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!