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Problem with Woodbadge Trained Leaders

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I'd like to do Woodbadge training but it seems to ruin leaders who go through it. Some of the most active adults in our troop will head off to Woodbadge training, and the cycle seems inevitable.


They come back very motivated explaining all the things we can change to make the troop work properly. Then they start working on tickets that have been written seemingly without regard to the priorities of the PLC, SM or committee. They set up training, classes, procedures, forms, campouts and projects that draw adult and youth resources without regard to any other plans, resources or schedules.


As their time to complete the tickets get close, they get this harried, overwhelmed look. We see less and less of them with the boys as they try to complete their 5 'Eagle projects'. Finally, after they complete their training, we see little of them in the troop as they drift to district or council activities.


I like these leaders and respect what they've done for this training. I'd really like to go to Woodbadge as I've enjoyed all the Scout training I've received. But until I see evidence it builds leaders who can work with the troop, the PLC, the SM and the committee instead of imposing their plans and goals on them, I'm inclined to pass on this opportunity.


Has anyone else run into this problem? Have you WB scouters got any advice or suggestions?

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Your ticket is your ticket, no one else's. Yeah it will require you to complete or do certain things in your unit. And those should be worked into the rest of the unit program. That's what I did. My ticket didn't become the Troop ticket. I worked it into the program we had in place. If the unit leadership allows WBer's to take over like you say, the problem isn't only with the WBer's, it's with the unit leadership, too.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I dare say that people who take the approach to their tickets that you describe, didn't fully "get it." WB is not supposed to create problems for units and it is not designed to kick active leaders "upstairs" either.


Sometimes, it is true, that WB'ers go back to their units with a training-high-on-steroids. (Think about how people come back from just a one-day or one-weekend training on a high, and now multiply that times 8 days of pretty intense training with a group of already highly-motivated scouters, and wow! watch out!) These folks need gentle and understanding counseling about how to channel their energy in productive ways. Troop Guides and Ticket Counselors (part of the WB mentoring process) ought to be providing a solid dose of that counseling to those who are working their tickets.


Some other things to consider:

1) At least when I wrote my ticket, I was strongly cautioned, multiple times, not to come up with grand plans that required others to carry the load - as then, completion of the ticket rests in the hands of those other people, who may not be interested in following through and also may not understand the process. Some participants may misunderstand this to mean that they shouldn't consult with their unit leadership. Some unit leadership may misunderstand this to mean that the tickets are outside the realm of unit plans and priorities. Neither is true.


2) Consider asking WB candidates to review their ticket proposals with you (SM) and the CC, prior to committing to them, as a courtesy to the unit (note this doesn't give you final yea or nay approval power but at least you'd be in the loop). This would have to take place between course weekends, as it is not desirable for most WB'ers to go to the course with ticket already mapped out - else, there's no room for what they learn to influence their ticket and that's a waste.


3) If this is an endemic problem, consider contacting the Course Director for the upcoming course, and requesting a meeting with him or her. Explain what you've seen and how it has become a problem for your unit. Ask them to work with Wood Badgers to alleviate this problem, in this course and future courses.


4) Don't let this stop you from attending WB on your own though. Just because others have been, perhaps, over-zealous and well-intentioned but off course, doesn't mean you have to follow in that pattern! If you want to go to WB, go. If you don't really want to, that's ok too but don't let this be the reason.






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I was going to respond and then read Lisa's response. She was spot on in everything she told you. If I recall correctly, Lisa has staffed WB just as I have and will be again this fall. The fact that she is in Michigan and I'm in Oklahoma and we both understand the ticket process the same tells me that the process works when the pledge by staffers to present the course as designed is followed. While a ticket is personal, it revolves around your primary position. If you are an ASM, you most likely need the buy in and sign off of the SM and PLC for any ticket that would involve changes to the unit program. As a troop guide, I spent a great amount of time explaining the process to the participants and making sure they were not stepping outside the bounds and that they were creating achievable goals. What you are being taught at WB is a set of leadership tools to enhance your personal abilities and your worth to your unit. You learn to be a team player and not a lone ranger. Are there those who don't "get it" and are there to get a set of beads? You bet........but they are in a very small minority in my opinion. I'd urge you to go and find out for yourself what it has to offer.

