Wood Badge

This weekend I attended the first session of Wood Badge, a training program for adult Boy Scout leaders that is known as the Ph.D. of Scouting. The training was held at Camp Wisdom, just right outside of Dallas, TX.

Camp Wisdom used to be Circle 10 Council’s main camp. Now that Circle 10 has Camp Constantin, Camp James Ray, and Camp Cherokee, Wisdom is used mainly for weekend trips and training.

Interestingly, Camp Wisdom sits on several parcels. All are owned by Circle Ten Council except for two: one owned by the Circle Ten Council Boy Scout Foundation and one owned by the Boy Scouts of America national office in Irving, TX.

Camp Wisdom’s southern and western edges are bounded by Interstate 20 and Spur 408, respectively. I-20 is a 9 lane freeway, and Spur 408 is a limited access 6 lane connector road. Unfortunately both of these roads create a constant drone in the whole camp. If you’re outside, it’s difficult to hear anyone talking who is more than 30 feet away. This is a relatively recent development in Camp Wisdom’s history. Dallas-area planning maps show that I-20 was under construction in 1971.

Anyway, back to Wood Badge. This weekend I learned about effective team leading techniques, with an emphasis on how to create self-running, self-managing teams. That is in fact the crux of Boy Scouting: a properly-run troop should be mostly boy-led and boy-run with adults providing minimal supervision and handling things that the boys can’t or shouldn’t do (mostly financial or legal matters and certain supervision).

The Wood Badge is organized like an actual troop. The participants are in patrols, and the course leaders operate in traditional troop-level youth and adult positions: Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant SPL, Scoutmaster, Assistant SM, Troop Guides, etc.

On a future weekend I will attend the second Wood Badge session. That weekend will be a hiking camping trip. Each patrol has to backpack in almost all supplies for the trip. It will be interesting. The last time I have done a backpack trip was when I did a 6 day Mountain Man hike at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, one of America’s foremost speed traps.

After I complete both Wood Badge weekends, I will still have to complete a “ticket.” This is five major items I have to do within 18 months. They include items of personal growth and service to others. Once I complete these 5 items I will be officially presented with my Wood Badge beads.

The biggest surprise about Wood Badge is how similar it is to the Sam Houston Area Council’s Junior Leader Training Conference (JLTC), which I did in July 1990. That conference literally had almost all the same components as Wood Badge except that it was directed towards troop youth leaders, and it did not involve a ticket.

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