Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, directed the first Wood Badge course in 1919 and gave each participant one of the beads he captured from African Chieftain Dinizulu. Thus did the course name develop, for its symbol was literally a badge of wood.
Wood Badge is, further, Scouting’s premier training course. Baden-Powell designed it so Scouters could learn, in as practical a way possible, the skills and methods of Scouting.
It is first and foremost learning by doing.
The members of the course are formed into patrols and these into a troop. The entire troop lives in the out-of-doors for part of the course, camping, cooking their own meals, and practicing Scout skills.
But Wood Badge is more than just mechanical coursework. Wood Badge is the embodiment of the Scouting spirit.
Like many intense training experiences, it has always relied on a busy schedule forcing the participants to work together, to organize and to develop an enthusiasm and team spirit to accomplish the tasks and challenges placed before them.
Carried out in the context of Scouting ideals and service to young people, the course brings out a deep dedication and spirit of brotherhood and fellowship in most participants. Certainly were it not for the common goal of the movement and its program for young people, it would be hard to motivate grown men and women to commit their time to this type of training.
The course is designed to be a highlight “a mountaintop experience” for the course participants. Careful planning and strict attention to detail provide physical/logistic support and a program second to none.
Add to this a thoroughly prepared and enthusiastic staff and it is little wonder that most Scouters return from Wood Badge inspired and prepared to do an even better job of providing Scouting to boys.
In addition to a fine course, all the traditions and heritage of Scouting are stressed and used to inspire those attending.
Wood Badge in one form or another is used throughout the Scouting world. Tens of thousands of Scouters proudly wear the Gilwell neckerchief, woggle, and beads of Wood Badge-trained leaders.
Because it was started by Baden-Powell in England in 1919, it is clearly backed by the finest thought and tradition of the founder and thus carries with it great prestige.
Wood Badge is a great force for world brotherhood. Though it uses the local traditions in each country, it emphasizes the international aspects of the movement and the heritage of Baden-Powell and Gilwell Park.
Wood Badge is delivered to all Scout leaders: Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Venturing leaders, as well as council and district leaders. Its focus is on leadership, not out-of-door skills.