Back in 1992, WoodSpirits began. It started in a conversation held late at night, as so many good things do.

It remained talk all these years because I kept trying to make it fit into a”club” mold, a semi-formal organization, and you know, we’re grown ups. We don’t need to have clubs, organizations, leaders pushing us to do things and keeping track of what we do. We can do this by ourselves if we want to.

That realization is what finally pushed WoodSpirits from talk to action.

That fateful night in my friend’s kitchen, as we sat around her table talking about the fun we had in Camp Fire (for me) and Girl Scouts (for her) and Boy Scouts (for her husband and another friend) , we mourned the fact that we’d grown too old to be a Camp Fire Kid or a Scout. The best we could hope for was to live vicariously through our children in Camp Fire and Scouts. We’d never again experience the camaraderie of singing camp fire songs at a camp fire as we toasted s’mores, or making pinewood derby cars and racing them, or going on field trips with our friends. I can’t remember who said it, but one of us said, “We’re adults now, why can’t we have fun. too?”

And so WoodSpirits was born – our dream, back then, was a fun camping group with nature crafts and badges, hence the name. Conversations over the years expanded it. But, we were adults. We thought we didn’t have time, it was silly to actually do the things we dreamed of, we were too old for all of this. It was one thing to talk about it over wine and cheese or as we watched the children play in the playground or when we sat at a registration desk waiting for attendees to check in. It was another to actually commit and do it.

Last year, on my personal blog, I mentioned this again, and I placed growing WoodSpirits on my “70Things to Do Before I Turn 70 List” – which, for me, is only 7 years away now. It became real. Others responded that they wanted to do something like this, too. They missed being part of a youth group. I was still stuck on “group” activities, because we talked of “youth groups”, with weekly meetings, and organization and duties – and – it was just too much.

But why do we have to do it in an organized group? Why can’t we, as adults, be responsible for doing these things ourselves? We’re capable beings, determined, creative, adventurous, and we’ve got a lot of know-how under our belts. We don’t need a mother to ferry us to meetings and buy our badges and beads. We can do all of that ourselves. We can be WoodSpirits members without having to deal with groups and organizations and bureaucracy.

So, I started working on finding out what was the most appealing thing about being in a youth group – and the answer floored me. We can do anything we want, but sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, we need a little help figuring out how to get from wanting to doing. WoodSpirits could act as the mentor to each of us (even me – I still need someone to give me guidance and directions in spite of all the years I have lived and all the things I’ve already done).

I have a “Someday List” as in “Someday, I’d like to…” I believe you do, too. And you probably do what I did – you’d review that list, either on paper or in your mind, and sigh, and mutter, “someday” and put it away again. You have that quota to meet or that customer to serve or that meeting to sit in on, and maybe tomorrow you could think about what you really want to do.

Today is that day.

I know all your excuses. They were mine, too. I don’t have time. It’s silly. I’m too old. I’m too tired. And always, always, I don’t have time. And it’s all true. Every day is jampacked with our to-do list of chores. Just look at how well we do all of that. Apply all of that daring, creativity, determination, and know-how to our “Someday List” and you’ll quickly realize you do have time, and you can do things on your list. You just need a little savvy support, inspiration, and help.

We got that when we were kids, in Scouts, in Camp Fire, in other youth groups. We got real badges and beads and stickers for achieving real goals. We achieved those goals because someone took our projects and broke them down into small, doable steps. We had guidance, mentors, support, and celebrations.

And then we grew up.

The logic of those youth groups still applies to us now. I got a glimmer of that when I helped write a leader’s manual for the SpiralScouts – a new youth group. I don’t know why it took so long for that glimmer to grow into full-blown realization, but there it is. We can go from “Wouldn’t be nice if…” to “I did it!” in the same way. WoodSpirits can offer the extra we need to do this – alone, or with a Badge Buddy (or Patch Pal), or with a small group of friends we gather. But the big bright idea was – we can do it alone if we want to. We don’t need an organized group. We just need a clearing house of ideas, inspirations, support, and mentorship – and that WoodSpirits can provide.

We’ve gotten a number of people to create a collection of badges for grown ups, broken down into doable steps, and we’re working with artists to create those badges, which will be put up here in downloadable form so you, when you earn a badge, can download it on sticker paper or iron on transfer paper, and then proudly paste that sticke (or sew that iron on patch) where you can see it and show it off – your refrigerator, your briefcase, your bedroom door, your jacket, a banner.

Each time we earn a badge, each time we do it, we gain confidence, enlarge our repertoire of things we can do, and become more interesting to ourselves and to others.

No dream is too big, too small, or too silly to pursue. As adults, we can dream bigger and further than we ever could as children. We can dream about changing jobs and our hair color and both dreams are good. So is “get control of my debt” and “build a clothespin catapult.”

Find your dreams. WoodSpirits offers a resource of badges already broken into steps from which you can pick. Some of our pre-designed badges could be your dream. If your dream isn’t here – or our dreams don’t go far enough or quite the same way you want – you can use the badge creation formula to extend our badges or make your own.

Team up with a Badge Buddy (or a Patch Pal, if you prefer calling them “patches” instead of “badges”), a friend who will offer support and share in your celebrations as you earn your badges, who will listen when you need to rant about it or rave, and who might even join in to earn their own badges.

Then follow your dreams. Each of our badges reminds you of the rewards you will have from each activity, gives you a concise start here, and step-by-step tips and instructions on completing your badge. There’s no time line, no pressure to get each badge done. You do them at your pace on your terms. Because you’re an adult, and you want to do this, you’ll find you are earning those badges much faster than you expected when you started.

Once you finish your badge, download it and celebrate!

You can do it now. To ensure your success, here’s a toolkit to help you stay focused as you accomplish small and large things.

1. Write down your progress, rant and rave about what you’re doing, record your contacts, list your resources, plan your adventures, name the badge you’re striving towards and record your steps as you go along, and reflect upon what you’re doing. You can use a blank journal, a web journal, a scrapbook, or even record your progress on You Tube!

2. Use a calendar to make your dreams real. A paper calendar hung where you see it daily, a computer calendar that pops up reminders when you log on, a Day Runner, whatever works for you. Write down the dates when you plan to do the next step, then do them. Buy the supplies you need, make the one phone call or email that will move you forward. Keep it visible. Set your supplies where you can easily access them or see them.

3. Get to know your local resources. Help is everywhere. The co-worker who gives home made soaps may be thrilled to teach you how to make soap if you ask nicely. The woman in the museum who doesn’t seem intimidated by modern art may be delighted to talk to you about art, if you ask. Some specialty stores offer classes in their specialty – woodworking, leather crafts, cooking, laying tile…some are free, some cost. Check them out. Reference librarians and bookstores are also great resources. Continuing education departments at universities and community education classes at community colleges and vo-techs are also good places to check out. Don’t forget co-workers, other members of club and organizations to which you belong, or badge earning opportunities available in volunteer work you already do.

4. Go for it. WoodSpirits offers you badges, information, guidance, and ideas, but we’re not your mother and you aren’t in a youth group anymore. You can do these things because you know you want to. You can do them alone. Or you can find a Badge Buddy or form a small group. Pick an activity, follow a dream, and have fun!

You can share your dreams here, in the comments on each blog post. We’ll make areas where you can interact with others who also want to be WoodSpirits. You can share tips, find more ideas, meet mentors, become a mentor.

You can have fun.


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