Wood Badge Training: A Scout Leader’s Ultimate Overview In 2024

Attending Wood Badge is like a university course for Scout leaders, but over a much shorter time frame! According to Scouts BSA, Wood Badge is an “advanced, national leadership course open only to Scouting volunteers and professionals.” That’s why, folks who earn Wood Badge deserve the highest level of respect in the Scouting world!

What is Wood Badge and how is it earned? Wood Badge is an advanced BSA leadership course for adult volunteers. Participants learn leadership skills, team-building, and Scouting values through trainings, activities, and discussions. Leaders must undergo six days of training and complete a personal action plan called a “ticket” within 18 months.

PS. This article is a guest post collaboration between Cub Scouting volunteer Jaci H and Cole 🙂

Despite Wood Badge being the highest level of adult training in Scouting, I’m ashamed to say that I only learned about it after my son earned Eagle rank! I played a supporting role in his Scouts BSA troop, and only discovered Wood Badge after an amazing mom came back beaming from her experience. I was intrigued to learn more and share it with you!

In this article, I’ll share the who, what, where, when, why, and how of Wood Badge that you should know about to be prepared! Afterward, you’ll leave with a better understanding of who participates; what you learn; where Wood Badge is earned, how to sign up for Wood Badge, and why you should try your best to go if you’re a Scout leader. 😀

Everything An Adult Leader Should Know About Wood Badge

Who Should Attend Wood Badge

All Scout leaders, especially those starting in Cub Scouts, should take advantage of Wood Badge! This training is available to all branches of Scouts BSA. However, everyone attending will want to ensure their basic trainings and Youth Protection knowledge are up to date. 

The Scouts BSA website advises, “There is no better time to attend a Wood Badge course and make a difference in your unit than when you are a Cub Scout Leader.” During Wood Badge training, attendees have the opportunity to meet, exchange ideas, and work together in the spirit of the Scout Oath!

In this video (6:26) below, Scouter Stan shares some valuable tips and insights into Wood Badge:

Fun Fact: According to Scouting magazine, the first Wood Badge took place at Gilwell Park in England all the way back in 1919! You can check out the Scouting magazine article to learn 9 other awesome facts about Wood Badge.

Leader Dave F. from a pack in Sierra Vista, AZ said, “Anyone who’s ever attended Wood Badge is someone who cares about Scouting enough to take the time and spend the money. Those who complete their ticket really deserve recognition for their dedication and hard work.” 

You’ll hear the term “ticket” used a lot in Wood Badge. A ticket is part of the experience that has to do with individuals setting goals to use what they’ve learned to further enhance Scouts BSA. Tickets are a super important part of Wood Badge, and we’ll cover them in more detail later in this article. Keep reading! 😉

What Happens at BSA Wood Badge Training

While at Wood Badge, participants describe an amazing opportunity for personal and professional growth mixed with fun. Leaders learn how Wood Badge fits within Scouts BSA training and review a variety of Scouting topics and skills. Folks learn skills to help them grow, connect, guide, live the Scouting values, and empower others. 

Fun Fact: Gilwell Camp Chief John Skinner Wilson conducted Experimental Scout and Rover Wood Badge courses at Schiff Scout Reservation, New Jersey, in 1936.

Other specific topics covered, as described on the Scouts BSA website, include project planning, listening, managing conflict, leading change, coaching, mentoring, leading for different stages, and team development. Learning comes through “presentations, games, discussions, activities, and other methods.”

In this awesome video (1:44) promoting a Wood Badge training in Montana, one leader describes how he “still uses every day” what he learned through Wood Badge 15 years ago. 😀

Leader Heather W. had this to say: “I had been trying to go to Wood Badge for almost three years, but it never fit into our family’s schedule. I finally said, ‘Enough is enough!’ I went into it with a good idea of what to expect and it was still a pleasant surprise… You will learn so much about yourself and Scouting.

