Once again, I am completely blown away by who attends Wood Badge! Last year as a Troop Guide, I couldn’t believe how many LDS Ward and Stake leaders took this training without even having “direct contact” roles in Scouting. You’d naturally expect to see a room full of Den Leaders, Scoutmasters, Varsity Scout Coaches and Venture Crew Advisors with their respective Assistants. We even had members of a Primary presidency see the value of Wood Badge enough to come and learn about the program for boys as young as Cubs. …but Bishops, CORs and Stake Presidents?? I thought their attendance demonstrated an extraordinary commitment! I don’t see my Bishop, COR or Primary presidency ever attending Wood Badge, despite numerous invitations to consider it.
So this year, I had the privilege of being a Troop Guide for another November course up at Camp Tracy (this time for the Beaver patrol). Representation was once again impressive from almost all roles related to Scouting mentioned above, with one further amazement… three of the women on course came together as a Young Women’s presidency. That’s right, leaders from the YOUNG WOMEN’S organization at Wood Badge! Wha? I thought this training was for leaders of BOYS?! Well, it is, but the leadership concepts and training value applies to both male and female, young or old alike.
I wanted to know specifically why these ladies came to a Boy Scout-oriented training and here’s what that Young Women’s President told me:
The initial reason for my attending Wood Badge was because my Bishopric asked that I go. It wasn’t a hard decision for me because I really enjoy learning new things that will help me become the best leader possible. I have never been in a scouting position however, I have worked with the young women a lot and felt this request was important.
The information and skills taught at Wood Badge are highly valuable to any adult who is working with other people – young people especially! Listening to Learn, Giving and Receiving Feedback, Diversity, Unity, Stages of Team Development… all of these lessons are extremely useful regardless of whether you’re working with boy scouts or young women with similar challenges. It is also great that these topics were taught in a setting where you actually get to see them in action. As a course participant, you actually participate in the principles being taught to really deepen your understanding.
I was happy to have attended and excited to return home to implement what I learned for my Young Women’s program. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the LDS church offered a training program that would teach these same principles to the leaders of young women? In the meantime, I feel Wood Badge is an option for us Young Women leaders that shouldn’t get overlooked because it’s ‘focused on boys’.
In addition, the First Counselor of this YW Presidency saw changes taking place on the Young Men side of their youth program after their male counter-parts came back from a Wood Badge experience. “It’s had such a positive effect on the boys” is what her exact words were. She wanted the same strong program for the girls under her stewardship and signed up with her husband, who was also excited to attend as a Venturing leader.
That’s impressive to me and can only imagine how that group’s youth program must function. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in those boundaries so our daughters could have that kind of experience! It also makes me wonder why there isn’t already a training program like this for the female members of our church. Isn’t the effort to earn a Young Women’s medallion equivalent to that of earning the rank of Eagle? Where do such Young Women advisors get an opportunity to learn and grow from others who have “been there, done that” in a formal setting like this?
I say thumbs up to that Bishopric who saw the value of Wood Badge and encouraged their participation… not to mention a BIG HIGH FIVE to these ladies for being brave enough to attend despite not having a direct connection to scouting. As they all said, “Girls need to be prepared for life too, right?” Right!