I attended White Stage Leadership Academy summer camp for many years during middle and high school and even worked as a counselor for two years. This program shaped my life in profound ways that I feel the influences of to this day. I still use the leadership principles I learned and reflect on how formative many of the traditions, challenges, and friendships I developed were. I have no doubt that White Stag helped me become who I am today.
I was involved as an adult advisor in the white stag program for 7 years. I came to understand the value of the program when I picked up my son after he had been a Phase 3 candidate. He was a Life Scout at the time so he had a good deal of outdoor experience as well as troop leadership experience. When I picked him up and asked him how his week of camp was he replied "it was the best thing I've ever done, I learned so much but didn't realize I was learning until the end". He promptly fell asleep exhausted, relieved and inspired. After our first year on staff in Phase 2 during our final reflection his words were " this was an amazing experience but the best part was I got to share it with my dad". I am fortunate to have had both the experience with my son but more importantly to have heard those words. Many parents are not so lucky.
We are both still in touch with all eight of the youth we shared the year with. White Stag is an opportunity. If you have the courage to participate as either a youth or an adult it will leave you a changed person. Changed for the better, wiser and more understanding as a human being.
Both my daughters attended as candidates and worked as staff. What impressed me the most during camp was the camaraderie developed in a short period of time within the patrols and the overall phases; most kids develop friendships that last and last. On Graduation Day you see such dedication to outdo each other with their phase yells-- each year half the kids are hoarse from so much spirited shouting, plus foot stomping and stave (walking stick) banging- it deafening to hear (but in a good way)! After camp is over kids come home with a lasting effect-- we saw new organizational skills applied to schoolwork, better planning, leadership skills, and improved communication skills. My daughter have fond memories of White Stag, and now as young adults love backpacking and are immersed in recreation/student leadership. I highly recommend the program for both boys and girls, and both experienced campers and newbies.
I was part of the program when it was a Boy Scout Program. It provided the leader training that all teenagers should have. It was good training for my future as a leader in several organizations.
COL John Hackbarth
I've been involved with White Stag Sierra for the last 15 years. The attributes that set White Stag apart, for me, are the low cost, fun activities, safe learning environment, and emphasis on outdoor skills. All of which are the icing on the Leadership Training cake, which is the reason to go to camp.
I've used my White Stag-garnered leadership skills countless times in my adult life. When leadership is learned in a practical environment, it can be applied in all practical environments.
This is a 6 year program in which Scouts learn for 3 of 6 and are on staff for 3 of 6. Scouts on staff have monthly weekend meetings where they develop the curriculum for the candidates that will attend the 1 week long camp; adult Scouters are only there for safety and transportation. I served several years on adult staff including as Phase 1 Scoutmaster. Over the course of the 6 years Scouts learn, develop, use 11 leadership skills useful not only in their own boy-led Scout units, but, more importantly, for life. This is an outstanding program that will change a youth's life!
Forward, upward, onward,
I served on support staff for several years at the summer camps chartered by this fine organization. I'm also a past president of the White Stag Association. All three of our children participated as candidates, youth staff and/or adult staff. I believe they all gained skills and, even more important, attitudes that have been helpful to them as adult workers and leaders. How do leaders learn to help groups work together to meet goals? It's all there. I think the registrar probably gets a post-camp call every year from some parent who wants to know what happened because the enthusiastic young person who came home is different from the one who went to camp. I've often seen young people who did not see themselves as outstanding in conventional settings discover that they did, indeed, have leadership ability. I'm also impressed with the gender equity fostered in the program.
The White Stag Leadership Program is one of the few experiences in my life that provided a safe and supportive environment for me to learn and practice the act of being a leader. In the time I spent in the White Stag program my confidence and intrerpersonal skills grew to the point that I could confidently manage large 400+ person groups.
Because of the skills I learned through White Stag I was motivated to become a teacher and have been able to serve as an effective school activities director. The program is life changing!
In my lifetime I've had the privilege and good fortune to rub shoulders with many guiding lights. I met many of 'uncommon men' (and women) during my years involved in the White Stag program. One of them (Dr. Maury Tripp), was Level 3 scoutmaster when I was in Level 6 . He defined succinctly the mission of the White Stag program as 'a workshop-laboratory in leadership development'. The essence of White Stag is more about a life-long 'journey' than the achievement of objectives. It is about self-improvement--so that we may help others improve and achieve fulfillment. Fortunately, over the decades since its founding in 1956, White Stag has remained true to its mission, and its impact for good has spread far and wide. May the program ever continue 'Onward and Upward'!
George St Clair
I was involved with White Stag on and off for over 40 years. The program has improved my interpersonal, leadership and management skills. As an adult leader in the program, I continued to learn and to pass on the knowledge, skills and attitudes that I learned to others. This is a very effective program.
The White Stag Leadership Developement Program enables youth and young adults to experience, develops and learn life long leadership skills they will use throughout the life. I know of no other program that has spanned decades of learning experiences with thousands of youth and adults.
