Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wood Badge: Was it worth it?

The first time I ever considered going to a week-long scout camp for adults, was when my friend Merland went to Wood Badge. There he met my stake young men's president (before I met him actually) and together I blame the two of them for recruiting me to attend. I've had about five years to think about going. My excuse for not going was I didn't have enough time off work. This was true of course, considering that I have used anywhere from a week to two weeks of my vacation time for various scout camps every year for the past decade.

My excuse wore off when I found myself unemployed this spring and I realized others would pay my way.  With no cost to me and plenty of time on my hands, I committed to go.

So, what was it like?

Imagine travelling back in time to when you were 12 and attending your first scout camp, except keeping your adult knowledge and body. That's what it was like. Boy scout neckerchiefs, childish pranks, playing games, eating candy, and making a ton of new friends.

I had a few things I wanted to get out of Wood Badge. Namely, I wanted to better understand scout programs so I could run better scout activities for my youth. However, I was fearful Wood Badge might be more of just a motivational thing. I told my wife the night before Wood Badge, "I have a sneaking fear in the back of my mind that we're going to be sitting around singing Kumbaya."

The Bobwhite Patrol
So what did I get out of Wood Badge?

I have to admit that sometimes it felt a little like Kumbaya. There were some touchy-feely parts I could have done without. (Though I didn't have to sing it, one of the patrols did in fact sing Kumbaya as part of a patrol yell one time.) But the overall experience was positive. There were a lot of planning and leadership workshops that were a good refresher for me and would be useful to any scout leader. Another thing I liked was networking with so many amazing leaders. Scout masters, young men's presidents, bishops, stake presidencies, you name it. But by far the biggest reason I liked Wood Badge was the way they modeled the patrol method in everything they did. It's one thing to read about the right way to run a patrol. It's entirely another thing to see it in effect.

I have a lot to think about and it may take some time to incorporate everything I've learned into my own scout programs, but I feel energized to do more.

So go to Wood Badge all you scout leaders. Don't put it off until you've been in scouting for 10 years like me. Go as soon as you can.

Go now.

Now go.


Yes you.

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