Soon after founding the Scout movement, Robert Baden-Powell saw the need for leader training. Early Scoutmaster training camps were held in London in 1910, and in Yorkshire in 1911. Baden-Powell wanted his training to be as practical as possible, and that meant holding it 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. Gilwell Park, just outside of London, was purchased specifically to provide a venue for the course and was opened for use on June 2, 1919. Francis Gidney, the first Camp Chief at Gilwell Park, conducted the first Wood Badge course there from September 8 to September 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.
The main goals of a Wood Badge course are to:
- Recognize the contemporary leadership concepts utilized in the corporate world and leading government organizations that are relevant to Scouting’s values.
- Apply the skills one learns from participating as a member of a successful working team.
- View Scouting globally, as a family of interrelated, values-based programs that provide age-appropriate activities for youth.
- Revitalize the leader’s commitment by sharing in an inspirational experience that helps provide Scouting with the leadership it needs to accomplish its mission.