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Summitdog

What's the value of Wood Badge???

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I am a new scouter.  I hear of people talking about the Wood Badge, wearing the wood chip necklace, etc., but they have a difficult time actually explaining how the course actually assisted the troop or the scouts in the troop.  The way it has been explained to me, it sounds like boy scout merit badge for adults.  I do not intend to offend anyone on the forum.  My query is not an attack on the individuals or the program.  I am just trying to understand the underlying "advantage" to the troop/scouts for an adult to go through the program.

 

NOTE: Before you flame away, just remember the "I don't get it" from Big. 

 

Thanks,

Scotty

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I'm with you on this.  WB is not about running program for scouts (though it used to be).  Now it is basically billed as a management course and the "ticket" items may help program for scouts/youth.  Note that ticket items may be unrelated to actually assisting in program.  Billed as the pinnacle of BSA Adult training, but not sure that it what the results may actually be.

But...apparently you get a neat pink neckerchief, you can culturally appropriate kilts if you desire, you can freely join the WB cult and drink the kool aid, you get the beads (by the way, Q - how many WB beads does a 100 year old oak tree yield?  A- One), you get to become a critter of some sorts, and you get a sense of smugness related to adults scoutery...

Well worth the price of admission

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Wood Badge teaches leadership skills.  Things like techniques for effective listening and giving/receiving feedback and embracing diversity and handling conflict.  It gives an introduction to the "others first" or "servant" style of leadership but it does a very cursory job at that.

If you have had other leadership training, such as in the military or business world, you may or may not get a lot from it.  I had never had any leadership training and Wood Badge was a turning point.  Not because the material in Wood Badge is so great but because it set me on a path to learn about (study) leadership.  On that path I have taken other training and met other people and read other authors that have truly changed my approach to everything.

 

 

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Most the people I know in our pack that have taken Wood Badge in the last few years changed directions in scouting from helping with the local cub scout and boy scout unit to being much more focused to being a district level scouter.  All the tickets that I heard about had something to do with district level activities.  I can not think of any positive impacts Wood Badge has had on our troop. 

One friend that took the course told me that to him, "The course was mostly about leading and managing adults and how to get the most out of adult volunteers, by using motivational tools such as creating a vision and loyalty to the BSA brand through tradition and nostalgia."  

  

 

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5 hours ago, Summitdog said:

I am a new scouter.  I hear of people talking about the Wood Badge,...

@Summitdog, I can't recall if I welcomed you to the forums and thanked you in advance for all that you'll do for our youth. So, pardon my redundancy: welcome and thanks!

If you're new, I would hold off on taking WB. It really works best after you've had a few years applying the basic training you needed for your position. So the replies to your topic may be worth reading sometime down the road.

What it offers (in no particular order):

  • Networking: you spend a lot of time with other scouters. Two full weekends working on anything pulls folks together. Plus, there's time between weekends coordinating with your patrol.
  • Perspective: you start the course as a den, then ultimately a patrol, of scouts.
  • Thought-provoking exercises: these can have a positive or negative impact.
  • Motivation: after a couple of years as a scouter, you get "ideas" of what you'd like to really contribute to the unit in which you serve. The course helps you break those ideas down into five measurable goals (a.k.a., your ticket) and assigns you 18 months to complete them.

As you can tell from other comments, it can have mixed results -- on both course attendees and non-attendees!

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4 hours ago, cocomax said:

"The course was mostly about managing adults... by creating... loyalty to the BSA brand through tradition and nostalgia."

Free volunteers cost so much less than paid lower level staff.  Free labor equates to higher salaries in Irving.

(Back to your hole, JoeBob! Back!"

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@Summitdog Welcome to Scouter.com. Full disclosure, I've attended Wood Badge, will probably staff it in the next few years. I like @qwazse's list. 

We've actually recently discussed some support and objections to Wood Badge in a thread located here. https://www.scouter.com/topic/30580-wood-badge-roses-and-thorns/?page=1 . 

