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There’s No Upside...

Michael Leavitt shares his innermost thoughts as they relate to his personal and family life. He can be heard to say often to his kids... “There’s no upside!”

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My Wood Badge Beading Ceremony - 11/24/2013

My Wood Badge Beading Ceremony - 11/24/2013

b2ap3_thumbnail_MDL.jpgAfter 28 years of adult leadership in the Boy Scouts of America, I finally was awarded my own personal beads from Wood Badge. How cool is that?

Wood Badge is advanced Boy Scouts of America leadership training that helps an adult leader better understand the roles of young men as they progress through scouting. The six day course culminates with the participant creating a Wood Badge Ticket that features 5 goals that must be completed within an 18 month period in order to receive your beads. After 14 months, I am happy to report that I completed my goals and was ready to be awarded.

Bob Church was our Buffalo Patrol Guide and he gladly arranged his schedule to be at the meeting and conduct the ceremony. Bob has been a great example to me and he exudes great love for Scouting. Of my Buffalo Patrol members, both Jason Fletcher and Ken Plumber were also able to attend. In fact, when they arrived it was as though a great love filled my soul. I equate it to a brotherly love that only happens when you have endured a great trial or experience together. Along with an incredible feeling of love comes a great trust. I had not expected it, but when I saw and hugged each of these three men I was taken back to feeling those same feelings as Wood Badge drew to a close.


The ceremony lasted about 14 minutes and Bob Church had the audiences full attention from the moment he walked to the front of the room with an axe in one hand and a log in the other. He took a swing and embedded the axe into the log and declared the ceremony in session and away we went. He taught the audience about the symbolism of the beads, the woggle, the neckerchief, the tartan, as well as the history of Wood Badge. And while my bead award was the spotlight, the ultimate goal was to inspire the men and women in the room to earn theirs, and for the young Scouts to aspire to earn their beads one day as they progress into adult Scouting leadership.


All in all it was a great success. I am so glad that most of the family was healthy enough to attend, as this was one of the highlights of my adult life.



Here is how I reported them to Bob Church upon my completion...


Below are the write-ups for each of my 5 ticket goals. You have the initial goal sheets, but these are the follow-up assessments of each goal.

1. – Fall 2012

The success of is multi-faceted. It still receives over 2,000 hits a month from all over the world. Is it worth maintaining, I believe so and plan on hosting it for 5 years and then making the determination as to what it should morph into.

  • 1)      FRIENDSHIPS – The site has been an ongoing source of friendship information center for those that attended our specific Wood Badge course.
  • 2)      SELF-BENEFIT – Creating the site allowed me to think through all of the information presented and then figure out how to best present aspects of it to entice others to attend Wood Badge.
  • 3)      I receive multiple contacts each months from participants, either with news of their successes, or questions about Scouting.
  • 4)      WAS IT A SUCCESS? – I believe so. Participants have thanked me for archiving the information and photos and repeatedly thanked me for the ability to return to the site and download photos and videos of themselves at Wood Badge.
  • 5)      SOCIAL CENTER – My goals were a bit optimistic on setting up a private social network since this was a two week event in the participant’s lives and they have returned back to their lives. There was just no way to extend the friendships privately because those that want to communicate just use the public Facebook. It was a valiant try using that social networking module, but I could have forgone that feature and nobody would have noticed the difference.

The rest of the site is still a great success.

2. Aquatic Center Ticket – Fall 201

I have the informational flier you created as well as the e-mail you sent me after the presentation with the news that it went well.  If you would just update me on how the Center did this year, if it benefited from your proposal, the success you saw etc.  That will fulfill the self-assessment portion and with that, that ticket will be completed.


I completed every aspect of my ticket goal, and the BSA Council dropped the ball and virtually nothing came from all the preliminary strategic planning. This is the perfect example of a ticket goal succeeding, but would have been a failure if I tied the goal to the success or failure of the outcome of my efforts.

  • 1)      The Council promised funds for major upgrade and we proceeded forth as a camp committee as though those funds would come to fruition. Our Council Liaison, Darryl Alder, kept stressing that we should either press forth, or sell the property and close up shop. He said it was up to us, yet the generous donation that was promoted as a sure bet, never came to fruition. I feel that this was way beyond any control that I had in the situation.
  • 2)      All of the plans, drawings, and long term goals are currently set on the back-burner and I cannot tell if they will ever proceed.
  • 3)      As for my investment of time researching and developing goals for totally recreating the Frandsen’s Scofield Scout Camp into a one of a kind BSA aquatics base, as still just that. All that is required is money, and lots of it. Politics come into play and the council is currently streaming their funds to newer camps like Tifie.
  • 4)      HOW DO I FEEL? – I still feel a bit chapped. Whether we were misled, or whether the carpet was just pulled out beneath us, it is always sad to see thousands of volunteer hours by men of all experience levels, just set aside and the decisions are made by those much higher up the food chain. I think I get so frustrated because I am a one man enterprise, and when I make a decision, then it is done. Working by committee and subcommittee is much more difficult. I still believe that it will come to pass, but not with the same immediacy as we originally planned. One thing is for sure, and that is when the governing organization has deemed you a red-headed step-child, then don’t plan on being the favorite son. Currently Scofield is deemed to have red hair.

