Fraternal twins share leadership lessons as they serve as senior patrol leaders

Left, Victor, Nicholas and Isabella Vaccaro. Bottom right, Victor cooking during a Colorado backpacking trek. Above right, Scouts leaving Mount Elbert during the backpacking trek.

Isabella and Victor Vaccaro enjoy doing a lot of activities together, like basketball and horseback riding. The twin 15-year-olds of Olathe, Kan., can add another one to the list: leadership.

In February, Victor, a Life Scout in Troop 201, was elected to serve as senior patrol leader for a one-year term, while Isabella, a Star Scout, was re-elected to be senior patrol leader of Troop 6201. While they have the same role as youth leader of their respective units, each have faced different challenges, taken different approaches and learned different lessons.

“I’ve had to learn to be less of a doer and more of a teller,” Victor says. “I’ve had to let other people take the reins.”

For a troop of about 35 Scouts, it’d be tough to handle everything on your own. Scouting teaches young people how to handle and delegate responsibility. In a smaller unit, though, stepping up almost becomes a necessity. Isabella’s troop only has 10 Scouts, so everyone is assigned a position. She’s also the oldest in her troop.

“I think a lot of the girls are still learning,” Isabella says. “The goal for my term is to get them to be more confident in leadership roles.”

Legacy of leadership

As siblings, Victor and Isabella have collaborated on leadership techniques and strategies. But they’ve discovered that the best advice comes from their predecessors.

“I’ve had four or five SPLs. It’s helped me to take the role of SPL by learning from others’ mistakes and successes,” Victor says.

Taking more positions of responsibility also prepared Victor for his current role. He has served as an assistant patrol leader, patrol leader and assistant senior patrol leader.

Girls joined the ranks of Scouts BSA in 2019, so in a young troop, Isabella hasn’t seen as many senior patrol leaders in her unit. But what she has seen is the “notebook.” It’s a book a previous SPL filled with notes and tips that she learned in that role that she passed on to Isabella.

“I take it everywhere,” Isabella says. “That definitely helped me transition into being an SPL.”

Isabella and her crew at Northern Tier.

Lessons learned

Since this term isn’t Isabella’s first, she believes experience has equipped her for it. And keeping your cool under pressure is one lesson she’s taking with her.

“I wanted everything to be perfect,” she says. “When you freak out, you lose control of your leadership. I learned what to do and what not to do.”

A couple of months before the election, Victor began identifying Scouts who would be interested in certain positions of responsibility so he could build his team if he were elected.

Victor and Isabella have been active in other extracurriculars like basketball and advanced academics. They’ve witnessed how skills that they’ve learned in Scouting can be applied to other teams they’ve been involved in. When you see those skills in action, it can make you want to learn more skills. Both are planning on attending National Youth Leadership Training. The courses teach youth what leaders are, what leaders must know and what leaders must do to be effective.

For more leadership resources you can share with your Scouts, check out this page.

About Michael Freeman 374 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is an associate editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines.