Wood Badge Beads

Ok, here is the full story. The back story. And the parts that no one tells you about. One of my favorite tokens of the Wood Badge experience are the Wood Badge beads. Participants that have completed their ticket wear two. Staff wear three. Directors/Scoutmasters wear four. The head of BSA National Wood Badge wears five. The Director at Gilwell wears the six that Baden-Powell owned. Each takes an increasing commitment.

Everyone knows the story of Baden-Powell taking them as a war trophy from Denizulu. As Denizulu escaped, Baden-Powell picked them up and later used them as a recognition of his advanced leader training. He gave one out for completing the course and one for the ticket. Wolf teeth went to Cub Leaders. All that has changed to the sequence I listed above over the years. Another note is that after his death, they gathered as many of the beads as remained and BP’s son presented them to one of Denizulu’s descendants to return the beads. In the ceremony, the rightful heir returned them back to Scouting.

But, what were those beads for. We know that they were for recognition of valor and bravery in combat. I liken them to the eagle feathers that the American Indians earned. Today, we use eagle feathers (in OA and elsewhere) as a representation of high honor. The eagle feathers are from endangered species that we long ago quit taking. In fact the Indians typically killed the eagle to obtain them. Times change, so do we.

Times change, so do the beads. BP’s original beads are not as crude as ours. And Denizulu’s are a representation, too, from the original Zulu warrior recognition. It may be tough to imagine, but the original awards were from the knuckle bones of fallen warriors. Many years later, they started to carve the beads into the shape of bones. Making less and less like the original as tastes change. The honor is still there, but the meaning & value have changed from something that was a token of military savagery to modern leadership service.

Posted in Wood Badge Facts

Ticket Workbook Document


We understand there might be some confusion on the Ticket Workbooks you are to use for your tickets.  Please use the attached document for your ticket.  If you already have completed your ticket workbook and it has already been approved by your Troop Guide, that is fine.  Otherwise, please use the WB2016 version attached to this email.

You can obtain the document from the following URL as well


The version attached will be placed on the Website under Participant Resources as well as Facebook.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your Troop Guide.

Posted in During the Course

One Week Count Down

The time nears for the best experience of your life!  You have signed up for the best scout training available.  Not only will this course help you in your scouting venture but everyone we know that has taken Wood Badge has stated this is an excellent course for their personal lives as well as their professional life.  We all look forward to meeting each and every participant in 7 days!  Looking forward to March 18th at 7am!

Jim Stallings
ASM Technology

Posted in Course Information

Your Troop Guides

Your Troop Guides are some of the best Scouters that the Heart of Virginia Council has been able to find. There are a number of significantly awarded Scouters with many years’ experience working with youth and teaching adults. I am proud of their many skills and you will certainly learn a lot about them.

I’d like to tell you a bit about the Journey that they have been on in order to prep for your course and why you aren’t seeing them much in Weekend 2. Their Journey started last summer when they were asked to serve. Almost immediately, they were given a 450 page manual to memorize, three Patrol Presentations to practice, and a Troop Presentation to perfect. That manual is the encyclopedia from which your Wood Badge Handbook originated. You have the Cliff Notes, they have the book & movie script. Then, they had to attend 5 Patrol meetings from November thru February. They had to give at least two practice runs of each Patrol presentation, practice woggle tying at each meeting, go thru each game and understand the true reason it was selected & sequenced; take a PhD on Tickets; and work together to form a team to create a Staff Presentation. All the while, I modeled their role and left more & more to their responsibility.

But wait, there’s more. They had four meetings with all the Staff. Two were full day affairs and one was a weekend event. Every minute of the Wood Badge course was practiced at least once. Don’t even ask them what a Matrix means or they will pull out sharpened pencils that Karen Streagle gifted to them. These were all times that they were away from their families and personal passions in order to be well prepared for you.

Then, they had the weekend before Wood Badge to assist the QuarterMaster’s to set up camp and do last minute rehearsals. Finally, they arrived a day early for another dry run, set up, preparation. All of this did not include their personal time preparing for this course.

They have invested a LOT in making this the BEST WOODBADGE COURSE EVER! I am honored that they have put in this commitment and you should be thankful that they have invested this to ensure that you have a summit experience.

Finally, where are they? They have been trained to slowly pull back. Just like EDGE, they are moving from Coaches to Mentors as more and more of the responsibilities sink in to you and you learn to be a high performing team on your own. When I went thru Wood Badge I thought I had a slacker of a Troop Guide as she kept disappearing. I can attest – it is intentional. They will be there if you need them as a mentor, a friend, a guide and a resource. But you will become the high performing team as you do more and more on your own.

