As I started my new job earlier this year, I met fellow employees who were also Scout leaders.  In our introductions, I explained to them that I signed up for Wood Badge this year.  The same response was overwhelming:  “So, you are one of those!”  I did not know how to take it.

I was not sure what to expect as I started the course entitled “Sowing Seeds”.  The first weekend of the course is intense.  In between the training, each patrol (equivalent of a Cub Scout Den) is working on activities, and each participant is working on a vision statement on what we see as helping the Scouting community.  The intensity of the program is yet another lesson they were teaching each participant. Sleep was limited for both the staff and the participants.  I left the first weekend still unsure of what was happening.

The day before I was ready to head out for our second weekend, the bad storms rolled through Alabama, leaving vast devastation.  I was torn between heading to Wood Badge and staying behind to volunteer to help with the tornado victims.  I reluctantly headed out, only adding to my uncertainty of the course.  That uncertainty ended quickly as our group gathered together.  Some participants, like me, came back unharmed from the storms.  Some participants came back, affected by the storms, seeing it as a place to regroup, or even have food and hot water.  We bonded even closer.  A big change happened to us through the weekend.  The course ended up being a place of learning, a place of fun, and a place of bonding.

The course sign-up form defines Wood Badge as “the capstone training course for all Scouters”.  Even though this is an accurate definition, it does not fully capture the essence of the experience.  Coming out of the course, I feel I not only learned how to be a better leader, but also a better person.   I proudly say to you “I am one of those”.

Joe Swaika