Woodbadge Training

The first Wood Badge course was held in Gilwell Park, September 8th – 19th, 1919. From the photograph in the UK Scout Archive at Gilwell Park, we saw that there were 23 participants in this historic course (Baden-Powell is seated centre in the front row). woodbadgephoto

Although Baden-Powell had outlined the course syllabus (Theoretical, Practical and Administration), he did not lead the course, but left that to the newly appointed Camp Chief, Francis Gidney. Francis-gidney1Baden-Powell visited the camp and gave a talk to the Scoutmasters, and led a tracking demonstration on one of the morning filled with personal anecdotes.

B-P had wondered what to give to the successful participants, but came up with nothing. Then he thought about the bead necklace. A couple of days later, B-P invited the participants and presented them with two beads each and told them to go out and buy themselves a shoelace to put them on. Originally he intended that the beads should be worn on the hat. Later it was removed from the hat to be worn around the neck. wbbeads

At the end of the training, to celebrate the fellowship of Scouting, B-P invested the Scouters as members of the 1st Gilwell Park Group. wbpatch3The tradition has continued ever since. Today, as well as the beads, Scouters who complete Part Two Wood Badge Training are given the Gilwell Scarf. gilwellscarf

The scarf originally was grey (the colour of humility) on the outside and a warm red on the inside. Today the outside of the scarf is earthtone beige. On the peak of the scarf is a small patch of the MacLaren tartan, a reminder that Gilwell Park was bought and presented to the movement by Mr. MacLaren. The scarf signifies that the Scouter is a member of the 1st Gilwell Park Scout Group and is a “Gilwellian.”

It was W. (Bill) Shankley who was on the Gilwell staff at the time (later, he went on to run the 8th Hobart Scout Troop in Tasmania, Australia) who produced the two-strand Turk’s Head, which became the official Gilwell Woggle. woggle1n 1943, the Woggle was given to participants on completing the preliminary stage of the Wood Badge course.