UPDATE: This course, originally scheduled for January 2022, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. This story has been updated to reflect the new course dates of Oct. 24-28, 2022.
At first, it sounds like a reality TV pitch: What happens when you bring together 64 strangers from across the country and challenge them to spend five days living, learning and working together?
But the reality behind the National Wood Badge Course, planned for October 2022 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, is better than anything seen on TV.
This reality has the potential to change your life forever.
That’s not slick marketing copy. That’s the message we’re hearing from participants and staffers who attended this course the last time it was held, in 2020. Kaleen Deatherage of Portland, Ore., was there as a troop guide for the Antelope Patrol.
“The energy and enthusiasm from participants and staff alike resulted in powerful sharing, learning and collaboration that will make each one of us better Scouters,” she says. “My hope is that we all brought that energy and some new skills home — and now we are better prepared to deliver Scouting programs to our youth.”
That course in 2020 was so popular that it required a wait list, but there’s no waiting necessary if you’re ready to accept the challenge of Wood Badge later this year.
Registration is now open for the next National Model Linked Troop Wood Badge Course, set for Oct. 24–28, 2022, at the Summit in West Virginia. It’s a chance to learn the latest leadership techniques, form connections with fellow Scouters from other parts of the country, and enjoy hands-on experiences sure to make you a better Scout leader, spouse, boss, employee, parent and person.
The course is open to any registered member of the BSA age 18 or older who has completed the basic training courses for their Scouting position.
Participants and staff not only benefit from meeting people from across the country and around the world, but those in the female troop will be inspired from seeing so many female leaders in one room.
“Each of us knows that women have been leaders in Scouting for decades,” says Ashley Steigerwald, Course Director for the all-female Gray Troop. “But seeing a whole troop of female leaders in uniform was so exciting and impactful. For those whose volunteer service doesn’t involve working with many other women, it was such an affirming experience.”
What is the National Model Linked Troop Wood Badge Course?
The name is long, but each component is important. Let’s break it down:
National: Your council likely offers an excellent Wood Badge course at least once a year, and we encourage you to learn more about what they offer if you’d like. This national course is held at the Summit and welcomes participants from across the country.
Model: The course uses the Wood Badge syllabus first introduced in 2017 and piloted in 2018. All courses held in 2020 and beyond use the new syllabus. The course is also a model course because it uses the “linked troop” model introduced as an option for Scouts BSA units.
For more about the Wood Badge update, read this story from Scouting magazine.
Linked Troop: In Scouts BSA, linked troops are two troops (one for boys and one for girls) that share a chartered organization. In many cases, they also share some or all of the troop committee. The approach preserves the single-gender troop model while making things more convenient for families. Many linked troops meet in the same location on the same night.
But rather than reading about linked troops on a blog or in a leadership manual, participants at the National Model Linked Troop Wood Badge Course learn by doing. They become members of either the all-female Gray Troop or the all-male Orange Troop.
This version of Wood Badge was developed by Scouting U as a way to incorporate the linked troop model into Wood Badge. An addendum will be added to the Wood Badge curriculum to include information for local councils who want to run their own linked troop Wood Badge Course.
Wood Badge: Wood Badge is an advanced experiential course about small-group leadership. Every minute is expertly crafted to help participants understand and appreciate what our Scouts experience. There are presentations, team-building activities and games — all designed to help you make your Scouting unit stronger.
What: The National Model Linked Troop Wood Badge Course, also known as BSA-22–1.
The course is actually two courses run concurrently, with a combination of separate and joint learning sessions of all-female and all-male troops. Each troop will have six patrols and no more than 36 members.
When: Oct. 24–28, 2022
Participants are asked to arrive by 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 23. The course concludes at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, and participants can leave that night or the next day (Saturday, Oct. 29).
Wood Badge veterans may notice that the course is now five days instead of six. That streamlined schedule was part of the 2020 update designed to better accommodate families’ busy schedules.
Where: The Summit Bechtel Reserve, the BSA’s national high-adventure base in West Virginia. The base is the new permanent home of the BSA’s National Jamboree and also hosted the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.
The course will take place indoors at the sleek new training facilities at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. You’ll sleep in the new lodge bunkhouses, and be able to take hot showers daily.
Who’s invited: Any registered member of the BSA age 18 or older who has completed the basic training courses for their Scouting position. Members of all BSA programs are welcome — Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA, Venturing, Sea Scouts and Exploring.
Who’s leading the courses: You’ll learn from devoted volunteers who share your passion for Scouting. Staff members are a diverse group representing all regions of the country. There’s even one international staff member. The all-female Gray Troop will be led by Ashley Steigerwald. Andrew Miller will lead the all-male Orange Troop.
Dave Savone is the coordinator of the whole thing. He was course director for the all-male troop in 2020.
