First, the basics about Wood Badge. Wood Badge is different than any other scout or leadership training you will receive. Not only do you learn the leadership skills, the nature of the course allows those new skills to be put into practice immediately as you work with your patrol and the entire troop. There are some instructions here and there specifically on the scouting program (after all, it is put on by BSA), but the intent of the training is to teach leadership skills to the leaders so they can in turn teach those skills to the boys.
Something else unique to Wood Badge is that you leave with a ticket to work on. As a participant you visualize how you can improve scouting in your unit or area of influence and write five specific goals towards that, called the ticket. I won't go into why it's called that, but it goes back to Baden-Powell. So not only do you get the training there, you continue your training and bring your vision to life by working your ticket when you get home. When that is completed within 18 months after the training, participants receive their Wood Badge neckerchief, woggle, and beads.
Wood Badge isn't just sitting and learning, though we do some of that. We play games. We have ceremonies. We eat great food. We laugh, we cry. Part of the crying probably leads back to the fact that scouting is a values-based program, and during the course we want to get those values deep in the hearts of the participants. In the end, there is a real desire and commitment to move forward with your personal vision and mission. It's amazing every time to watch this rag tag bunch of individuals show up to go through the course, and come out working as a real team with a pack of leadership tools, new life-long friendships, and best of all, the deep desire to make a difference.
My favorite part has got to be the people. Amazingly committed, wonderfully inspiring people. People you wish could all be your neighbors. People you get so close to they feel like members of your family. People that just thinking about them lifts your spirits. Each of the four Wood Badge staffs I've been privileged to know as a participant and on staff has been like that. And as you get to know the participants, you find there are many in the same category.
I was an 'outsider' (so to speak) on staff this year. I was the only person on the whole staff and course that wasn't from within the council or even the same state. Every Wood Badge I've been involved with has been through the Snake River Council out of Twin Falls, Idaho, and they are always so welcoming. As a matter of fact, the day we were taking course pictures they were taking staff pictures of the people in each of the scouting districts. Someone said, "What about Marni?", knowing I wasn't in any of them. They decided to adopt me into all their districts, and this is the resulting picture.
I've been looking and looking at other pictures I could post, and I know they won't have nearly the feeling behind them as they do for those that were there. But I still can't help it.
Since I was the scribe there aren't many pictures of me since I took 98% of the pictures of there. But here's a final one with me in it as one of the hosts of the Wood Badge Game Show. Isn't this the most awesome dress ever? Go eBay!
This was my fourth time at Wood Badge, one as a participant and three on staff. It was a really hard decision to go this time, and several times I came very close to telling them that I couldn't go, but I am so glad I did. I am supremely grateful to my husband, my parents, and in-laws for watching the kids while I went.
If you haven't been to Wood Badge and get the opportunity, GO. It is a life-changing experience you won't regret.