The History of Wood Badge

Lord Robert Baden-Powell founded Scouting early in the 20th century, and in just a few short years, the movement exploded in popularity. Baden-Powell quickly recognized the need for adult leaders to complete training in a hands-on outdoor environment. On Monday, September 8, 1919, twenty men clad in shorts and knee socks gathered around a flagpole at Gilwell Field near London. Organized into three Patrols, these men launched the precursor for what eventually has become Wood Badge.

Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys and Aids to Scoutmastership were ‘textbooks’ for this outdoor classroom, and during the 11 day course, the Scouters learned the skills to pass on to their eager Scouts: troop organization, campcraft, pioneering, woodcraft, signcraft, games, fieldwork, study circle work and pathfinding. Upon completion of the course, Baden-Powell awarded each of the Scouters a hand-carved bead tied to a leather thong, the beads a prize he collected from Zulu Chief Dinizulu during the British Ashanti Campaign in 1888. The Boy Scouts of America conducted its first official Wood Badge course in the United States in 1948. Since that time, training professionals and volunteers have updated the Wood Badge syllabus to provide the best methods to adult Scouters for teaching leadership and program delivery.