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Monday, March 18, 2013

Meet James Roy

James Roy was a Trail Camp counselor from 2007 to 2009. During his time as a counselor he proved to be a trusted leader and knowledgeable outdoorsman. Read about how James transitioned from Woodcraft to the British military.

How did you first learn about Woodcraft?

During my first year at university I became aware friends were signing up to work as camp counselors in the United States and elsewhere abroad.  I chose to follow suit and applied via an intermediary with a CV strongly suggesting a keen interest in wilderness pursuits. Woodcraft wrote to me and I accepted based on the strength of the traditional camp ethos and emphasis on wilderness expeditions.

I've heard many foreign staff members say they had always associated New York with a big city and they were surprised them to see how wild and beautiful the Adirondacks are. Was that the case with you? Were you familiar with Adirondacks?

Having lived in Virginia Beach, VA, on two previous occasions while growing up, I was somewhat familiar with the geography of the United States, but was not aware of the size or quality of the Adirondack Park.

James (back row, left), leads a Trail Camp trip in the High Peaks.
 After your first summer, what kept you coming back?

Primarily the authentic summer camp experience, though returning is only going to happen if you make friends and are made to feel one of the family. I certainly felt as much, and it lead me to spend 2 subsequent summers at Woodcraft and visit thereafter.

What branch of the UK's military to you serve in?

I am an Officer in the Royal Regiment of Artillery.  Our role is to provide the Army with remote support and air defence. We are an integral part of the surveillance and target acquisition capability.

What is your rank? Do you have a leadership role?

I am a Lieutenant and as such command a Troop of 30. I am accountable for all aspects of their training and welfare. Whilst in a large organisation there is a great deal of support, in the troop command role ultimate responsibility for the well-being of those soldiers rests with me.

James (right), in uniform.
 Did you learn anything about leadership while at Woodcraft that you find applicable to your current position in the military?

While the military mind-set is somewhat different, the values are common and easily understood:
Courage, Discipline, Respect, Integrity, Loyalty, Selfless Commitment

Any time you must manage and lead groups you have the opportunity to practice leadership and I found Woodcraft gave me this opportunity in a way no previous life experience had and this was invaluable prior to beginning my training. In the modern world where people are constantly monitored, it is increasingly rare you are given such responsibility making it all the more valuable.  It is a great feeling returning to camp having led a successful week-long expedition into the wilderness -- and when things don’t go exactly to plan you learn even more!

Do you miss Woodcraft? Have you had the opportunity to visit since your last summer as a counselor?

I miss Woodcraft a great deal and have visited on 3 occasions since I was last a counselor there in 2009. I have every intention of visiting again and am always impressed at how welcome I am and how as the campers grow they have gone from strength to strength.  

James shows he is always prepared for bad weather.
  Is there one Woodcraft memory that sticks out in your mind?

The final campfire.  As a counselor who has not been a camper before it is an intimate and powerful experience that underlines just how special Woodcraft is not only as a summer retreat but as a family tradition stretching back generations. It is a well-orchestrated evening that is full of ritual and there could be no better way to end the summer.
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