Read previous articles for an account of what inspired these leaders to host Wood Badge in the first place, what their goals were for the course, and how those goals were realized. This article concludes the interview with a discussion of how this training will help leaders in the future:
Maria: How does having trained leaders, yes through Scouting training, but an LDS Scouting training, how does that help the youth?
President Thayer: We just saw a video of the first ward in our stake, and they have some youth leaders who’ve caught the vision. These young men have been working with some leaders who are very capable. They showed us a video of the testimonies of the boys through some of the youth experiences, high adventure and other things they’ve done. It was powerful and moving. But now we’ve multiplied that I think, and that’s just an exciting thing to even contemplate, that these people have got it in their souls, at least from my talking to them.
We’ve talked to different people all the time, just from being here. President Doman was the senior patrol leader. President McFarland and I, we’ve done some instructing but we’ve just kind of been around; people will talk to us. I think it’s going to be exponentially beneficial to our young people to have these fully trained leaders.
President Doman: I can speak for myself personally. This is the third Wood Badge in a row, three years in a row (My wife has told me that’s it for a little while). I’m more trained. I’m far better trained. And it’s taken me some time to just understand fully what can be done in bringing these programs together with highly-trained leaders. But these leaders aren’t going to be effective if they haven’t received their own spiritual confirmation within the training. We can train leaders ‘til we’re white in the face, but if they don’t receive their own personal testimony of what their personal ministry is, within the program, then we’re spinning our wheels.
That’s what I believe has happened. They’re getting trained effectively, but they’re being trained differently. We’ve integrated the Spirit, we believe, into the training part of this. And because of that, testimonies have been built. And they can take those testimonies now, with the programs, and being trained, and truly now be effective in what they’re doing.
And what’s the desired result? We said that it was more young men, more prepared, more ready so that when they come to age of eighteen, they’re prepared to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and serve honorable full-time missions and ultimately enter into those lasting covenants of marriage and become husbands and fathers. That’s what we believe will be the outcome of spiritually trained and committed leaders.
President McFarland: We haven’t tied a knot up here. We haven’t earned a merit badge. It’s been leadership training and spiritual leadership training and group building and bonding and these kinds of things that, in principle, will apply to whatever the calling is. We’ve talked about young men going on missions, and of course that is a part of this expected outcome. But that’s not it, only. We want them to be righteous Melchizedek Priesthood holders and truly prepared to receive the covenants of the temple and be amazing husbands and fathers. It’s not just about missions, and it’s certainly not about tying a knot.
President Thayer: And it’s not just about young men. We’ve got eleven of our sisters up here. One is the stake Relief Society president, we’ve got Primary presidents, Young Women presidents, and we hope to get more of them here to do this kind of leadership training with the young women as well.
Maria: Is there anything else you’d like to share with other stakes hoping to do this about your experience?
President McFarland: You know, it’s extremely motivating when you gather together. There’s a principle and power in gathering. Boy Scouts are a mechanism. But it’s been Christ-centered in helping us become better leaders, better bonded, better unified. There’s tremendous power in gathering and being here with a united purpose in fulfilling the vision that the Lord has given us for our stake.
President Thayer: Amen.
President Doman: Amen.
Interested in hosting your own stake-sponsored Wood Badge course? Contact John Gailey.
Authors: Pleasant Grove North Field Stake Presidency