For The 21st Century

  • Who Attends Wood Badge

Wood Badge for the 21st Century has been developed for Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout and Venturing Leaders, as well as council and district leaders. The course content and leadership principles introduced apply to Scouters in all leadership positions and will provide a common foundation of leadership skills to be used throughout all program areas.

What is Wood Badge For The 21st Century 

In 1911, Baden-Powell took the first steps in training Scouting's adult leaders by organizing a series of lectures for Scouters. He made great strides in the years that followed, culminating in 1919 with the establishment of Wood Badge training. Wood Badge recipients now number more than 100,000 and can be found in all corners of the world.

  • Wood Badge is the advanced leadership and team-building training for adult leaders.
  • It teaches skills that are useful in Scouting and elsewhere
  • The program is for Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout and Venture leaders as well as council and district leaders.
  • Wood Badge for the 21st Century focuses on leadership, not outdoor skills.

The 21st Century Wood Badge course brings together leaders from all areas of Scouting - Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Venturing, and all levels of BSA's professional staff. Reflecting the best of nearly a century of Scouting experience, 21st Century Wood Badge also draws upon the most current leadership models being used by corporate America, academic circles, and successful outdoor leadership organizations throughout the country.

The Wood Badge course is designed to represent a month in the life of a Scout unit, with participants entering as Cub Scouts, then bridging into Boy Scouting to form patrols for the remainder of the program. Selected staff members will interact with participants as a Venturing crew.  Participants will take part in numerous presentations,discussions, and activities that explore and advance a wide range of leadership philosophies and tools. In addition to all the opportunities for learning at a Wood Badge course, participants will find a tremendous amount of fellowship, a keen sense of accomplishment, and plenty of fun. 21st Century Wood Badge should:

  • Enhance leaders ability to train other leaders who can effectively lead their groups.
  • Increase the number of units using small and large group models best defined by the patrol method.
  • Increase the efficiency and effectiveness with which units operate.
  • Leaders will be more effective working with large units comprised of many dens/patrols/adults giving more individuals the opportunity to lead.
  • Improve retention of adult leaders through increased personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Themes of Wood Badge For The 21st Century

 Wood Badge has five Central Themes:

The themes that follow encapsulate the course content of Wood Badge for the Twenty-First Century.

1)  Living the Values
  • Values, mission, and vision
  • Aims and methods
2)  Bringing the Vision to Life
  • Listening to learn
  • Communicating
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Valuing people and leveraging diversity
  • Coaching and mentoring
3) Models for Success
  • Team development model
  • Situational Leadership
4) Tools of the Trade
  • Project planning and problem solving
  • Managing conflict
  • Assessing team performance
  • Managing change
  • Celebrating team success
5)  Leading to Make a Difference
  • Leaving a legacy
  • Learning the greatest leadership secret

 The Objectives of Wood Badge

Wood Badge has four specific objectives:

  1. As a result of attending Wood Badge, participants will be able to:
  2. View Scouting globally, as a family of interrelated, values-based programs that provide age-appropriate activities for youth.
  3. Recognize the contemporary leadership concepts utilized in corporate America and leading government organizations that are relevant to our values-based movement.
  4. Apply the skills they learn from their participation as a member of a successful working team.
  5. Revitalize their commitment by sharing in an overall inspirational experience that helps provide Scouting with the leadership it needs to accomplish its mission on an ongoing basis.

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Wood Badge Course Format

How is Wood Badge Presented?

Wood Badge consists of two phases. The first is the practical phase. This consists of two full weekends at camp plus two midweek patrol meetings between the weekends. The second, or application phase, occurs after the weekends and consists of "working your ticket".

Wood Badge Ticket

As part of the practical course you create a plan to put the leadership skills in action, called a "Ticket".  In Baden-Powell's day, those in the military were expected to pay their own way back to England at the end of their service.  To economize, soldiers nearing completion of their duties would seek assignments at posts increasingly close to home - a process known as "working your ticket."   During the second part or application phase, you will have a period of 6 to 18 months to "Work Your 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 your commitment to complete a set of personal goals relating to your Scouting position. These goals will significantly strengthen the program in which you are involved. In addition, the ticket gives you an opportunity to practice and demonstrate a working knowledge of the leadership skills presented during the course. You should complete your Wood Badge ticket no later than 18 months after the course. When completed, you will have earned your Wood Badge beads, woggle, and neckerchief.

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History of Wood Badge

In 1911, 4 years after Scouting began in Great Britain, General Baden-Powell began training Scouters through a series of lectures. In 1919, Mr. W. de Bois Maclaren purchased an estate in Epping Forest, near London, called Gilwell Park and presented it to the Scouting movement. On the morning of September 8, 1919, the 61 year-old retired general of the British Army, General Baden-Powell, stepped out into the center of a clearing at Gilwell Park. He raised to his lips the horn of a Greater Kudu, one of the largest of African antelopes. He blew a long sharp blast. 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. The camp was designed and guided by Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the World Scouting Movement.

When they had finished their training together on September 19, 1919, Baden-Powell gave each man a simple wooden bead from a necklace he had found in a deserted hut of Zulu chieftain Dinizulu when on campaign in South Africa in 1888. The Scoutmasters' training course was a great success and continues to be held year-after-year. At the end of each course the wooden beads are used to recognize the completion of training. When the original beads ran out, new ones were whittled to maintain the tradition established by Lord Baden-Powell. Because of these beads, the course came to be known as the Wood Badge Course. It continues to this day in England and around the world as the advanced training course for leaders in Scouting.

