Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: CS vs BS Woodbadge (longish)
CS vs BS Woodbadge (longish)
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 18:34:29 EST
The posts about the planned demise of CS Woodbadge have made me search through
my memory. I wanted to share some information and maybe at the end of my
post, some suggestions.
Wood Badge as it now exists came into experimental usage in the late '60s and
early '70s and into complete nationwide usage in 1972. The Leadership
Development program was a part of Boypower '76 which was a nationwide program
involving the Cornerstone 48 tapes as part of the training program, Units of
Training, the Improved Scout Program with the Leadership Corps, the changed
advancement requirements, change in the insignia, etc. The objective of
Boypower '76 was to have Scouting reach a representative third of Boy Scout
age youth by 1976 and to do so, a number of changes were made in the program
to make it better fit what was perceived as the characteristics and needs of
the youth at the time.
Some leaders who were active at the time consider Boypower '76 to be an
abomination on the face of the earth. Some other leaders consider it to be
one of the great concepts in Scouting if only it had been implemented
correctly. What is certain is that we did not meet the goal of a
representative third of youth and the Chief Scout Executive of the time, Alden
Barber, took early retirement.
Leadership Development Wood Badge and the entire Leadership Development
concept was an important part of Boypower '76. The original LD Wood Badge
program had relatively little explicit outdoor skills. The assumption was
made that the participants would be living in the outdoors and that a skilled
staff would be helping them increase their outdoor skills without needing to
be spoon fed by the course guide. The formal concentration in the course was
on the 11 Leadership Skills (then called Competencies.) These were totally
new in the Movement and produced a mixed reaction.
After the end of Boypower '76 in the late '70s and early '80s, there was a
very large negative reaction to the Improved Scout program. There was a
strong feeling that we had given up most if not all of our outdoor program and
that we should go "Back to Basics." This was intellectually led by Bill
Hillcourt with programs like All Out for Scouting, Brownsea 22, etc.
At the same time, a sizeable amount of formal outdoor skills were added to the
BS Wood Badge course and the course was made much more of Boy Scout Troop
Leader's course in the Hillcourt model and less of a Leadership Development
I believe it was about this time that CS Wood Badge was started and continued.
The original LD Woodbadge had not been so tightly Boy Scout focused. I was
first on a WB staff in 1971 and two of the six members of the patrol I
counseled were Cub Scout leaders. This was no particular problem when the
course was a Leadership Development course. But as BS Wood Badge became much
more tightly Troop focused and the attendance requirements mandated that one
be a Boy Scout leader, the Cub Scouting Division felt that they wanted an
experience like Wood Badge to enhance the experience of their very best
leaders. So Cub Scout Woodbadge was created, always on a very limited basis,
to train District and Council level Cub Scout trainers (unlike BS Woodbadge
which is now primarily for Troop level leaders.) Over time, BS Woodbadge has
become more and more tightly focused on Troop leaders in the attendance
requirements and expectations.
Now it appears that the Cub Scout Division has questioned whether the effort
that goes into Wood Badge and the time that it takes for both staff and
participants is worth it for the results which are obtained. And concluded
that it does not. Particularly since there is only a certain amount of
training time which most volunteers will put in and if it is used up on less
productive ways, then it can't be used in more productive ways.
Honestly, similar questions have been asked about Boy Scout Woodbadge. Many
of the leaders who have been to Wood Badge swear by it, but when one looks at
the quality of Wood Badge trained leaders and the quality of their units
(size, number of campouts per year, number of advancements, number of other
leaders, tenure and other tangible measures) I have been told that there is
not a particularly great correlation between Wood Badge training and
outstanding unit service. Then there are a number of "Wood Badge clubs"
throughout the country where long tenure and long service are required to
participate as a Wood Badge staff member. And when the greatest honor is not
to be a Scoutmaster, but rather to be a Wood Badge staff member and stop being
a Scoutmaster, serious questions do need to be asked.
There is a National Task Force now looking at Boy Scout Woodbadge. How things
will end up and what changes will be made in the course are yet to be
determined. It is important to note that the huge changes made in 1971 were
made not because the Wood Badge community wanted changes or thought anything
was wrong, but rather because the national movement had some concepts it
wanted quickly and accurately promulgated and Wood Badge seemed the best way.
It is now interesting to note that some of those concepts that at the time
were hated now seem to be treasured hoary traditions.
How might this impact Cub Scouting. One man's opinion, and that is all this
is, is that if we were to move away from so much Troop concentration and
return again to more broad scale Leadership skills, which could be the same or
different as the 11 Skills we now use, they would be a relevant for Cub Scout
leaders as for Boy Scout leaders. Should we have an experience for the very
dedicated leader who wants to commit to Scouting (Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting,
Venturing, Sea Scouting (I didn't forget, Bill) ) as their primary personal
volunteer activity? That is what WB used to be in the '60s. It was rare to
get to go to Wood Badge. A week at the Philmont Training Center has some of
These are some of the same questions which I imagine the National WB Task
Force is now considering. And I am sure that many of us, particularly the Cub
Scout leaders among us, are having some of the same feelings that leaders had
in the early '70s when "their" Wood Badge was "ruined with all of that
No easy answers, but some good questions.