This summer, it’s ‘Back to Gilwell’ for me

wood-badge-beads“Would you like to serve on Wood Badge staff?”

It was one of the easiest questions I’ve ever been asked.

It sounds sentimental, but the truth is I had never really left Wood Badge, at least in my mind. That made saying “yes” to Debbie Sullivan, course director for the upcoming Wood Badge course this August at Philmont, more of an involuntary reaction than anything else.

I’ll be a troop guide, which means I’ll work directly with a patrol of six or seven Scouters as I guide them through their Wood Badge journey. It’ll be a journey for me, too, as I get a new perspective on the course and see what happens behind the scenes to ensure a life-changing experience for participants.

We tell our Scouts that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and I’m betting that theory applies to Scouters, as well.

Anyone from any council can attend Wood Badge this summer at Philmont, and spots are still available. More information below, but first I wanted to catch you up on my Wood Badge journey. 

Three down, two to go

It’s been 16 weeks since my last installment of Wood Badge Wednesdays, the five-part look back at one of the best weeks of my Scouting career. And six months have passed since I left the Tooth of Time in my rear-view mirror, so it would be natural for some of that Wood Badge magic to evaporate. To counter that, I often flip through my handwritten notes from the course or glance at the patrol totem pinned to my office bulletin board.

I imagine some Wood Badgers reading this are many years removed from their course, and I’d love them to share some ways they keep the magic alive year after year. Please use the comments below to share your techniques.

Over the past six months, I’ve finished three of my five ticket items. The fourth, “teach Journalism merit badge,” is happening this Sunday. I’m looking forward to blending two of my passions — journalism and Scouting — into a class I’m teaching for the first time. My fifth ticket item, “attend a writing conference,” will be completed this April.

That means I’ll have my beads just in time for Debbie’s course this summer. Speaking of …

Wood Badge 106

WB106-logoOn Saturday I attended my first staff development course for Wood Badge S2-571-13-3, known within Circle Ten Council as Wood Badge 106.

I was the least-experienced Scouter in the room, so this was a humbling experience. But what I lack in experience as a volunteer I hope to make up for in effort. I’m anticipating a challenging but rewarding experience.

I’d love for you to be there with us. This Wood Badge course is the only 2013 course held at Philmont Scout Ranch. In 2014 and beyond, other councils within a day’s drive of Philmont will begin offering Wood Badge there, I’m told.

Wood Badge is a magical experience, and Philmont is a magical place. The two combined? I think you get the picture.

The course, held August 19 to 24 at Philmont, is open to any Scouter from any council. At the course last summer, for example, we had participants and staffers from Florida, Colorado, California, and West Virginia.

Learn more about the course and sign up at the Wood Badge 106 website. If you have questions, leave a comment below and I’ll answer it. Or contact our course director, Debbie Sullivan, by clicking here.

21 thoughts on “This summer, it’s ‘Back to Gilwell’ for me

  1. *sigh* I’m a white male in our council’s largest district. I think I’m too much in the “majority” to be asked any time soon as I don’t help with the “diversity” of the staff. Have fun.

  2. Congrats, Bryan! It is an honor to be able to serve on Wood Badge staff, and probably the most rewarding experience I have had in Scouting so far. I was walking on clouds when I received my call. It was completely unexpected. Being a TG is the busiest and most demanding job on staff (at least for the first few days). You are the face of the course to your participants. You are the one they will come to for advice for years to come. It’s a lot of work, but worth every second.

  3. Bryan, when I emailed you the other day and I asked how your ticket was coming, I didn’t intend for you to do something totally insane and sign up for Wood Badge staff! BTW, I am insanely jealous that you get to teach from Philmont, but I will enjoy my own visit back to Gilwell at my council camp.

    Owl C3-651-11-1
    Staff C7-651-13-1

  4. So, you are a “staff” member for an upcoming Wood Badge course and you are doing “staff development,” yet you have not completed the Wood Badge course itself. Please explain! Maybe you are familiar with the OA’s “Vigil raffle” and Scout troops that are known as “Eagle mills,” as well?

    • Hi, Ken, thanks for your comments and for reading my blog. It’s common in Circle Ten Council to ask people from recently completed courses to serve on staff. I believe that four staffers on our course have yet to receive their beads, but we’ll all receive them before the first participant orientation or we’ll be asked to step down.

