The History of Wood Badge in the United States

Although an experimental course was conducted in 1936, Wood Badge training was officially inaugurated in the United States in 1948. Since that time it has grown and developed and become a key motivating force in the training of volunteer leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.

For 10 years, Wood Badge courses were conducted by the Boy Scouts of America exclusively for the purpose of training representatives from councils in methods of training and how to help with the leadership training programs of their own councils. Participants were required to subscribe to an agreement of service to this effect.

Since 1958, qualified local councils have been authorized to conduct their own Wood Badge courses to provide advanced leadership training for Scoutmasters and those Scouters who support troop operations. With regional approval, two or more local councils may also cooperate in conducting this training experience in a cluster-council Wood Badge course.

In the late 1960’s, the principles of leadership development were introduced experimentally into Wood Badge. By 1972, they had become an integral part of the program. The skills of leadership were emphasized in Wood Badge as a means of fostering the growth of up-to-date leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes among Scouting’s leaders. By the late 1970’s, Wood Badge had evolved. Revisions completed in 1979 provided a continued emphasis on leadership skills, balanced by both Scoutcraft and program activities.

The course content was revised in 1994 to incorporate key elements of Ethics in Action introduced into Boy Scout training and literature between 1991-1995. Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge reinforces and supplements the materials included in the Scoutmaster Handbook, the Scoutmasters’ Junior Leader Training Kit (1991), the Junior Leader Training Conference Staff Guide (1992 and 1995), Continuing Education for Scout Leaders (1993), the Train the Trainer Conference (1993), and Scoutmastership Fundamentals (1994).

A new version of advanced leadership training, 21st Century Wood Badge, was introduced in 2003. Wood Badge continues to provide advanced training in the most current methods of the Boy Scouts of America.

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