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5 hours ago, MikeS72 said:

Interesting.  I have to wonder how and why what sounds like a beading ceremony at a CoH would cause someone to pull their scout out of your unit.  Was it particularly obnoxious, and if so, how bad could it have been to make someone say they no longer wanted their child to be involved in scouting???

I will agree that many times beading ceremonies can be a little off putting to those who have to sit through them.  I have seen several done at roundtables that seemed to go on for ever (mostly due to presenters who assume no one in the room has any idea of the history of scouting and WB and needs a nice long lecture on said history).  Unless you have an entire patrol being beaded at the same time, five minutes should be more than enough.  I am not sure when some councils decided that elaborate beading ceremonies were necessary, a simple congratulations for completing your ticket should suffice.

As one who took the course back when it was that weeklong advanced skills program prior to the changes @Eagledad mentioned in 2000, I can say that we never considered the need for a public beading.  My beads and regalia arrived in a plain manila envelope, courtesy of USPS.  The closest to a 'beading ceremony' I had was all of about 2 minutes 2 years later when our course director took off my 2 bead thong and put on my third bead, shook my hand, and on we went with course prep.  This was 48 years ago, and yes, we did sing Back to Gilwell frequently, but did so the same way we would sing any camp song; there was no dancing around in circles as if we were still first year Cubs.

It was about a 10 to 15 minute ceremony -- not bad and that part was all fine. There were a bunch of WB people in attendance however from our local troops as well as guests of the person who had earned his wood badge and they all got up to sing the song that talks about what animal they are. I didn't want to say this in my original post because it is harsh but that song does not play well in this day and age with some folks. It makes scouters seem very odd to some and reinforces the perception that some have that there are some very odd, out of the mainstream folks involved in scouting. If it had been one or two people I think it would have been fine but the new parents' reactions were that there didn't seem to be one normal adult in the troop that they would trust around their kid -- the ones who were singing it and the rest of the folks who seemed to think it was a normal thing to do. 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, yknot said:

Franky, I'm a little insulted by this attitude. I'm a girl, and I know at least as much and to be honest probably quite a bit more about outdoor skills than any "boy" in my Troop. But your opinion explains a lot. 

Good for you!

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15 minutes ago, yknot said:

Wow. I don't think the problem is girls or girl parents at all. The problem is that not enough kids are interested in the program to begin with and that not enough people of any kind are growing up with meaningful outdoor experience and common sense. The leader pool with those skills is shrinking.

Franky, I'm a little insulted by this attitude. I'm a girl, and I know at least as much and to be honest probably quite a bit more about outdoor skills than any "boy" in my Troop. But your opinion explains a lot. 

No attitude. There is, or was, plenty of data over the years that tracked the membership changes and the program issues that followed. To ignore the facts because your feelings are hurt doesn't contribute to solving the real problem. 

Rationally, when ever a large change is introduced into balanced system, repercussions are the result of the imbalance. We can look at the issues of the imbalance and react proactively, or reactively.

Barry

I

Edited by Eagledad
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19 hours ago, Eagledad said:

OK, your post makes sense.

My WB experiences are all good. Of course I'm the kind of person that makes my experience good.

Our courses are presented very well because our Council has a tradition of presenting good courses. I have observed that some courses are better than others as each tends toward the personality of the course director. But, even the worst course is good. 

As I said, I was excited with the new WB course because I felt it fit better for improving overall unit adult performance. 

All that being said, I talk to a lot of scouters and most of them couldn't really explain exactly what they learned on the whole. Which was OK, because my focus was always on ticket design.

Still, I believe folks struggled to explain the main objective of the course is because the material isn't presented well in the since that each subject or discussion is a piece of a larger picture. If the course director gets it, then the course presents each part as part of the whole. But, if they don't, then the presenters practices and presents each subject as described in the WB Syllabus without much thought to connecting all the presentations together. 

However, no mater how the course is presented, if the participants had a good experience, they believe they attended a good course. As you know, we have a lot of fun.

