Jump to content
Summitdog

What's the value of Wood Badge???

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I went to Woodbadge after having almost 20 years in scouts, and after taking JLT (what is now NYLT) and staffing it for many years after that as a youth.  Maybe the fact that I already had more experienced in scouts than everyone on the Woodbadge staff somewhat jaded me, but I have to agree with many of the more recent posts that that course was not that impressive.  I certainly didn't get the world-altering experience that I was promised after "drinking the Woodbadge kool-ade."  I really thought that the course was way too much lecture on topics that anyone who works a white-collar job is already thoroughly familiar with.  I much preferred the “old” JLT/Woodbadge format that went over specific leadership skills as that course seemed way more focused on teaching the skills that are needed to effectively lead a patrol and troop.

That all being said, I did find parts of Woodbadge very useful, specifically networking with other leaders and also learning about different council programs that I was not familiar with like STEM.  I also initially hated the ticket concept since I was already a very active leader, and it didn't seem "fair" that other people got away with doing "easy" tickets.  People were basically writing tickets proposing what I saw as routine stuff that I had been doing with my Pack, Troop, and Crew for the past 10 years.  However, after finishing my tickets, I must admit that they pushed me to become even further involved in scouts, especially at the district and council level.  At the same time, I now realize that other leaders who were just starting out likely felt equally pushed by their tickets and became more involved in scouts (even if from my point of view they were too "easy").  So the fact that everyone has to do tickets that are personalized for them is a very good concept.

Overall, it was a satisfactory experience, but just like I said above and as other have said, nowhere close to what I expected based on how much it over hyped.  Even now when the Woodbadge thumpers run around trying to get new leaders to go, I take these new leaders aside and tell them that it is a decent course, but no rush, and take it when you are ready.

Edited by Tatung42

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tatung42:   I find agreement in much you say,   the present WB course, even as compared by Older Timers (!) with the previous versions still has much to recommend it.   As in many other things, it depends largely on who is doing the training, not just on what is intended to be taught.  I also felt challenged by my time in WB to be a better Scouter.

And, as you express, if you have successfully worked in the fields, so to speak,  it can be hard to allow others to "do the easy tickets" that one has been "doing as routine stuff",  but that is the usual thing... to encourage the easy things so that they can do the harder things later, yes? 

One personal complaint:  The metaphor often used, "drinking the kool aid"  is, I find , a very poor one. Many folks use it without realizing the history it stems from, which is extremely sad and unfortunate.  Here, are we to consider WB a sad, unfortunate opportunity?  Is there a better way to express ones decision to join in , to enlist, to be baptized in the spirit of WB?  Just askin' .

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SSScout said:

Tatung42:   I find agreement in much you say,   the present WB course, even as compared by Older Timers (!) with the previous versions still has much to recommend it.   As in many other things, it depends largely on who is doing the training, not just on what is intended to be taught.  I also felt challenged by my time in WB to be a better Scouter.

Interestingly, I felt I got more out of the new WB than the old because the skills side and the patrol experience wasn't new to me in the old course. I will admit that I learned a lot of new skills for teaching, which is what the course was intended. The new course fit more into my adult life of being a team leader. What I learned in the new course has helped me immensely in my job as a manager. I have to plan 10 years ahead on projects and organize teams for those projects. The problem with the new course is that the staffs don't know what the participants are supposed to get out of the course, so they just follow their parts as presented in the syllabus like actors following a script. But one size fits all doesn't work for personalizing the participants experience.

Quote

And, as you express, if you have successfully worked in the fields, so to speak,  it can be hard to allow others to "do the easy tickets" that one has been "doing as routine stuff",  but that is the usual thing... to encourage the easy things so that they can do the harder things later, yes? 

Easy tickets huh! I had not thought of them that way. As the ASM of Troop Guides, I approved all the tickets and I took that job very seriously. And I coached the TGs to take that responsibility seriously as well. Every night we discussed each participants unit positions and their future plans in scouting, then we talked about how to enhance their scouting career with ticket items. In most cases, I found the participants made their tickets harder than required, and more often not applicable to their responsibilities. So, we coached them to first see the purpose of their ticket and then write it to be more specific. I also asked them to sit down with their unit leaders to discuss the tickets as well. I found that the participants finished the course with more purpose and more confidence than when they started the course. They were excited to go back to their units. Done correctly, writing the ticket made scouting more fun for them.

Quote

One personal complaint:  The metaphor often used, "drinking the kool aid"  is, I find , a very poor one. Many folks use it without realizing the history it stems from, which is extremely sad and unfortunate.  Here, are we to consider WB a sad, unfortunate opportunity?  Is there a better way to express ones decision to join in , to enlist, to be baptized in the spirit of WB?  Just askin' .

If we could go way way back in the forum archives before the new WB course was introduced, we had a few discussions where we talked about the ideal WB syllabus for that generation of leaders. That was at a time (much like now) where the troop program was suffering from an imbalance of inexperienced adult leaders. Ironically the new course is very close to what I feel was ideal syllabus at the time.

