Wood Badge

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Wood Badge
Scout woodbadge beads.jpg
Wood Badge beads on top of the 1st Gilwell Scout Group neckerchief.
Founder Baden-Powell
Awarded forCompletion of leadership training
Membership> 100,000
WikiProject Scouting fleur-de-lis dark.svg  Scouting portal

Wood Badge is a Scouting leadership programme and the related award for adult leaders in the programmes of Scout associations throughout the world. Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scout movement. Courses generally have a combined classroom and practical outdoors-based phase followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase. By "working the ticket", participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement. The first Wood Badge training was organized by Francis "Skipper" Gidney and lectured at by Robert Baden-Powell and others at Gilwell Park (United Kingdom) in September 1919. Wood Badge training has since spread across the world with international variations.


On completion of the course, participants are awarded the Wood Badge beads to recognize significant achievement in leadership and direct service to young people. The pair of small wooden beads, one on each end of a leather thong (string), is worn around the neck as part of the Scout uniform. The beads are presented together with a taupe neckerchief bearing a tartan patch of the Maclaren clan, honoring William de Bois Maclaren, who donated the £7000 to purchase Gilwell Park in 1919 plus an additional £3000 for improvements to the house that was on the estate. The neckerchief with the braided leather woggle (neckerchief slide) denotes the membership of the 1st Gilwell Scout Group or Gilwell Troop 1. Recipients of the Wood Badge are known as Wood Badgers or Gilwellians.

Scout leader training course


First Wood Badge training at Gilwell Park First Wood Badge training Gilwell Park September 1919.jpg
First Wood Badge training at Gilwell Park

Soon after founding the Scout movement, Robert Baden-Powell saw the need for leader training. Early Scoutmaster training camps were held in London and Yorkshire. Baden-Powell wanted practical training in the outdoors in campsites. World War I delayed the development of leader training, so the first formal Wood Badge course was not offered until 1919. [1] [2] [3] Gilwell Park, just outside London, was purchased specifically to provide a venue for the course and the Opening Ceremonies were held on July 26, 1919. Francis Gidney, the first Camp Chief at Gilwell Park, conducted the first Wood Badge course there from September 8–19, 1919. It was produced by Percy Everett, the Commissioner of Training, and Baden-Powell himself gave lectures. The course was attended by 18 participants, and other lecturers. After this first course, Wood Badge training continued at Gilwell Park, and it became the home of leadership training in the Scout movement. [4]

Modern curriculum

The main goals of a Wood Badge course are to: [5] [6] [7]

Generally, a Wood Badge course consists of classroom work, a series of self-study modules, outdoor training, and the Wood Badge "ticket" or "project". Classroom and outdoor training are often combined and taught together, and occur over one or more weeks or weekends. As part of completing this portion of the course, participants must write their tickets.

The exact curriculum varies from country to country, but the training generally includes both theoretical and experiential learning. All course participants are introduced to the 1st Gilwell Scout group or Gilwell Scout Troop 1 (the latter name is used in the Boy Scouts of America and some other countries). In the Boy Scouts of America, they are also assigned to one of the traditional Wood Badge "critter" patrols. Instructors deliver training designed to strengthen the patrols. One-on-one work with an assigned troop guide helps each participant to reflect on what he has learned, so that he can better prepare an individualized "ticket". This part of the training program gives the adult Scouter the opportunity to assume the role of a Scout joining the original "model" troop, to learn firsthand how a troop ideally operates. The locale of all initial training is referred to as Gilwell Field, no matter its geographical location. [8]


The phrase 'working your ticket' comes from a story attributed in Scouting legend to Baden-Powell: Upon completion of a British soldier's service in India, he had to pay the cost of his ticket home. The most affordable way for a soldier to return was to engineer a progression of assignments that were successively closer to home.

Part of the transformative power of the Wood Badge experience is the effective use of metaphor and tradition to reach both heart and mind. In most Scout associations, "working your ticket" is the culmination of Wood Badge training. Participants apply themselves and their new knowledge and skills to the completion of items designed to strengthen the individual's leadership and the home unit's organizational resilience in a project or "ticket". The ticket consists of specific goals that must be accomplished within a specified time, often 18 months due to the large amount of work involved. Effective tickets require much planning and are approved by the Wood Badge course staff before the course phase ends. Upon completion of the ticket, a participant is said to have earned his way back to Gilwell. [9]

On completion

After completion of the Wood Badge course, participants are awarded the insignia in a Wood Badge bead ceremony. [10] They receive automatic membership in 1st Gilwell Park Scout Group or Gilwell Troop 1. These leaders are henceforth called Gilwellians or Wood Badgers. It is estimated that worldwide over 100,000 Scouters have completed their Wood Badge training. [11] The 1st Gilwell Scout Group meets annually during the first weekend in September at Gilwell Park for the Gilwell Reunion. [12] Gilwell Reunions are also held in other places, often on that same weekend.


