Since September 1919 adult volunteers in the Scouts have been awarded the Wood Badge on the completion of their leader training. The basic badge is made up of two wooden beads worn at the end of leather lace. This iconic symbol of Scouting is following generations of Scouts across the last 100 years. Lord Baden-Powell gave a significant speech on the opening of the pilot Wood Badge Course to be held at Gilwell Park in September 1919.
“Brother workers, Commissioners, Scout Masters, and Cub Masters. I have been thinking of your work lately and l have come to the conclusion that you are building better than possibly you know; or generate better you knew when you first took your place in what is now a great Brotherhood of Service.
It is a fine show, and it is growing in importance as it widens its influences day by day. But I noticed that as the public realizes more and more, it’s aims and possibilities, so more and more they expect to see really effective results on the boy. They judge the Movement by this. Thus a responsibility rests on the Scout Master, greater than was formerly the case, of giving the right application of our Method to his boy.
To ensure this the first essential is that Scout Masters themselves, as well as their Commissioners, should have thoroughly grasped the ideals we aim for, the reasons for the various steps in the training and the meaning that underlies them. To this end, the opening of our Gilwell Park training school is in my mind the most important step that has occurred in the history of the Movement since its inauguration.
I venture the hope that every Commissioner, Scout Master, and Cub Master who is unable to attend the Gilwell Park course himself will take steps to gain the latest particulars by availing himself of the help now open to him through instructors who have been through that training.
In addition to what l have said in Aids to Scoutmastership, l should like to emphasize the importance of developing in the boys these two qualities: patience and self-elimination. I have seen in my time more careers wrecked through ones of patience than through drink, gambling, or any other vice. By self-elimination, I mean that selfless service for others of which you yourself are giving so pregnant a personal example.
You are doing a big thing for God for your Country and your kind and I warmly wish you all further success.”