I hope that most of my readers have had the privilege to attend Wood Badge training, know about the fascinating spirit of Gilwell, and have that beloved song firmly nested in their heart (and deeply ingrained in their brain as well!).
If you've been around here for long, you probably remember this post where I told people to Go To Wood Badge! If not, you may want to read it to catch up to where I'm coming from. Readers Digest Version: I Earned my Eagle Scout as a youth in 1988, and hadn't been very engaged in Scouting until about three years ago when I was challenged to attend Wood Badge in 2007, which I did and was beaded in 2008. Well.. that's the beginning and the end of it, and now I'm neck deep in scouting and more committed to its cause than ever before. If you haven't read the bio to the left, I'm a Scoutmaster, served as our Council's National Scout Jamboree Scoutmaster this year, and was a Troop Guide for the just completed Wood Badge course. (I don't think you ever get "done" with that job. Even once those I'm counseling finish their tickets.)
While Wood Badge is really only six short days (Two Weekends) a testament to the movie clip from 'Remember the Titans' which explains why I had such a phenomenal experience and why it why I have some lingering "Back-To-Gilwell-Sickness"(tm) after the course ended. That quote? "Attitude Reflects Leadership!" See the Must See! Movie recommendations at the end of this post.
If you've played "Win All You Can!" you know how badly that can turn out. If you've ever tried to pull together a team from diverse backgrounds, interests, religions, etc. You know how that can turn out.
So why did our staff gel immediately, and skip from Storming all the way to Performing without hardly a meeting? (See Stages of Team Development here Well, largely because of our Course Director. Our Course Scoutmaster, our Leader. With everything else going on this year, I could not have attempted serving on Staff as a TG without an unwavering belief in his inspired leadership. In fact, when he asked me I told him I'd only do it for him. Any other course director probably would have got an "I'd love to, but just can't this year".
This is a man, who is humble, charitable, selfless and I don't think he can spell EGO if you spot him two letters. He didn't pick staff that he though were cool, or would give him some leverage politically in the council. In fact, at first glance you might have seen some of the staff as a bunch of misfits. But you'd be wrong. I don't think I've ever had the pleasure to associate with a group of people that care more about the spirit of Scouting than served on this course. Add to that the fact that I know the course director didn't just pick names from a hat, but spent some hours on his knees consulting a much higher power in his decisions to make sure the course was powerfully effective. And of course it worked.
I also had the opportunity to spend some time with some other troop guides from my course. Including not only two fellow Antelopes, but one of them is now a man I consider my dearest friend. The man I wouldn't have met if I had not attended Wood Badge. It was fantastic to spend some quality time with him at the course. We don't leave near one another, and have had precious little time to talk over the past three years. That was the icing on the cake for this course for me.
There were many tear-jerking moments at the course. Especially during the Staff dinner near the end of weekend two where we presented gifts to the Course Director and he to us.
I'll have to write a whole other post on some of the things I learned at this course, but I know that I learned more this time than I did the first time through. Especially since I had no scouting position when I attended, and now have almost three years under my belt as Scoutmaster. I still have much to learn, but if I could offer you one tidbit of advice from the course: as Roland Phillips said it best: "The Patrol Method is not ONE method in which Scouting can be carried on. It is the ONLY method!"
And from the founder himself: "One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction." --Baden-Powell, from the article "Are Our Boys Degenerating?" circa 1918.
All of the challenges I can identify in my troop stem from my still learning to master my Wood Badge training. In fact, there's a story in the curriculum about an impatient Scoutmaster prodding the Scouts to get meals prepared that might have been written while someone observed me the first year of camping with these scouts!
We're still implementing the "Boy Led Troop", but you know what? The more responsibility I give them, and the most I trust them, the more they step up and get it done. Clearly it works. Now if only I can find the time to be organized enough to help them become the leaders they have it within themselves to become.
And remember this: "A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances." -Robert Baden-Powell
If you're not happy, you're doing it wrong. I remind myself of this frequently.
Must See Wood Badge/Scouting Leadership Movies:
-October Sky (Special Edition)
-Remember the Titans (Widescreen Edition)
-Mr. Holland's Opus
-Follow Me, Boys!