      I’m not sure what you’re implying with “Vigil raffle” or “Eagle mills,” but I hope that clears things up for you.


      • Ken Badgett, I believe it is a requirement to have a certain number of new staff members for each course. The only requirement to be an eligible staff member is that you must complete your ticket and receive your regalia before the course starts. A participant has 18 months to complete their ticket. However, staff developments begin about 4-6 months before the next course, so it is not uncommon for a new staff member to still be working on their ticket while going through staff development. If you have not been through Wood Badge, I highly encourage you to attend. It is a life changing event.

    • Our Council has only 2 requirements to serve on Wood Badge Staff (other than to be selected) that I know of right now. One is to be Wood Badge trained and have their ticket complete; and the other is complete the EDGE training course within 3 years of the course. Of course, the member has to commit to attend the staff training sessions. As long as Bryan completes his 2 ticket items & gets his beads before the course I do not see an issue. Evidently the Course Leader saw something in Bryan from last year that makes her think that he should serve on staff this year.

  5. Congratulations, Bryan. Having served on about 10 staffs since I first took Wood Badge 42 years ago (now THERE’s a scary thought) and having had the honor of directing two courses 28 years apart, I can tell you that first time Wood Badge staff service is the finest training experience that we have in the Boy Scouts of America. You will gain and learn so much and be able to give so much to others.
    Ken, with respect, your comments are out of line. In the current Wood Badge, it is fairly common to have one or more staff members who complete their ticket and receive their two beads at the pre course staff dinner where they then receive their third bead. It is encouraged for a course to have new and younger staff members and to give them the staff opportunity as soon as reasonably possible rather than have to stand in line for many years.

  6. Congratulations, Bryan! I was recently told by a friend of mine that he expects to direct, and he wants me on staff with him. I was stunned, surprised, and very, very humbled. It took me 17 months to complete my ticket, and several items had to be re-defined as changing situations invalidated earlier plans – my Troop Guide and Course Director worked closely with me to give me every opportunity to succeed, and as my ticket got more difficult, the harder I worked.

    I consider earning my wood badge beads my second greatest Scouting accomplishment, after my Eagle – and to have the opportunity to assist fellow Scouters to earn their beads may well eclipse even that award. I’m looking forward to it!

  7. Congrats Bryan,
    I also was recently asked to staff Wood Badge as well for the first time. I was floored and never saw it coming…I’m a double eagle.(Eagle scout 1977 and eagle patrol ne-II-171 ,2007).I also went to Philmont as a scout way back in 1976.

  8. Congratulations. My husband did woodbadge and came home with a new found fire for life. He was asked to serve on this years WB for our council it was a quick yes! We hope to get someone from both the pack and troop to attend this year.

  9. Congratulations, Bryan, and I agree, teaching is the best way to learn. I am a BSA Scouter working and living in Afghanistan as an adviser to the Afghan Scout program. I have staffed 18 W B courses, including three Chinese-language courses, my own course in 2011, and the first Afghan Scout course in 2012. The 11 Afghan Wood Badgers and I wish you the best!

  10. I’m yet to undertake the WB course, although I’m a Explorer trainer in Nigeria. Pity you don’t offer the course on line. Glad if you can assist me with literature that may guide me into the next WB course in my country, thank you.

  11. Absolutely one of the best training courses within the Scouting program! I was a participant on NE-III-149 (a proud Antelope) and after staffing several courses, was appointed the Course Director for NE-VII-19 (2010).
    The course rejuvinated my scouting spirit every time as I worked with passionate staffers while meeting equally passionate Scouters across both councils here on Long Island!

  12. Greetings Bryan, You will do a great job as Troop Guide. You will learn far more about Training as a staff member than you did as a participant. Keep us posted on your progress.

  13. Hello Bryan, Just completed WB this past Saturday. It was a week long course, the first time it was taught this way in our council. It has been a great experience and no words are adequate to express how thrilled I am to have participated. It rained nearly every day and no one really cared. Came home exhausted, mud-caked and elated. It has strengthened my commitment and I am ready to work my ticket. I love Gilwell and miss it already. I would be honored to be a staffer and envy you getting to staff at Philmont. My congratulations to you from a proud Antelope.

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