Journey to Excellence

The Dance of the Blue Card

bluecardThe application for Merit Badge AKA the “Blue Card, is a little piece of paper that will get even the most level-headed Scouts doing the dance of the blue card.
Just sit back and watch as a Scout realizes that he’ll be 18 in a few months.  The line dance for a visit with the Troop secretary is reminiscent of scene from Urban Cowboy.
I was recently asked about the process of the Blue Card and how we do it in our Troop.  The reader has asked to remain nameless, but I am glad that this question came up.  I can not tell you how times I have had conversations about such a simple thing, but something that is sometimes more confusing than a rubics cube.
Our reader asks;  “Anyway would you share how your Troop handles Blue Cards, from the time the Scout asks to start a merit badge and is give the Blue Card through completion and where the Blue Card goes and who handles what.”
So here it goes… I’ll let you behind the curtain of how Troop 664 does the Blue card dance.  There are actually two ways that we do this.  I will explain the regular way that we do it and then how we do it for summer camp.
First.  The Scout expresses interest in a merit badge… He picks the merit badge and goes to the Troop Secretary and asks for a blue card.
Then, the Scout fills out the Blue card.  He fills out the whole front of the card leaving only my signature space blank.  He fills out the back of the card with his name and the name of the merit badge he is going to work.  He can leave the name of the counselor blank.
The Scout then brings me the blue card and I sign the front of the blue card.  This allows the Scout to start working on the merit badge.  It also gives me an opportunity to talk with the Scout about the badge and answer any questions that he may have.  If I know who the counselor for that merit badge is, I give the Scout the information, if I don’t I have the Scout return to the Troop secretary and she will look up the counselor and give the Scout the information, phone number etc.
The Scout then works the merit badge.  The counselor fills out the card and confirms that the Scout met all of the requirements.  Once the merit badge is complete, the counselor signs and dates it and gives it back to the Scout.
The Scout will then bring the completed blue card back to me.  I then sign the card and have the Scout give the blue card to the Troop secretary.  She records the completion date and merit badge into the Troop master software and takes the first part of the card and files it with the Troop records.  The Scout gets the remainder of the card.  Most counselors do not retain their copy.
The Applicants record is stapled to the merit badge certificate as is the actual merit badge.  The Scout is presented the merit badge at the next court of honor.
That completes the Dance of the Blue card.
The only difference in this process for summer camp is this.  I will pre sign a bunch of blue cards.  I then hand them out on day 1 of summer camp.  The Scout takes the blue card and fills it out and takes it to the first session of the merit badge class.
At the completion of summer camp, the blue cards are returned from the summer camp staff to the Scoutmasters.  I sign all the completed merit badges and make a note of the partials.
During summer camp, I track the merit badges being worked daily.  I keep a chart in my notebook of who is working what badge at what time.  Then I follow-up daily at the “Scoutmaster cabin”.  The camps in our council all make daily progress reports available.  If by Wednesday, it does not look like progress is being made, I have a little chat with the Scout.  It is the Scouts decision to work the badges and I will not force or push the Scout to complete the badges at camp.  I do “Highly encourage” them to get them finished, but at the end of the week.. it will be up to him.
When we get home, I turn over all of the blue cards to the Troop Secretary and she records and goes through the same process as stated above.
So there it is.. The Dance of the Blue Card… I sure hope that helps.
Leave your questions, comments, and suggestions here on the blog or feel free to drop me an email.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, comments, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Summer Camp | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Merit Badges…