3.  BSA Edge Training - November 2012

I attended the EDGE training presented by the Fort Utah District in Provo, Utah on November 17, 2012. The day was well spent and several attendees were inspired to be there as a result of my contacting them via I liked the approach and it helped me further polish my public speaking skills. I was very familiar with the majority of concepts presented, but any time I can step back and evaluate my teaching skills, then it is a huge personal growth bonus. I think I will take the training about every 3 to 5 years and even pursue being one of the presenters. I still encourage all of the Scout leaders I know to attend EDGE training.

4.  Caving Training – October-November 2013

CAVING TRAINING – A nearby Varsity Team in Orem wants to go caving and they need to have their leaders and boys trained to be able to safely descend and then climb back up the rope 80 vertical feet to get back out of the cave again.

  • 1)       This will require pre-trip training sessions, overseen and taught by me, since I have the BSA and caving credentials.
  • 2)       I will also be required to train the adult leaders and boys leaders their Team roles during the events so that a safe caving event can take place without any injuries.
  • 3)       Trained boys from my Varsity Team will also be junior trainers and examples to the other team.
  • 4)       This training program will lead to a bonus vertical cave trip with the neighboring Varsity Team.

NOTE: This trip is not part of this goal due to the fact that the final trip is beyond my control and the responsibility of the other Team to plan, prepare, and bring to fruition. My WB goal includes preparing them adequately for the event.
This ticket will require my training another team, my involving my experienced Varsity Scouts to be junior leaders, instilling the confidence in the other Team’s members so that they can successfully pull off an extreme caving event. In essence, I will be training the other team and handing off the baton of responsibility that will allow them to conduct their own vertical caving trips in the future.
STATUS – I met with the Timpview Stake 4th Ward Varsity Team on two separate nights and had both classroom and hands-on training regarding caving and the safe methods for climbing rope. This team already has extensive canyoneering experience including rapelling, but they have never been in a cave and/or used mechanical equipment to climb rope. I also took their YM President along on a caving trip so that he could better prepare his YM emotionally for their upcoming trips.
TRAINING METHODS – I had Varsity Team Captain, Aaron Leavitt, demonstrate property ascending techniques with full safety great while climbing a rope suspended from a 30 foot tree. The YM were amazed and watched carefully. Then we equipped each young man and gave them the opportunity to climb a rope that we fed with a pulley. This allowed the YM to stay about 6 to 12 feet off the ground and continue climbing while the belayer fed more rope through. The leaders were re-trained on proper climbing and belay techniques.
SAFETY EQUIPMENT – The YM wore boots, long pants, gloves, and helmets, along with climbing harnesses and ascending gear. Proper verbal commands were taught and followed.
CHALLENGE – The YM were challenged to leave the initial training and practice as a Team and ensure that each member, including the leaders, could climb 180 feet of rope in under 15 minutes. Those unable to do so would not be allowed to participate in any vertical caving trips until they could meet that goal.
RESULTS – On our second joint visit it was reported that the entire team and the leaders were under 15 minutes, with some being in the 4 minute range. One over-sized YM had started an exercise and diet program that was now allowing him to finish in about 14 minutes, instead of the over twenty minutes it took him in the beginning.
SECOND VISIT – On the second visit we had the boys and leaders how up with all of their gear needed for a caving outing. We then discussed flashlights and the need for 3 sources of light. We talked about water bottles and how to use them as pee bottles. We also reviewed the other gear needed for both warm caves and cold caves. Then we went into the Cultural hall and rigged the rope off the high BBall assembly. I reviewed the technique of each climber and also evaluated the leaders on their technique and knowledge of needed rigging knots and BSA climbing rules and regulations.
ENDORSEMENT – I have now endorsed the Varsity Team as being ready for a vertical caving trip on the grounds that they take a trip with an experienced Trip leader like myself.
FEELINGS – I really enjoyed being able to train another Varsity Team and empower them with the knowledge and skills that can only be shared by somebody who has real-life experience. Book learning can only take you so far. I felt that my preparation and execution of the trainings was top-notch and each participant was anxiously involved. I kept telling them of the life risks associated with vertical caving and that if I was to take them on a trip with me, that their skills might be needed to save my life. I pointed out that I only take people who are able to save me in an emergency, just like they would expect me to be able to save them… That was really effective, especially as they learned the 5 critical knots needed for caving. Thanks for allowing me to use this as one of my ticket goals.

5. National Advancement Training – November 2013

STATUS – On Saturday, November 2, 2013 I attended a special training being put on at the BSA Council Office in Orem regarding advancement. I was the only one from my LDS Stake in attendance. Although not an Advancement Specialist, I attended as a Varsity Coach who wanted to know the latest and greatest from the National Advancement team.
OUTCOME – I enjoyed the 4 hour training and then I brought back the information to out Ward Key Scouter Committee with a new focus on getting our young men advanced. We have two YM who are currently finishing up their Eagle ranks and I met with each YM to discuss their goals and encourage them to finish before the end of 2013 to avoid having to earn year another required merit badges.
REALITIES – Trainings like this are needed to remind us, and refocus us towards the goal of getting our young men through their advancement in Scouting. Unfortunately, very few people that work directly with the YM actually attend. Those that do attend have the responsibility to help disseminate the information. I was very happy to do that with our Varsity and Troop committees.

Bob, please let me know if there is anything else I need to provide.
Thanks in advance!
Michael Leavitt – Orem, Utah – – Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc. – 801-636-6816

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