“Because of this linked troop Wood Badge experience, I personally have a better understanding of the linked troop model of Scouts BSA,” he says. “They always talk about Wood Badge being a life-changing experience, and this course has changed my life for the betterment of the linked troop model.”
How much: The course fee is $550, which includes food, lodging and training materials. The full amount is due at the time of registration. Transportation to and from the Summit is not included in the fee.
Register and learn more: Here
Reflections on the 2020 course
For an idea of what volunteers can expect at the 2022 National Model Linked Troop Wood Badge Course, we talked to volunteers who were participants and staffers the last time the course was conducted.
Kirsten Alworth of Madison, Wis.
Alworth served as troop scribe for her Summit Wood Badge course in 2020. Her job was to document the day-to-day activities of the course so everyone involved could stay informed.
“As a woman in Scouting, it was incredibly empowering to be in an all-female troop – a room full of women – staff and participants – learning and working together,” Alworth says. “That isn’t a typical experience in Scouting and seeing all those talented, passionate women together was impactful. It was a space for women to talk about our Scouting experience and build networks with other women we will always be able to rely on for support and guidance.”
Alworth says she recommends Wood Badge for everyone, from brand new committee chairs to the most seasons Scoutmasters — and everything in between.
“It will challenge you as a person and make you look at leadership in the BSA in a whole new light,” she says.
Kaleen Deatherage of Portland, Ore.
As troop guide of the Antelope Patrol, Deatherage helped guide a patrol of seven women from vastly different backgrounds. There were four Americans, one woman from England and two women from Saudi Arabia.
“The enthusiasm among our group to share Scouting experiences and to compare how we deliver programming in our respective countries was a highlight of the course. We learned so much from each other,” she says. “Imagine these female Scout leaders helping to translate for one another, explaining how flag ceremonies work in their country, sharing their Scouting songs, traditions, and making connections that will last a lifetime.”
Deatherage and her patrol created a special flag (seen above) that blended the flags of the U.K., U.S. and Saudi Arabia alongside the words “Many Flags, One Heart.”
“As you might imagine, their flag attracted a lot of attention from other patrols,” Deatherage says. “Everyone appreciated the significance of their beautiful collaboration.”
Stephen Deatherage (husband of Kaleen) of Portland, Ore.
Back in 2009, Stephen and Kaleen spent a day at Camp Baker, searching for “something that would keep us young, engaged and would let us make a difference,” Stephen says.
They found what they were looking for in Wood Badge. A decade later, Stephen attended the men’s session at the Summit as Kaleen served as a troop guide for the women’s troop.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into that week, but even if I’d had sky-high expectations, the course would have exceeded them,” he says. “And from my perspective, the linked troop model allowed me, and other men in the Red Troop, to see how women can thrive in an environment where they don’t have to feel like they are competing with men; they can instead use their considerable skills to push each other forward through the strong winds that would otherwise hold them back.”
Miguel Montes, Las Cruces, N.M.
Montes has been involved in five Wood Badge courses — as a participant in 2008 and four times on staff.
This time was extra special, perhaps because everyone came from such different backgrounds. Participants and staff represented 38 different states and three foreign countries.
“Even though we represent councils all over the country and the world, we still got together with Scouters who are the product of Baden-Powell’s vision,” Montes says. “At a national course, it is amazing that so many people are the same as your Scout friends in your home council. We are all there to improve the youth experience, and we all have our own unique gifts to help us make it happen. On the morning of day 1 at breakfast, I looked around the table, and I had a sense that I already knew all of the people I was sitting with. That made it easy.”
Winnie Lee, San Diego, Calif.
Lee, a participant in Deatherage’s Antelope Patrol, experienced Wood Badge for the first time in 2020.
Lee says she cherished the opportunity to find a welcoming space to connect with other female Scouters.
“They shared from a vulnerable place of what their own Scouting leadership narrative has been. There were stories of generations of Scout dads, brothers, grandfathers — and now their own daughters can stand in those narratives,” Lee says. “It was so brave to create space for these amazing women to be able to tell their narratives. The key was making space for that magic to happen and to inspire the dialogue to continue.”
Jeff Mauldin, League City, Texas
Mauldin served as a troop guide in the all-male Blue Troop in 2020.
He calls the experience of Wood Badge — both as a participant and on staff — a “major recharge opportunity.”
“Surrounded by adult leaders from around the country, I see such motivation and drive,” he says. “It inspires me to be a better person, a better Scouter, and a better leader at home, work and in Scouting.”
Ready to register or learn more?
When you’re ready, head here to take the next step.
We’ll leave you with this thought from Kaleen Deatherage: “When the next national course at SBR is offered, I hope Scouters from across the country will make the time to attend. Whether you’ve been to Wood Badge 10 times or never, this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you don’t want to miss.”