How to be on Staff for Wood Badge
Would you like to be on staff for a Wood Badge course? If so, here is some information for you. (By the way: staff members play different roles on course, but everyone on staff is an Assistant Course Director, except the Course Director.) Wood Badge staff are volunteers who donate their time and energy (and money) to help bring Wood Badge to us.
Why Be On Staff?
The Wood Badge course staff members contribute to the growth of each participant, the strength of all the participants' units, and the improvement of all those units' communities. You make a big difference in the lives of many people, even though many of them never know you exist.
Staff members also benefit directly. You grow in leadership and in understanding of Scouting. You make new friends even of people you already know -- serving together on Wood Badge creates a deep bond, plus you meet course participants. Moreover, the Wood Badge program is very rich, so every time you staff, you learn more of what it offers.
Staff on a Wood Badge course are among the finest Scouters we have. They understand the program. They set a good example. They are among our best trainers. They are cheerful and they help each other. They must be models of Scouting character and leadership. They must be good presenters.
To be eligible, you must have gone to Wood Badge in the current version and have earned your beads. (There is an exception for anyone who has already staffed on Wood Badge for the 21st Century.) This version of Wood Badge, "Wood Badge for the 21st Century," started in our council in 2002, though some courses were held elsewhere in 2001.
You do not need to have been in Scouting any particular number of years. You do not need to have held any particular job in Scouting. Course Directors seek staff from the different programs (Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity, and Venturing, as well as district and council Scouters). Course Directors do need to know you are an experienced and effective trainer in Scouting.
Each staff member is selected by the course director. Each staffer must be approved by our Council and by the Area and National offices of Boy Scouts of America. Staff from other councils also have to be approved by their home council.
How To Be Invited
How could you arrange for a course director to invite you to staff? Let the director know you are interested! You may also need to let the director know why you would be a good choice.
It is fine to call or write the course director and say you would like to be considered. Fill in the Staff Resource Questionnaire and send it to the course director (or to WoodBadge@seattlebsa.net ). If you know someone who could recommend you to the course director, that might help too -- especially your district training chair and people who have staffed Wood Badge -- and the Questionnaire asks about that.
Course directors often ask the district training chairs for suggestions. You could let your district training chair know you are interested and ask that you be mentioned to the course director.
If the council is offering two courses, you might want to staff either course or maybe only one. It's okay to check with both course directors. Don't be tricky about it, though; this is Scouting, and anyway the course directors talk to each other about staff. Staffing is a major commitment of time and energy, so people practically never staff two courses in one year.
Every year, people who would be outstanding staff do not get asked. Course directors have many considerations in picking staff, and most directors find there are people they really wanted to have on staff but whom they couldn't ask. There are many reasons for this. Not being invited does not mean the course director did not want you on staff.
What Is Expected of Staff
Staffing Wood Badge is a major commitment. It takes a lot of time and heart. Every single staffer is expected to do all these things, enthusiastically and at his or her best:
- Participate enthusiastically in all the staff development sessions. Usually there is a half-day "orientation" for staff, and then three one-day or day-and-a-half staff developments. These sessions start about four months before course. They may be at the Council office, at the camp where the course will be held, or somewhere else. Usually, parts of the staff will arrange to have additional meetings to work on their parts of the course. Staff also go to camp a few days before the course starts for each session.
- Prepare your presentations. Wood Badge is the height of training for Scouters, and every session must be the best possible. There is a syllabus so you don't have to invent the presentation, and indeed you must follow the syllabus, but still you need to prepare diligently and practice.
- Recruit participants. The more participants attend a course, the more value the Council and the community get from the course. We would like every course to be full. Staff are among the most important recruiters. Each staff member should recruit two or more participants.
- Costs. There is a staff fee. That covers food, camp insurance, and other things. If this cost would be a problem, talk to the course director about it before you agree to be on staff. Also, staff need to be in full official BSA field uniform, and most staff members find they need more than one uniform on course. Most staffers do incur some other expenses in the preparation or on course.
In general, every staff member is expected to arrive promptly for everything, be prepared, be cheerful, wear uniforms correctly, help every one else, and things like that. It's a Scouting thing.
How Are Course Directors Chosen?
Our council selection committee includes both volunteers (current or former Wood Badge course directors) and professionals (council advisors). The committee follows a prescribed set of criteria established by the National Council for selecting a course director. Then the recommendations are forwarded for approval. The approval process is in two parts. The first approval is from our council training chair and our council Scout Executive. Then the Area 1 Training Chair must approve the course director.