mb_sashThis has been discussed before, but I received an email the other day from a Scouter in our area.  This Scouter does not know me very well, nor does this Scouter know how our Troop runs, but none the less, this Scouter sent a nice email suggesting that we do not encourage the merit badge program in our Troop BECAUSE our Troop is a “Backpacking Troop”.
Well, hmmm…  Let’s see… How do I respond to that?
There are what? 130 or so merit badges that I Scout can choose from right?  And the Scout must have at least 21 to earn his Eagle Award, right?  So there are lots of choices for the Scout to make when it comes to earning merit badges.  At some point the Scout must come to the unit leader.. that’s me… and get the blue card signed to start working the merit badge, which ever merit badge that may be.  When the Scout comes to me to get that blue card signed I sign it.
Now when it comes to encouraging.  I encourage the Scout to earn merit badges.  I have told the Scouts that while at Summer Camp, merit badges are not the reason to be there.  Merit badges are a product of Summer camp and a means to and an opportunity to earn, learn, and have fun while at camp.  So yeah, that may sound I like I don’t “encourage” the working of merit badges, but that’s really not the case at all.
I am a firm believer that advancement and merit badges are the Scouts responsibility to work.  They need our help that’s true and at times they need some poking and prodding to get going on badges and rank.  In that regard, we encourage and promote the merit badges that will get the Scout advanced.
The merit badge program is designed to do a couple of things.
1.  Introduce the Scout to many subject areas that will open his eyes to his world, skills, hobbies and activities, and career fields.
2.  Work the adult interaction method.
3.  Spark interest in the Scout while working toward a goal (advancement).
When the Scout, and leaders understand why we have merit badges, it is easier to understand that they are not the end all, be all of the Scouting program.
When I am told that I do not encourage merit badges because we are a “Backpacking Troop”  I look at the Scouter and ask if they know the methods of Scouting.  Backpacking, Front Country car camping, or Troop’s that never leave the confines of a cabin all work the methods of Scouting.  Advancement is one method and the Scout finds his pace and path to achieve his goals and work his way to Eagle.
We encourage the merit badge program but we do not spend valuable Troop time to work on them, with the exception of Camping, First Aid, and Cooking.  Those merit badges, for a troop that camps 11 times a year are all being worked over the course of the program year and are tracked at the unit level.
If the fact that we are not a merit badge mill is not a way of encouraging… well, than guilty as charged.
Now, I am going to be totally honest with you… many of our Scouts only work the merit badges that they need to advance.  That is not because we are a backpacking troop, nor is it because we do not encourage the merit badge program.  Simply put, our Scouts are having fun.  They spend time having fun at summer camp.  You will always find our Scouts extremely active at camp.  They love to compete and play games.  They spend lots of time at the water front and the shooting ranges.  If they don’t get the fingerprinting merit badge.. it’s no big deal.
We encourage every Scout to earn an Eagle required Merit Badge at summer camp.. don’t care which one… but at least one from the Eagle required list.  Most Scouts work the Environmental Science Merit Badge at summer camp.  That and First Aid seem to be the two most popular.
I don’t make a pitch for some of the merit badges that while for some Scouts are super interesting, knowing the boys of my troop are just ‘filler badges’.  Like the afore mentioned Finger printing.  Let’s face it.. that’s a 10 minute merit badge and the Scout really doesn’t learn much.  A great one for the sash, but not getting him that much closer to Eagle Scout and life skills.
I would much rather see them earn Canoeing, Sailing, Emergency Prep or Wilderness survival while at Summer camp or pretty much any other time of the year.  But that’s just me, I don’t get to force a Scout to earn a certain merit badge, nor do I get to forbid him from working one.  Finger printing, Dog care, Painting, Skating, and Reading, while all great subjects and have a purpose in teaching responsibility on some level and encouraging an interest, I can do without them in the context of Scouting.  I know that I will hear some opposing views on this and I suppose that’s why there are 100 + merit badges so there is something for everyone.  I don’t discourage any Scout from earning any merit badge that he wants to earn.  But when it comes to encouraging Scouts to earn merit badges, well, I just sign the blue card and let them go to work.
I don’t think we need to high-five every Scout that earns the Chess merit badge or the Backpacking merit badge for that matter.  They work it, they earn it, they are presented the badge and they get a handshake and a “job well done”.  We don’t have contests to see who can earn the most and we don’t look down on the Scout that earns the obligatory 21.
I am still not sure what being a “Backpacking Troop” has to do with anything.  This Scouter said that this was “The Reason” we do not encourage the merit badge program.
In closing.  The average number of merit badges that Scouts  have earned at the time they were awarded their Eagle award is 35.  Enough said.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, Cooking, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Scouting, Scouts, Skills, technology | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Year in Review

