A mountaintop experience

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here. So long, in fact, that I really don’t know where to begin. There are so many things that have changed in our lives since I last wrote that there is no way I can possibly get all caught up in a single post, and honestly that’s not even what I want to write about now anyway.

So, I’m going to write about what I really want to write and fill in the other stuff later. I’m not sure if I’ve ever fully expressed how much I love being involved with the Boy Scouts, so I’ll start there. I had an incredible experience being a Girl Scout growing up, and I credit the program and my leader – who happened to be my mother – with helping me become the person I am today. So when the Wildman became old enough to join Cub Scouts, I looked up the local Pack and signed him up before they even had their membership drive for the year. I really had no intention of getting involved myself, other than being there to help out my boy, but within a couple months of being around the other leaders and the program itself, I volunteered as an assistant den leader.

I did all the necessary training and then started looking into what additional training there was out there that I could take to learn more about Scouting and the Boy Scouts in particular. I was on our council website and saw something called “Wood Badge.” I knew nothing at all about it, so I read the online brochure. I was intrigued. It said something along the lines of it being the ultimate adult leader training. I asked the other leaders in my Pack if they had done it, but no one had. I decided I was going to sign up and go see what this was all about.

The training consisted of two three-day weekends separated by about 3 weeks. I got my information packet in the mail and after reading through it, having some conversations with a very helpful person in the Council office and then a call from a Wood Badge staff member, I thought I might have been crazy for signing up. This was obviously a big deal – the nice lady in the Council office called it the “PhD” of Scouting – and I was the equivalent of a middle schooler at best! I had been in Scouting for less than a year, had only been an assistant Tiger Cub Den Leader, and I knew there was no way I was prepared for whatever this Wood Badge thing was going to be. But I don’t give up quite that easily, and I had already paid for the course, so on a Friday morning I set out for the local Boy Scout camp (which I had never stepped foot on) to start my Wood Badge training.

I was scared and feeling very intimidated, but it didn’t take long for me to begin to feel like part of the group and to start to realize that this experience was going to be like nothing else I’d ever had in my life. I won’t go into any details about the specifics of Wood Badge, because it is better to go into it not knowing what to expect. But I can say that it was life-changing for me. It’s as much about leadership and team building as it is about Scouting, and I use the things I learned there in my life everyday. Part of what makes the Wood Badge experience so incredible is the staff that puts it on – dedicated, passionate Scouters. Our staff was incredible, and I remember thinking while I was on the course how cool it would be to be asked to be on staff someday.

To my shock, surprise and honor, I was asked to be on staff for the next session of Wood Badge. To keep this from being too long, I’ll just tell you that we spent nearly 6 months preparing, and now our 6 days on course are over. I don’t have the words to describe what this experience has meant to me. Not only have the lessons I learned as I went through the course been brought into much sharper focus, but I now see how it ties together much more than I did the first time around. But what I take from this course even more than the things I learned are the people I met, the people I got to know better and the amazing staff I was blessed to share this time with. These staffers were the best of the best, passionate and dedicated to Scouting and to sharing the values and lessons of the course. I have made friends I intend to keep all my life.

Leaving the camp yesterday was doubly hard for me since I was heading back to our new home in Savannah and leaving Middle TN Boy Scout Council behind. I won’t see these folks at the next camp-out or district event. But I know that they are just an email or phone call away if I need them. It’s going to be hard returning to “real life” after an experience like this, but I’ll cherish the memories and the friends I’ve made for the rest of my life.

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