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. ;-)