The present course, or at least the new course then, taught how to first figure out a vision or purpose to all the goals and tasks of the unit. Then, how to build a team to accomplish those goals. The district used to send me out to problem units to help get them on their feet. Understanding the unit goals and then building the team was how I got them going forward again. So, I really like todays WB course in that since.

I  still think that is the right objectives for scouters coming into the program because it focuses on the adult side of running a performing unit. Where WB has gotten off course is in trying to make it the mountain top experience to match the reputation of the previous course. The previous course was designed to take the best dedicated leaders and make them even better. They were truly the best of the best. Problem was it started loosing it's prestige when some scouters used WB to feed their egos. Originally the WB graduates were to humble themselves in helping other scouters become better leaders. But I think the course started recruiting too many scouters to fill slots instead of picking just those who showed the right qualities. That's where it lost it's way .That is the kool aid we are fighting now. 

I've written and introduced several courses in scouting, including a council level JLT, but I'm not sure how to fix this one. On one hand, it doesn't need to be near a long as it is for the objectives it's trying to teach. On the other hand, I believe the Ticket Items are the meat of the course and they require the staff and participants some time to evaluate the participants future in the BSA. And, the course length also separates out the more dedicated volunteers who plan to stay in awhile. The real problem with courses of complicated objectives is writing a syllabus that anyone could organize, run, and achieve the same goals. Believe it or not, the old WB course is a lot more simple because the objective was only to pass along advanced teaching skills. I learned over the years that writing a syllabus that scouters all across the county could use productively is extremely challenging. 

Now with the induction of more inexperienced adult volunteers, training is going to have to change to fit their needs. It will require some real thinking. I'm not sure National is up to it.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Where WB has gotten off course is in trying to make it the mountain top experience to match the reputation of the previous course

Isn't the real mountain top leader training experience Philmont Leadership Challenge anyway? 

Wood Badge should try to be what it is, a decent enough leadership training for Scouting, and not a life changing event.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, malraux said:

Isn't the real mountain top leader training experience Philmont Leadership Challenge anyway? 

I may be biased - just as the people who had a great WB experience are biased - but yes.  For me Philmont Leadership Challenge was a much more valuable leadership experience than WB.  I think partly because I attended PLC after having staffed 4 WB courses so I was beginning to truly understand and live the WB lessons.  And partly because I am a tactile learner and WB is so much lecture.

I believe (in hind sight) if I had stopped after attending WB I would have learned some methods for project planning and not much more.  Each time I staffed I gained a better and deeper understanding of the concepts.  It wasnt until PLC that I was really able to wrap my head around "servant" leadership as opposed to a non-servant style.  Not because the concept is difficult but because WB does a terrible job with that topic.

 

(as an aside - recruiting is under way right now for the 2019 PLC courses.  message me if you are interested or have questions)

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, jjlash said:

I believe (in hind sight) if I had stopped after attending WB I would have learned some methods for project planning and not much more.  Each time I staffed I gained a better and deeper understanding of the concepts.  It wasnt until PLC that I was really able to wrap my head around "servant" leadership as opposed to a non-servant style.  Not because the concept is difficult but because WB does a terrible job with that topic.

I can't imagine anyone learning the basic concepts of patrol method (especially "servant" Leadership) from WB. I have always felt patrols are only used in the course to divide participants into smaller groups, not to give participants a realistic experience of patrol method. 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree on the variance of ticket items.   Most I hear from people, some from my course most from subsequent courses the tickets are easy and just part of the normal course of scouting.  They don't appear to be things that are pushing the scouters to go beyond their comfort zone and do something really impactful.

Examples of tickets I have seen from multiple scouters:

  • recipe book created
  • list of local campgrounds
  • coordinating an ILST course for a troop
  • being one of many instructors on an IOLS course

I scratch my head that any of those types of tickets really pushed the scouter.  I have the same complaint about Eagle projects.  How many Eagle projects are the scout going to the Scoutmaster and getting a project handed to them to do and they knock out the project in a day.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I have always felt patrols are only used in the course to divide participants into smaller groups

I wholeheartedly agree.  The course, and many other trainings for that matter,  out of necessity models the worst habits of an Adult Lead troop and sights the "Patrol Method" as its source.  A different term should be used so as not to confuse new leaders who may not have seen the "Patrol Method" in action.

 

If you are going to use the "Patrol Method" then use it, this would necessitate:

  Boy(participant) Lead: This would necessitate Guides being fluent in the Socratic Method and would be messy and inefficient, just as troops are

  Patrols would need to be self formed, not assigned in a manner that is more efficient for administration.

  The Patrol would need to be the fundamental, not ancillary, way information/learning is conveyed.  i.e. The lectures would not count.