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When I initially wrote my ticket(s), my Troop guide strongly recommended that I gear it to district pop corn sales, helping plan district training and district campouts. The woodbadge senior patrol leader then came by and said no-no-no. His ticket needs to be written in regards to his current position. I was a Bear den leader. So my ticket was rewritten more as a Pack camping and training coordinator. My ticket was aimed at my unit not district. So your ticket items matter.


Also I think woodbadgers get caught up in the like minded adults of other woodbagers. Running a well developed training module for adults is easier than running a unit program for youth leaders. The woodbadgers can hang out with other adult woodbadgers and life is good.


I recommend woodbadger for anyone who has thought, "gee maybe I should take woodbadge". It won't ruin and already committed youth leader.







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I have been reluctant to take Woodbadge for a similar reason. Not that I think my ticket items will change my unit too much, but that I refuse to become caught up in our council's "honey-do" list of projects that they try to pass off to Woodbadgers. Friends who have attended have been "encouraged" to tweak their ticket to solve a district or council need and have even been presented with a council want/need list.

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I'm disappointed to hear that some councils are using WB as a backdoor way of getting things done that need doing anyway. That isn't how this is supposed to work. If your council is doing that, find another council where you can take WB without that garbage, if you so desire. And then come back and make some racket with the council about how WB is being twisted and abused. It won't be popular among some of the "powers that be" but who cares?


(And to set the record straight, no I haven't staffed a WB course up to this point. But I went through WB/21C in 2003 and I earned my 2 beads about 4 years ago now.)

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If you are interested in taking advanced leadership training then I recommend you attend Wood Badge.


Your perceptions of what you have seen others do is not a representation of the course materials but of how those individuals have chosen to interpret the information. This is more a reflection of their personal characteristics and is largely influened by aspects of their personalities and beliefs. They are not representative of the actual content or goals of the course.


Might some councils not follow the syllabus? Sure that is a possibility. I have been on staff on several courses and the responsibility of the staff has always been to follow the syllabus and do what is needed to make the course benefit the individual needs of each participant.


The participant writes their own ticket. I have never been on a course when the staff used the tickets to get work done for the district or coucil unless it was a goal selected by a participant who worked at the district or council level. Why a Bear den leader would have a ticket that addressed anything other than growing as a den leader is beyong me.


I can tell you that the two most common problem I see when evaluating tickets is that people tend to want to use leadership skills to change others when they should be working to change themselves, and people tend to want to change things that they have no control over. A goal does not need to be about changing something that is already being done, but to set and achieve goals through the application of good leadership skills.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Hello Don,


I have some real sympathy for what you are saying. I have staffed Wood Badge, directed Wood Badge and staffed and directed the Regional Conference. We tell the participants and potential course directors that the ticket should represent doing a good performance in their current Scouting job. I tell participants to close their eyes and imagine where they would like their unit to be in 12-18 months. Then their ticket items should lead to that.


And then occasionally I will visit a course, including a course run by someone who has listened to our Regional guidance and they want the type of "PhD thesis" ticket that you mention. I counsel with them and I get the clear indication "I hear what you are saying and that's not how I was taught. I know what I'm going to do."


That may be your council's attitude. IT seems to be a council type of thing. The council has a certain style and attitude evidenced by the senior Wood Badge leadership in the council.


What to do? I am going to be a heretic now.


Go to Wood Badge. Plan to write a ticket which describes what you will do with your unit. If the staff gives you a lot of heat, push back a bit, then do what you need to do to get them off your back.


