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.