It’s that time of the year when we all take a look back at our year and take stock in what we have learned, what we accomplished, and what we look forward to in the coming year.  It is also that time of the year that all the “Lists” come out and WordPress sends us bloggers our report card.
So lets start with that.    The blog is doing very well and it is all because of you the reader/viewer.  Now I don’t claim to understand how blogs are rated and ranked, and I don’t know where the Scoutmasterminute.net rates among the really big blogs out there.  I guess deep down inside I wish the blog was massive and only because then the world would see our Scouting world in the light in which we want it to be seen.  I surf around at some of the blogs out there that are truly about nothing and see that they have thousands of followers, get millions of hits, and have what I consider sub par content.  Scouting blogs seem to not get the views it should.
Resolve this coming year to tell a friend about a Scouting blog.  It doesn’t have to be this one, but pick one.  There are great Scouting blogs out there.
You can start with Bryan on Scouting.  The official Blog of the BSA (Scouting Magazine).  In typical well produced fashion the BSA has a nice product in this blog.  I like that it is pretty interactive and does a nice job of telling Scouting’s story.
Then you need to check out the blogs of my Scouting friends.  Scouter Adam for the Cub Scout folks out there, mixes up his personal touch as well as telling a great Scouting story.  A stop in at the Boy Scout Trial is a nice site for resources, stories, and fun stuff.   No list of Scouting blogs could be complete without Clarke Green’s Blog.  That is a site that every Scouter should have bookmarked and visit often.  Doug Metz has a nice blog out there also.  I wish he would put more out there.  He has a great story and I love to hear about his journey.  Bobwhites Blather is another good site.  I like blogs that stay current, are on topic, have fun, and speak to not only their Scouting world, but the writers other interests also.
I could list site after site that I am sure do not get enough visits and would love to see more.   You can get a great idea of the Scouting blogs that are out there by visiting my friend Gregg’s Half Eagle.com.   I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to the guy that pretty much got me interested and encouraged me to keep it going.  Steve.  His Blog has been out there for a long time.  Steve has a unique take on Scouting from the perspective of a small town and small troop that has been there and done that.  Steve was a Scoutmaster for 30 years and just can’t walk away.  And for that we are all better.
If I left you off the list it is not intended to slight you or say that you do not have a great story.  The list I just named was pretty much in the order they appear on my favorites list.. which is pretty random at best.  There are great blogs out there.. but google Scouting blogs and see what you get.  We need to be up on the top of that list.
The point is we need to get better at supporting one another.  We need to tell Scouting’s story and get Scouting out front in a positive light.
Today I did receive my “Year in review” from WordPress.  They give an option to share, but the numbers really do not mean anything unless they are placed in context.  So I thought I would share, but in the context of you the great reader.
This blog was visited 52,000 times this last year.  That to me is pretty darn good.  But once again, I think it is to the Choir that we preach.  And yep, the Choir needs to hear the sermon, but telling Scouting’s story and sharing tips and tricks for the trail is something that I want more to see.  Believe me when I say that my ego does not this blog.  I do it cause I like it and it is helping I am sure.  In some small way 52,000 views lended a hand in someones Scouting life or life as a camper.
I was surprised to see that I only posted (as of yesterday) 133 new posts to the blog.  And then upon further review I noticed that there were some real thin months for blogging out there.
So for 2013 I resolve to write more and post more to the blog.
2013 saw a major increase in feedback to the blog also and I want to thank everyone that made a contribution to the conversation.  I especially want to thank Allan Green.  Allan was the top contributor to the blog, lending his comments and feedback more than anyone else.  Thanks Allan.  Send me your address and I have something for you.
This year in Scouting for me took me to Philmont.  Scouting’s paradise and I fell in love with the trails, the mountains, the canyon country that is the Sange de Christo range.  The trip to Philmont for me was extremely special in many ways.  Taking 2 crews from our Troop on an adventure of that magnitude was a challenge and an experience of a life time.  It was not a once in a life time adventure, but a mountain top experience that touched me spiritually, physically, and mentally.  I got to see the very best in Scouts and Scouting while watching our crew grow and develop and have a lot of fun.  Philmont was the Scouting high light of the year for me.
Our grew again this year, and we lost some boys along the way.  But in the end, the program got stronger and the Scouts got better.  Youth leadership met many challenges this year and came out better for it.  With a great plan going into 2013 I look forward to the many adventures that lay ahead.
Personally I grew this year.  My relationships and my friendships are stronger.
And then there is the obsession with my backpack.
I have set a goal to reduce volume and weight from my pack.  This is going to be a lengthy project and one that I will have fun doing.  Playing with gear, testing new items and ideas and developing a lighter philosophy when it comes to hitting the trail.  I look forward to that and sharing that with you here on the blog.
2012 was a good year.  2013 is going to be better.
Resolve to make changes in your life.  Resolve to make your world better, your self better, and those around you better.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

