Unlike the Jamboree experience, which yielded a count down to the event (which everyone seemed to love), putting together a great Troop, heading out to the East Coast for tours and a fantastic week of the greatest single Scouting event I have been to, and memories for a life time. Wood badge has now become a big(ger) part of my life. Not to fill a void or find more to do, but since I have been asked to participate on staff and ever since we began our staff development sessions I have learned a couple huge things about Wood Badge and Scouting.
Wood Badge is not just a course. It is a community. I went to Wood Badge in 2005. A proud member of the Beaver Patrol WE1-492-1-05. It was the first time in my Adult Scouting life that I had really stepped outside of the friendly confines of my District. Yeah, when I was a Cubbie leader, I attended Pow Wow and had gone to resident camp with the Scouts in the Dens and Pack, but Wood Badge was different. It was bigger in a sense. I met Scouters from every district, every program area, and many differing skill levels and various levels of leadership. The Beaver patrol had a Scoutmaster, an Assistant Scoutmaster, a Sea Scout Skipper, a Committee Chair, a Cubmaster, and Committee member in it. About as diverse a group as you can get. We gelled immediately and had a great time. Many of the staffers of our course became good friends too.
After we finished our course and were eventually “beaded” it seemed that the patrol kept in contact and at many council, OA, and community events we seemed to bump into one another, always with laughter and the shared memories of our time together. Jamboree became a gathering place for Wood Badgers also and the community grew for me. Conversations would take us back to Gilwell and the time we had even if we were all courses apart and representative of all the critters that grace Gilwell Field.
Now I am a Staffer and the community continues to grow. Friendships are rekindled and made, experiences are shared, and as our staff becomes a high performance team I am humbled by the group the I find myself a part of.
In 2010 I was awarded the Silver Beaver, an honor I am still not sure I should have, but none the less, becoming a Silver Beaver recipient launched me into another level of my Scouting life. Now I am not equating the Silver Beaver to higher honors here, but I was recently watching the HBO series “The Pacific”. There is a scene in the movie were SGT John Basilone is being counseled by LTC “Chesty” Puller about his notification of being awarded the Medal of Honor. Stay with me here.. I know that the Silver Beaver is NOT the Medal of Honor.. my point is coming up here real quick. John Basilone was know to be quite the partier and had a knack for not so much getting into trouble.. but making it. After a night of partying, Chesty Puller notified SGT Basilone that he was being awarded the Medal of Honor, an Honor that put him in the company of very few Marines, an honor that would change his life for ever. Chesty Puller told him that he needed to start acting like it. And that is my point.. with the honor of being selected, awarded, or recognized to be a part of such company brings with it some responsibility.. and that is to say, we need to act as if we are worthy of such an honor. Whether that is an act of heroism that is recognized or dedicated service, the recipient should then continue to demonstrate those values that got him there. Now this may seem a stretch, but this is my blog and in my mind, well this all works out. What I am trying to say is this. When I wear my uniform I have a knot on it that is generally recognized by Scouters as the highest award presented by a Council. That little knot is symbolic of dedicated service.
When I wear my Wood Badge Beads they too are symbols of dedicated service and a willingness to go beyond “regular training” in order to make Scouting better for the youth we serve.
This community enriches my life by association. The friends that I have through Wood Badge are some of the best people I know. We were talking the other about the experience that is in the room when Wood Badgers gather. It only takes a glance to notice all of the Silver Beaver recipients that gather for Wood Badge functions, this tells me that I am in great company. This group is, and none will admit it publicly, a higher level of Scouting. Not all have a Silver beaver around their neck, but they will. They will because of the dedication they put into Scouting. I am in awe of the dedicated service we as a group have. 100’s of years of collective Scouting. Everything from Tiger leaders to Council committee folks. Thousands of nights camping, skills taught, and miles backpacked. They arrive at training sessions with their “Scout kits”. Crates, boxes, too many binders to count. Trinkets, critters, and bags upon bags of Scouting “Stuff”. They are never shy to help, to serve, to grab your plate after meals.. and you have to fight them out of the kitchen when it comes time to do dishes. None are shy with a gift and piece of advice. They are great family people and they are the person that you want to have on speed dial at 2 AM when you need a hand. They don’t know how to say farewell and just build the time in the parking lot into the meeting plan. In short, these are my kind of people. A fantastic community.
I suppose I have known this for some time, but then when I was invited to be on staff I finally got it.
I look forward to receiving my third bead next month.. another symbol of dedicated service to let others know that I am not ashamed to be a servant.
Expand your community.. go to Wood Badge, its never too late. Serve on a Staff.. you are needed.
By the way. Learn more about John Basilone. He is a real hero and his story should be remembered. I provided that link above to see a quick video. It never hurts to learn about guys like that. Another member of the greatest generation, to whom we owe a great deal.
Have a Great Scouting Day!