 

That said, I understand why participants are grouped and assigned to administrative units for the convenience of instructors... But to call those units Patrols and invoke the "Patrol Method" is a poor chose of words. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get your point on the patrols.  The patrols might be a technically unneccessary grouping, but I think they accomplish a few practical things:

  • they break up the monotony of doing everything as a large group.  There are some presentations to the group as a whole, some to a small patrol sized group.  Some people like big lectures, some small venues.  This lets you experience both
  • they provide a way for there to be a more personal staff/participant interaction.  As it is now, it ensures that at least one staff member is spending time with each individual.
  • it may be superficial, but it gives off a Scouting vibe.  That the group is at least pretending to follow a known Scouting structure makes it feel a little more "Scoutlike" for some.
  • they help facilitate networking.  By constructing the patrols to generally consist of people who don't know each other and then keeping them very busy, it creates a lot of momentum for those adults to get to know each other.  I know that when I was a participant I was a pretty new Scouter.  I was a bit intimidated by the experience levels of my patrol mates.  It took about a day for that to wear off as we were so busy, I really forgot about any insecurities I had.  By the end of the course, we were great friends and enjoyed each other's company.  Also, because we didn't pick our own patrols, it avoided the normal ways people might group - existing friends, same district, experience level, same program, etc.  It helped me build a more diverse network on the course.
  • it introduces a little levity.  Patrol totems, cheers, names, etc.  Critter identification and the Wood Badge song.  Sure, these are not really neccessary, but they can add to the fun.

So, while I see your point about needing to have the patrols really be in charge, I think that for the purpose of a training you can get benefit out of using patrols as a small group of adults who work together. 

I do think for me, as a pretty new Scouter taking Wood Badge, I was pretty open to the theatre of the course.  I didn't mind playing along and going with it.  Sure, maybe I spent two weekends playing Scout, but I had a good time.  For experienced Scouters though, I can see that perhaps it's more like fingernails on a chalkboard.  I'm not sure how to mitigate that though.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

In terms of easiness of tickets, that is up to the individual and their WB leaders to negotiate.  At mealtimes when staffers would join us, I found the question -- tell us about your WB tickets -- a good icebreaker so there was always something to talk about. 

I honestly didn't care that much about other course members' tickets, I was concerned with my own. They were:

1. Help teach Cub Scout BALOO training.  I assisted on the full course twice, presenting multiple segments of the training

2. Create a new parents handbook for our pack

3. Lead a 3-hour Traffic Safety merit badge clinic for our council -- a new offering that sold out with high interest

4.  Present about ADHD and scouting  (diversity ticket)

5. Write an article about ADHD and scouting (diversity ticket)

Why would I care if others' tickets were hard enough? It was not my role as a participant to be responsible for them.  I think with anything you get out of it what you put into it, and I chose to go with things that were meaningful for my Scouting leadership experience as I was transitioning from Pack to Troop work.  My tickets were based on my interests and strengths.

And, by the way, I finished!  I did all of it!  

I feel like I would be a good future staffer (but it is a big time commitment).  Don't know if I'll get asked or not, and it doesn't matter all that much. 

 I took Wood Badge (I am the only WB trained leader in our Troop) in large part to prove myself to some of the other leaders in our Pack/Troop. It's a little bit harder to discount or ignore someone who has put a lot of time and effort into their training. I don't care about the status that much, but it does signify the commitment I have made to Scouting.  

 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WisMom,  congrats on WB..   Most folks think it worth the time and pelf, but some have qualms and regrets,  there ya go. 

Again, a lot depends on the Staff folks, which change with each course.   It is what it is.

(Guitar riff intro...…) 

I study camping and hiking,

And all my Wood Badge  classes,

I got a crazy Scoutmaster, he wears dark glasses.

 Patrols are doing GREAT, there’s nothing to trade ,          .

Scout future’s so BRIGHT, I gotta wear shades….

I gotta wear shades.

 

I gotta work my tickets,  beads and thong are waitin’.

Benefit the Scouts, not a lot of louts.

Ticket’s going great, and they’re only getting better.

Antelopes and Bears,  Owls , my friends  are made.

The future’s so bright,  I gotta wear shades.

I gotta wear shades…

 

With Scouting we are blessed, our kids can realize

They gain by going camping, making Dutch Oven Pies.

Our Packs are doing GREAT, and the Troops are getting better.

Our Scouts can sharpen right, Totin’ Chip blades,

The future’s so bright, we better wear shades,  

We better wear shades…..

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WB is lots to digest for a new scouter. Seeing model patrol method at work was really helpful...more than what was taught. Forming/Storming/Norming/Performing...certainly started to see this at work the next camping season, so this was useful. Struggling to remember the rest, so I may have to serve a course or two for a refresher. 

Tickets was most important part, which helped me grow as a scoutmaster. I had a district related ticket, that got me involved at the district level. If I didn't put anything I learned into practice via tickets, I would not have learned much.

Go Owls.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×