More Scouting Blogs that I failed to add to the post:
Scouter Mom’s Blog
Scoutmaster Shawn’s Blog
Phil Pecks blog
Nick from across the pond
Bryan Spellman’s blog
John Scout
Arlen Ward.com
Kevin Devin’s Blog of his interest!

And there are a bunch more.. make sure you visit them.  Hit the like button and share them!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, planning, podcast, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, stories, Values, Wood Badge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

8,000 lbs of Peace

Today was our annual Scouting for Food Campaign.  The Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Council canvassed neighborhoods and collected the much need food that will stock the shelves for distribution in our area.  There is a great need and the Scouts today did their part to meet that need.
Today, the Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Council sent a Message of Peace.
Here is a short video of Troop 664 in the Thunderbird District, my Troop, and how they made an impact on our community today.
Special Thanks to Bryce, Ben, and Parker for helping in the presentation of this video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Oath and Law, Scouting, Service, Values | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Band-aids

The other night we had a spirited conversation with our Troop committee about, among other things, youth leadership and keeping older Scouts engaged.
One of the main ingredients of the Patrol method and effective youth leadership at the Troop level is that the youth run it.  Well, no duh.. right.  And sometimes that is not always a pretty process which in many cases parents are not happy seeing.  And in many cases it has an adverse effect on the Scouts in the troop also.  And there is the issue.
We can stand back and watch the Scouts struggle and bleed… or we can rush in and apply band-aids for every skinned knee.
Now if we are doing this right.  We teach and coach, we train and mentor, and we allow knees to get skinned on occasion and see if the Scouts apply their own band aids.  When the bleeding gets out of control.. there we are to assist in whatever the wound of the day is.
I presented that analogy to a parent the other night, I am pretty sure they got it, but I stressed that as a Scoutmaster we always try to find a good balance between the bleeding and the band-aids.
Scouts need to be in charge and allowed to make mistakes.. even fail.  They need to struggle through some really bad meetings and then challenged to see where the issues are and make attempts and fixing them.  We are always there with our first aid kits (figuratively speaking) to apply a band-aid when needed.  Sometimes that band-aid comes in the form of a complete shut down, sometimes it’s a gentle talk with and offering of advice.  But no matter what it is always the Scouts that come up with the solution, the right idea, and the plan to get out of the mess they are in.
Parents and Scouts alike do not like a disorganized  and non productive meeting.  I don’t mind them.. especially because they lead to teaching and learning opportunities…
But what of the Scouts (and parents) that decided that they are not patient enough to allow the process to work?
Well, they need to develop some patients, the Scouts need to be trained properly, and the program needs to be allowed to work.  When those happen, learning happens and the Scouts start to see more success over failure.
If a Scout says they are going to leave… well, try to explain to them that this is all a part of the process.  Ask them what they are doing to help.  If they insist on leaving.. invited them back.
I don’t know that you can convince them all, those that get it get it.  Those that don’t and refuse to be patient really don’t understand Scouting and what we are trying to accomplish here.
We are not a church club or a Cub Scout pack.  We are trying to play a game with a purpose that forces young men to make decisions and develop leadership skills.  We are asking that these same boys make ethical choices that will serve as the foundation of their decision-making for the rest of their lives.  We are trying to show them through the process that life is hard and those that work hard, handle adversity well, and can work with others on a team will be successful in life.  They will measure their success not in wealth, but in how they live a life of character.
So we can stand back and let them bleed a little, or we can rush in with the band-aids.
To be honest, I really don’t mind the sight of a little blood.  It means that they are learning.
Before I get emails and comments about letting Scouts get hurt.. that is NOT what I am suggesting.  It is just an analogy.  If it doesn’t work for you so be it.
Train ‘em..Trust ‘em.. and let ‘em lead!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, teamwork, training, Values | 3 Comments

