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Wood Badge

Since September 1919 adult volunteers in the Scouts have been awarded the Wood Badge on the completion of their leader training. The basic badge is made up of two wooden beads worn at the end of a leather lace.

The Wood Badge’s design took inspiration from a necklace brought back from Africa by Scouting’s Founder, Robert Baden-Powell. In 1888 Baden-Powell was serving with the British Army in Africa. During this period Baden-Powell visited an abandoned camp where Chief Dinizulu, a local chief had been based.

Baden-Powell admired Dinizulu describing him as “full of resources, energy and pluck,” characteristics which he would later call upon Scouts to develop.

Following the First World War there was a great need to establish a leader training programme for UK Scouting.

In early 1919, East London Commissioner Percy Bantock Nevill arranged a correspondence course for leaders covering theoretical and administrative topics. He was in the process of organising a camp to cover more practical skills when he found out about the purchase of Gilwell Park. He rearranged the camp to take advantage of this new facility and held the practical training course on the 18-19 May 1919. This was the very first training offer at Gilwell Park.

A further course was organised in early September 1919 once the course syllabus had been agreed to included a range of practical skills such as pioneering, campcraft, games, fieldwork and pathfinding.

The September pilot Wood Badge course had been a success but it was clear that not all leaders would be able to give 10 days to attend such a course.

In 1921 the first training course for Cub Leaders was held. Rather than receiving the Wood Badge leaders were presented with a replica wolf fang on a leather lace known as the Akela badge.

In 1926 it was decided to use the Wood Badge design for both Scout and Cub leaders although the names would continue to be Akela badge for Cubs and Wood Badge for Scouts. To differentiate between the leaders a coloured bead was added above the wood beads to show which section they belonged to. Yellow beads were used for Cub leaders, green for Scout and in 1927 a red bead was introduced for Rover Scout leaders. This idea proved to be very unpopular and ceased to be used from 1928, at this point the badge became universally known as the Wood Badge.

The Wood Badge continues to be awarded to adults in Scouting who complete their training. It is awarded to Scouts around the world and all those who achieve their badge automatically become a member of the 1st Gilwell Park Scout Group, the largest in the world.

Today in the UK, the Wood Badge course is very flexible allowing volunteers to build on their own life skills and knowledge at times and learning styles suitable to them.

Download: The history of the Scout Wood Badge (PDF)

Buy Wood Badge items from the Scout Store website.

Find out more about the Scouts' Adult Training Scheme.


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