There’s no better way to learn leadership skills than Wood Badge, and there’s no more innovative Wood Badge experience than the Linked Troop Wood Badge course, scheduled for Jan. 15-19, 2024, at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
Wood Badge, the advanced leadership course open only to Scouting volunteers and professionals, is great no matter where you experience it.
The linked troop course at the Summit is unique in that it gives participants the chance to experience the linked troop model used by many Scouts BSA units.
Wood Badge participants — adults 18 and over registered with the BSA — become members of a troop, learning leadership skills via the patrol method, the same method used in Scouts BSA.
The linked troop course features one male troop and one female troop. They participate in some activities together, and at other times they’re totally separate, just as Scouts BSA girls and Scouts BSA boys linked troops might operate.
Unlike most Wood Badge courses that operate on consecutive weekends, this one runs Monday—Friday.
“The goal is for you to take what you learn back home with you and improve the experience of the youth we serve,” says Bill Steigerwald, a BSA volunteer who’s serving as the course director of the Orange (male) troop. “Wood Badge is for any person who’s interested in becoming a better leader.”
Who should take Wood Badge?
Short answer: Everyone.
Though the course uses the linked troop model, the organizers estimate that less than half of the participants are from linked troops.
Wood Badge is perfect for not only Scouts BSA leaders, but also Cub Scout leaders, Venturing leaders, Sea Scout leaders, Exploring leaders … any adult volunteer at any level will learn something.
It’s also open to all BSA employees.
Why does this course have women and men in separate troops?
Ashley Steigerwald, the course mentor for the Gray (female) troop, says they have gotten a lot of pushback for having an all-male troop and all-female troop.
The reasoning, though, is simple.
“On Day 1, we run it like a family pack,” says Ashley. “On Day 2, we run it like two separate units. On Day 3, there’s more integration. And on Day 4, we run it as a linked unit that does everything together.
“There’s no single way to run a linked troop. This kind of shows you the spectrum of your options.”
While there are absolutely some advantages to having the men and women working together and learning from each other, there are also advantages to having them separate at times.
“It’s so empowering to be in a room full of women Scouters,” says Kirsten Alworth, course director of the Gray (female) troop. “It’s so amazing to see all these women together supporting each other and talking about how great Scouting is.”
What do Wood Badge participants learn?
Much like how Scouting teaches youth to Be Prepared for life, Wood Badge helps adults be better equipped to handle everything life can throw at you.
Communication skills. Conflict resolution. Patience. Empathy. Project planning. And, of course, leadership.
“It is an empowering experience to look around the room and see other female council presidents and commissioners and unit leaders,” say Ashley Steigerwald. “It’s an amazing sisterhood that develops.
“And I think when the men hear our stories about Scouting – both the wonderful ones and the challenging ones – it gives them a moment when they realize they can be a door opener for women in their area.”
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