Thursday, February 4, 2016

What the Heck is Woodbadge?

For two weekends this past January I volunteered as a staff member for a Woodbadge Course.  What in the world is Woodbadge you ask?  Well, it is a leadership training course offered by local councils of the Boy Scouts of America, and something I avoided for many, many years.  I have been involved in Boy Scouts for many years, I was a boy scout, I have been in several leadership positions in Boy Scouts and I have been luke warm through it all.  I never got my Eagle Scout rank, and I was never really into the dopey songs and silly things that the Scouts do.  I didn't want to wear a uniform and on, and on, and on.

So, why would I dedicate two weekends to such an organization?  Wait; two weekends? How about the training meetings I attended for the 6 months prior to the course, and the home preparation I had to do for my presentations and training that I would provide during the course.  Why indeed?  Well, sit down and let me tell you a story....

Once upon a time, there was a man that endured scouting because he felt an obligation to his church whose leaders sponsor scouting and its benefits for young men.  He endured it because he was asked to serve in many callings that involved scouting.  Over the years he hoped that the church would someday drop scouting all together, after all, there were many activities that were done outside of scouting that promoted the same principles of service and provided character building opportunities.  "It's so hard to balance them both", he would say; "and it is an added burden to families that are already involved in so many other good things".  On top of all of this, there is the added financial burden of, uniforms, donations, fund raising, scout camps, and more.  "What a waste of time and resources", he would say.

Fast forward to January, 2014, this same man was talked into spending $215 to attend a 6 day (over two weekends) WOODBADGE COURSE (NOOOOOO!); "okay", he thought, "this will finally shut them up and I can go back to my life".  So, prepared for all the rah, rah, and silly activities, he never liked doing before, he showed up in full uniform, dropped of his bags and was directed to go to what they called, The Gathering Games, where he was asked to play silly, childish games....or so he thought.  Pretty soon he found he was having fun and thought, "well, if the food is good, I guess this  could be worse".  He was asked to believe he was a Cub Scout (ages 8-11) and put into a Den.  As the day went on he progressed from a Cub to a Boy Scout and thought, "ok, I get it", he said, "I know that the program needs to be run properly, but, do I need to go through all this?  Couldn't we have a 2 hour meeting somewhere?", and then he realized, "actually, I have attended many 2 hour meetings....nothing really changed after that, hmmm".  But, as good as the training was, he still felt like he could be doing something more important, but, he committed to it and decided to stick it out.

As the day ended he laid in bed and said to himself, "okay one day gone, as if he was counting down to a coming birthday or vacation".  He was simply enduring, even though the training he was receiving was entertaining and fun, he just wanted to go home, and his attitude about scouting had not changed.  The second day was filled with fun activities and competitions, the staff was fun and silly and promoted a very, very, competitive atmosphere.  Everyone was having fun, but there was an edge to everything that was going on.  The participants were experiencing victory, defeat, being denied victory and being cheated.  Rules were changing on the fly and it was just crazy, but engaging.  By the time the night came there was a culminating activity. At the end of this activity, all were exhausted, all were pondering their own personal views, opinions, and not just about scouting, but, about life in general.

So much was going through his mind and this entire training had now taken on a new aura.  He saw scouting for what its founder, Lord Baden Powell, had intended it to be.  He thought to himself, "what organization asks of a young man to make an oath, based upon his honor, to to abide by a moral code of ethics on how he treats himself and his family, his community, his country and his God." Asking him to better himself through a program of games, activities, service, and high adventure, designed to have a higher purpose; a purpose that is designed to help him become a good man".  And we do need more good men in the world today.  An organization that helps a young man navigate a young man in today's world of victories and defeats, highs and lows, truths and untruths, is a worthy organization.

Okay, so, the story is obviously about me.  I can only say that it was a life changing event for me.  It helped me realize a lot more about myself rather than scouting structure, and I do not have the time to go over all that I experienced in this short blog.  The was great.  I had just finished my MBA and had gone through many leadership style classes, and the training I had at Woodbadge was every bit as effective.

At the course, participants are assigned to a patrol critter, and I am a proud Beaver.  We called ourselves the Thunder Beavers and had a lot of fun with it.  I made lifelong friends at my course, and now, as a staffer in 2016, I was able to increase my circle of very close friends and enhance what I had already learned in 2014 as a participant.

And as a Beaver I say, Gnaw it out Loud!  Support the BSA!

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