Wood Badge neckerchief, set of three beads (training staff), and woggle Wood badge regalia 1.jpg
Wood Badge neckerchief, set of three beads (training staff), and woggle

Scout leaders who complete the Wood Badge program are recognized with insignia consisting of the Wood Badge beads, 1st Gilwell Group neckerchief and woggle.


The Gilwell woggle is a two-strand version of a Turk's head knot, which has no beginning and no end, and symbolizes the commitment of a Wood Badger to Scouting. [2] [3] In some countries, Wood Badge training is divided into more than one part and the Gilwell woggle is given for completion of Wood Badge Part I.


King Dinuzulu, wearing what is perhaps the necklace from which the original Wood Badge beads came Dinizulu.jpg
King Dinuzulu, wearing what is perhaps the necklace from which the original Wood Badge beads came
The monument to the Battle of Isandlwana depicts a beaded Zulu necklace similar to the one used for the original Wood Badge beads Isandlwanazulumem.JPG
The monument to the Battle of Isandlwana depicts a beaded Zulu necklace similar to the one used for the original Wood Badge beads

The beads were first presented at the initial leadership course in September 1919 at Gilwell Park.

The origins of Wood Badge beads can be traced back to 1888, when Baden-Powell was on a military campaign in Zululand (now part of South Africa). He pursued Dinuzulu, son of Cetshwayo, a Zulu king, for some time, but never managed to catch up with him. Dinuzulu was said to have had a 12-foot (4 m)-long necklace with more than a thousand acacia beads. [13] Baden-Powell is claimed to have found the necklace when he came to Dinuzulu's deserted mountain stronghold. [3] [14] Such necklaces were known as iziQu in Zulu and were presented to brave warrior leaders. [15]

Much later, Baden-Powell sought a distinctive award for the participants in the first Gilwell course. He constructed the first award using two beads from the necklace he had recovered, and threaded them onto a leather thong given to him by an elderly South African in Mafeking, calling it the Wood Badge. [1] [2] [3]

While no official knot exists for tying the two ends of the thong together, the decorative diamond knot has become the most common. When produced, the thong is joined by a simple overhand knot and various region specific traditions have arisen around tying the diamond knot, including: having a fellow course member tie it; having a mentor or course leader tie it; and having the recipient tie it after completing some additional activity that shows he or she has mastered the skills taught to him or her during training. [3]

Significance of additional beads

Additional beads are awarded to Wood Badgers who serve as part of a Wood Badge training team. One additional bead is awarded to each Assistant Leader Trainer (Wood Badge or NYLT staff) and two additional beads are awarded to each Leader Trainer (Wood Badge or NYLT course directors), for a total of four. [3]

As part of a tradition, five beads may be worn by the "Deputy Camp Chiefs of Gilwell". The Deputy Camp Chiefs are usually the personnel of National Scout Associations in charge of Wood Badge training. The fifth bead symbolizes the Camp Chief's position as an official representative of Gilwell Park, and his or her function in maintaining the global integrity of Wood Badge training. [3] William Hillcourt is one person who wore five beads.

The founder of the Scouting movement, Robert Baden-Powell, wore six beads, as did Sir Percy Everett, then Deputy Chief Scout and the Chief's right hand. Baden-Powell's beads are on display at Baden-Powell House in London. Everett endowed his six beads to be worn by the Camp Chief of Gilwell as a badge of office. Since that time the wearer of the sixth bead has generally been the director of leader training at Gilwell Park. [3]

Number of beadsWorn by
2Wood Badge recipient
3Deputy Gilwell Course Leader
4Gilwell Course Leader
5Deputy Camp Chief of Gilwell Park, National Training Commissioner (one per country)
6Camp Chief of Gilwell Park; Chief Scout of the World