I'm not asking for the demise of the WB course, it think it's the best they have presently for the goals of team building. If I were king of the world, I would put a Harley in every garage and then I would scrap all the training materials today and start over. Actually I would go back to the pre 2000 courses because I thought they were much better, but I would adjust them to fit today. I would push WB back to an advance SM Course and create an advanced Adult Leaders course that would resemble todays WB a lot in content, but not the troop presentation. I would call it, Flaming Arrow. FA for short. 

I think units today are missing senior scouters who are respected for not only their experience, but their extensive Scouting knowledge and Education. That sounds like you ParkMan. And that is exactly what the WB course did for participants before it got hijacked in the 80s as a king of the hill type program. Woodbadgers where supposed to be respected teachers. Simple, but we are talking the Google Search of Scouting. Respect comes from hard work and humble application. Those people want to improve scouting without taking any credit. It's hard to imagine that kind of respect for even WB Course Directors today. There are a few, but that respect isn't necessary to direct the course.

What the BSA needs right now is an advanced scouter course with the intention of the WB goals. But in a format that a Scouter from a Pack would feel at home as much as the Venturing Scouter. Or the the Committee Chair want of education as the SM. I believe the format would be more on a business professional spending two or three days at a conference center. I ran our council Junior Leadership course that way and the scouts loved it because the new format set all the participants equal at the very beginning. Doesn't matter whether the participant comes from the pack, troop, Venturing Crew, District Committee, or Council Committee, they all start at the same place. 

Most here probably didn't know that the early Wood Badge course was so respected by it's format and content that several businesses would send employees to the course. Others would accept the experience as credit for hiring. Interesting considering the course was intended for Scoutmasters. A lot of it had to do with how the top level staffers worked with the lower level staffers (Team dynamics). But, also once the participant understands how the format leads to  gaining knowledge, the experience can be applied in the business world. That is what I would try get back with the Advance Scouter course. 

As for presenting a course online, I would design courses that would give the scouters more knowledge for their responsibilities in their units, but also wet their appetite for attending the rest of the course together for full respect for being a Flaming Arrow. Still haven't thought through wearing a Flaming Arrow around the neck. Needs more time for that.. 

Barry

@Eagledad - thanks for the wonderful post.  You've captured a lot of great points here.

How to improve Wood Badge - I agree with you that it would be a better course if the material naturally helped paint the bigger picture.  I've watched course directors work hard to build those connections amongst the staff.  I can certainly confirm that doing it well is a benefit, but that not every course will have a course director who can do that.

How to revamp BSA training - I see a very similar problem in the BSA.  There is a lack of depth of knowledge at the unit and district level these days - to your point those senior Scouters who make this all work magically.  You describe that very well and I concur.  In a sense, I wonder how much of the various training efforts around the BSA are really all trying to address this issue.  

I would welcome an advanced unit Scouter course that covers the mechanics of unit level Scouting.  In fact, I could see a small collection of such advanced, in person courses.  A weekend or two for each sounds correct to me.  These are serious courses for serious people.

  • leadership development & team building
  • advanced Scoutmaster training
  • advanced unit mechanics
  • advanced district mechanics

While I don't think I'd lobby for it, I also wouldn't argue if the Wood Badge regalia went back to the advanced Scoutmaster training. 

 

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44 minutes ago, yknot said:

It was about a 10 to 15 minute ceremony -- not bad and that part was all fine. There were a bunch of WB people in attendance however from our local troops as well as guests of the person who had earned his wood badge and they all got up to sing the song that talks about what animal they are. I didn't want to say this in my original post because it is harsh but that song does not play well in this day and age with some folks. It makes scouters seem very odd to some and reinforces the perception that some have that there are some very odd, out of the mainstream folks involved in scouting. If it had been one or two people I think it would have been fine but the new parents' reactions were that there didn't seem to be one normal adult in the troop that they would trust around their kid -- the ones who were singing it and the rest of the folks who seemed to think it was a normal thing to do. 

I find that sometimes the more enthusiastic Scouters tend to forget how that enthusiasm can come across.  Just because people who are into Scouting enjoy something doesn't mean that everyone else does too.  I've seen lots of stuff that Scouters do that to a casual parent is indeed pretty odd.