When my son first went to White Stag, I thought it was just another Scout camp. It is so much more! I am in my 13th year, and I have to say I learn more every time I go. I use principals of communication, planning, time management, using resources and writing objectives on a regular if not daily basis.
The White Stag organization has a storied history and roots in some of the most important leadership and management training work that was done in the 20th century, much of which is still proliferating into the mainstream thought in the field. The skills that candidates in the program develop are useful, and they are taught using a very thoughtfully developed, hands on methodology that establishes and tests not just theoretical knowledge, but also competency. That is something increasingly hard to find in leadership and management training.
With that said, there are a few other elements that are really important to understanding about the White Stag program.
The first is the importance of the outdoor space to the organization. The interaction with nature and the removal of many of the ubiquitous technologies in our lives helps to bring the focus into the fundamentals. Planning and time management are really important when you aren't able to constantly update times and confer through digital communication; and communication skills in particular get a good workout without the digital medium around. The experience itself is also amazing because of the direct interaction with the environment in the beautiful Sierras.
The second is the rich emphasis on tradition in the program. The use of tradition is not a sort of vacuous thing that is done to establish the authority of the teachers as "old folks who have been at this for a while." it serves the candidates by assuring them that they are a part of the program, part of a contiguous community, and by helping them to appreciate the broadly applicable value of the skills they learn in their lives both when they take on leadership roles and when they are members of groups.
The third is, for me, the most important. The content of the organization is constantly evolving and changing. The importance of this cannot be understated; young people are constantly changing, learning, and encountering new things in their environment, and it is important that the content and teaching methods continue to grow and change with them. This is something that has always been identified by the senior leadership in White Stag, and is treated as a fundamental goal of the program, both to ensure that the skills are optimized for the worlds candidates encounter in their time beyond the organization and to ensure that they are presented in ways that will stick with the candidate and improve their lives for good.
I've been in the program for over half of my lifetime, and I can honestly say that over the years it's definitely been the most rewarding and transformative experience of my life. Not only has it made leadership and outdoor skills a key part of who I am, but developed my sense of self to much greater heights.
The easiest way to describe it is "it's a summer camp" but it's so much more-- and I know this sounds cheesy, but it's true. It's a community of outstanding individuals who mentor, guide, lead, encourage, challenge, learn, bond, and achieve. From White Stag I have gained so much. I speak confidently before crowds even when I wasn't expecting to. I am able to console and comfort those in need the best way there is. I communicate information fully and effectively. I develop and implement plans, and evaluate. I have summitted mountains and waded creeks and dove into the ocean. I can save lives. I have found the meaning of friendship, family, and love that I never knew before.
I believe in myself and I believe in this program. They say you get out of something what you put in, and I have poured my heart into this camp. I'm happy to report that it has given me much more. There's so much more I could say about my experience, but I don't even know where I would start. This is just the beginning.
I was lucky enough to grow up in the White Stag Family. Being a part of this organization gave me the skills and support to navigate the tricky waters of growing up. Now, as a teacher, I'm finding that I use my White Stag skills every day! For example, the MOL Process applies directly to my lesson planning. I use a Guided Discovery style activity for my Formative Assessment, Teach and Learn for the lesson portion, and Evaluation as part of my summative assessment. When you grow up using these skills, it's so easy to integrate them into everyday life!
I first went to the White Stag program in 1999 - when I was 11 - and continued as a participant, a youth staffer, and an adult staffer until only a few years ago. This program taught me almost everything I know about leadership and teaching. I use the skills I picked up there daily, as I teach and run a small start-up If/when I have children, they'll be attending the program for sure.
My daughter has been active in the White Stag program since she was 12. Now, at 16, we have seen all sorts of positive benefits in her life not limited to, but including a love of the outdoors and hiking/camping survival skills, ownership in taking on leadership roles, keeping organized within tasks assigned for school or White Stag staff opportunities and quality friends we gather she will keep for life. At 12, we wouldn't have predicted she had that much untapped potential within her. While getting her to White Stag activities throughout the year and driving those dirt roads to get to the summer camp site is not our parental favorite part of the program, we are so very grateful we have made those "sacrifices". Our younger daughter participated in phase 1 and took a break this past summer, but is now looking for forward to returning for 2016; and the boys, they just can't wait to be old enough to graduate from "Turtles" (little brothers and sisters that are on site while mom and dad are volunteering with the program)! We highly recommend the White Stag Sierra Program!
White Stag has been a life changing fundamental part of my life. It helped establish my values and self confidence that allowed me to work in the world of adults as a youth and guided me to success as an adult.
The leadership skills and processes are invaluable
Review from Guidestar
I attended the White Stag Association's camp as a youth and now my sons have attended it. It has influenced every aspect of my life. I learned basic concepts like setting the example and planning and advanced leadership skills like facilitation and managing learning. The program taught me how to make a difference in my family and in my community.
Review from Guidestar