The Experience That Inspired Me to Serve

In the prior two posts, we took a look at the why behind booster leadership. We have seen how it can benefit you, the individual, and how it can benefit students, instructors, and administrators. The benefits we’ve seen make perfect sense – there’s a logical reason behind each of them. However, the decision to serve is not always made from your head – it is often made from your heart.

Early in my tenure with the Blackman Band Boosters, I had an experience that inspired me to serve wherever there was a need. It was a decision I made from the heart. Here’s the story from my book, The Booster Leader: 35 Leadership Essentials for a Thriving Booster Organization.

Robert and Chase

During my first year with the Blackman Band Boosters, I chaperoned our spring trip to San Antonio. Being a first year chaperone, I was assigned a group of boys who simply were not the best disciplined. A couple of standouts were Robert and Chase. During the first leg of the bus trip, I observed their short, snappy, and sarcastic communication with adults and other students. I watched as another chaperone quickly snapped back at them, which totally shut down the dialogue. I knew I had to take the first step and treat them with respect before they would even consider engaging in a straightforward, transparent conversation. So I overlooked their initial sarcastic remarks and began to establish an element of trust with each one.

Robert had a fancy truck and every electronic gadget that you could imagine. What he lacked, though, was a healthy relationship with his parents. He was from a broken home. Both of his parents had moved on to other relationships and did not seem to have time for him. Instead, they lavished him with material gifts.

As I got to know Chase, he seemed very familiar. I asked him, “In elementary school, were you ever involved in scouts?” His reply was disheartening. “Mr. Caldwell, I haven’t been in any school longer than two years. I have moved back and forth between my parents’ households, and they have lived in several different places. I wish that I had been able to be in scouts.”

Wow! What burdens for these teenagers to bear. In spite of these burdens, I learned that both boys absolutely loved being in the band. Their musical achievements and the sense of community with other students filled the void created by other areas of their lives.

After establishing trust with these two boys, an amazing thing happened. Throughout the course of the trip, they would go out of their way to find me and tell me about their day and their experiences! I had broken through the sarcastic exterior and had begun to make a difference in their lives. Because of my experience with Robert and Chase, I made a commitment to serve the band program and its students in any capacity where there was a need.

Upon our return home, I was unloading the bus when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. It was Robert. “Mr. Caldwell, I want to introduce you to my dad. Dad, Mr. Caldwell was my chaperone and we had a great time on our trip.” I thought to myself, this is what it’s all about. I felt as though Robert knew that I cared.

In San Antonio, I saw the benefits that band membership brought Robert and Chase. As a booster leader, you’ll also see these benefits demonstrated in your students’ lives.

Question: What experiences have inspired you to serve? You can leave a comment by clicking here.