SMMPodcast # 106 – Relevance

It’s time for another SMMPodcast.  In this show we discuss a topic that seems to be on many Scouters minds, Is Scouting still Relevant?
Listen in as I share some of my thoughts on the issue.
This show is brought to you by Badge Magic.
Hope you like the show, leave feedback, send an email to tbirdironchef@gmail.com.
Follow me on twitter @smjerry and of course subscribe to the blog and leave your comments here.
Listen here or download.


Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patriotism, podcast | Tags: | Leave a comment

One of those great Scouting Days

Yesterday I participated in a great Scouting Day.  Our Annual Program and Training Conference was held yesterday at the Scouthridge high School.  I am not sure how many Scouters participated, but there where many.  I got the feeling that there were more than last year.  There were classes ranging in topic from Songs and Skits to High Adventure.  There was a nice midway that hosted a booths from the Scout Shop to Pampered Chef.  For you Dutch Oven cooks out there, Pampered Chef has some real nice stuff.  Anyway, there was a lot to see and do and I was happy to see that Boy Scout leader participation was up.
You see we used to have a couple of opportunities for Scouters in the Council to gather and get some training and program ideas.  We used to have an Advancement extravaganza, this was primarily for the Boy Scout Program.  And we used to have a fun event called Pow Wow.  It was geared for Cub Scouters, but a real fun day of training and gathering of ideas.  Last year the two programs were combined into the Program and Training Conference.  I believe it was an idea borrowed from the Chief Seattle Council.  So last year was the first time that I was asked to teach and so I did.  I was invited back this year.  Scouter Adam and I held a couple of sessions on using Social media for your unit and I taught Scouters about the Scoutmaster Conference, one of my most favorite subjects in Scouting.
I did two sessions of the SM Conference and they seemed to be received well.  What I find interesting is the different views on BSA policy and the way in which Scouters interpret the BSA training.  You see this in the way people ask questions and share their opinion on one issue or another.  Now I am not saying this is always a bad thing, especially when they are looking for the right answer or the right way to do something, but it still drives home the point that Training and doing training right is important.
Mike Walton from the USSSP was a guest presenter this year.  He flew out from Minnesota to share some thoughts of up coming changes in the BSA and did a joint session with our Councils CFO.  It was an interesting session to say the least.  I say that in a real good way because Jason and Mike both told it straight yesterday, and for those of you that have read this blog for anytime, you know that’s what I like and that’s how I do it.   They shared thoughts of current issues, you know the homosexual thing, and they talked a lot about money in Scouting.  I loved the comments about how people tend to blame “Council” for many of the problems, issues with their units, and financial woes.  Jason asked “who is the council?”  You see the majority of Scouting volunteers equate the “Council” with the support desk, the DE’s, and the people who never seem to stop asking for money.  But, the answer is that WE Volunteers are “THE COUNCIL”.  Too many units, Scouters, and other volunteers fail to take matters into their own hands when problem solving for their units, yes there are times when we need the support of the DE or the support desk, but to blame Council for every problem we have in our Scouting world is laughable.  It was refreshing to hear it out loud yesterday by both the volunteer and the professional.
I spent a fair amount of time hanging out with the Wood Badge crowd yesterday.  Recruiting for the upcoming course and spreading the word about great Scouting training.  Again it was nice to see how many Scouters showed interest in Wood Badge and it looks like we are going to have another full class, just based on interest.  Registration opened yesterday too, so we will see how quick the class fill up.
Yesterday was a fun day of hanging out with Scouting friends, sharing ideas, and helping Scouters deliver the promise.
Like yesterday was for me, and bid you Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, comments, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Scoutmaster conference, Service, training, Wood Badge | Tags: | 3 Comments

