U.S. Wood Badge

Wood Badge in the United States

Baden-Powell and James E. West at Schiff Scout Reservation. B-P was attempting to sell Wood Badge in the USA on August 15-16, 1935.  Schiff Scout Reservation was located in Mendam New Jersey, and comprised 470 acres, compared to Gilwell Park’s 57 acres, which was where the first Wood Badge Course was held in the USA on May 12-20, 1936.

A World War interrupted the progression of Wood Badge in the United States until early 1948 then Chief Scout Executive Fretwell appointed a small committee to get Wood Badge Training underway.  Then from July 31-August 8, 1948 the first course was held at Schiff with Bill Hilcourt as the Scoutmaster.

Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge:

(this course is now discontinued)
This course was offered until the current Wood Badge for the 21st Century became the mandatory curriculum beginning January 1, 2002.

Cub Scout Trainers Wood Badge:

(this course is now discontinued)
Cub Scout Trainers Wood Badge was discontinued in December 1999, and was be replaced by the new 21st Century Wood Badge.

Varsity Scout Wood Badge:

(this course is now discontinued)
This is a program that has been used a great deal in recent years primarily in the Western Region and is now an official syllabus published November 1997.  It looks basically the same as Boy Scout Wood Badge except for the terminology for positions and an emphasis on High Adventure.

The first Varsity Course was held in 1981 at Beaver High Adventure Base in Southern Utah. Varsity Wood Badge basically follows the Scout Wood Badge syllabus while putting an emphasis on the Varsity Scout Activity Booklets released by National BSA. So things like rappelling, Cope Course, Black Powder rifle shooting, Sports, Bicycles, soccer, baseball could be addressed depending on the camp and resources available. The main thrust is still the training of Leadership skills but with a distinctive Varsity Flavor.

Thanks to Kelly Roe, Course Director WV2-589-2-93

Explorer Wood Badge:

(this course is now discontinued)
Explorer Wood Badge was offered in the United States in the 1950’s.  It was limited to 2 or 3 national courses per year and there may have been as many as 30 courses in all. The participant neckerchief was the opposite colors from the Boy Scout Wood Badge neckerchief in that it was brown with a green axe and log on it. The course was discontinued in 1958 or 1959 when Exploring became a less outdoor oriented program.

The course ran from 1951 thru 1957, and was only available at Schiff or Philmont. With the changes in the Exploring program in 1959, the course ended. Only a little over 30 courses were run. The course was more oriented to the Explorer program of the 50s, with the participants being organized into an Explorer Post. 4 Crews were used, named after Jim Bridger, Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, and William Clark rather than the birds & beasts of WB.  At this time, WB was aimed at program trainers, not unit-level scouters.

Information provided by Michael Brown


This information is provided now for historical purposes,
none of the information should be construed
in any way to be applied to the new Wood Badge
for the Twenty-First Century Courses