The value of the course is dependent on your local area and the culture created by your council and staff. I recommend talking to Scouters you know and respect in your council to get the scoop. If your council's program is not good, a neighboring council may have a convenient course. There are two different and separate critiques of the program. One is that the material isn't useful, which I dispute. I found it useful. The other is that the course is poorly ran or clickish, which I absolutely grant. It's a local problem. 

Many of the Scouters on this website who are critical of Wood Badge already have high performing units, and have been treated poorly by Wood Badge staff who are missing the point of what the training is for. Wood Badge is a means to an end of helping Scouters by giving them leadership training and encouragement to take back to running their units.  It's not about creating some special club of Wood Badge graduates. Wood Badge, like the district or council, exists to serve the units. Not the other way around. For plenty of these folks, Wood Badge would have very limited value at this point in their Scouting. They've learned anything Wood Badge would teach them, which is a testament to their self education or the culture of their unit! 

In my personal opinion the biggest value to Wood Badge is to newer Scouters but not brand new ones. Maybe in your second or third year in the unit. Done properly it should provide a good example to you of the patrol method and some leadership training to help you organize your unit to be a youth conceived and lead program. Wood Badge has strong value because it is tied to the youth training in NYLT. If you have youth from your unit in leadership positions of responsibility roles like Patrol Leader, Guide, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, or Senior Patrol Leader, you taking Wood Badge will give you the equivalent training so you will understand their experiences and what they learned from NYLT if your Scouts partake in that program. You'll also get some strong doses of Scouting culture, plenty of silly games and songs. I enjoy that aspect of stuff, but it can definitely turn people off. 

So how did Wood Badge help me? In short, I met some great mentors I still look to for guidance. It gave me a refresher on leadership training skills my scouts are taught at NYLT. It gave me some shared knowledge and experience with my troop's past and present Scoutmaster, both of whom were pretty new to the Boy Scout program. Despite some comments otherwise here, your tickets can and should be aimed at your unit. My tickets were not terribly hard, but were items primarily to assist the troop. There were also things I'd likely do anyways in my role as an Assistant Scoutmaster. It was helpful for me to fully understand my role as an Adult volunteer in Scouting, and unlearn some sub optimal practices my unit practiced at the time. 

You're not a lesser Scouter if you choose not attend Wood Badge, but I encourage you to do some research into your councils offering and if the culture sounds healthy, you are in the target audience with the most to gain from the course. 

 

Edited by Sentinel947
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9 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

I'm with you on this.  WB is not about running program for scouts (though it used to be).  Now it is basically billed as a management course and the "ticket" items may help program for scouts/youth.  Note that ticket items may be unrelated to actually assisting in program.  Billed as the pinnacle of BSA Adult training, but not sure that it what the results may actually be.

I thought Wood Badge had some helpful offerings in how to run a unit, but they were incidental and part of other topics. It certainly wasn't the nuts and bolts of how to plan a program or run a unit. I think that's actually a huge hole in the training curriculum of SM Specific/IOLS --> Wood Badge.

 Conversations/presentations on Sample Troop/Patrol meetings, conflict resolution, coaching and mentoring of youth, servant leadership concepts. At least in my course, one of the five tickets could be a personal goal. One of the five needed to be related to diversity in scouting. The other three needed to be related to scouting at the unit, district or council level. 4 of mine were connected to my unit, and one other was for other was for the council summer camp.  

I definitely grant that if you've received good leadership training through work or the military, many of the training tools will be familiar. 
 

7 hours ago, cocomax said:

Most the people I know in our pack that have taken Wood Badge in the last few years changed directions in scouting from helping with the local cub scout and boy scout unit to being much more focused to being a district level scouter.  All the tickets that I heard about had something to do with district level activities.  I can not think of any positive impacts Wood Badge has had on our troop. 

One friend that took the course told me that to him, "The course was mostly about leading and managing adults and how to get the most out of adult volunteers, by using motivational tools such as creating a vision and loyalty to the BSA brand through tradition and nostalgia."  

