By Dave Pack
Mar 13, 2015

What Does the Ideal LDS Wood Badge Course Look Like?

Dave Pack, Scout Executive for Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America, was asked by an LDS stake president, “What does the ideal LDS Wood Badge course look like?”

Following is the letter Dave wrote to the stake president:


Wood BadgeYou asked me to describe to you what the ideal Wood Badge course would look like. I think that I should start by saying that any course can be a life-changing experience for those who participate.

Like any other spiritual experience, you receive back equal to the amount of effort that you put into it. That said, there is a big difference between a well-organized priesthood-driven course and a regular Wood Badge course.

I will try to stick to a priesthood-driven course, because I don’t think that we should shoot for anything less. The impact of a good course can completely change how the Aaronic Priesthood functions in a stake and have a deep impact on the number and quality of missionaries that a stake sends out in the field. I think that you would agree that the highest impact is our goal.

What I mean by Priesthood driven is to include as many key holders as possible in the organization and delivery of the course. All bishops and stake presidency members need to be on staff, if possible. If this happened, we would greatly increase the knowledge which, in turn, would increase the inspiration that could be applied in the life of a boy to help him come unto Christ. In order for all of them to participate on staff, they would have to complete a course as a participant and finish their course goals.


How would a bishop benefit from being his ward’s Patrol Guide?

How would a bishop benefit from this? In order to receive revelation, we must first “study it out and ask if it be right.” Many bishops in the Church are challenged to give leadership to the Aaronic Priesthood, because they haven’t yet learned how to apply the doctrine in the life of a boy.

As the president of the Aaronic Priesthood, he must learn how to apply it in order to be successful. If he doesn’t know it, he can’t teach it. Wood Badge tends to be a full emersion experience that allows revelation to flow freely.

A staff experience is more impactful than participating in the course itself. Some may say that they don’t have time to do it. I would say that the knowledge that you receive is accomplished faster from going to Wood Badge than any other way. It actually economizes the learning process and they get the knowledge they need sooner. Even though this experience is great for the bishop, he will actually benefit from the course more by getting members of his ward to participate.

Each course is broken down into patrols of eight people. For each patrol, a staff member, called a troop guide, is assigned. If a bishop was the troop guide and several members of his ward’s leadership was in his patrol, the long lasting outcomes from that experience would propel his ward into stronger priesthood function for years to come. The benefits would last long past the course and the relationships would last forever. I would propose that as many bishops as possible serve as troop guides.

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What would this be like for a Stake President?

How does a stake president benefit?

It seems to run true that the stake follows the lead of the stake president. I have watched for a long time the effects in stakes of an engaged stake president in the Aaronic Priesthood. I have kept track of that engagement in hundreds of stakes across the United States and it holds true every time.

Revelation comes through the key holder and, if the key holder is educated and engaged, it flows faster and greater. Don’t get me wrong – every key holder needs an army of helpers to implement the work, but the inspiration and direction has to come from the stake president. I recommend that stake presidents serve on staff, if possible, and are Assistant Scoutmasters or Quartermasters, giving them opportunity to influence the direction of the course and for the rest of the stake to see their commitment to the success of the Aaronic Priesthood.

What is the stake leader’s role in the course? All of the Young Men presidency and high counselors over Young Men need to be on staff. We have several positions, including Scribes, Quartermaster, Assistant Quartermaster, three Assistant Scoutmasters, Troop Guides, and instructor that need to be filled. They will be your eyes and ears as to what is going on in the stake as we prepare for the course.

As we move forward, it is important to understand that it is the content of the syllabus that creates the environment of inspired learning. A priesthood-driven course adds the element of inspired leadership with the added benefit of long lasting outcomes, because the participants return home having a shared experience that their bishop and stake president participated in, improving the paradigm of leadership in the Church for years to come.

Yours in Scouting,
Dave Pack, Scout Executive
Utah National Parks Council, BSA

Author: Dave Pack | Scout Executive, Utah National Parks Council

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3 thoughts on “What Does the Ideal LDS Wood Badge Course Look Like?

  1. AvatarKen Krogue


    This is a very important article you have written. I believe the Woodbadge course is the key to helping leaders see the vision of scouting and how it can help our youth. I went two years as a Scoutmaster wearing myself out doing everything for the boys until I went to Woodbadge and saw what Baden Powell was trying to do with the Patrol Leadership Method.

    It was also a great leadership training event, better than anything I have had in business. But also a very spiritual event. I have since been on two staffs and saw it have huge impact every time.

    Basic training trains leaders, but Woodbadge converts leaders to the magic of scouting.

    Woodbadge is key for adults, Timberline is key for youth.

    I hope this article is read far and wide!

    Ken Krogue
    Founder and President, Contributor

  2. AvatarJoseph Thayne


    I think this article is an interesting read, but there is a piece that I have a hard time with. You state that Bishops should be the Troop Guides for the members of their ward attending LDS Wood Badge. You then state that many Bishops have a hard time teaching because they haven’t learned yet. The Troop Guides are there to teach and train the members of their patrol. When would the Bishops (and the Stake Presidents) go through the training needed to be able to train others? I understand why you say that Bishops should be Troop Guides, but I would propose that they actually be part of the patrol themselves. After all, shouldn’t the leadership of the ward actually learn to work together towards one purpose? I think it would be better served to have the High Council serve as Troop Guides rather than Bishops. It spreads the responsibility for Scouting and the Young Men further and helps to establish that the Bishop and those that lead the YM are actually on the same team.


    1. AvatarDavid Pack

      You are presuming that the Bishops or Stake Presidents had not prepared to teach. In this case all Wood Badge staff are required to have been to Wood badge and completed their ticket. The learning process over time will help them to overcome the void in their learning. For a Stake to do this it is really a 3 year process. Key holders would need to participate, finish their ticket, go through staff development, staff the course, and help their patrols finish their ticket. The outcomes that happen when the Bishops are troop guides can be far stronger than the High Council, even thought the High Council would still produce outcomes stronger than a regular course. Key holder involvement is critical.


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