Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Scoutmaster Mike: Back to Gilwell
It’s taken me a little while to let it all sink in now, but I’m about to embark on an interesting journey, one that will probably consume a lot of my attention for the next six months or so, and one I will need to be very careful to not let creep into and completely overtake the rest of my life as well (LOL!). I received a call about this time last month asking me if I would be willing to serve as a staffer for the Spring 2009 Wood Badge course. I accepted wholeheartedly :).
For those who’ve followed this blog, you’ve read my recollections of Wood Badge, and what it meant to me personally to participate in it. I enjoyed the process and the time I spent on course as a participant, and I will admit that I’m an adult that proudly wears my beads, leather woggle and McLaren Tartan just about any chance I get. The completion of Wood Badge has been likened to earning a PhD in Scouting. Of course, when one gets a PhD in academics, one is then expected to use that knowledge to teach others. The same is expected in the hallowed halls (and fields) of Wood Badge. I had hoped I’d get an opportunity to do so, but I hadn’t imagined it would be so soon :).
So what does it take to serve on staff? Well, if my observing of others who are and have participated is any indication, hyperactivity and drive are two necessary components, and I think I have both of those in droves (LOL!). More to the point, though, I think that it requires adult leaders that have the fire of Scouting in them, and are willing to share that fire with as many people as possible, especially in the capacity of helping to develop leaders. To that end, I’m hoping to use this preparation time to not just get ready for staffing Wood Badge, but to also encourage other Scout leaders to attend as well.
I have a good friend who also has experience with Wood badge training, and he’s been an inspiration to me over the past couple of years (he’s the one that finally made me pull the trigger and go participate in the first place). There’s a lot of work that goes into making a solid team of Wood Badge staffers, but the whole point is to go into showing how to effectively and successfully model a solid Troop. I realize that many of us look forward to the gatherings, the staff development weekends, the chance to hang out together and hone our presentation and organizational skills (I make it sound like it’s some dry seminar, but really, you just don’t understand what it’s like until you’ve gone through it), but ultimately, why do we do this? As a Rookie staffer who hasn’t even begun his training to be a staffer beyond just looking at course syllabus, I realize I may have a totally different answer for this six months down the road. As of right now, though, I am doing this because I believe that trained leaders are essential to the long term success of the Scouting program as relates to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I cannot speak for all areas, but I can say that for our particular area, that training has not been made as high a priority as it should be. However, if a change is to be made, someone has to head that charge and have some “moral authority” with which to speak and lead.
A year and a half ago, I heeded the call of one who had that moral authority to make that petition (actually, I heeded more than one, but the one in my Ward was the most immediate and convincing (LOL!) ). Now that I have come out the other side and I have the chance to help staff this course, it’s my turn to encourage others to get out there and do it. Specifically, I am looking to really encourage my LDS brothers and sisters who are scout leaders at all levels (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing, district and council) to take advantage of this opportunity to have a course that is scheduled to not coincide with Sunday church attendance. Gang (and I’m specifically talking to any LDS leader that might be reading this), it is in our best interests to not just attend these LDS friendly courses, but to do all we can to make them SOLD OUT events. If we do that, we can assure that there will be more of them in the coming years. More to the point, though, we will be able to assure a level of trained leadership that our areas desperately need, and we will then be able to offer a program that the boys genuinely *want* to be part of, one that will make them excited to reach and achieve and accomplish the aims that scouting provides these young men.
I’m early in this process as a staffer, and I know I have a lot to learn. I also know that there’s much I shouldn’t share about it outside of the course, not because there’s anything secret about it, but because it just doesn’t mean all that much unless you bring yourself to Gilwell to experience it for yourself. Having said that, I’m very much looking forward to my return… “Back to Gilwell.. Happy Land” :).