I didn't really feel like the program taught me much about managing adult volunteers, other than providing a sense of what our common purpose was. The course does teach various leadership concepts like EDGE, Communication skills or Stages of Team development, but I think those things are in the course to mirror NYLT. The purpose of teaching those in Wood Badge are to help Scouts utilize those concepts in their leadership of the troop just as much as managing adult volunteers. For me, Wood Badge's value is definitely tied to whether a unit encourages their Scouts to go to NYLT. Wood Badge loses a lot of it's value otherwise if the purpose of Wood Badge is about giving adults tools and experiences to work with youth. 

I think experienced Scouters moving on to the district or council can be helpful as long as they don't under-staff the units. There are many units that could use support from the district or council, so there's a definite need for experienced Scouters to help plan camporees, provide training, or mentor unit leaders as District Commissioners. It also keeps Scouters from sitting in units forever and denying new adult leadership the opportunity to be part of the unit leadership. (Directly or indirectly). Unfortunately, I've also seen the wrong folks gravitate towards the District and Council, who are always so desperate for volunteers they'll never say no. 


 

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As a den leader, with a decade of scouting experience as a youth, the value of wood badge to me was that it helped to see the whole experience of scouting as an integrated whole.

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Summitdog.

I am like you.  I went through WB and I still "don't get it".  I read and hear from multiple sources different views, but my own experience, I still just don't get it.  I don't care about beads, I don't keep in touch with members of my patrol, I don't care about the games that were done.  In fact it was one game that actually made me wonder why I was there.  I hardly got anything positive out of it from the leadership mentoring side.  It is actually making me question doing Sea Badge (I don't wanna do a WB for SB)

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My council's course is held on the South side of the DFW metroplex and I live about 40 minutes from the OK border on the Texas side.  To have to get down there on a weekday morning in time to start is a big obstacle for me.  The kind of obstacle where I have about decided not to do it no matter the benefits.

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I am hearing of peoples tickets from the current wood badge course and I just shake my head at how easy they are.

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22 minutes ago, mashmaster said:

I am hearing of peoples tickets from the current wood badge course and I just shake my head at how easy they are.

What sounds easy for you may be a stretch for them.  Just like an Eagle project, the goal is not the project but the planning and leadership (and related) skills they put to use in accomplishing the project.

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The purpose of all education is to prevent having to discover things separately, originally, for one's self.

Theoretically, WB is intended to educate Scouty folks in Scouting things.  The problem is that , despite the detailed curriculum, it is taught and experienced anew by every staff and every class.  My WB cannot be your WB.  I can pass on many, much of my Scout lore and experience (that bucket of axes and carved tent pegs fer instance). I can tell stories from my experience and youth.  WB is like that.  

I am told that someone who took WB in the 1950's (with GB Bill ?) would not recognize the WB of the  21st century, which is the course I took and then  staffed.  So be it.  I have met folks that take WB many times , just because they like it (!!). I have met folks that have said, such as noted here, that WB was a "life changing experience"  "not worth the time and effort" , "something every Scout Leader needs", " a waste of my time and my church's money",  "recommended for everyone..."   You have heard them all, I am sure.

WB is no longer meant as "Advanced Outdoor Living"  or " First Class Rank Plus". It is meant to recharge the Scouter's soul. To give some thought to the reasons to folks that may never had considered the WHY of Scouting.  Management theory? yep.  Scouting fun (critters !) yep.  Cooperation? Patrol Method (did BP ever really call it that originally?) ? Yep.  Scout Led?  By heavy implication, I hope so.

Do I recommend WB to everyone?  No, I don't. Some folks admittedly will be excellent Scouters without it.   Problem is, it's hard to tell who those folks are at the outset. And often, the ones that THINK they don't need it are the ones that give some Scouts reason to quit Scouts.  Sic semper mundi.

Me ?I like to think that any excuse to go camping is better than none. 

See you on the trail....

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4 hours ago, jjlash said:

What sounds easy for you may be a stretch for them.  Just like an Eagle project, the goal is not the project but the planning and leadership (and related) skills they put to use in accomplishing the project.

Possibly, but some of the tickets are just attending a course, or teaching a 1 hour portion in IOLS......

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