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1919: First Wood Badge course held at Gilwell Park in England

1936: Gilwell Camp Chief John Skinner Wilson conducts Experimental Scout and Rover Wood Badge courses at Schiff Scout Reservation, New Jersey

1948: First official BSA Wood Badge courses held, one at Schiff and one at Philmont. Scouting legend William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt serves as Scoutmaster at both nine-day courses

1948-1958: Mostly national courses conducted, all run with oversight of the BSA’s Volunteer Training Division

1953-54: A few councils allowed to hold their own courses, including one in Cincinnati in 1953 and one in Washington, D.C., in 1954

1958-72: Two variations of the course exist: a national one for trainers and a sectional one for Scoutmasters, commission- ers and other local Scouters. The courses focus exclusively on Scoutcraft skills, the patrol method and requirements a boy would need to earn First Class


1964: The BSA evaluates lead- ership skills offered in a junior leader-training course from the Monterey Bay Council, Calif., called White Stag

1967-72: The BSA conducts experimental courses that add leadership skills to Wood Badge

1973-2002: All Boy Scout Wood Badge courses held nationwide move to leadership development format and away from Scoutcraft

1974: First weekend courses held (previous courses take place over consecutive days)

1976: First women attend Boy Scout Wood Badge

1976-1999: Cub Trainer Wood Badge courses held nationwide

1997: Discussions begin to revise Wood Badge and offer one course for all programs

2000: Two pilot Wood Badge for the 21st Century courses held — one at the Florida Sea Base and one at Philmont

2002-TODAY: BSA requires that all courses and councils teach the course

— Courtesy of Ken Davis S COUTING ¿ MARCH•APRIL 2014

THE PATROL METHOD, devised by Scouting founder Robert Baden- Powell, organizes Scouts into small groups. But when’s the last time you actually worked in a patrol-like group yourself? At your day job, perhaps, or in your own troop all those years ago? At Wood Badge, participants join

patrols of complete strangers, and everyone gets a turn as patrol leader. At first, the process feels forced: You will spend 24 hours a day with these people you just met, and you will like it. But by Day Three or Four, you realize the bonds formed with these Scouters won’t end when the course does. A lot of that camaraderie stems

from the “we’re all in this together” mindset. Just like our Scouts, Wood Badge participants get too much to do and not enough instructions or time in which to do it. But at the Philmont course, Beaver Patrol member Blake Atkins says this is only fair. “It really helps you appreciate what we put our Scouts through,” he says, “when we’re given just a few minutes to accom- plish a complex task.” That’s intentional, says Dan Zaccara,

a Silver Buffalo recipient who was one of the authors of modern Wood Badge. “The way the course is frontloaded for the participants,” he says, “means

everything is in their laps in the first two or three days. That puts stress in the system. Stress in the system puts them through all the stages of team development.” Those stages include forming (a

disorganized group coming together), storming (clashing as different ideas get shared), norming (sharing control and compromising) and performing (skill and enthusiasm at their highest). The concept isn’t a BSA creation.

It’s not even a this-century creation. The stage names debuted in 1965, and if your boss shipped you off to a team- development course in the past several decades, you’ve probably heard them. In fact, you can find most of the

leadership lessons taught at Wood Badge in the self-help section of your local bookstore. But those books lack the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and they don’t include Scouting-specific connections that convert abstract leadership lessons into something you can actually use. Oh, and unlike your office’s

awkward team-building outings, every- one at Wood Badge actually wants to be there. Like Nancy Champion, an Owl Patrol member who says she’s having the week of her life at Philmont.

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