Learning by listening

One of my favorite things to do as a Scoutmaster is sit with a Scout and have a Scoutmaster Conference.  It is not only a requirement for the Scout to advance, but a great opportunity to learn.
I learn so much each time I sit down with a Scout and listen to them during the conference.  Tonight I sat with two Scouts and learned more about them, the troop, and their development as Scouts.  I learn when I listen to the Scout.
So here is how I do it.  Keep in mind, I am like most Scouts (and leaders for that matter) in that I am a scatter brain.  Back when I was a kid, it was called hyperactive.. now-a-days.. it’s grounds for medication.. but either way.. I really have to work at staying focused.  So when I sit with a Scout, I need to give them 100% of my attention.  So, I take their book, make sure that everything is signed and dated, sign my two boxes and then put the book away.
Then we start the conference.
The Scout then has all of my attention.  I know what’s in the book, and it really doesn’t matter anyway.  The Scoutmaster conference is not a retest, so we talk about what challenged him, what he learned, and what he is doing to get to the next level.  Then we talk about leadership.  I ask them, yes even at the Tenderfoot level, what they are doing to demonstrate leadership.  This typically sparks lots of talk about where the Scout thinks he is in the spectrum of being a leader.
Using the EDGE method to teach is a Tenderfoot requirement, so I figure that he had to learn something about leadership there.
We discuss spiral learning and reinforce the skills that were learned along the way.  This discussion usually leads to what the Scout is looking forward to.
We talk about School.  Not because the Scout wants to, but because I want to know.  We talk about girlfriends, and sports, and even how the Scout law works on a little sister.  The conference is a talk that we have to learn.  The Scout learns and I learn.  I get to know them and they get to know a little more about me and how I see the world.  They get to see how I demonstrate the Scout law in my life, and I get to learn how they are struggling to make the Law a habit in their lives.
The Scoutmaster conference is one of my favorite things as a Scoutmaster and I am lucky that I get to do them every week.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute | 2 Comments

SMMPodcast – Recruiting and Retention

Welcome back to the SMMPodcast, after a long break in the podcast we are back at it and talking Scouting.
In this episode, we talk about Recruiting and Retention.  It’s about that time of the year to start thinking recharter and recruiting for the coming year.
Listen in as we discuss the common reasons Scouts leave and how we can get them to come join us in Scouting!  I may not have all the answers, but I sure like to talk about Scouting.
All the music in this Podcast is by the Tobasco Donkeys from Philmont.
Hey if you want, you can hear the podcast on Stitcher also.
This show is sponsored by ClassB.com.  Visit our friends at ClassB for all your units branding needs.
I hope you enjoy the show.  Drop me a message, and email or leave a comment on the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD HERE

Categories: blog, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, podcast | 1 Comment

The Wood Badge Difference

I attended Wood Badge in 2005.  I was in my 2nd year as a Scoutmaster and the troop was growing.  I had a real strong group of Scouting friends that all encouraged me to get to Wood Badge as soon as possible.  These friends of mine were all Wood Badge recipients and what I would call “movers and shakers” in our District.  They all were (and are) active participants in their units as well as taking on additional commitments within the District and Council.  They are Scouters Scouters.  So when the encouragement led to the annual Wood Badge dinner that year, I had to go and see what this was all about.
My wife and I went to the Wood Badge dinner.  It was a function where they presented an overview of Wood badge and concluded with a massive beading ceremony.  The air was thick with Scouting and I loved it.  The people were enthusiastic, friendly, and super active.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  I told my wife that I think I wanted to go to Wood Badge.. and then they got me.  They started the Wood Badge song.

So I went to Wood Badge.  WE1-492-1-05 and was fortunate enough to be a Beaver.  And a Good ‘ol Beaver too…
We showed up to Camp Clarke on the Oregon coast for our first weekend and I met my patrol mates.  We had a Cubmaster, a Committee Chair, an Assistant Scoutmaster, a Sea Scout Skipper, and me.  We were supposed to have a 6th member of the patrol, but the other guy did not show up.  Either way, the Beavers of our class became a high performance team rather quickly and we became close.  I think that if you measure high performance in laughter then we blew the measurement off the chart.  We had a great time, learned a lot together, and created a bond of Scouters that to this day maintain an enthusiastic attitude towards Scouting and our units.
Since I attended the course I have been a huge cheerleader for Wood Badge.  I promote Wood Badge every chance I get and proudly boast the benefits of attending the course.  I now have become one of those friends that encourage Scouters to get to Wood Badge.  All of the Assistant Scoutmasters in my Troop are Wood Badgers.  All of them.

