Wood Badge Part One
The weekend began at 4:00 AM when my alarm went off. My ride arrived 45 minutes later.
It was very early and still dark as we began the two hour drive to Oregon, IL. I didn’t really know where this camp was located and I knew even less about the curriculum ahead of me as I embarked on an intense, immersive Scouting adventure.
We were off to Wood Badge training. Wood Badge is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier leadership program. This program was established in 1919 by Lord Baden-Powell the founder of the Scouting movement. I would soon come to understand that Wood Badge is part scouting heritage, part leadership development, part fun, and a lot of hard work.
“The mission of Wood Badge is to inspire and train adults to achieve the mission and aims of the BSA through premier leadership training that sets the example for youth empowerment to impact the world.“
We arrived at Camp Lowden slightly before 0700. Although the weather was not cooperating we were greeted by dozens of cheerful staff decked out in matching outfits, rain gear, and ball caps. You name it, it had a wood badge logo on it.
The staff directed us through the beautiful Boeger Lodge and explain that the building was made possible by a very generous local scouter named James Boeger. The lodge is a testimate to Boeger’s vision to provide a top notch facility for the Blackhawk Council to deliver training programs like Wood Badge. It is a beautiful rustic lodge with gorgeous hardwood floors, a massive fireplace and even has air-conditioning.
But something told me that we wouldn’t be relaxing in a rocker by that fireplace and there wasn’t a midday siesta scheduled either. As the cheerful staff escorted us through the lodge they instructed us to “choose a bunk, pack your daypack with everything you will need until 10:00pm. Then report to the medical unit to have your paperwork checked. Bottom bunks are reserved for anyone with mobility issues or that needs electric for their CPAP Machine”. Like an enthusiastic Scout, I jumped at the chance and snagged a top bunk.
Baden-Powell said – “A boy on joining wants to begin Scouting right away”
As we walked to the medical building to turn in paperwork I looked around at the beautiful camp. It has all of the amenities of a very fine summer camp: rifle range, swimming pool, water sports, mess hall, and a trading post. The grounds and buildings were kept in tip top shape. The one thing that seemed different from the other scout camps I have attended is that there were no Scouts anywhere. Everywhere I looked were adults, dressed in their finest green and tan uniforms.
At the next station we are issued our Class Bs (T-shirts and hats), given our training notebook, and a lanyard with our name and Den Number. I was assigned to Den Eight. Doing the math, eight Dens with 6-8 scouts per den makes for a rather large Cub Scout Pack. The staff explains that we are Cub Scouts and that if we complete all of our requirements we will cross over into Boy Scouts at the Blue and Gold Dinner!
For the next eleven hours we move from program to program which included a bit of Cub Scout rank activities, scouting history, and a graduate level management training program. The five day course objectives include:
1. Examine your own leadership skills by recognizing your strengths.
2. Practice and improve your leadership skills
3. Communicate effectively and build relationships and teams
4. Guide yourself and other adults in the development of their leadership skills
The Cub Scout Motto – Do Your Best
All day long we did our best. That evening at the Blue and Gold Dinner we crossed over the bridge from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, and we were welcomed by our Senior Patrol Leader and Scout Master. Our small group evolved from a den to a patrol, and we have a beautiful tartan neckerchief to prove it!
My Personal Reflection
Nine years ago my neighbor encouraged me to consider signing our boys up for the Cub Scout Pack at our elementary school, so we decided to give it a try. We spent that year in Den and Pack Meetings, visiting new places, meeting new friends, and by the time of the Pinewood Derby, we were hooked!
I always tell people that Cub Scouts provided us with opportunities to get out and do things as a family that we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. And now Scouting is moving towards “family Scouting” which makes the program available to both boys and girls!
Scout Me In
If you know a child, or family, that might benefit from Scouting please forward the link to this Blog.
If you have a son or daughter in elementary school K- 5th grade, I encourage you to give Cub Scouting a try! To learn more about Scouting visit the Boy Scouts of America Website or your local Council Office. If you need help or have questions, feel free to email me directly at Jim@CampMethod.com
This is the first in a series of posts related to my Wood Badge experience.
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