And then .... if the items in your ticket aren't things that you want to do, then don't do them. What's the worst thing that happens. You don't finish and don't get your beads. You still have the benefit of the knowledge, skill and attitude that you got from your course. And maybe the staff will come around and/or you will send them a wake-up call. But if they aren't willing to accept a ticket that focuses strongly on your unit, I would, as a minimum, ask to talk to the Course Director and then, if necessary, to your Council Training Chairman and Council Training Advisor. Tell them of the concern that you evidenced in the first paragraph of this thread. That shouldn't be what they want to have happen.

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Thanks for the great suggestions.


I really believe the WB scouters did come back with the best of intentions. After reading your posts, I think there are a couple of problems that occur.


One is that the WB trainee may not understand the issues in the troop - their history and how they are being addressed - as well as they could before setting the ticket. Some of our WBers have only been in the troop a year and might not be aware what can impact the program (scout age distribution, for example). It seems like there needs to be a discussion with the candidate before training, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to discourage change where the unit has gotten into a rut.


The other point is that, while I believe the WB program does encourage the team player approach, the individuals push themselves hard to get those beads. I've seen (and experienced) very upset leaders when their WB tickets had any sort of holdups, especially as time drew short. I really appreciate the suggestion a couple of you made that, as Neil said, if you don't get your bead, you still have the benefit of the training.


On a side point, I've heard the WB candidates say they were supposed to do something for district or council for one of their tickets, but I don't know that for a fact.


I think I'll talk to some of the WB scouters about my concerns directly, because I really would like to receive this training.



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Be sure to discuss this with people who have been through Wood Badge in the last 7 years. Wood Badge training , and they way it is taught, has changed significantly with the release of Wood Badge for the 21st Century (the current Wood Badge program).


Also remember that for many of the participants the skills they learned about in Wood Badge are new to them, and like with any new skill they will need practice at it to become proficient, and practice often includes moments of both succees and failure, that is all part of the learning process.


If your expectation is that just because someone has returned from a Wood Badge course they should know exactly what they are doing and how to do it then you have very unreasonable expectations.


I would suggest your better approach would be to observe the leaders around you and see who you observe demonstrating the best leadeship skills. Talk with them about what they gained from Wood Badge.


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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DonM, all I can say is take the course and go in with an open mind.


When I wrote my ticket, I did so -after- talking with both the SM and CC in our troop. I wanted to make sure I had their buy-in before I started making commitments I was responsible for.


That's easy to do with a two-weekend course. Less so for the week-long courses that some councils run...


"On a side point, I've heard the WB candidates say they were supposed to do something for district or council for one of their tickets, but I don't know that for a fact. "


It's not a fact at all, but it can make for an interesting ticket item. That said, I know some staffers see WB as a way to recruit "volunteers" to get district and council work done.


I chose to serve as a commissioner as part of my ticket, and I'm glad I did it. If nothing else, it taught me commissioner service wasn't my calling...

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I'm sorry that there have been some problems with WBers. I've recently staffed as a Troop Guide at Woodbadge and I have to say that at least in our council we work really hard to guide the participants to make tickets that are directly related to their current positions.


Yes, some participants do get invited to serve on future courses, but even that doesn't occur until after they have completed their tickets.


As many others have mentioned in this forum, if the participants are coming back to their units with a lack of "team" spirit and a focus on district or council efforts, then they have simply missed to spirit of WB or the staff didn't provide the real opportunity.


Go to WB, enjoy the experience and grab hold of the spirit of Woodbadge.

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In my pre-WB meeting I was advised to talk to my unit's leaders and committee members before I wrote my ticket to make sure it did not clash with the units agenda. Maybe, when you know that one of your leaders are attending, you should talk to them and express your feelings about people who attend WB. Although, the WBer's ticket is their own it affect the whole unit and the unit should support the WBer. The ticket is hard enough to write, so help them, tell them how they can improve their position in the unit in a way that does not clash with the unit.

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