In 1936, an experimental Wood Badge Course was conducted in the United States at the Schiff Scout Reservation. Then in 1948, the first American Wood Badge Course was introduced in the United States as advanced training for trainers of Boy Scout leaders. Later, the program was extended to include troop committee members, commissioners, and Explorer leaders.

Experiments began in the late 1960's with a leadership development Wood Badge course emphasizing 11 leadership skills or "competencies." This program was launched in 1972 in support of a major revision of the Boy Scout phase program. The first experimental Cub Scout Trainer Wood Badge was field tested in 1976 and has now been established as the official advanced training program in Cub Scouting. In 1978, an evaluation of Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge revealed a need for greater emphasis on the practical aspects of good troop operation, mixed with a variety of leadership exercises. The course content was revised in 1994 to incorporate key elements of Ethics in Action. In 2001 Wood Badge was developed for ALL LEADERS in the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout and Venturing Programs, in addition to council and district leaders. This course replaced Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge and Cub Scout Trainer Wood Badge.

The two most important changes are:

  1. its focus is on the latest techniques in Leadership; and
  2. the course is for all leaders in the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Venturing programs, as well as council and district leaders.

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Wood Badge Training Recognition

Upon completion of the Wood Badge ticket, as certified by a ticket counselor and the Scout executive, you will be presented with the Wood Badge certificate, neckerchief, woggle, and beads at an appropriate public ceremony.

  • the axe and log, is the symbol of Wood Badge. It was adopted in the early 1920's as the symbol for Gilwell Park, where the first Wood Badge course was held in 1919. Today, it serves as the symbol for Gilwell Park. The area where a Wood Badge course is held is always called Gilwell Park in recognition of the location of the first course outside London.
  • the song "Back to Gilwell" was found in "The Second Gilwell Campfire Book" by John Thurman and Rex Hazlewood. It is sung during the course and at all Wood Badge reunions.
  • the Wood Badge patrol names are usually standardized in each course. They vary from country to country and with courses taught for different parts of the Scouting program such as Cubbing, Venturing, Exploring, etc.
  • the Kudu horn, was the horn of a Greater Kudu, one of the largest of African antelopes, that Baden-Powell brought back from Africa and made into a trumpet to call classes to order. Today a Kudu horn is traditionally used in all courses.
  • the wooden beads of Dinizulu, were on a necklace about 12 foot long containing about 1,000 wooden beads which Baden-Powell took from Zulu Chief Dinizulu's hut after a battle in Zululand. Baden-Powell gave these to people on special occasions to wear at the end of a lace worn on a campaign hat. Later he attached the beads to a leather thong to be worn around the neck. As he ran out of Dinizulu's beads, he give participants one bead and as them to carve a second bead. Later he had the staff at Gilwell Park make beads. The two beads on the leather thong is called the "Wood Badge," and gave the name "Wood Badge" to the advanced training course for adult leaders.
  • the Maclaren tartan is displayed on the Wood Badge neckerchief. It was adopted in 1921 after Mr. W. de Bois Maclaren, who donated Gilwell Park to the Scouting Association, died. Originally then entire neckerchief was the wool Maclaren tartan. Withing 2 years they just used a small square of the tartan on each neckerchief to save money.
  • the woggle is a Turk's Head neckerchief slide made of 2 round strands of leather. It was adopted in 1943 after Baden-Powell's death as a recognition for the completion of training.

The beads of Dinizulu on a leather thong, a neckerchief with Maclaren tartan, and the woggle "made from the never ending leather thong" are presented when the Wood Badge "ticket" is completed. Scouters all over the world proudly wear the neckerchief, woggle, and beads of Wood Badge trained leaders. Ever since it was begun by Baden-Powell in England in 1919, Wood Badge training has represented the finest tradition of the founder and carries with it great prestige. Wood Badge is a great force for the world brotherhood and the heritage of Baden-Powell and Gilwell Park.

Many Scouters consider Wood Badge to be one of the highlights of their Scouting careers. It has served as a source of training and inspiration to thousands. In return, Wood Badge participants have positively affected the lives of millions of America's youth.

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Wood Badge Song, Back To Gilwell

Back To Gilwell


Back to Gilwell, happy land; I'm going to work my ticket if I can.

I used to be a beaver, and a good old beaver too;
But now I've finished beavering, I don't know what to do.
I'm growing old and feeble and I can beaver no more;
So I'm going to work my ticket if I can.
Back To Gilwell, happy land; I'm going to work my ticket if I can.

(Beavers, Bobwhites, Eagles, Foxes, Owls, Bears, Buffaloes,
Antelopes, Ravens, Crows, Wolves, Hawks, Carsons, Bridgers,
Clarks, Boones, and Staffers)

Back To Gilwell, happy land; I'm going to work my ticket if I can.
He used to be a staffer, and a good old staffer too.
But now he's finished staffing, we know what we must do.
His staffing days are over, and he can staff no more.
So we're going to work his ticket if we can.
Back to Gilwell, number one; we're going to work his ticket 'till it's done.

The last verse is called the Burnham Patrol Verse. This verse is dedicated to the memory of Green Bar Bill Hilcourt. It was written and introduced at Wood Badge course NE-IV-64 held at the Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation in 1993 by the Course Scoutmaster, Earl P. Moyer, a Clark.

The cartoon is by Sal Sepulveda, Jr.

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