Wood Badge Wednesdays, Vol. 5: Leading to Make a Difference

It’s amazing how quickly a whisper turns into a roar.

Take Wood Badge tickets, for example. Each one leaves a lasting legacy, but 50, 500, or even 5,000? That kind of impact reverberates across the Scouting universe for generations.

At my Wood Badge course in August, 50 Scouters each crafted five tickets. That’s 250 boosts to Scouting in North Texas from our course alone.

Some of you might be wondering: What is a Wood Badge ticket? Well, after the six-day course ends, participants aren’t done. To earn those iconic beads, a Wood Badger must complete five projects, called tickets. The tickets allow Scouters to give back to the program and to “realize their personal vision of their role in Scouting.”

That focus on Leaving a Legacy is a huge part of the spirit of Wood Badge. And it’s the subject of today’s fifth and final Wood Badge Wednesdays post.

Leaving a Legacy

Chances are anyone who’s heard of Wood Badge knows about the Wood Badge ticket. It’s the most outward-facing element of the course, and — if you ask me — the most important.

Think of tickets as the Eagle Scout projects of the Wood Badge world. Once an Eagle Scout has moved on (gone to college, moved to an adult volunteer role, etc.), his Eagle project lives on.

Similarly, Wood Badgers get five opportunities to dramatically improve Scouting — and themselves.

But to fully understand the profound impact Wood Badge tickets have on the nationwide Scouting movement, we need to do the math.

Each year, 300 Wood Badge courses take place across the country, with an average of 36 participants per course.

That’s 10,800 Wood Badgers. Now, 80 percent of those Scouters will complete their tickets, giving us 8,640 Wood Badge graduates per year.

Multiply that number by five tickets per person, and you get an incredible 43,200 completed tickets each year.

Wow! That’s 43,200 tangible improvements to Scouting. It’s 43,200 significant steps toward helping packs, troops, teams, and crews run smoother and have more fun. That’s a 43,200-piece orchestra, and each instrument’s played by the Scouting equivalent of Yo-Yo Ma.

In short: Wood Badge is an opus that would make Mr. Holland proud.

Why a ‘Ticket’?

Why are these personal goals called tickets? Here’s how the Wood Badge staff explained it:

In Baden-Powell’s day, those in the military were expected to pay their own way back to England at the end of their service. If a soldier was stationed on a remote Pacific island, that could be quite an expensive trip home.

So in the interest of thriftiness, soldiers nearing completion of their duties would seek assignments closer and closer to England. Once their service was officially over, those who did this had short, cheap trips home to their family.

This process is called “working your ticket,” and those words play a big, fun part in the Wood Badge course. That’s all I’ll say…

My Wood Badge Tickets

Each Scouter’s ticket items are personal, and there’s no requirement that they be shared with anyone other than the course’s troop guide (the staffer who guides each Wood Badger).

But I’d like to share my five with you, including the rationale behind each.

  1. Wood Badge Wednesdays: Incorporating one’s professional skills is encouraged, and that was my thinking behind including this blog series as a ticket item. I had two goals in mind with these five posts: First, I wanted to summarize my most memorable Wood Badge lessons and rekindle the fire within myself and others who have completed Wood Badge. Second, I wanted to encourage others who haven’t taken the course to consider signing up — without giving away any of the surprises that make the course so special.
  2. Journalism Merit Badge: I have a degree in Journalism, but I never actually earned this merit badge as a Scout. I’m looking forward to making up for that mistake at my troop’s winter camp in February when I teach Journalism merit badge to a group of Scouts. I’ve never taught a merit badge, but I’m excited at the prospect of sharing what I know to the next generation of reporters, editors, or consumers of news.
  3. Blogging and Social Media Course: Please, call me “Professor Bryan.” But seriously, I’m going to co-teach a course at Circle Ten Council’s University of Scouting in January, giving me a chance to share what I’ve learned when creating Bryan on Scouting and helping run Scouting magazine’s Facebook and Twitter channels. I’m expecting an engaging discussion where the participants teach me as much as I teach them.
  4. Writing Conference: One of the five tickets can involve personal growth, and so I’m attending a writing conference next year. My thinking is that by improving my skills in writing and editing, I can make Scouting magazine and Bryan on Scouting even better tools for volunteers.
  5. Troop Web Site Redesign: Like most Scout units, my old troop’s Web site could use a little work. A great Web site is well-designed, easy to navigate, and has the information parents and Scouts need. Ours has the information but needs some help on design and navigation. That’s where I come in. I can’t do the backend, technical “stuff,” but I’ll prepare a written report of ways in which the Web site can be improved, including a sample design.

What’s Your Legacy?

If you’ve completed your tickets, I’d love to hear about them. Please use the comments section below to describe your favorite ticket or recount some of your best memories from completing them.

About Wood Badge Wednesdays

This is Part 5 of a five-part series called Wood Badge Wednesdays. Here’s the schedule for the entire series; each week I explored one of the five central themes of Wood Badge for the 21st Century:

  1. Living the Values (Sept. 12)
  2. Bringing the Vision to Life (Sept. 19)
  3. Models for Success (Sept. 26)
  4. Tools of the Trade (Oct. 17)
  5. Leading to Make a Difference (this post)

It’s Your Move

Ready to take Wood Badge for yourself? Start by contacting your local council to learn how.

You’ll either take a weeklong course, like I did, or a course that spans two weekends (some consecutive, some not). Either way, you’re in for the time of your life!

Anyone from any council also has the opportunity to sign up for Circle Ten Council’s Wood Badge course at Philmont. The next course is held in August 2013 at Scouting’s paradise in New Mexico. Here’s the course link!

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.