Learning to Lead: A Memoir

Learning to Lead: A Memoir

Jake Worrell, Contributing Writer

The Station Foundation is for gold star children of the Special Operations community. To be a gold star family means to have lost an immediate family member who has served in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, post 9/11. A small group of select kids in the Special Operations community from all around the nation come together to participate in a 12 day wilderness experience called The Crossing. The mission of The Crossing is to help the participants get a sense of what fallen heroes experienced.

The first week consists of training: where we learn the basic survival skills necessary to complete our future mission. These skills, instructed by a former Green Beret who now teaches survival across the country, came to be very useful during our final mission.  At the end of the mission, the participants received a bag filled with flags flown in combat for our heroes and custom handmade knives as well. While participating, a friend of your hero is there with you every step of the way.

After I participated in The Crossing, the foundation invited me back, saying they recognized potential in me for good leadership; and so I became a part of the LiT (Leaders In Training) program. In this program, I am given the opportunity to go back every summer and be a leader to first year participants. The purpose of a LiT member is to connect to new participants because we have already experienced what they’re going through.

However, LiT isn’t just a summer program, it’s all year. The Station stays in contact with the LiT members, helping us with anything we need, including tutoring, becoming a leader, and being more responsible. Now, every year the Station Foundation takes the LiT members on a trip to help us explore and prepare for the upcoming summer. These trips help us mature and become better leaders. This year my group and I traveled to Washington D.C. on Nov. 2.

The same day we arrived, we toured the White House. There, we saw the Oval Office and the situation room, which is where all crucial and vital information is briefed to the president. The next day was the busiest day of the week. First, we got a private tour of the Capitol building. We were able to go to the very top of the dome to enjoy the sights of the city, and then took a tour of the entire building. We got to see the Senate and the House in the building. The LiT group even got to watch the House vote on a bill.

Once we were done with the Capitol building, we toured the Pentagon, and met a great deal of important people. We met The Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and the Sergeant Major of the Army. We even got to dine from the same catering as the Secretary of State. Afterwards, we went to the conference center in the Pentagon and we were also able to tour CIA headquarters and learn about its history. While at the headquarters, we were given a play by play of how the assassination of Osama Bin Laden occurred. That evening, LiT went to the Museum of the Bible before it even opened. The museum shows the impact of the Bible, actual story of the Bible, and explanation of the Bible.

Saturday, Nov. 4, was a more relaxing day. We attended the Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’s changing of the guard and talked to a Sentinel. Afterwards, the LiT members led a tour of the National Mall. Each member was assigned a monument and presented to the group everything about they knew about it. On our final full day in D.C. we were able to tour the Smithsonian Art Museum and on the day of departure, we were able to attend the National Archives. Within the National Archives we saw the original Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of independence.

These trips are not only for fun, but are for mentoring and learning. We meet connections for life that can assist us whenever we need it. We learn about public speaking and developing our leadership traits and experience.