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Why Wood Badge?

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Did I take away some valuable things for my Troop? Absolutely. Was it lashing skills or how to tie a bowline? No. .

Wood Badge has successfully positioned its history as a transition from dated Scoutcraft skills to "twenty-first century" (1965) corporate "leadership skills."

 

The real transition was to replace one form of leadership skills with another:

 

That would be Hillcourt's "Real" Patrol Leader skills necessary to physically _lead_ a Patrol into backwoods adventure on a regular basis ("patrol" as a verb).

 

Versus:

 

Bruce Tuckmans Troop Method skills to form and storm menus and duty rosters in family campground-sized lots, where Wood Badge helicopters monitor the "controlled failure" of six month Troop election winners.

And the thing I really like best about all this...is that he writes and says these things with such flair!

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I have staffed all three versions of Wood Badge, although as a "Junior Staffer" (Quartermaster's helper) I hardly experienced the course the way that a learner did. I took the second and present version, and strongly preferred the second version (a week-long).

 

I am not so much unhappy that the current version has next to zero Scoutcraft training as I am that B.S.A. offers only Powder Horn to address the need for advanced Scoutcraft training. They could call advanced scoutcraft training "Pickles," for all I care. Just offer it. We have tried it in our council as an unofficial training event. To be consistent with the declaration that the Outdoor Program is Scouting's most important method, advanced outdoor skills training should be offered and promoted.

 

A weakness with the current course is that "modeling" the Patrol Method to adults who do not know what it has ever been (basically anyone who never experienced it as a Scout or was not given basic training before 2000) makes "modeling" of questionable benefit. They see a group of adults planning things and adults doing all the leading and may easily miss that it is supposed to be boys planning and leading. They see very little independent patrol activity and conclude that the "troop method" is the way things are supposed to be.

 

In the absence of district-level youth training, most youth leaders will be trained solely by troop Scouters, so a failure to train the adults in the Patrol Method has consequences. Even if the Scout goes to NYLT, where the "modeling" is more inescapable since the youth are to do all the planing and leading (including all the teaching except for one session), can the boy overcome the resistance of the unknowing adult? Not likely. ("We don't do it that way.")

 

It is not enough that all the piece-parts of the Patrol Method are still present, scattered here and there in BSA literature and pronouncements. Statements that the patrol and what it does is more important than the troop, that a patrol is to be a group of friends, that a patrol is not an administrative convenience, that the boys are to do all the leading (health and safety aside), that patrol spirit is built on separate patrol activities, and that a boy is to belong TO a patrol IN a troop, are easily missed absent a clear statement of the elements of the Patrol Method - especially given wrong-headed statements like "All discipline is to be handled by adults" (Now thankfully eliminated from the YPT AV.) and statements that all patrol activities must yield to conflicts with troop activities. BSA needs to set out the elements of the Patrol Method and make it required.

 

The new Scoutmaster Specific syllabus is supposed to directly address the Patrol Method and its primacy in BSA scouting.

 

 

Mr. Tuckman is a psychology prof at Ohio State, He studied and wrote about the group dynamics in a number of groups, mostly 12-step groups. He has nothing to do with Wood Badge other than Blanchard's use of his Stages of Team Development in the Blanchard version of Wood Badge. You can't even blame Blanchard since his language was "rewritten" by BSA employees who did not nearly understand Tuckman's tool for analysis of group dynamics. That process explains the claim that all teams always go through the four "stages" in the same order, a concept Tuckman and Blanchard expressly reject.

 

 

"Participants," as they are now labeled, bring different life experience to the course. The staff brings different levels of skill and knowledge. The kind of experience you have depends of those variables. That is true of leadership training as offered by the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force as well. Thus, YMWV

 

First Wood Badge Course 1948

 

"The syllabus was put into the hands of Hillcourt, Thomas, and Lawrence. They quickly

decided that the course should cover all the recently "realigned" basic Boy Scout rquire-

ments from Tenderfoot to First Class, as presented in the Handbook for Boys. It should

also cover the patrol work described in the Handbook for Patrol Leaders and the troop

organization and activities of the Handbook for Scoutmasters.

 

The new Scout Field Book would be the source of advanced Scoutcraft.

 

And each student would receive a copy of the World Brotherhood Edition of Baden-Powell's Aids to Scoutmastership to be studied in advance, to familiarize himself with the principles of the Scout movement."

 

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I am not so much unhappy that the current version has next to zero Scoutcraft training as I am that B.S.A. offers only Powder Horn to address the need for advanced Scoutcraft training.

