Re: More background on "Woodbadge uniforming?"
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@PIPELINE.COM)
Thu, 27 Aug 1998 18:56:34 -0400
At 12:26 PM 8/25/98 -0500, Jim wrote:
>Dave is absolutely right about Wood Badge courses and Wood Badgers. I
>too resent being besmirched and tarred by one, or even two, less than
>satisfactory experiences with Wood Badge.
Well, then, your beef is with those who wear the beads and exhibit the kind
of superior smug attitudes that are prevalent amongst the woodbadge staff
here. It has been close to 30 years that I have been of the same opinion
that those who are training WB in this council are not people from whom I
would take training. That is far less than one or two instances. Add to
that Branden's experience in a different part of the Northeast and I start
to feel that what happens here is not isolated. I already indicated that
"endemic" was probably too strong a term, but don't blame the messenger. I
didn't exhibit the attitudes, only reported on them. If you are so
concerned about the reputation of the WB, then contact the national director
of training and inform him that you believe there are problems with the
attitudes of some staffers in NER.
And, without an explanation
>from the source of the "no shorts" decree, I would reserve judgment
>until I understood the "why".
But if a "why" had been given, it would have been reported. It was not, and
Branden certainly would have done so. Besides, according to the staff guide,
which even you say all staffers pledge to follow, it is NOT up to the staff
to set "a" uniform. Those decisions are specifically left to each learner
as long as he/she is in a complete uniform. And yet, virtually every
response here indicates that the staff/course can or should set a uniform.
What does that say for how widespread the misinformation out there is?
Where would all these people, staffers or learners, get the impression that
a specific uniform can be set, if not from the staff of their courses?
Having been involved in two WB courses so
>far in the Southern Region, one as a participant and one as a staffer, I
>can state unequivocally that every effort is made on the part of the
>Staff to provide good leadership, NOT as an elite group, but as fellow
>Scouters sharing in a common learning experience.
I don't doubt that that is the case in many, if not a majority, of the
cases. But there is absolutely no reason to "hide" those that are receiving
Every staff member
>makes a special commitment not only to accommodate reasonable needs, but
>to make the WB experience one that will forever change one's perspective
>and commitment to the Scouting movement. At least in our Council, if
>you can't live up to the ideals and values of Scouting, as well as the
>purpose and objectives of Wood Badge, you don't get invited to be on
>Staff, no matter how great the depth of your knowledge. Not only is it a
>high honor, but very humbling as well. But, even if real, these
>complaints still pale in comparison to the benefits of WB
Everybody keeps talking about those "great" benefits of WB. Well, if the
unreasonable demands and unexplained requirements placed on potential
learners when they consider taking the course are so idiotic or are such a
turn off that the potential learner chooses not to take the course, then
that Scouter never has a chance to realize those benefits. When you tell
someone that he needs to acquire extra uniform parts (either shorts for
those courses that insist on them, or long pants as in Branden's case), have
to take all the patches off their uniform shirts (which, of course puts them
"in uniform" for the course, but "out of uniform" for any unit event they
may participate in between the weekends of the course, unless, of course,
they sew them back on for the troop meeting, take them off for WB, etc.), or
have to adjust their watches to "WB time" because the staff, when they fall
behind schedule, feel that they need to change the clock rather than adjust
the schedule, he very likely decides that taking the course is not worth the
Nobody is to blame for that but the WB staffers. Nobody can do anything
about that BUT the WB staffers.
>Wood Badge is the TOP adult leader training program in Scouting.
So people keep saying, but Scouting is a VERY redundant organization, and
most of what Scouting would like you to learn can be gleaned from any number
(history of WB and its value to corporate America snipped)
To meet this need
>to maintain a very high quality staff and program, the Volunteer
>Training Service was set up at national with the specific responsibility
>to oversee the administration and supervision of Wood Badge (as well as
Well, apparently from the quality of what I have observed here in NYC, and
from what Branden is describing up in NE, they are not doing a very good job.
To this day, in order to put on a WB course in the US
>the Course Director (SM) must be approved at the national level and MUST
>sign a pledge to follow the course syllabus (Staff Guide) "WITHOUT
Well, then how do you explain a staff that mandates long pants, in direct
contradiction to the text of the holy grail called the staff guide?
>So, I too disagree that the WB training shortcomings expressed in
>previous posts are "an endemic problem". That's not to say there aren't
I've already retracted "endemic," although I personally have heard more
horror stories than success stories.
Only that they run counter to the goals, training,
>and multitude of experience that I sense throughout this list and in my
>daily Scouting experience.
I agree that this runs counter to the goals, and maybe even the experience.
Actually, between the public and private responses I have received, I would
say that the experiences on this list are about evenly split, but taking a
census serves no purpose. The point is that, up in NE, there is clearly a
staff that is not following the letter of the staff guide and that has been
my experience here as well, over an EXTENDED period of time.
To get the most out of WB you have to put
>something into it (other than complaining).
And that is why those who get the most out of it are probably those who need
it least. Because it is the good leaders who will go in with the attitude
of getting out only what you put in, so they will put in the most and get
the most. THEY will go invisibly back to their units and use what they got
for the betterment of the Scouts.
The rest, who need the course more to start with, put less into it, and get
less out of it. My guess is that it is these people who end up being the
staff, at least around here.
The bottom line is that here and in other places around the country (like
where Steve Hoar, I believe, is in Ohio), WB has an image problem. The ONLY
group that can cure an image problem is the group that HAS the problem. I
can't do anything to correct the impression they are making on people, an
impression that led to our fall weekend course being canceled (I believe)
because in a council the size of Greater NY they could only get 26 learners.
Why? Because they are doing a horrid job of selling the program, either by
justifying the need for it, or by setting a positive example that will
encourage people to attend.
Bruce E. Cobern
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City