Month: October 2012

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!

Gear Review

This weeks gear pick is one of my favorite pieces of gear.  The MSR Whisperlite Universal.
I bought my first Whisperlite, the Whisperlite International back in the mid ’80’s.  I drug it all over the place and got every penny out of that stove.  It is perhaps one of the best stoves ever made.  Durable, easy to use and maintain, and super efficient.
The MSR Whisperlite Universal is the new generation of the Whisperlite line.  It is lighter, its stability has been enhanced, and they added the feature of being able to burn canister fuel.
The MSR Whisperlite burns liquid fuels and canister fuel with a quick transition of fuel connector and fuel jet.  It does not take a tool box and a lot of know how to quickly change from one to the other.  I prefer the liquid fuel options over canister, but it is nice to know that I have the options.
The Whisperlite will burn White gas (Blazo), Unleaded, and Kerosene.  Burning Kerosene is messy and the least efficient, but it works.


Here are the specs:

Minimum Weight 11.5 oz / 326 g
Packed Weight 1 lbs 3.4 oz / 549 g
Burn time (white gas) per 600ml / 20 oz. of fuel Appx. 110 minutes
Burn time (MSR IsoPro) per 227-g / 8-oz. canister Appx. 75 minutes
Burn time (kerosene) per 600ml / 20 oz. of fuel Appx. 155 minutes
Boil time (white gas), 1 liter 3.5 minutes
Boil time (kerosene), 1 liter 4.4 minutes
Boil time (MSR IsoPro), 1 liter 3.75 minutes
Water boiled (white gas) per 100 ml of fuel 4.4 liters
Water boiled (white gas) per 1 oz. of fuel 1.3 liters
Water boiled (kerosene) per 100 ml of fuel 5.3 liters
Water boiled (kerosene) per 1 oz. of fuel 1.6 liters
Water boiled (MSR IsoPro) per 227-g canister 15 liters
Water boiled (MSR IsoPro) per 1 oz. of fuel 1.8 liters
Country of Origin Made in Seattle, USA

Like I have said, the MSR Whisperlite is my favorite stove.  It works great in all the weather conditions I have backpacked and camped in.  It is super efficient and packs well.  I have used it to simmer and boil.  It is a great stove.
Now let me address the liquid fuel question.  I have met Scouters that for some reason feel that liquid fuel is not allowed in Scouting.  Wrong.  Liquid fuel is not only allowed but recommended at the high adventure bases like Philmont.  The key is to teach the Scouts how to use them properly, but that is like anything else.  I find that the MSR Whisperlite is safer than a Jet Boil and a heck of a lot more useful, allowing the user to actually cook.
I am on my second MSR Whisperlite, having purchased the Universal before our trip to Philmont, my oldest son is now using my old Whisperlite and it is still working great.
I highly recommend this stove for all your camping cooking needs.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Are you a Messenger of Peace?

Last week I was surprised when I was given the patch for the messenger of peace initiative.  This is a unit and individual recognition, and so when I got it while I was down at out council office, I was humbled.  The person that submitted it said that it was for the “Work I do using media to improve our Scouting world”.   Again, I am thankful, and I am sure that our unit is going to get this also for a recent project we completed.
The question came to my mind, why have I not seen anyone wearing this?  Are units unaware?  Are they just doing it?  It’s obviously not about the patch, but the initiative is such a worthy one, that we in the Scouting world should be embracing it.
I went back and reread the letter at the BSA web site.  I suppose I have always been one that is impressed with the grand scope of the Scouting movement.  In short I think it is cool to be apart of somehting this big and something that is world-wide and yet has shared values.  There is not much else in our world, save religions, that can say that.  And look what a mess religions have made in the world.  I am not suggesting that faith in a higher power has screwed things up.. I am saying however that people tend to screw it up.  Scouting seems to have stood the test of time.  Yes, we have our ups and downs, but the values and mission of the Scouting movement have not changed.  People come and go, but those that “Run Scouting” at the World and National levels all seem to understand the good that will come from Scouting when allowed.
I have talked with many Scouters about our National office and our Council/ District.  There seems to be an overwhelming idea that they are in it for the money and numbers.  And to that I say.. yes.. yes they are.  And then I say I am glad they are promoting the program, getting money and sponsors, pushing recruiting and retention, and developing relationships in our community.  If they didn’t do it.. who would.  ME?  No way.. I am to busy working Scouting where Scouting matters.  Being a messenger for peace starts at the unit level.  Where the Scouts are.  Too many Scouters get wrapped up in the wrong things.  They worry about what everyone else is doing, most of the time with little or no impact of them.. but people are people and you have to worry.  If they spent as much energy in their units, growing them, teaching them, letting them learn and develop, their unit would be world-class.  But they choose to get wrapped up in politics and he said she said.  This is how things get screwed up.  I guess that’s how things get messed up globally.
So back to my thinking about why I don’t see this patch around.  Well that thought led to our global Scouting community and how many Scouts and Scouters in the 220 countries and territories that are participating in this.  Just think.  Take 220 countries and have all their Scouts and Scouters working toward peace.  There would never be war again.  Oh silly me.  We would have to get the politicians out-of-the-way… but wait… we could.  The people could force this change.  I really believe that it could happen.
Remember that in 1920 there was a world Jamboree.. just a few years after the First World War.  If you know history, just because the war was over does not mean that things were peaceful, especially in Europe.  34 countries showed up
As most of you know, I am a combat veteran and I certainly support the efforts of our military and those that lead it, sometimes begrudgingly.  And I am believe that what we did in Iraq was just and worth it.  I have no regrets.  But when I look back at the pain that wars cause, the ripping apart at families, the destruction and the lives that have to be repaired after these conflicts it is it not uncommon to ask, Why?  What for?  Now there are bad people in the world and I for one am glad to know that the world no longer has a guy named Saddam Hussein on it.  Those people need to be stopped and removed.  The Hitlers and Stalin’s of the world need to go.  But dealing with the “Bad vacuum” is the next issue.  Enter Scouting and people with real good values.
As a messenger of peace I think it is up to us to do what we can to fix our Three meter zone.  We all can do it.  We just don’t.
I guess it all comes down to people.  How do we change them?  How do we effect that change in our community.  Baden-Powell had that idea back in 1907 and started seeing the reality of a world-wide peace movement as Scouting grew.  It is now up to us to carry that torch.  Will you?
Stop worrying about the things you can’t control.  Control the things you can and be an influence.  Influence this change in your units and community.  Demand more of your elected officials.. you know the folks that swear to work for you.  Hold their feet to the fire and don’t settle for men and women that lack character to be our leaders.  Work hard to fulfill the mission of Scouting.  Be a messenger of peace, let your actions speak louder than your words.  And for goodness sake let people know that we are committed to being an instrument of peace.
So what does it mean when I challenge you all to “Have a Great Scouting day”?  Live the values of Scouting.  Keep the promise that you make in the Oath.  Be a messenger of peace.
Have a Great Scouting Day!