I do not believe it is ever appropriate to sing the Wood Badge song outside of Wood Badge.  It's not a show, it's not a production.  Don't sing it at a beading, don't sing it at a campfire.  It's a tradition of the course that is done for the enjoyment of the participants.  Do it with other Wood Badge participants and enjoy it together - don't make others sit through it.

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On 10/13/2020 at 10:38 AM, ParkMan said:

Except that it's uh... Scouting.  Scouting has all kinds of bling for stuff.  It's just part of the culture of Scouting.  You plop down $250, spend a couple of weekends at camp, and spend a ton of hours working on some projects for your unit.  You get a neckerchief and some beads.  That doesn't seem crazy to me that you get a little bling.

I am neither an OA member nor an Eagle Scout.  I cannot tell you how much I've heard about both.  OA chapters, OA lodges, the OA running campfires, OA tapouts, OA ordeals, OA sashes, OA patches, conclaves, etc.  The requirements to be an OA member as an adult are more exclusive than Wood Badge.  OA is much more of a fraternity than Wood Badge will ever be. 

The Eagles stuff isn't as strong - but there clearly is an assumption that just because someone is an Eagle Scout that they are a superior leader.  I think you described this well.

I suspect that the real issue here is that it's simply become an accepted part of Scouter culture that's a good target.  It makes us all feel better to pick on Wood Badge and the people who take it.  In the process, we end up openly discouraging people from getting some training that could help them along their journey as a volunteer.

Again, it's just a course.

Um, no.  Yes, Scouting has a lot of bling but no, it's NOT part of "the culture" -- or wasn't IMO.  There are always people who want to show off but elements like knots instead of letting adults wear the Eagle badge itself were an effort to tone down the bling.  Skill award belt loops weren't so much bling as a display of credentials.

For the most part, the only things I put on my uniform as an adult were the Eagle and AOL knots and the Trained badge -- and those were just to show my experience and credentials.  Anyone who knew me already knew my background and experience and those who didn't know me were free to make up their own minds about me based on my demonstrated behaviors.

As far as the case cited about a beading ceremony at a COH putting off Scouts and parents, I quite understand.  IMO that's just showing off for the adults in question.  It's a youth program.  The adults can show off for their peers at Roundtable or something else.  One of the reasons I spent most of my time at the unit level was that I had little patience for the games and politics played by adults at the district and council level.  I only got involved at those levels when requested and only when it appeared I could have an impact for even more youth (e.g., organizing district camporees or assisting with the shooting sports committee).

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24 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

 

I would welcome an advanced unit Scouter course that covers the mechanics of unit level Scouting.  In fact, I could see a small collection of such advanced, in person courses.  A weekend or two for each sounds correct to me.  These are serious courses for serious people.

  • leadership development & team building
  • advanced Scoutmaster training
  • advanced unit mechanics
  • advanced district mechanics

While I don't think I'd lobby for it, I also wouldn't argue if the Wood Badge regalia went back to the advanced Scoutmaster training. 

 

Wow, I like this a lot. And I think scouters would enjoy it. We talk a lot about Scouting being for the youth. But, adults enjoy growth and develop passion with the experience of maturing as  a leader. Creating passion is probably what WB does best.

The courses can be presented in such a way that participants attend a more advance environment as well. We had an old-timer who was involved in the development of the original WB course. He eventually developed an advance Scout Leader Outdoors course where the participants spent a couple weekends backpacking. They learned advanced knots, first-aid, cooking and so-forth. The instructor spent time on the reasons and theories of the skills so that the participants became experts of why and when to use these skills. Something the old WB course did as well. Since only one person led the class, it was very limited, which was very frustrating because there was a long long waiting list. It was the favorite of all our classes.

So, my point is make the advanced classes both in education and experience.  Not sure how yet since we want committee leaders an equal part of the course. But we are creative.

 

Good job. I'm really excited with your idea. 

