Leadership Journey - My Experience as a Troop Guide for a Recent Wood Badge Course

Posted by Mark Blackford on May 26, 2023 at 1:17 PM     Agency News & Culture
Leadership Journey - My Experience as a Troop Guide for a Recent Wood Badge Course

At Marketing Essentials, one of our benefits includes a Pay It Forward day that allows employees to get paid for volunteer work. This year, I used my Pay It Forward time to volunteer as a troop guide for a Wood Badge course.

My Wood Badge Journey

Four years ago, I had the pleasure of participating in Wood Badge leadership training during the 100th anniversary of the worldwide course for Scouting volunteers and professionals.

Wood Badge Certificate and Beads

  • September / October 2019 - participated in the practical portion of the course, which consisted of six days spread across two weekends (latest course is now five days)
  • August 2020 - finished the application phase of the course, which consists of completing five separate goals related to a central vision, all of which the participants come up with individually on their own and have 18 months to finish
  • February 2021 - received my Wood Badge beads, Gilwell neckerchief, leather woggle and certificate in a formal ceremony 

Read an overview of the course and about my experience as a participant here >>

Shortly after completing my personal Wood Badge journey (as a participant), I was afforded the opportunity to serve as part of a great staff for the next course. 

  • April / May 2021 - staff development for the new course began, but unfortunately, the course had to be postponed
  • December 2022 through April 2023 - several staff development sessions and meetings over five months for the newly rescheduled course 
  • April / May 2023 - practical portion of the course for the latest participants, for which I am serving as a troop guide on staff
  • May 2023 up until November 2024 - my journey continues as a guide to a group of participants as they work on completing their goals and ultimately earning their beads!

What Is A Wood Badge Troop Guide?

The Wood Badge course is a remarkable opportunity for individuals to develop their leadership skills and abilities. As a troop guide, my role is to guide and mentor participants through this transformative experience. 

Anyone on staff will tell you that they grow and learn even more by serving as part of the staff than they did as a participant because the effort requires going through the entire course curriculum many times to know it inside and out to pass that knowledge on to participants. 

One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a troop guide is helping individuals discover their sense of purpose as leaders. Through team-building activities, practical exercises and engaging discussions, participants are empowered to understand the importance of their roles and how they make a positive impact on their communities.

Wood Badge courses foster an environment of camaraderie, where participants learn from one another and collaborate to achieve common goals. As a troop guide, I had the opportunity to facilitate open discussions, encourage active participation and provide constructive feedback, fostering a safe space for participants to learn, reflect and grow. 

Wood Badge Training SessionWitnessing the bonds formed among participants and the lasting connections made during the course is an inspiring part of the experience. 

Wood Badge courses also emphasize the significance of self-reflection and continuous improvement. Through guided reflections and thoughtful conversations, participants gain a deeper understanding of their strengths and areas for development. 

Wood Badge is not merely a one-time event but rather a foundation for lifelong learning and leadership development. I am honored to be part of a network of experienced leaders committed to supporting one another's growth. 

Leading by Example

Leadership should be less about telling others what to do and more about leading by example. As a troop guide, I embraced this principle wholeheartedly. By embodying the traits of a strong leader — such as integrity, empathy and effective communication — I hope to inspire participants to emulate these qualities in their own leadership journeys.

It was immensely rewarding to witness the participants' growth as they began embodying these attributes. 

In a speech at the closing luncheon, a member of my patrol (the ‘team’ that I am a troop guide of) shared some words of appreciation that thoroughly touched my heart. As she spoke about how the patrol members viewed me as their leader for the course, I could tell those traits listed above were coming through (whether I was intentional about that or not). 

This was one of the points I was trying to make to them as well — that others will often see you as a leader whether you see yourself that way or not. 

Thank you, Patty, for mentoring me on that point early on in my time at Marketing Essentials! 😀

Invaluable Moments and Looking Ahead

Wood Badge 9-444-23 Troop 1

Being a troop guide for a Wood Badge course is an enriching experience. Guiding participants as they discovered their leadership potential and witnessing their personal growth during our five days together were priceless moments that will forever stay with me. I look forward to seeing the future accomplishments of these aspiring leaders!