Going to Wood Badge was a life changing experience for me and then in 2010 I was asked to be on the Staff for the 2011 course.  I immediately jumped at the chance to staff and I am glad that I did.  As much as I liked the Wood Badge course as a participant, I fell in love with Wood Badge as a member of staff.  Maybe it was because on staff I actually learned the material in order to teach it.  Maybe it was the increased depth of knowledge in really understanding the flow and progression of the course, something that, hind sight being what it is, I seemed to have missed when I was on course.  Maybe it was my fellow staff members, the Troop Guides that I got to become friends with and develop those strong bonds with.  The rest of the staff that had been there before that really made the experience a wonderful one.  I think as long as I live our staff night or “Night 5″ experience is a moment in time that I will cherish for ever.
I was asked a few weeks ago to once again staff a Wood Badge course, not as a Troop Guide this time, but as a member of the Admin staff.  What do you suppose the answer was…
So what is the Wood Badge Difference?
As I see it the Wood Badge difference is dedication.
Every Wood badger that I have ever met is dedicated to Scouting.  Wood Badge is a direct link to Baden Powell’s training of Scoutmaster’s.  I think that this link establishes a Scouting bond in the participant that is lasting.  Kind of like being handed down a piece of Scouting history as well as training that not only promotes the original purposes of the Scouting movement, but also current methods to achieve those aims.
Everyone that I have ever met that attended Wood Badge is dedicated to Scouting in one way or the other.  Whether they are currently active in Scouting or a Scouting Alumni, the Wood Badge experience is in their heart and they continue to support Scouting.  The values, traditions, and impact that Scouting has on our world can be seen in Wood Badgers.
Since I attended Wood Badge I have been able to participate in some cool Wood Badge activities.  At the National Meetings in San Diego, I attended a Wood Badge reception.  At the reception they held a Beading ceremony for those that attended the course at the Sea Base.  It was cool because at the end of the reception and beading ceremony with 100’s of people in the room they started the Wood Badge song.  I jumped right up and joined fellow Beavers from around our Scouting world in singing the song.  When I looked around the room I saw Scouters that were dedicated to Scouting.  They were at the National Meetings of the BSA and they were Wood Badgers.
Last week I attended a meeting for the up coming Program and Training Conference.. used to be Pow Wow or Scouting University.. now it’s all combined to a Super Saturday of training and classes on every subject that Scouting has to offer.  The common thread.. the instructors.  Wood Badgers.  They are all dedicated to making Scouting better, not just in their units, but helping other Scouters make their programs better, offer training to make the Scouter better and make Scouting better.  As I sat in the meeting the other night I looked around the room.  Beads hanging from a leather thong around every Scouters neck in the room.
The Wood Badge difference is example after example of Wood Badgers that make Scouting what it is.  It does not take but a few minutes at your next Round table to see the Wood badge difference.  Look at the Scouters that make an impact in their units, in their Districts and of course at the Council level.  This dedication to making Scouting better, stronger, and more relevant in our world today is because of Wood Badgers.  Understanding that link to today’s Scouter and Baden-Powell.  Promoting our mission and dedicated to achieving the aims of Scouting to make the world a better place.. one Scout at a time.
It’s that time of the year where many Wood badgers are being presented their beads.  Attending these beading ceremonies reinforces this idea of dedicated leaders.  As you watch the Wood Badger with his or her unit, among their friends and families and see the interaction with their Scouts it does not take long to see how dedicated they are to making Scouting the very best it can be for these young men in our program.  To see them with their new beads around their necks, sporting the Wood Badge regalia they have become a part of the dedicated link that has lasted since the first Wood badge course in 1912.  That is the Wood Badge difference and it will continue to be the difference for ever.
If you have been to Wood Badge… Thank you.  If you have not been yet.. go.  Make a difference.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Wood Badge | Tags: | 11 Comments

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