Vince Borrelli – 1940’s
“Rules of leadership never change. You learn how to deal with people … you have objectives and need to organize people to get there,” says Vince Borrelli of Johnston, RI, a former Pennsylvania Star Scout who went on to serve as a Scout Executive for the Narragansett Council from 1973-1990.
“I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Now 89, Borrelli tells of learning the value of good leadership in the Boy Scouts at an early age.
In the early 1940s, he and his best friend Alan Bott served as patrol leaders of their troop in Pennsylvania when they were just 12. Adult men were getting drafted into the military, he said, and for troops to start and stay active, it was up to them to lead the troop. Bott was Borrelli’s best friend, and introduced him to the world of Scouting. “Going to camp was the only way to accomplish merit badges,” said Borrelli, during that time.
The leadership and management skills Borrelli learned from his Scouting handbook just continued to be of value, with its lessons put to use as an adult.
He would go on to serve in the military himself, becoming an officer and leading 350 people as part of the ordinance company “the heart of the shop,” he said. After earning a degree in physical education, his role as a Scout Executive brought him back to the true meaning of teamwork.
“They say athletics [shows you what teamwork is] but it doesn’t, it’s more individual. Scouting has an oath, Scout law, and teaches you principles of dealing with people.”
Andy Erickson – 1950’s
Andy Erikson of East Greenwich, RI, 78, remembers being brought to Camp Yawgoog to see his older brother, Ed. “On the amphitheater on stage there was a teepee set up and they had kids dressed in Native American garb, using drums and so forth. As a six-year-old, it was fascinating. I loved it.”
Erickson finally got to be a camper, in 1951, and later, a staff member.
For Erickson — who retired as senior vice president after 50 years with Amica Mutual Insurance Co. — Scouting brought lessons he would use in business, in problem solving, reaching goals, and project collaboration. Being a patrol leader helped him develop his own personal management style.
“I have my first manual from the 1930s; I still consider it the best management theory book around,” he said. “I used to run meetings based on the same principles.”
Erickson’s experience was made richer with international Scouts who visited Yawgoog, bringing a broader perspective. He has traveled to Indonesia and the Dominican Republic. Now he’s a member of the Rotary Club of East Greenwich, which has an endowment for an international staff person at Yawgoog every year.
Camp also brought the magic of the Adventure Trails programs, where troops would overnight on trails in tents and sleeping bags. He remembers being a guide, then director, watching stars. “There was a wonderful spot to talk about the basics of astronomy with no outside lights to confuse what you were looking at,” he said.
He remembers a canoe trip to Napatree Point where his group dove for scallops and cooked them in butter. Another memory is one that got his troop in the Providence Journal: an arrangement with civil air patrols where campers hiked, made a fire with flint and steel, and signaled for a drop of Navy survival supplies.
Erickson’s friends at camp included Frank Williams, the retired Supreme Court Justice; Paul Choquette; Jim Essex; Alan Shine and Neil Ross. Scoutmaster Donald Dewing was very influential to him, growing up.
Andy Erickson married his wife Polly in 1961 and had three daughters. Yawgoog remains close to his heart.
“Values were brought into play. But the first part is fun. I enjoyed every aspect, just about.”