100th Wood Badge Course
We Just Had Our 100th Wood Badge Course, Learn How it Started
Our first Wood Badge courses were hosted by Region Ten for Scouters from the upper Midwest. Five different Northern Star Scouters led seven of the eleven courses.
Following the 1972 reorganization of the BSA from twelve regions down to six (and in 1992, down to four), councils began to conduct their own Wood Badge courses for the first time.
Since that time, there have been 97 courses within our council territory – serving some estimated 4,500 trainees. A mix of weekend or week-long courses (in the earliest years they were twelve-day courses for the staff) held at five different camps since 1973, Wood Badge is one of the most memorable Scouting experiences for nearly all the adult Scouters who participate. The benefits reach further than the young people we serve, as many graduates speak of applying new skills in their workplace or home life as well.
Fred Riehm was a staff member in the first council course held at Phillippo Scout Reservation. He shared these memories of his own experiences nearly 60 years ago:
“My own training experience was in August of 1962, at Camp Wilderness near Park Rapids. Five from St. Paul attended, and we drove up to camp overnight, had eight full days of training, and drove overnight back home. We worked hard every minute in between those drives – for example, we had to dig a “ground refrigerator” that was four feet wide, four feet long and six feet deep. We used a wooden ladder to get in and out – and kept our entire weeks’ worth of food there. In 1972, several Scouters went to Fargo in January for a staff training weekend, as BSA introduced the Cornerstone program changes. The first council course followed in June of 1973 – staff came to (Phillippo Scout Reservation) on Wednesday and trainees came in on Saturday and stayed for a full week. I went to Philmont the next month for course director training and staffed two more Wood Badge courses in the 1970s.”
Dr. Tom Alt was the first Wood Badge Coordinator for the Viking Council. He was trained in 1965 at the Region 7 Canoe Base, trained again in the new course (2006) at Camp Stearns, and he staffed seven courses in between, including at the true Gilwell Park and the first Viking Council course in August of 1973
“I proposed to Tom Ford, our Scout Executive, that we hold a breakfast at Minnehaha Park (a short distance from Base Camp!) – he liked the idea – and so we organized and promoted it. We had about 40 Scouters attend in the spring of 1973, and it became an annual affair.”