 

Is it? The last time (only time, actually) that I saw Powderhorn offered it was billed as training for planning high adventure trips.

 

Edit: That's the way Scouting Mag describes it as well: http://scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0709/a-high.html

"Powder Horn is officially described as a way to introduce unit leaders to activities and resources for conducting unit-level high adventure programs that can also assist crew members in earning Venturing’s coveted outdoor skills Ranger Award."

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I have taken powder horn.....It was little more than how to backpack, they brought in the local outdoor shop owner to talk about gear.

 

It was winter, so we kayaked in an indoor pool same pool snokeled.

 

 

The entire course could have been handled by a 4 page booklet with a list of resources.

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That's the impression I got from the description on the council's doubleknot page 2 years ago. Learning about resources for adventure programs. OK, I know how to use Google. Maybe in the past it was different, but then everything was ;)

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I have taken powder horn.....It was little more than how to backpack, they brought in the local outdoor shop owner to talk about gear.

 

It was winter, so we kayaked in an indoor pool same pool snokeled.

 

 

The entire course could have been handled by a 4 page booklet with a list of resources.

 

So it's not much of a replacement for a real advanced scoutcraft course.

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So.....you agree with Kudu?

 

About some things, yes. About some things. no.

 

About the purposes of Scouting, no.

 

About Bruce Tuckman, or Wood Badge, or Silver Stag, or adults on Boards of Review as being, respectively and at various stages of THE RANT, the absolute source of all evilllllllll in Scouting, no.

 

About having no interest in improving BSA Scouting, no.

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Sadly the folks I know with WB training are not that impressive. The folks with older WB training I think are better but cannot tell if that is from their WB training or simply having been in Scouts that long. The current WB grads I have met are less prepared and knowledgeable than my senior Scouts.

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Sadly the folks I know with WB training are not that impressive. The folks with older WB training I think are better but cannot tell if that is from their WB training or simply having been in Scouts that long. The current WB grads I have met are less prepared and knowledgeable than my senior Scouts.

 

Before 2001, and especially before 1971, Wood Badge was by invitation and the learners, as they were then, tended to be very experienced Scouters. Now, the aim I have heard is to have every commissioned Scouter take Wood Badge. You have identified one consequence. I taught at a state land grant university and saw the consequence of "open enrollment" - good and bad.

 

A troubling factor is the imperative to "fill the course." This drive can result in "participants" who are not "trained" for their position and, indeed, have had no prior formal training - not a minute. So they were not supposed to be taking the course, but there they were looking at me. A couple of them have nevertheless done fine work with kids, even if they might not "impress" you. They probably would have gotten more out of the course if they had been "trained" first.

 

Working against the better results, every completed course eliminates someone supposedly special from ever serving again (the Course Director) - a "solution" akin to blowing up a car just because it might get a flat tire.

 

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I’m not defending the program TAHAWK, but I do find myself correcting misconceptions. The current program is purposely amiable for inexperienced scouters because it is designed more to develop team management skills. The idea is that if the adults can first manage a stable program, learning to work with scouts will come easier. As someone who has some experience helping broken units become functional, I agree with that theory. In fact that is exactly how I worked with the adults even before the new WB was introduced.

 

The main problem I see with the new WB program is that many staffs confused the course objective of team management development with leadership development. It’s a huge difference and causes a lot of disappointment with both the staff and participants because they have wrong expectations for the course objective, which results in being disappointed.

 

Barry

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I'll defend the program - if the participants have competed at least basic training and the staff is good.

 

The course assumes they have completed basic training. Without that basic information, the participants have a harder time understanding what is going on, and it is even harder to cover the syllabus.

 

The good staff knows how to deal with the inconsistencies and jumble built into the syllabus by the B.S.A. rewrite.

 

As for leader vs. team, the course is addressed to adults. The youth are the team. The end is the team leading themselves while the adult is a mentor and resource. In adult training, is that a problem in your view and, if so, why? Tell me more.

 

 

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As for leader vs. team' date=' the course is addressed to adults. The youth are the team. The end is the team leading themselves while the adult is a mentor and resource. In adult training, is that a problem in your view and, if so, why? Tell me more. [/quote'] I don't have a problem with the course, but you kind of made my point by setting a Boy Scout expectation in a course that includes Cub Scout leaders. The 21WB course was design to teach adults how to understand vision and mission and to manage the "unit" adult team toward those goals. But when the staff has wrong expectations and passes those expectations to the participants, the course can produce mixed results. And that leads to a undeserved reputation.

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