A little confused, hesitant, but intrigued; I signed up. What followed was a profound experience I did not expect and I struggle to find words to explain.
I could tell you about the famous Wood Badge leadership training. How from project planning, to EDGE teaching, to decision-making and problem-solving, we were immersed in the theory, principles and attributes of a good leader.
Or, I could tell you how we used the Boy Scout patrol method to put that training into immediate action. How proud I felt after being announced as a member of the majestic Eagle Patrol. How our diverse patrol learned and grew together, sharing our unique perspectives to strive to be our best selves in Scouting and in life.
I could tell you about the games, the skits, the songs and the pranks. How, all in good fun, we mischievously captured other patrol’s totems. Or how I laughed watching 50+ year old men sing and dance like no one was watching.
Or I could tell you about the amazing power of a group with purpose. How in less than 3 hours our course built a 150 feet railroad-tie-lined wood-chip-filled trail as service for Tifie Scout Camp.
I could even tell you of interfaith worship services in a beautiful outdoor “chapel” made by an opening in a grove of early-autumn trees. How the holy spirit touched our hearts as we pondered our duty to God. How wood badgers gave generously to the Messengers of Peace to further the cause of international peace through Scouting.
But of all the things I could tell you I learned, felt, or did, I want to tell you what I know now—what this whole Scouting thing is about. Guess what? It’s about the youth.
At Wood Badge, I expected leadership principles and skills to be taught. I expected to learn the patrol method. I expected silly songs, goofy skits; I even expected some mountain top spiritual and patriotic moments. What I did not expect was this overwhelming sense of dedication to helping youth. I want to help all the youth in my reach. I want to find the one and bring them back. I want to run a superb program focused on teaching the Scout Oath and Law, and duty to god and country. I want to know about their life, listen and be their friend.
I noticed this in others as well as they had that “ah ha” moment of clarity. This program we call Scouting is all about the eternal happiness and welfare of the youth. This program is not to make dutiful monthly camping trips, or to have forced weekly activities. It’s not about money, leadership, or skills. It’s about that boy in your troop who’s struggling, who’s searching for direction in his life. It’s about forgetting yourself and serving them with all your heart.
So I think about the whole Scouting movement, all the ups and downs of the organization throughout the generations; of the world’s current state, and I reflect on only one thing… do we often forget our purpose? Are we getting so lost in the politics and the “he said, she said”, “that problem, this problem” that we forget the reason Scouting exists? It’s about the youth.
Scouting is the greatest tool I know to affect the lives of boys for good. Because of my job, I have the privilege of hearing many life-changing stories of Scouting, so I believe it works. All the adversary needs is for good men to do nothing. All he needs is for us to argue among ourselves, ignoring our duty to the youth in our reach. While we argue points of politics, we lose precious time to affect those lives.
I wish everyone could go to Wood Badge and feel that special feeling of duty to the youth. Please, get trained, give your heart to this cause, and save lives. You won’t regret it.