Barry

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20 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Wow, I like this a lot. And I think scouters would enjoy it. We talk a lot about Scouting being for the youth. But, adults enjoy growth and develop passion with the experience of maturing as  a leader. Creating passion is probably what WB does best.

The courses can be presented in such a way that participants attend a more advance environment as well. We had an old-timer who was involved in the development of the original WB course. He eventually developed an advance Scout Leader Outdoors course where the participants spent a couple weekends backpacking. They learned advanced knots, first-aid, cooking and so-forth. The instructor spent time on the reasons and theories of the skills so that the participants became experts of why and when to use these skills. Something the old WB course did as well. Since only one person led the class, it was very limited, which was very frustrating because there was a long long waiting list. It was the favorite of all our classes.

So, my point is make the advanced classes both in education and experience.  Not sure how yet since we want committee leaders an equal part of the course. But we are creative.

 

Good job. I'm really excited with your idea. 

Barry

Thanks for the great feedback.  

This is where I'd really love for the BSA larger structure to foster this kind of initiative.  A council would pioneer this, show value, then the area, etc...  At some point, BSA national could internalize this and roll it out more broadly.  We really shouldn't need to wait for national for this kind of thing.  

As an advanced course, I would consider the topics advanced.  I would not tone it down at all for those committee members who want to attend the advanced Scoutmaster course.  If that means you only hold it every other year or that it becomes an area course - so be it.  Make the course matter.

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48 minutes ago, HICO_Eagle said:

Um, no.  Yes, Scouting has a lot of bling but no, it's NOT part of "the culture" -- or wasn't IMO.  There are always people who want to show off but elements like knots instead of letting adults wear the Eagle badge itself were an effort to tone down the bling.  Skill award belt loops weren't so much bling as a display of credentials.

For the most part, the only things I put on my uniform as an adult were the Eagle and AOL knots and the Trained badge -- and those were just to show my experience and credentials.  Anyone who knew me already knew my background and experience and those who didn't know me were free to make up their own minds about me based on my demonstrated behaviors.

As far as the case cited about a beading ceremony at a COH putting off Scouts and parents, I quite understand.  IMO that's just showing off for the adults in question.  It's a youth program.  The adults can show off for their peers at Roundtable or something else.  One of the reasons I spent most of my time at the unit level was that I had little patience for the games and politics played by adults at the district and council level.  I only got involved at those levels when requested and only when it appeared I could have an impact for even more youth (e.g., organizing district camporees or assisting with the shooting sports committee).

By bling, I simply meant that we're used to getting patches, t-shirts, and other similar items for attending events.  Go to camporee, get a patch - that kind of thing.  This is why I don't mind a few items for a specialty training like this.

On the topic of showing off I'm a bit more restrictive myself.  I believe our culture should be consistent and that we shouldn't ever show off.   5-10 minutes for a beading at any meeting - regardless of whether it's pack meeting or a roundtable.  I don't think it should ever be a big to-do.  That said, I don't think we should ignore adult accomplishments.  If anyone does something noteworthy, let's celebrate it.

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

This is where I'd really love for the BSA larger structure to foster this kind of initiative.  A council would pioneer this, show value, then the area, etc...  At some point, BSA national could internalize this and roll it out more broadly.  We really shouldn't need to wait for national for this kind of thing.  

I agree, don't wait for National. Because of the reputation of our Troop level Junior Leadership Course, I was invited by council to develop a council level Junior Leadership course. 

My advise for developing your ideas at any level is recruit professional writers who believe in your ideas and aren't intimidated with complicated documents. I recruited two Scoutmasters who were also college professors. Develop your plan with enough details that you can sell your ideas. Then fill in the details with your recruited experts. 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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4 hours ago, Eagledad said:

No attitude. There is, or was, plenty of data over the years that tracked the membership changes and the program issues that followed. To ignore the facts because your feelings are hurt doesn't contribute to solving the real problem. 

Rationally, when ever a large change is introduced into balanced system, repercussions are the result of the imbalance. We can look at the issues of the imbalance and react proactively, or reactively.