Reflection from Robert McLemore

Posted in During the Course

The Leather Thong

The other important part of the Wood Badge, apart from the beads, is the leather thong itself.  Baden-Powell was originally given one during the course of the Siege of Mafeking in 1899/1900 when things were not going too well. An elderly man met him and asked him about his unusually depressed appearance. Then the man took the leather thong that he had been wearing from around his neck and placed it in B-P’s hand.  ‘Wear this,’ he said. ‘My mother gave it to me for luck. Now it will bring you luck.’ So from these two souvenirs of his military career in Africa, the leather thong from an old man at Mafeking and from Dinizulu’s necklace, B-P fashioned what is now known all over the world as the Wood Badge.

Posted in Wood Badge Facts

The Woggle

For full details about the history of the woggle see the Archives Information Sheet The origins of the woggle. The woggle was first created in the early 1920s by Bill Shankley, a member of the Gilwell staff. He produced a two-strand Turk’s head slide which was adopted as the official woggle. In 1943, John Thurman, the Camp Chief, wanted some form of recognition of the completion of each stage of the Leader Training programme and
it seemed logical to present some part of the Wood Badge insignia on the completion of what was then called Basic Training. So from 1943 until 1989 the Gilwell woggle was awarded on the completion of Basic Training and the Gilwell scarf and the Wood Badge beads on the completion of Advanced Training. The Gilwell woggle can still be bought by adults today for use with either the Group or the Gilwell scarf.

Posted in Wood Badge Facts

Before you leave Weekend One – Look Up!

Stained-Glass-300x200One of the challenges of a scout leader taking a group of new young scouts on a trail hike is to get them to look and listen to all the things around them and not just focus on the trail ahead.  The great things found in the out-of-doors are all around us and to see or hear them we must be observant.

When you come to Wood Badge, make sure you take time to look around and observe all that is around you.  A Wood Badge course is chocked full of pride and tradition and you are sure to see this if you just look around…and in particular, up.  In doing so, you will quickly find a plethora of banners and flags created by those that have participated in courses before you.  Look closer and you may see names on these flags that represent many of the staff assembled for your course.  Who knows, in some future course, your own banner might be hanging if you are so blessed to be invited to be a staff member.

Looking up at the end of the Dining Hall, you will see a beautiful site and yet another tradition of Wood Badge in the Heart of Virginia Council.  Since our first Wood Badge for the 21st Century course, SR501, it has been the tradition to replicate each course’s patch with a stained glass artwork.  Each of the eight previous courses is proudly displayed in the high windows and stands to remind us of the legacy of Wood Badge. Look back after the course and you will likely see one for S7-602-16.

There are many other special things that you will see and hear in your course.  Many of these are extremely subtle and create very special “Ah-Ha” moments that will stay with you for the course and beyond.  To receive these gifts, all you need to do is look, and listen.

We would like to thank Craig Britt Wood Badge 2011 Course Director for this article.

Posted in During the Course

The Gilwell Scarf

William de Bois Maclaren, a Scottish businessman and the District Commissioner for  Rossneath, Dunbartonshire, paid £7,000 in 1919 to buy Gilwell Park, a 55-acre estate on the edge of Epping Forest, London, as a training centre for Scouters and as a camp site for Scouts. He also paid another £3,000 to help put the Wite House into good repair, as the place had been abandoned for the previous 14 years and was virtually derelict. When Gilwell Park was officially opened on 26th July 1919 Mrs Maclaren cut ribbons in Scout colours (green and yellow) that were hung across the doorway to the White House to mark the opening. B-P then presented Maclaren with the Silver Wolf as a sign of the great debt that the Movement owed to him.

Not much more is known about Maclaren, apart from the fact that he wrote several books including Climbs and Changes, Chuckles from a Cheery Corner, The Rubber Tree Book and Word Pictures of War (a book of poetry based on experiences of the First World War). He died in 1921. In his honour the Gilwell staff wore a scarf made of Maclaren tartan. However to reduce the expense a scarf of dove grey cloth (the colour of humility) with a warm red lining (to signify warmth of feeling) was substituted with a patch of Maclaren tartan on the point of the scarf and worn by those passing the Gilwell practical course. In 1924 use of the scarf became restricted to Wood Badge holders only. Today the scarf is more the earth tone colour beige than grey but the reason and the date of this development has not been found.

Posted in Wood Badge Facts

Blue and Gold

What a GREAT Blue and Gold and Crossover for all the scouts to Troop 1.
The journey has just started!

Posted in During the Course

WB2016 Starts Tomorrow

WOW.. Where has all the time gone?  It is hard to believe that WB2016 actually starts tomorrow!  The moment that we have all been waiting for has arrived.  The staff has been at the camp preparing for this since yesterday getting everything just right for all of you.  If you have any questions please email your course director.

Please make sure you are on-time tomorrow since we start early as we have an adventure packed weekend with lots going on.  Check-in time is at 7:30AM on the 18th and we will finishing up on the 20th around 5pm.  If you need directions they are are available by clicking here.

Get a good nights rest and we will see you tomorrow morning!

Jim Stallings
ASM Technology

Posted in Course Information