Wood Badge Wednesdays, Vol. 2: Bringing the Vision to Life

I’ve been involved in Scouting for more than 20 years, and I love trivia.

At Wood Badge, those two forces collided, resulting in one giant, flaming ball of disappointment and public shame.

I don’t want to say too much and spoil a Wood Badge surprise, but let’s just say that my Scouting knowledge was put to the test at the weeklong course last month. In fact, it was our whole patrol’s BSA proficiency on the line, but I spoke up more than I should’ve.

“I work for the BSA,” I thought to myself. “I got this.”

Turns out I was wrong. Three times in a row. Each time I pressed my luck, all I got was another whammy.

From that I learned I have a lot to learn — about the BSA, about myself, and about the right way to receive negative feedback.

In that failure, I realized what the staff meant when they had explained the day before that “feedback is a gift.” The feedback wasn’t positive this time, but I learned that responding with defensiveness — my fallback approach — would only cloud my ability to accept the gift of constructive criticism.

Chalk it up as another way Wood Badge changed me for the better.

Today’s topic: Bringing the Vision to Life. I’ll discuss the importance of listening and of giving and receiving feedback. Then I’ll share a couple of examples of times when communication worked — and didn’t work — in my Wood Badge patrol.

It’s the second installment of my Wood Badge Wednesdays series, which, as Chad correctly guessed last week, is one of my ticket items. (I’ll share the other four in a my final Wood Badge Wednesdays post.)  Continue reading


Wood Badge Wednesdays, Vol. 1: Living the Values

Growing up, one thing always perplexed me about our home: What’s with all the owls?

We lived in an owlery, it seemed. Owls in every room. I saw owl belt buckles, owl clocks, owl paperweights, owl postcards, plush owl toys — pretty much everything short of a real bird in a cage.

My dad’s overt owl obsession made no sense to me — until last month.

After completing a weeklong Wood Badge course at Philmont Scout Ranch, I get it now.

My dad was — well, is — a member of the Owl patrol. And now that I’m a fellow Owl, I see how Wood Badge changes you. The values and lessons embedded in you during those six days stay with you long after the closing ceremony.

So in an effort to share the magic of Wood Badge — and preserve some of my favorite memories — I’m starting Wood Badge Wednesdays. My goal with this five-part series is to explore some of the takeaways from my course and help you see how Wood Badge can help strengthen your ability to work with your pack, troop, team, ship, crew, or post.

Never heard of Wood Badge? Considering attending soon? Already wear two, three, or four Wood Badge beads? No matter where you are in the spectrum, I hope you’ll find value in this five-part, in-depth look at Wood Badge.

Today, I’ll discuss the importance of Living the Values and how my patrolmates embody the Scout Law.  Continue reading


This summer, make safety on the water your top priority

Most of my best memories from summer camp involved the water.

Where else but Camp Cherokee’s epic waterfront could I swim, canoe with my friends, or sit on a massive airbag called “the blob” and get propelled 15 feet into the air?

At camp or not, summer isn’t summer without water activities. But with great fun comes great responsibility, and that’s where you come in.

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With BSA’s new Cyber Chip, online safety’s the point

The patch comes in blue for Cub Scouts and green for Boy Scouts, Venturers, Varsity Scouts, and Sea Scouts.

Kids spend more than 7.5 hours a day using some kind of electronic device, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study.

In other words, if they’re awake and not at school, they’re probably online.

Whatever their reason for logging on — school project, merit badge research, socializing, games — safety is never guaranteed.

That’s why the Boy Scouts of America’s new Cyber Chip, announced last week, is a big step in the right direction in the effort to keep kids safe online. And because June is National Internet Safety Month, the timing couldn’t be better.

In developing this new Youth Protection tool, the BSA teamed up with content expert NetSmartz, part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as training experts for different law enforcement agencies.

The Cyber Chip joins the Totin’ Chip and Whittling Chip as important safety tools your Scouts should earn and carry with them. Bonus: The pocket patch they get, designed to look like a smartphone, is unlike any official BSA patch I’ve ever seen.

Have your Scouts earn their Cyber Chip ASAP. Here’s how:

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Learn the secrets of storytelling in the age of social media

You don’t tell young people why they should join Scouting.

You show them.

That’s the thinking behind the BSA’s new Visual Storytelling Workshops, happening this summer.

Here’s a chance to spend several days learning the secrets of storytelling in the age of social media. The goal? Turning Scouters and Scouts nationwide into visual storytellers, ready and able to share the excitement and adventure of Scouting through audio, video, and photography.

Do I have your attention? Read on to find out how you can sharpen your storytelling skill-set.

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Check the BSA’s tool-use guidelines before your next service project

Hey, you with the post-hole digger! Let me see some ID!

When it comes to service projects, nobody does it better — or safer — than the Boy Scouts.

But before you gather equipment for your next Good Turn, ask yourself some questions:

Can my 14- and 15-year-old Boy Scouts use lawnmowers and string trimmers to cut the grass at the local church?

Can my 16- and 17-year-old Venturers use a chain saw and log splitter to cut firewood for elderly residents?

In this case, the answer is no and no.

That’s why it’s critical to follow the Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations, a new document that details how old Scouts should be to use certain hand tools and power tools at service projects (including Eagle Scout service projects).

I’ve got complete details below.

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Room to grow: Bringing Scouting to the Hispanic community

You can’t ignore the numbers.

According to the 2010 Census, 16.3 percent of U.S. citizens are of Hispanic or Latino origin.

In the BSA, the proportion is much lower. Hispanic youth account for just 6.8 percent of all members.

I see that discrepancy as a challenge to volunteers and professionals at the national, council, district, and unit levels to continue to grow the Scouting program in the Hispanic community. You can make a difference; read on to find out how.

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Face-to-face or online training: Which works better in your unit?

It’s happened to all of us. You call a customer service hotline, and the computer can’t comprehend your plain-English request.

No matter how many times you say “agent” or press 0 or bang your phone against the kitchen counter, you can’t seem to get a human being on the other end.

Ain’t technology grand?

OK, there are times when it’s made our lives easier. It’s never been simpler to order a pizza, pay your phone bill, or read Scouting magazine’s archives — all from your computer.

But sometimes it’s nice to have that personal interaction, and that’s especially true in the Boy Scouts of America.

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