1st Gilwell Scout Group neckerchief

MacLaren Tartan MacLaren Tartan.jpg
MacLaren Tartan

The neckerchief is a universal symbol of Scouting and its Maclaren tartan represents Wood Badge's ties to Gilwell Park. The neckerchief, called a "necker" in British and some Commonwealth Scouting associations, is a standard triangular scarf made of cotton or wool twill with a taupe face and red back; a patch of Clan MacLaren tartan is affixed near the point. [16] The pattern was adopted in honor of a British Scout commissioner who, as a descendant of the Scottish MacLaren clan, donated money for the Gilwell Park property on which the first Wood Badge program was held. [3] [13] [17]

Originally, the neckerchief was made entirely of triangular pieces of the tartan, but its expense forced the adoption of the current design. The neckerchief is often worn with the Gilwell woggle. [2] [3]

Axe and Log

The totem of Gilwell Park, the axe and log, has come to represent Wood Badge Gilwell Park.svg
The totem of Gilwell Park, the axe and log, has come to represent Wood Badge

The axe and log logo was conceived by the first Camp Chief, Francis Gidney, in the early 1920s to distinguish Gilwell Park from the Scout Headquarters. Gidney wanted to associate Gilwell Park with the outdoors and Scoutcraft rather than the business or administrative Headquarters offices. Scouters present at the original Wood Badge courses regularly saw axe blades masked for safety by being buried in a log. Seeing this, Gidney chose the axe and log as the totem of Gilwell Park. [18]

Other symbols

A kudu horn Jemenittisk sjofar av kuduhorn.jpg
A kudu horn

The kudu horn is another Wood Badge symbol. Baden-Powell first encountered the kudu horn at the Battle of Shangani, where he discovered how the Matabele warriors used it to quickly spread a signal of alarm. He used the horn at the first Scout encampment at Brownsea Island in 1907. It is used from the early Wood Badge courses to signal the beginning of the course or an activity, and to inspire Scouters to always do better.

The grass fields at the back of the White House at Gilwell Park are known as the Training Ground and The Orchard, and are where Wood Badge training was held from the early years onward. A large oak, known as the Gilwell Oak , separates the two fields. The Gilwell Oak symbol is associated with Wood Badge, although the beads for the Wood Badge have never been made of this oak. [12]

Wolf Cub leaders briefly followed a separate training system beginning in 1922, in which they were awarded the Akela Badge on completion. The badge was a single fang on a leather thong. Wolf Cub Leader Trainers wore two fangs. [13] [19] The Akela Badge was discontinued in 1925, and all leaders were awarded the Wood Badge on completion of their training. Very few of the fangs issued as Akela Badges can now be found. [3]

International training centers and trainers


Other sites providing Wood Badge training have taken the Gilwell name. The first Australian Wood Badge courses were held in 1920 after the return of two newly minted Deputy Camp Chiefs, Charles Hoadley and Mr. Russell at the home of Victorian Scouting, Gilwell Park, Gembrook. In 2003, Scouts Australia established the Scouts Australia Institute of Training, a government-registered National Vocational & Education Training (VET) provider. Under this registration, Scouts Australia awards a "Diploma of Leadership and Management" to those Adult Leaders who complete the Wood Badge training and additional competencies. [20] The Diploma of Leadership and Management, like all Australian VET qualifications, is recognized throughout Australia by both government and private industry. [21] This is an optional extra that Leaders and Rovers may undertake.


The first Wood Badge Training in Austria took place in 1932. Scoutmaster Joesef Miegl took his Wood Badge training in Gilwell Park and September 8 to 17, 1922, he led a Leader Training near Vienna, one of the first in Austria. Scouters from Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary took part. He brought in many things he learned in Gilwell Park about International and British Scouting, but it was not an official Wood Badge training. [22]


The first Wood Badge training in Belgium was held in August 1923 at Jannée, led by Étienne Van Hoof.


Scouts Canada holds numerous Wood Badge training courses on an annual basis throughout the country. In this NSO, all Scouters (volunteers) are required to complete an online Wood Badge Part I Course [23] , and are encouraged to complete a Wood Badge Part II program that includes self-directed learning, conducted through mentorship and coaching in addition to traditional courses and workshops. [24] Upon completion of the Woodbadge Part II [25] program a volunteer is conferred their "beads" and the Gilwell Necker.


