Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The first day of Wood Badge, I was in a really bad mood. Sunday afternoon, we had had a committee meeting that had not gone well. I was upset about it for the next two days (fortunately, on Tuesday, I remembered during a class that I had both the unit commissioner for our pack and the assistant district commissioner sitting right behind me; I was able to talk with them at lunch time, which cooled my simmer considerably). Something had also happened with my family Sunday night that left me feeling doubly rotten the next day.

Like I said, Monday, starting Wood Badge, I was in a really, really bad mood. Then I found out I was a Bobwhite, which did not improve my outlook at all. (Prairie Chicken?!?)

Something happened shortly after that, though, that changed everything. My patrol elected me as our first “patrol leader of the day.” Something about being put in that position gave me a feeling of ownership and responsibility and made me decide that if we were going to be Bobwhites, we were going to make being a Bobwhite something to be proud of.

By that evening, our patrol was feeling unified and showing off our Bobwhite pride. By the end of Day 2, I really felt we could hold our heads high, having shown everyone what it meant to be a Bobwhite. By the end of the week, I could not imagine being anything but a Bobwhite.

One of my favorite moments all week was the final time we sang The Song and we were joined by the staffers who had been in those same patrols when they were in Wood Badge. I felt a great sense of pride as we were joined by several staffers I had come to admire over the course of the week. Logically, I knew that patrols were assigned randomly and did not really mean that much, but there was such a great sense of belonging to know I share something – my Bobwhite-ness – with so many great people.

When a boy puts on a scout uniform, when he walks into a room where others are wearing that same uniform, does he experience a similar sense of belonging, of sharing something important? How much more, even, does that feeling grow when he sees adults he admires and respects wearing that same uniform?

Then, when that boy is given a real leadership role within that group of boys, overseen and guided, but not controlled by those adults he admires, I can now imagine better than ever how that sense of belonging grows into a feeling of ownership and responsibility. That is an opportunity every boy deserves to experience.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

So you're going to Wood Badge (or thinking of it)...

First off, it was requested that I remind everyone that Wood Badge is not just for those currently in Scouting. The leadership topics taught will benefit you at home, at work and in other leadership callings. Whether in Scouting or out you will not regret attending Wood Badge.

Once you are signed up and looking forward to your Wood Badge experience, my biggest piece of advice is: Relax. You remember how anxious I was before going? I also spent a good part of the week anxiously not looking forward to Friday. A large part of my anxiety was rooted in the "overnighter" (also referred to as the "outdoor experience"). Some was also related to the service project, as well as the group presentations, all of which happened on Friday.

Guess what? That was the fun part. Partway through the day on Friday, I realized that the hard stuff was all over, and pretty much everything left was fun, especially the overnighter. I probably could have enjoyed the rest of the week even more had I not been so worried about things that were not worth worrying over. (I should note here that I have heard that the outdoor experience is handled a little differently on courses that span two weekends rather than a full week, so I cannot speak to that, but I am sure it is just as fun.)

Which brings me to my next piece of advice: Have fun. At Wood Badge they will keep you super busy and throw lots of information at you, but you can, and should, have fun with it. Do not stress out about getting everything right. They emphasize all week long to do your best, and that is all you need to do.

Piece of advice number three: Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to reflect. Think over the day's experiences, and look through your binder to get a preview of the next day. I was glad I had my little Wood Badge journal to write some things in. I definitely recommend writing down your thoughts and experiences every day, because the week is packed so full that it is very likely that by the end of the week you will have forgotten what happened at the beginning. I also found my small notebook a handy place for writing down song and cheer ideas whenever they occurred to any of us.

Piece of advice number four: Rely on your patrol. That is what they are there for. The guys in my patrol were great. They helped me with the camping and outdoorsy stuff. They did most of the cooking. In fact, as long as I kept coming up with songs and cheers and doing most of the crafting, they were happy to do pretty much everything else. We tried to use each person's talents where they were most effective. Of course, we also each got a chance to do a little learning and growing in new areas, taking turns with the various leadership positions, but we were always there to cover for each other.

Finally, what helped me the most was the advice my buddy Fishgutts posted in the comments a few weeks ago: Ask yourself what they are trying to teach you. Throughout the week you will have many challenges thrown at you. The most important thing is not how well you do but what you can learn from it. I was really grateful for this piece of advice and tried to remember it all week long. It came in handy.

I have tried to make this the post I wish I had read before my Wood Badge experience, and I hope it helps others, especially to not be afraid of Wood Badge. I cannot say enough that it can be one of the most amazing weeks (or two weekends) of your life. If anyone else has any advice, questions or comments, please add them to the discussion.

I also want to add the plea that if you live in the Nevada Area Council, please try to attend Wood Badge in-council if you can, rather than going to another state. Not only do we need the attendance numbers, there are a couple of unique things that I think make NAC Wood Badge the best (I do not want to spoil the surprise, so you will just have to trust me). I know there are others who disagree with me, but I am convinced our council has the best Wood Badges. ;-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fresh from Gilwell

Someone asked last week if I would share my reactions and impressions after my Wood Badge experience. I can tell you it was everything everyone said it would be. I really saw people change and grow over the course of the week, right before my very eyes. I may even have done some growing myself. I definitely learned some things. I made friendships that I do hope will continue for the rest of my life. The people there who I already knew, I grew even closer to. It was an incredible experience that really is hard to put into words.

So I have to say more emphatically than ever, if you have not yet been to Wood Badge, go. You will not regret it. Do it for yourself, you family, your ward and stake, and your Scouting program. Even Cubbers will benefit hugely from the experience. In fact, a good portion of the people I met there were Cubbers, and they got at least as much out of it as the leaders of the older boys. I even heard several of them say they hope to serve on a Wood Badge staff in the future.

Some of the lessons I learned this last week included: What you want is not always what's best for you (I already knew this, but I was reminded of it in a big way). One person really can make a big difference, with help (that may sound almost like a paradox, but trust me, it isn't). Be observant. The stature of a Bobwhite is no indication of character (although my Bobwhites were anything but small in stature - inside or out).

I will post more about Wood Badge, what to expect and that kind of thing next week, but for now I only have one more thing to say:

I used to be a Bobwhite, a good old Bobwhite too... so I'm going to work my ticket if I can!