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Gilwell History


The First Scoutmasters' Course
at Gilwell Park, September, 1919.
Baden-Powell is seated center in the front row.

The Gilwell Song

I used to be a Beaver,
And a good old Beaver too.
but now I've finished beavering,
And I don't know what to do.
I'm growing old and feeble,
And I can Beaver no more.
So I'm going to work my ticket while I can.

Back to Gilwell, happy land,
I'm going to work my ticket while I can.

(Repeat using the other patrol names, and the staff)


Hear the Tune of


The History of Gilwell and the Woodbadge

On the morning of September 8, 1919, a 61 year-old retired general of the British Army stepped out into the center of a clearing at Gilwell Park, in Epping Forest, outside London, England. He raised to his lips the horn of a Greater Kudu, one of the largest of African antelopes. He blew a long sharp blast. Nineteen men dressed in short pants and knee socks, their shirt-sleeves rolled up, assembled by patrols for the first Scoutmasters’ training camp held at Gilwell. The camp was designed and guided by Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the World Scouting Movement.

When they had finished their training together, Baden-Powell gave each man a simple wooden bead from a necklace he had found in a Zulu chieftain’s deserted hut when on campaign in South Africa in 1888.

The Scoutmasters’ training course was a great success and continued to be held year-after-year. At the end of each course the wooden beads were used to recognize the completion of training. When the original beads ran out, new ones were whittled to maintain the tradition established by Baden-Powell.

Because of these beads, the course came to be known as the Wood Badge Course. It continues to this day in England and around the world as the advanced training course for leaders in Scouting.