An inventive new Wood Badge course, scheduled for January 2020 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, will give participants a chance to experience the “linked troop” model used by many Scouts BSA troops.
Everything about the course breaks the Wood Badge mold in exciting ways. There’s the fresh format, the location at the BSA’s newest high-adventure base and even the time of year it’s being held.
The inaugural National Linked Troop Wood Badge Course will be the chance of a lifetime for the participants who attend. Adult volunteers will join the all-female “red troop” or all-male “blue troop” under one troop committee.
What’s Wood Badge?
Wood Badge is the BSA’s fun and functional training course for adult volunteers.
It helps you expand your leadership skills, have great fun and develop lifelong friendships. In just a few days, you’ll learn the latest techniques to improve your Scout unit — and even your family and career.
As a Wood Badger myself, I can say that it’s the most fun you can have getting trained.
Contact your local council to learn about future Wood Badge courses near you.
All about the inaugural course
Every Wood Badge course is the Greatest Wood Badge Course Ever Held. (Just ask that course’s participants.)
But the inaugural National Linked Troop Wood Badge Course promises to break new ground.
The course begins the morning of Jan. 20, 2020, and ends the evening of Jan. 24, 2020. That’s Monday through Friday.
It will feature the new curriculum included in the Wood Badge Centennial Update, which I first told you about in October 2017.
In addition to the new material, themes and delivery methods that’ll be used by all Wood Badge courses beginning in 2020, this course will be the first to try the “linked troop” model.
Why the ‘linked troop’ model?
With a “linked troop” in Scouts BSA, two troops — one for boys and one for girls — share a single chartered organization and troop committee.
At the National Linked Troop Wood Badge Course, the troops will operate separately but share staff members, facilities and many of the troop presentations.
Andrew Miller, senior patrol leader of the “blue troop,” says that approach acknowledges one reality about Wood Badge: It takes a lot of work to deliver a course.
“This course, with linked troops, offers a great example of how we can deliver a quality training program at scale,” he says. “As an organization, across all of our councils, we invest an incredible amount of volunteer and professional time on preparing for training programs, which are then delivered to a single session of participants.”
A linked troop course can be delivered to twice as many participants with a staff that isn’t twice as large.
For Jeff Bostwick, who will serve as chairman of this Wood Badge course’s linked troop committee, this has implications beyond Wood Badge.
Bostwick says the course “will showcase our organization’s commitment to inclusiveness by modeling how troops for young men and young women linked by a troop committee can operate at a high-performing level.”
Even the time of year for this Wood Badge course is unusual.
January is the coldest month in Glen Jean, W.Va., home to the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
With chilly temperatures likely, the course will be held inside. And that’s by design, says Wayne Perry, past BSA national president and a Silver Buffalo Award recipient.
“Indoor training appeals to an additional class of people who might be intimidated about a five-day camping course,” he says.
Miller agrees, saying that the definition of camping can vary by season. Packs, troops and crews often camp in cabins during the winter — essentially what this SBR Wood Badge course will do in January.
“Camping doesn’t have to mean tents, and we always need to be thoughtful about the cost/benefit of how we conduct training,” Miller says. We must include “the risk of people not signing up for the training as part of the costs.”
An all-star staff
For Miller, one of the youngest Silver Antelope Award recipients in history, the course represents a chance to serve alongside some Scouting royalty.
“I am excited to serve on staff, not only to help deliver an incredible experience in an incredible place to dedicated volunteers, but also to watch the masters at work,” Miller says.
Masters like Wayne Perry, Christine Perry, Russell Smart, Ellie Morrison, Jeff Bostwick, April McMillan and many, many more.
Christine Perry, a committed Scouting volunteer and Silver Buffalo Award recipient, will serve as course director (Scoutmaster) of the female troop.
Like many of us who take on extra Scouting positions, Perry says she gladly accepted the invitation to serve as Scoutmaster for the course.
“It was an overwhelming thought, but at the same time an exciting idea, which is now taking shape,” she says. “I knew it would be a tremendous amount of work but very worthwhile.”