Well, I just finished my second staff assignment on a Wood Badge course this past weekend in the Great Salt Lake Council. While I liked being a Scribe on my first staff experience, I really enjoyed interacting with the participants as a Troop Guide over the Bear Patrol this time. DA Bears and I had a lot of fun, learned much from each other and breezed through the stages of team development.
So what’s it like being a Troop Guide for Wood Badge?
The first half of troop guiding is intense as you try to keep up with the whirlwind of presentations, games and debriefings you’re responsible for. During those first three days, Troop Guides are key to demonstrating leadership and modeling success for each participant. The second half of your responsibilities as a TG is much more relaxed. You make yourself available for ideas and guidance with the ticket process but your primary role is to hand the reins over to your Patrol Leader and enable him/her to assume leader responsibilities over their “norming” patrol (just like it should with the youth leaders in your home units).
For my patrol presentations, I chose not to use flip charts or PowerPoint slides as a crutch but instead wrote notes on index cards and focused on leading a discussion. I certainly didn’t feel “qualified” to teach other adults about listening, communication or managing conflict. However by making it a conversation, I simply asked questions that steered the conversation and summarized what I heard from everyone’s comments. Every now and then, I threw in my own story that applied and shared my own experiences and lessons learned from life. It went pretty well and I believe we all gained something new from each others participation. I especially wanted this Bear patrol to catch the vision enough to take home new skills, energy and a perspective that can make a difference in their home units.
I was also impressed again by all the different scouting roles that were in attendance. Very much like the last course I was on, we had people from the widest range of responsibilities (from an LDS perspective) including:
- Stake Presidents
- Second Counselors (CORs)
- Young Men Presidencies
- Primary Presidents
- Committee Members
Of course, I expect to see lots of Scoutmasters, Varsity Scout Leaders and Venture Advisors with their respective Assistants, but Ward and Stake leaders like these listed above?? WOW!! I wish my Ward and Stake made this training a priority. What impresses me the most on every Wood Badge course I’ve been a part of, including my own as a participant, are those Wards and Stakes that do this training together!! I think there is so much benefit when you learn together, bond in a unique way from this experience together and then go back to your home unit and work on improving your program together. I really envy those Wards who have that kind of experience. I could only imagine what kind of program they must have.
Serving on staff was another great experience for me. Once again, it provided me with some fresh ideas, gave me a boost of scout energy and definitely expanded my comfort zone.