When Should A leader Attend Wood Badge

When you attend Wood Badge depends on where you live and what your Scouts BSA council schedules. I cruised through council websites north, south, east, and west and saw Wood Badges scheduled in spring, summer, and fall (here’s an example training)! The training is typically just once a year, but there are a few councils that host the training twice a year. 

Fun Fact: BSA conducted experimental courses that added leadership skills to Wood Badge around 1967 – 1972, according to Scouting magazine.

In your Scouting career, Wood Badge is best earned once you’re ready to step up in a troop leadership role. For instance, if you’ve completed some of the core adult Leader training resources like BALOO and would like to serve as a Scoutmaster or ASM, sharpening your skills by attending Wood Badge would be a great idea!

How Long Does Wood Badge Take To Complete

Wood Badge training typically lasts a total of six days, which can either be completed all at once or in sections, depending on the type of training you sign up for.

  1. Two Three-Day Weekends: This format is more common, and splits the course into two separate weekends, usually Friday through Sunday.
  2. One Week-Long Course: Some councils offer Wood Badge as a continuous six-day course, often starting Monday and ending on Saturday.

Where Is Wood Badge Held

Fortunately, Wood Badge is held everywhere! Since 2002, BSA has required that all councils offer the course, according to an article in Scouting magazine. If your local council’s dates don’t work in your schedule, look for another council you could travel to and see if its dates work!

What Happens When Attending Wood Badge

The first part of a Wood Badge course typically focuses on leadership theory and team-building exercises, where participants learn about different leadership styles and how to effectively lead Scouts. This portion is done mainly through fun, interactive activities and group discussions. 🙂

Here’s a list of everything a Wood Badge participant can look forward to!

  • Leadership Training: Learn leadership skills such as communication, conflict resolution, and project planning.
  • Team-Building Activities: Engage in activities that emphasize teamwork, communication, and conflict management.
  • Patrol Method: Experience the patrol method by working in small groups, completing challenges, and demonstrating leadership within a patrol setting.
  • Presentations and Discussions: Participate in discussions and presentations on various Scouting topics.
  • Wood Badge Ticket: You’ll develop and execute a personal action plan, the Wood Badge ticket, to apply your learning and improve your Scouting unit.
  • Networking: Connect with other Scout leaders, expanding your network and learning from their experiences.
  • Learn the Themes of Wood Badge: Finally, you’ll internalize five themes of Wood Badge: Living the Values, Growing, Connecting, Guiding, and Empowering.

As the course progresses, participants will apply leadership concepts in practical outdoor activities, serving as a fun way to reinforce teamwork and problem-solving. Plus, throughout the course, participants will have plenty of opportunities to network with other leaders, share experiences, and learn from each other.

What Are The Benefits Of Wood Badge

In this article, Scouts BSA outlines the advantages of attending Wood Badge: you’ll make your Scouting units stronger, you’ll have a deeper understanding of Scouting, you’ll learn and experience things that will stay with you in Scouting forever, you’ll have fun, and you’ll further empower other groups in your life, such as work, church, and even family. 

Fun Fact: The first women attended Wood Badge in 1976!

Here are some brief statements taken from folks who shared their perspective on Wood Badge:

  • My patrol was perfect, the learning was great, but the connections from other districts, and what I learned about myself, was what really made it for me.
  • It’s training that helps with your Scouting units, but also in your career.
  • Wood Badge is a life-changing experience.
  • No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
  • I never felt like an effective leader and this course helped so much!
  • It’s no secret that the best thing is all the great Scouters and new friends you will meet.

If you’re still wanting to learn more reasons for signing up, check out this “Why Wood Badge?” article from Scouting magazine in 2014. I really enjoyed reading it, especially the part about how adults are organized into patrols (just like Scouts) with strangers (at least at the beginning!). 😀

How Do You Attend Wood Badge

Contact your local Scouts BSA council to register. Most councils seem to have a link on their website for registration — the sites I cruised through all had such links. Although the event is in the fall, my local council already had a registration link posted as of the time of writing this article!

