Brebeuf’s Fearless Leader – LeRoy Isselhardt
By Jim Shively
The Council Ring seemed really crowded that year; the older Lodge members were packing us in like sardines. Our unit was the last to arrive; we were seated on the ground across from the low-hanging cliff that was at the entrance to the Ring. We would have an up close and personal view of the Lodge Ceremony.
The drums were beating in a rhythm that made the night seem mysterious and yet welcoming. Every once in a while, one of the older Lodge members would shout loudly, as if cheering for the events that would begin shortly. The rocks surrounding the Council Ring intensified the shouts and the drumming, placing each of us into an excited trance. The fire burned brightly, enhancing the mysteriousness. And so the Lodge Ceremony began.
But who was the mysterious Lodge member who appeared from the sky? His name was Leroy Isselhardt. He was a seminarian, as many staff members were at that time. He didn’t fall from the sky, in reality he jumped from that moss-covered cliff that framed the entrance to the Council Ring.
Leroy was the Unit Leader of Brěbeuf, a guy who would get his campers excited about the week ahead at Camp. As a leader he looked the part, wearing a pith-helmet and long-sleeve shirts; he said they made him cooler. He marched his charges along happily singing. Campers in other units would wonder and become envious. Were the Brěbeuf campers aloof? Maybe, after all, Leroy told them they were the best, the toughest and would win the GOLD. They were going to have a great week because they had a “Fearless Leader” who told them they would. They even sang a song, “We love you Fearless, oh yes we do…”
But one occasion stands out. It was at Inspection before dinner on a Friday night. The Lead Counselor was calling for attendance reports. When it came to Brěbeuf’s turn, Unit Leader Leroy Isselhardt, aka “Fearless Leader”, called out:
Fourteen, fourteen, four and four.
Four in the canteen, four in the latrine,
Four here, four there, four everywhere.
All present or accounted for, Sir.
Many campers began to wonder and became envious. Other Unit Leaders and staff laughed, they too wondered and became envious.
Everyone has a fond memory of an adult from their youth. Those who had “Fearless Leader” had someone who made their week at camp not just enjoyable but memorable for life. Leroy’s Campers learned many things about nature, horses, boating/canoeing, handicrafts, riflery and how to interact with one another. But most importantly, they learned about themselves, how they can use good to over-come evil – just like one of the lessons from the Lodge Ceremony.
LeRoy Isselhardt October 5, 1942 – May 1978 (Staff member 1960 to 1965)