Barry

I

Hurt? I'm flat out annoyed. Our current situation establishes just how unreliable and arbitrary internal BSA research and data is, because it's usually self validating and self congratulating. Who cares what BSA thought in the 1970s?  Over decades, it has routinely manipulated data to reinforce already presumed positions and initiatives and that has resulted in one of the most poorly managed nonprofits in existence. Does anyone seriously think more girl dads are somehow bad for the future of scouting? Why would that even be relevant when you are looking at upcoming generational cohorts that, until Covid, almost never went outdoors in any substantive sense?  I can't see the logic -- it's not like the apparently less desirable girl dads will somehow be replacing more desirable boy dads because the reality is there just aren't a lot of dads of any progeny type out there who are interested in scouting for their kids. That's the problem that needs focus and has to be fixed. 

I'm annoyed, because attitudes like yours misdirect attention and try to scapegoat more rallying emotional targets, like girls and women in scouting, over more reality based ones. It prevents us from addressing root reasons why fewer kids and families choose scouting today. 

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5 hours ago, ParkMan said:

I find that sometimes the more enthusiastic Scouters tend to forget how that enthusiasm can come across.  Just because people who are into Scouting enjoy something doesn't mean that everyone else does too.  I've seen lots of stuff that Scouters do that to a casual parent is indeed pretty odd.

I do not believe it is ever appropriate to sing the Wood Badge song outside of Wood Badge.  It's not a show, it's not a production.  Don't sing it at a beading, don't sing it at a campfire.  It's a tradition of the course that is done for the enjoyment of the participants.  Do it with other Wood Badge participants and enjoy it together - don't make others sit through it.

I don't think enthusiasm is the issue. I think the issue is that fully entrenched scouters perhaps are not as cognizant of how the child abuse scandals have affected the way the general public views scouting and has created a perception that we are out of touch.  I have literally sat through that song at least a dozen times. Maybe it's just our Council but those darn WB'ers bust it out at holiday meetings and COHs and Roundtables. I actually don't mind the Council events because everyone there is used to it. I don't like it at the unit level because many of our families have this image of scouters as being impressive LEOs or Corporate Execs or Vets but when they start singing that song, it's as if they've suddenly sprouted mouse ears. 

 

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Shortage of adult volunteers has been an increasingly severe problem over decades, and BSA has done little or nothing about it.  As a District Chairman,  tired of telling kids and want-to-be Co's that there could be no unit without X adults registered as Scouters,  I contacted Eagle Scouts not currently registered.  I got a 13% "take rate," including eight new Scoutmasters - well worth the effort.  I received a letter of reprimand from Region for violating the BSA policy that prohibited direct recruiting of adults: "Adults must come with the boys."  Well, that was not working well in Orange County in 1965 and is working far less well this century.  OK in Canada, Australia, UK, Philippines, India,  and Kenya.  Not OK in the BSA.  I read today that it's time to recruit "boys, girls [and]... families...."     Hanlon's Razor illustrated.  

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2 hours ago, yknot said:

I don't think enthusiasm is the issue. I think the issue is that fully entrenched scouters perhaps are not as cognizant of how the child abuse scandals have affected the way the general public views scouting and has created a perception that we are out of touch.  I have literally sat through that song at least a dozen times. Maybe it's just our Council but those darn WB'ers bust it out at holiday meetings and COHs and Roundtables. I actually don't mind the Council events because everyone there is used to it. I don't like it at the unit level because many of our families have this image of scouters as being impressive LEOs or Corporate Execs or Vets but when they start singing that song, it's as if they've suddenly sprouted mouse ears. 

 

Holy cow!  They sing it that often outside of Wood Badge.  Yes, I think (and really hope) that it's something specific to your council.  I first attended Wood Badge about ten years ago and have never seen it done outside of a Wood Badge event.  I would mind the council events because it's not an appropriate venue for something like that.   It's not that I think it's bad or should be hidden - but almost never do people outside of a group think traditions like that are as fun as the people do in the group.  Building resentment like that only cheapens the thing you are trying to hold up as special.

I'm perfectly happy to swap the word entrenched for enthusiastic.  You've captured well what I was thinking.

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