How Much Does Wood Badge Cost

The cost of Wood Badge varies depending on your council. However, on average, the complete cost of a Wood Badge training will typically range anywhere from $200 to $400. Factors that can influence this cost include the venue, meals, course materials, and any additional amenities provided.

Some councils may offer scholarships or financial assistance to help cover the cost for those who need it, so I’d encourage you to check with your council directly if cost is an issue. Additionally, some units or chartered organizations provide financial support to their leaders for professional development opportunities like Wood Badge.

What Is a Ticket in Wood Badge

Wood Badge wouldn’t be very useful if it didn’t result in any changes afterward. That’s where the “ticket” system comes in! After leaders attend Wood Badge, they are instructed to complete a ticket within 18 months. This ticket is basically your action plan to improve your Scouting unit and personal leadership skills! 🙂

A Wood Badge ticket incorporates five goals and involves applying the skills leaders learned at Wood Badge to create measurable improvements for yourself and the Scouting community. Here’s a video (1:16) of one council’s description of the Wood Badge ticket system:

The Wood Badge ticket workbook I reviewed online stated, “The purpose of a Wood Badge ticket is to help you realize your personal vision of your role in Scouting. Ideally, you will write your ticket around your primary job in Scouting.” At least one goal must address increasing diversity with Scouts BSA.

The SMART acronym is used to describe how to come up with goals for the ticket. The acronym stands for the following:

  • Specific: a goal should be detailed.
  • Measurable: you should be able to tell when the goal is accomplished.
  • Attainable: you should be confident that you can achieve the goal.
  • Relevant: the goal should relate to your broader vision.
  • Timely: the goal should have a specific timeframe.

Mark G., a council performance lead in Washington, shared some background on the word “ticket.” More than a century ago, military folks were expected to “pay their own way back to England” at the end of their foreign service. To economize, soldiers nearing completion of their duties would seek assignments at posts increasingly closer to home, a process known as “working your ticket.” 

Mark G. continued, “The Wood Badge ticket has to do with working on personal goals you set to achieve your vision of success in your Scouting role(s). The ticket is a commitment… of five personal goals. These goals form a Wood Badge ticket where you will use the leadership skills and competencies you learned during Wood Badge to improve Scouting.”

Scouter Stan shares a video (5:10) to describe finishing the ticket in five parts: 

I came across a post of folks sharing some of their Wood Badge goals. 😃 Here are a few great examples:

  • Restarting a pack
  • Creating a STEM program
  • Becoming a merit badge counselor
  • Producing Webelos-to-Scout transition handbook for the council
  • Teaching the Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge
  • Starting the first girls’ den in their council

What Happens After You Complete Your Wood Badge Ticket

Once you’ve completed your ticket, you’ll have to get the required signatures. Then, it’s time for a special ceremony where you’ll receive Wood Badge beads, a new neckerchief, and a woggle (neckerchief slide)! Those will all give you bragging rights to say you’ve successfully completed the Wood Badge training! 🙂


I’m grateful to have learned so much about Wood Badge and been able to share what I’ve learned with you. I hope you feel like you’ve also learned a lot. Even more so, I hope you’re inspired to register for Wood Badge training yourself and make an even greater impact in your Scouting unit!

Thanks for stopping by ScoutSmarts! I commend you for taking the time out of your busy day to learn even more about how to support your Scouts. If you enjoyed what we covered here, I’d also recommend checking out any of the following articles if they spark your interest:

We at ScoutSmarts wish you the best in your Scouting journey and have many resources to offer on dozens and dozens of Scouting topics. Be sure to explore our site to learn more! If you’re looking for a particular topic, try our search engine in the upper right corner. Looking forward to seeing you here again soon! 😀

Jaci H

Jaci H is the proud mom of an Eagle Scout. She enjoyed volunteering with her son's Cub Scout pack and troop, most recently as the fundraising chair. She works as a freelance writer in Southern California.

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