The Beginning of Wood Badge
On the morning of September 8, 1919, nineteen men dressed in short pants and knee socks, their shirt-sleeves rolled up, assembled by patrols for the first Scoutmasters' training camp held at Gilwell Park in Epping Forest, outside London, England. The camp was designed and guided by Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a 61 year-old retired general of the British Army and the founder of the World Scouting Movement.
When Baden-Powell was looking for a token to award those who went through the Gilwell training course, he remembered the Zulu necklace that he had found when on campaign in South Africa during 1888, and the leather thong given to him by an elderly African at Mafeking. He took two of the smaller beads, drilled them through the center, threaded them onto the thong and called it the Wood Badge.
The first sets of beads issued were all from the original necklace, but the supply soon ran short. Subsequently, one exercise on the early courses was to be given one original Acacia bead and be told to carve the other from hornbeam or beech. Eventually beech wood beads became the norm and for many years were made by Gilwell staff in their spare time. Again in the early days Wood Badge participants received one bead on taking the practical course at Gilwell and received a second bead on completing the theoretical part (answers to questions) and a set period of in-service training.
For 10 years, Wood Badge courses were conducted by the Boy Scouts of America exclusively for the purpose of training representatives from councils in methods of training and how to help with the leadership training programs of their own councils. Participants were required to subscribe to an agreement of service to this effect.
Since 1958, qualified local councils have been authorized to conduct their own Wood Badge courses to provide advanced leadership training for Scoutmasters and those Scouters who support troop operations. With regional approval, two or more local councils may also cooperate in conducting this training experience in a cluster-council Wood Badge course.
In the late 1960's, the principles of leadership development were introduced experimentally into Wood Badge. By 1972, they had become an integral part of the program. The skills of leadership were emphasized in Wood Badge as a means of fostering the growth of up-to-date leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes among Scouting's leaders. By the late 1970's, Wood Badge had evolved. Revisions completed in 1979 provided a continued emphasis on leadership skills, balanced by both Scoutcraft and program activities.
The course content was revised in 1994 to incorporate key elements of Ethics in Action introduced into Boy Scout training and literature between 1991-1995. Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge reinforces and supplements the materials included in the Scoutmaster Handbook, the Scoutmasters' Junior Leader Training Kit (1991), the Junior Leader Training Conference Staff Guide (1992 and 1995), Continuing Education for Scout Leaders (1993), the Train the Trainer Conference (1993), and Scoutmastership Fundamentals (1994).
A new version of advanced leadership training, 21st Century Wood Badge, was introduced in 2003. Wood Badge continues to provide advanced training in the most current methods of the Boy Scouts of America.
Axe and Log – The ax and log symbol associated with Wood Badge is actually the totem of Giwell Park.
Wood Badge Beads – In 1888 during a military campaign in Africa, Baden-Powell acquired a necklace of wooden beads from the hut of a warrior chief named Dinizulu. Years later at the conclusion of the first Wood Badge course, Baden-Powell gave each course graduate a bead from the necklace. The "Wood Badge" program takes its name from these beads. Since then, more than 100,000 Scouters worldwide have completed Wood Badge courses and can wear replicas of the original wooden beads.
The Leather Thong
The other important part of the Wood Badge, apart from the beads, is the leather thong itself. Baden-Powell was originally given one during the course of the Siege of Mafeking in 1899/1900 when the campaign fared poorly. An elderly man met Baden-Powell and asked him about his unusually depressed appearance. Then the man took the leather thong that he had been wearing from around his neck and placed it in Baden-Powell's hand. 'Wear this,' he said. 'My mother gave it to me for luck. Now it will bring you luck.' So from these two souvenirs of his military career in Africa, the leather thong from an old man at Mafeking and from Dinizulu's necklace, Baden-Powell fashioned what is now known all over the world as the Wood Badge.
