So last weekend was the second half of my Wood Badge training. We started the day by getting all our gear ready for our over night experience. Next we had our flag ceremony at Gilwell Field which was followed by a "grueling" hike to our camping area. I finally got to use the backpack that I purchased for a trip to Havasupai many years ago (long story as to why I didn't go on that trip that I won't relate here). Having arrived at our camping area we were instructed on the many things that can be done to have a successful backpacking trip. Afterwards we were allowed to setup our camp before moving into training sessions.
The first session was on leading change. This is not an easy thing to do as it requires getting out of your comfort zone. After lunch we had a session on generations. This was a good reminder as to the variety of people we will work with. Each generation has its own "quirks" and learning to use those "quirks" effectively makes everyone on the team feel valued. From there we went into an interactive problem solving session. In case anyone in that session is wondering you can do the carpet spaces game with 4 people in 8 moves, 6 people in 15 moves, and 8 people in 24 moves. I could go on, but I'll leave it to others to figure out the pattern. The other games were just as fun and it helped to build the patrols into even stronger teams. After a session on managing conflict and a great (and tasty) dutch oven dinner provided by the staff we played the "diversity game". This game included questions that were sometimes easy and sometimes hard to answer. It gave us a good feel for how different people view different scenarios. We also were able to discuss the scenarios and come up with good ways to handle various situations.
The highlight of the night had to be the patrol campfire program. We had everything from songs to stories to skits. We even had the electric glow dance company perform to hits like "YMCA", "Macarena", "Staying Alive", and everyone's favorite "The Chicken Dance". The Bear patrol got us hooked on the "Gummy Bear" song, while the Owl's went on the hunt for a midnight snack that may or may not have involved a staffer. The Bobwhite patrol ran things expertly and fun was had by all.
Day 5 of Wood Badge started off with a conservation project. There was work done on trail maintenance and the Wood Badge Amphitheater. It was good to do some manual labor after having the brain taxed in learning sessions. It was also good that the schedule put this earlier in the day as the high hit 94 or more degrees. After the conservation project we had two sessions on coaching and mentoring and self assessments. After lunch the patrols got to present the projects they were working on. We had everything from Leave No Trace to Fire Starting to Knots to the new Cub Scout Program to Lashing. After the project presentations we had our ticket reviews, and then the rest of the day was spent as a patrol.
The time spent as a patrol was probably the best part of the day for me. We got to cook a meal (Steak, Fish, Potatoes and Onions, and Cobbler) and make homemade root beer. It took us a little longer to get dinner ready, but it was worth the wait. We then went to each patrol and invited them to share some root beer with us. We also got treated to some of the other desserts that the other patrols made. It was good to get to know everyone in a more relaxed type of atmosphere. Later on our Scoutmaster and Course Director Wade Noble visited our patrol site. It was good to hear from him one on one (as it were) and see how much he cares about scouting. We then spent the rest of the night around the campfire telling stories and reflecting on our experiences at Wood Badge
Day 6 started with breaking down the camp site and our last flag raising ceremony. After the assembly we had an Interfaith Worship Service. It is great to have these and see how different people worship. I thoroughly enjoyed the sermons and music during this time. Then came the obligatory group picture. Of course trying to get everyone positioned just right took time and we were all grateful when finally it was done.
We had a session on servant leadership before the closing luncheon. At the luncheon the patrols all had time to thank various individuals who helped us through the experience. It did get emotional and I won't lie, my voice did crack during my moment to say thanks. After lunch we had a session on leaving a legacy (which included clips from "Mr. Holland's Opus") followed by a course assessment and a summary session. Then it was time to clean up the camp before the closing ceremony at Gilwell Field.
The closing ceremony was another emotional event. The culmination of the experience. One last chance to say thank you to the staff and prepare for the completion of our ticket goals. Throughout the experience new friends were made, much was learned and we are all better for having attended.
I want to say a final thank you to the staff, especially Ward, Wade and most especially Mary. Thank you everyone for this great experience and I look forward to seeing you again at mine and others beading ceremonies.