Follow The Leader


It was the third week at camp, and things were running smoothly.

“Lineup at 6 a.m. by the flagpole,” Art, our counselor, called out to us one afternoon.

“We’ll announce the leader for our overnight then.”

My best friend, Mo, looked at me.

“Maybe he’ll chose me, I’m an Eagle Scout,” he said.

The job of “leading” the overnight involved taking head counts, giving directions and guiding the group for water breaks. Mo was a natural, and he had a friendly personality. This year, however, Adam was also in our bunk. He was strong, an expert in martial arts, and he had a personality to match his physical strength.

“Bet Art will choose me,” Adam said. “I always get chosen as the leader of everything.”

So when 10 messy-haired boys with untucked shirts trudged to the flagpole the next morning , I was surprised to hear Adam talking so loudly.

“I’ll make sure you get lots of water breaks,” he announced, as he shot me a victorious smile.

He wasn’t chosen yet, but he was acting as if he was our leader already.

Art called for silence, scanned the lineup and then announced, “This year’s leader for our annual overnight will be … Mo Schwartz.”

“Yes!” Mo yelled out.

I slapped Mo a high-five, as Art handed him the trip map.

Next thing, Adam was leaning over Mo, looking at the map. He put his lips to my ear and whispered, “Mistake. They need me as leader. They’ll regret it when I beat them to the campsite.”

I shrugged off his comment.

Mo took a head count, and we began shuffling through the woods down a dirt trail. Ten minutes went by and Mo called for a water break and a head count.

“We’re short one person,” I heard Mo yell. He took roll call and realized that Adam was missing.

A feeling of panic swept through us, and Art called out that we had to stick together and scout out the area while calling Adam’s name.

We searched and searched. Then we really started to panic. I started to say a silent prayer when a piercing scream filled the air.

We followed the calls for help and found Adam curled up in the dirt by a large rock — he was holding his ankle.

“I think it’s broken,” he said.

Mo radioed a park ranger who arrived a few minutes later and drove Adam to the hospital. Art arranged for a bus to take us all back to camp; we were postponing the trip.

The next day, Adam returned — with crutches and an ace bandage. He said he was sorry. Art addressed us, too.

“There’s an important lesson here,” he said. “You should follow a leader, even if you think you might be a better one.”

Discussion Questions
1. How could Adam have used his leadership skills to his advantage?

2. Have you or a friend ever had a situation where you had to give up being a team captain or a leader for the sake of the group? How might things have turned out if you had resisted? How did they turn out when you just gave in?

Danielle Sarah Storch is a local freelance writer. Shabbat Table Talk is a monthly feature synthesizing Torah insights and lessons for children of all ages.

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