Alfons Åkerman gave the first eight Wood Badge courses and was from 1927 to 1935 the first Deputy Camp Chief. In lieu of Gilwell training, the Finnish Scouts have a "Kolmiapila-Gilwell" (Trefoil-Gilwell), combining aspects of both girls' and boys' advanced leadership training. [26]


The first Wood Badge training in France was held Easter 1923 by Père Sevin in Chamarande. [27]


Wood Badge training in Ireland goes back to the 1st Larch Hill of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland, who conducted Wood Badge courses that emphasized the Catholic approach to Scouting. This emphasis is now disappeared since the formation of Scouting Ireland. [28]


The first Wood Badge training in Israel was held in April 1963 by John Thurman and took place at the Israeli Scout Ranch, together with 20 participants, Jews, Arabs and Druze. Since the first training, every Wood Badge course run by the Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation is a mutual event for all different religions and organizations in Scouting.


In 2010, 21 year after the reorganization of Hungarian Scout Association, was the first Scoutmaster training with the Wood Badge. (There was other Scoutmaster training before, but these weren't organized according to the Wood Badge Framework.) The head of the first Wood Badge training in Hungary was Balázs Solymosi who has four beads. From 2010 to 2018, in 8 courses more than 50 adult leader performed successfully and awarded. In 2019 started a new era in Wood Badge training in Hungary. Two type of courses are available: one for leaders in the Association and one for local group leaders. The association level have the basis made by Balázs Solymosi, the group leader level based on a new training program. Both program gives the highest level of scouting knowledge from different point of view for the participants. [29]

The Netherlands

Gilwell Leiderscursus, The Netherlands July 9-21, 1923 1ste Gillwell Leiderscursus.jpg
Gilwell Leiderscursus, The Netherlands July 9–21, 1923

The first Wood Badge training in the Netherlands was held in July 1923 by Scoutmaster Jan Schaap, on Gilwell Ada's Hoeve, Ommen. At Gilwell Sint Walrick, Overasselt, the Catholic Scouts had their training. Since approximately 2000, the Dutch Wood Badge training takes place on the Scout campsite Buitenzorg, Baarn, or outdoors in Belgium or Germany under the name 'Gilwell Training'. [30]


In Norway, Woodbadge is known as Trefoil-Gilwell Training. [31]


Wood Badge was introduced in the Philippines in 1953 with the first course held at Camp Gre-Zar in Novaliches, Quezon City. Today, Wood Badge courses are held at the Philippine Scouting Center for the Asia-Pacific Region, at the foothills of Mount Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna province. [32]


As in several other Nordic countries, the Swedish Wood Badge training is known as Trefoil Gilwell, being a unification of the former higher leadership programmes of the Swedish Guides and Scouts, known respectively as the Trefoil training and the Gilwell training. [33]

United Kingdom

The first Wood Badge training took place on Gilwell Park. The estate continues to provide the service in 2007, for British Scouters of The Scout Association and international participants. Original trainers include Baden-Powell and Gilwell Camp Chiefs Francis Gidney, John Wilson and, until the 1960s, John Thurman. [34]

United States of America

Four American Wood Badgers with insignia FourAmericanWoodBadgers04.jpg
Four American Wood Badgers with insignia

Wood Badge was introduced to America by Baden-Powell and the first course was held in 1936 at the Mortimer L. Schiff Scout Reservation, the Boy Scouts of America national training center until 1979. [35] Despite this early first course, Wood Badge was not formally adopted in the United States until 1948 under the guidance of Bill Hillcourt who became national Deputy Camp Chief of the United States. [36] Today the national training center of the Boy Scouts of America is the Philmont Training Center, which hosts a few camps each year. Nearly all Wood Badge courses are held throughout the country at local council camps under the auspices of each BSA region. [37]

Related Research Articles

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The Scout movement, also known as Scouting or the Scouts, is a voluntary non-political educational movement for young people. Although it requires an oath of allegiance to a nation's political leaders and, in some countries, to a God, it otherwise allows membership without distinction of gender, race or origin in accordance with the principles of its founder, Lord Baden-Powell. The purpose of the Scout Movement is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities. During the first half of the twentieth century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys: Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Rover Scout. In 1910, the Girl Guides was created, encompassing three major age groups for girls: Brownie Guide, Girl Guide and Girl Scout and Ranger Guide. It is one of several worldwide youth organizations.

