use it wisely and often. Good leaders learn to recognize when those under them have identified, “the biggest idea in America”, and are waiting for you to catch up so they can tackle it. They may have treed the bear and are willing to get to the fight but they are waiting for your tomahawk to be put into action.

As camp leaders we need to make sure we are enjoying the ministry part of camp that we enjoy most and go on a bear hunt.  Surround yourself with willing workers and set them loose. They scout the woods better and whiff the scent on a hot trail. You may think they are barking up the wrong tree when in reality they sense the next great American bear and are waiting for you to join them.  Are you going to give up on them or let them continue trailing the “the biggest bear ever seen in America or beyond”?

Well, I think the coffee’s perked long enough, the fire is hot. Time to chat a bit…

Story adapted from: Mountain Men, Tony Hollihan, Folklore Publishing, 2004


About the Ordinary Hiker

A Christian camp director for many years, I enjoy ministry and being outdoors. I refer to God's creative wonder as the testimony of creation, a special place where God brings His word to life. Its where I like to be and where God speaks in His gentle voice in the awe of His creative work.
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