The Gilwell Neckerchief – On W. F. de Bois MacLaren's death in 1921, the Gilwell staff wore a scarf made of Maclaren tartan to honor of his contributions to the Scouting Movement. In perpetual appreciation for his generosity, Wood Badge adopted the tartan of the MacLaren clan. It is this a patch of Maclaren tartan that appears on the point of the Wood Badge neckerchief, and in 1924 became restricted to Wood Badge holders only. Today the neckerchief is a taupe color rather than it's original grey but the reason and the date of this development has not been found.
The Gilwell Woggle – The woggle was first created in the early 1920's by Bill Shankley, a member of the Gilwell staff. He produced a two-strand Turk's head slide which was adopted as the official woggle. In 1943, John Thurman, the Camp Chief, wanted some form of recognition of the completion of each stage of the Leader Training programme and it seemed logical to present some part of the Wood Badge insignia on the completion of what was then called Basic Training. So from 1943 until 1989 the Gilwell woggle was awarded on the completion of Basic Training and the Gilwell neckerchief and the Wood Badge beads on the completion of Advanced Training.
Kudu Horn – During his military service in the Matabele War of 1896, Baden-Powell observed members of the Matabele tribe blowing on the horn of a kudu to signal to one another. Its deep booming sound (when played with skill and no small amount of courage) could be heard at long distances. He brought a kudu horn back to England with him, and in the summer of 1907, when he held his first experimental camp on Brownsea Island, Baden-Powell sounded the horn to assemble his campers. Since that time, the kudu horn has been a symbol of the Wood Badge course throughout the world.
The original horn was entrusted to Gilwell Park in 1920 for use in Scout training courses. Baden-Powell would use that same horn to open the 3rd World Jamboree held at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, England in 1929. The Jamboree was known as the "Coming of Age" Jamboree as it celebrated 21 years since the foundation of the Scouting Movement, and was where Sir Baden-Powell was named the 1st Barron of Gilwell by King George V.
Gilwell Song – The Gilwell Song has been sung by generations of Wood Badge participants — always energetically, but with wildly varying degrees of harmonic success.
Wood Badge Links
Gilwell Park - "a home to all Wood Badge holders" is an International Scout Activity Centre and Training Centre situated on 108 acres in North-East London (UK).
Wood Badge For The 21st Century... Is the ultimate leadership training program for the adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America. Similar courses on the corporate side cost thousands of dollars per attendee and may not offer the same depth. It is a leadership course designed for all adult Scouters. It is hoped that every Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Venturing leader, as well as council and district leaders and professionals, will take the Wood Badge course within two years of becoming a Scouter.
The curriculum is structured to reflect the natural progression of a unit program, building through a series of unit meetings and culminating with a monthly highlight outing. While the majority of the training is set within the structure of a Boy Scout troop, the delivery method offers a natural bridge to teach leadership lessons applicable to any of Scouting's programs, including Cub Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Venturing, and district and council operations.
The Wood Badge Ticket:
The primary purpose of the Wood Badge experience is to strengthen Scouting in our units, districts, and local councils. The Wood Badge "ticket" represents the participant's commitment to complete a set of personal goals relating to that individual's Scouting position. These goals will significantly strengthen the program in which the participant is involved. In addition, the ticket gives participants an opportunity to practice and demonstrate a working knowledge of the leadership skills presented during the course. Participants should complete their Wood Badge ticket no later than 18 months after the course.
Upon completion of the Wood Badge ticket, as certified by a ticket counselor and the Scout executive, the participant will be presented with the Wood Badge certificate, neckerchief, woggle, and beads at an appropriate public ceremony.
What's in it for YOU?
Wood Badge will help you improve your role in Scouting. It will help you focus on your responsibilities, identify a goal, help you work toward that goal and give you the tools to reach it. But Wood Badge is more than that. It teaches how a group develops and how the leader can assist in that process. It is about the interrelationship of all members of the Scouting family. It helps identify the connections between the district, the council, and the individual unit. It shows you how to tie Scouting's values into unit meetings with outings. Wood Badge is more than a classroom it is games and hands-on projects. You will come away with an appreciation of Scouting's heritage as well as a dream for the role you will play in its future the impact you will make on a youth in your own unit at home.