Neckerchief square or strip of linen or other material folded around the neck, often worn as part of a uniform

A neckerchief, sometimes called a necker, kerchief or scarf, is a type of neckwear associated with those working or living outdoors, including farm labourers, cowboys and sailors. It is most commonly still seen today in the Scouts, Girl Guides and other similar youth movements. A neckerchief consists of a triangular piece of cloth or a rectangular piece folded into a triangle. The long edge is rolled towards the point, leaving a portion unrolled. The neckerchief is then fastened around the neck with the ends either tied or clasped with a slide or woggle.

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Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia

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Cub Scouting (Boy Scouts of America) Coed program of the Boy Scouts of America for kids in grades K-5

Cub Scouting is part of the Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), available to boys and girls from kindergarten through fifth grade, or 5 to 10 years of age and their families. Its membership is the largest of the five main BSA divisions. Cub Scouting is part of the worldwide Scouting movement and aims to promote character development, citizenship training, personal fitness, and leadership.

Scouts South Africa is the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) recognised Scout association in South Africa. Scouting began in the United Kingdom in 1907 through the efforts of Robert Baden-Powell and rapidly spread to South Africa, with the first Scout troops appearing in 1908. South Africa has contributed many traditions and symbols to World Scouting.

Woggle Scout or Girl Guides uniform component

A woggle is a device to fasten the neckerchief, or scarf, worn as part of the Scout or Girl Guides uniform, originated by a Scout in the 1920s.

William Hillcourt Scouting leader

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Pathfinder Scouts Association

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John Thurman British scout leader

Richard Francis "John" Thurman OBE JP was a British Scouting notable and Camp Chief of Gilwell Park from 1943 to 1969.

Sir Percy Winn Everett was an editor-in-chief for the publisher, C. Arthur Pearson Limited and an active Scouter who became the Deputy Chief Scout of The Boy Scouts Association.

Francis "Skipper" Gidney (1890–1928) was an early leader of the Scouting movement in the United Kingdom. He was appointed the first Camp Chief of Gilwell Park in May 1919, and organized the first Wood Badge adult leader training course there in September 1919. He served in the Scouting organization until 1923, and was honoured by having the Gidney Cabin at Gilwell, a training centre, named for him.

White Stag Leadership Development Program

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Wood Badge (Boy Scouts of America) Highest level of Scouting training for adults in the US.

Wood Badge in the United States is the highest level of adult Scout leader training available. It was first presented in England by the founder of Scouting, Baden Powell, and he introduced the program into the United States during a visit in 1936. The first course was held at the Mortimer L. Schiff Scout Reservation, but Americans did not fully adopt Wood Badge until 1948. The National BSA Council staff provided direct leadership to the program through 1958, when the increased demand encouraged them to permit local councils to deliver the training.

Gilwell Adas Hoeve

Gilwell Ada's Hoeve is one of the oldest Dutch national Scouting campsites, and from July 1923 until the 1960s hosted the Wood Badge trainings for Scouting leadership in the Netherlands. The site was founded as a Scouting campsite in 1923 by Philip baron van Pallandt on his Eerde Estate in Ommen. One of the largest Dutch sites of Scouting Nederland, it covers 45 hectares, and has 25 camping fields and other accommodation, hosting approximately 10,000 camping nights annually.

Leadership training in the Boy Scouts of America includes training on how to administer the Scouting program, outdoor skills training for adults and youth, and leadership development courses for adults and youth. Some of these courses like Youth Protection Training are mandatory. Most of the courses are offered by the local council, while a few are hosted at the national level, currently at Philmont Training Center in New Mexico. They are available to members of all of the Boy Scout programs, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorer Posts, and Venturing Crews.

B-Ps footprint casting, usually in bronze or brass, of the right foot of Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout and Guide Movements

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Gilwell Oak Oak tree at Gilwell Park, Essex

The Gilwell Oak is an oak tree on the grounds of The Scout Association's headquarters at Gilwell Park, Essex. It is reputed to have been used as a hiding place by Dick Turpin and since the 20th century has become closely associated with the Scout movement. The tree is situated close to the training ground for the association's first Scout leaders and provided material for the earliest Wood Badges. The oak inspired Scout movement founder Robert Baden-Powell to create "the moral of the acorn and the oak" an analogy for the growth of the Scout movement and the personal growth of its members. The Gilwell Oak was voted England's Tree of the Year by the public in 2017 and was subsequently selected by a panel of experts as the UK Tree of the Year.


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