Ask the Expert: Wood Badge course numbering, decoded

expertlogo1W2-590-14-8, C6-160-14-2, S4-83-14-2, N4-527-14.

Are those nuclear launch codes? A paranoid person’s computer password? Some sort of weird locker combination?

Nope. Those four sets of characters describe the numbers of actual Wood Badge courses being offered in 2014.

And in reality, the code — found on every modern Wood Badge course — isn’t that difficult to crack.

The letter represents your Scouting region — Western, Central, Southern or Northeast. The number is your area. Then comes your council number (which you can find here), followed by the two-digit year. (Notice that all four examples above have “14” in common because they’re all held in 2014.)

The final number is added only if a council is offering multiple Wood Badge courses in a single calendar year. If so, they’re numbered chronologically. The first course in 2014 would get a 1 on the end, the second a 2 and so on.

Example time. Let’s take the Wood Badge course I staffed last summer: course No. S2-571-13-3.

That’s: S for Southern Region, 2 for Area 2, 571 for Circle Ten Council’s number, 13 for the year 2013 and 3 because the course was the third Circle Ten course of the calendar year.

Are you more of a visual person? Well here’s a handy chart for you:


But recently Scouter C. J. Johnson noticed an extra, unexplained letter in a course number used by a council.

Here’s his question:

Hopefully you can clarify something for me. For the Wood Badge course numbering convention, I understand that course numbers are determined by: Region, Area, Council, Year, and sequential number of the course during the year. So…hypothetically, the third course this year in the Cascade Pacific Council would be W1-492-14-3.

My question is, in a number of courses I’ve seen, there is an “E” in the course number. Such as: WE1-492-14-3. What does the “E” mean? I’ve heard that it stands for “a split, weekend course” whereas the lack of the “E” designates a six-day, week long course. However, I’ve seen split courses without the “E” as well.

To “E”, or not to “E”…that is the question.

Nice question. For the answer I went to Mark Griffin, director of learning delivery for Scouting University here at BSA HQ.

While there have been many Wood Badge course numbering variations over the years, back in the days when there were more than four regions and some of their names started with the same letter, two letters were used to indicate the region in the numbering system for courses.

Even when that conflict was no longer an issue, the regions, which assigned the numbers in those days, kept a two-letter designation.

When the Southeast Region, “SE,” and the South Central Region, “SC,” became the Southern Region, “SR” was used.

East Central, “EC,” and North Central, “NC,” became the Central Region and used “CR.”

Western kept “WE,” and Northeast kept “NE.”

After the region offices closed, the official course numbers have been assigned by the national council, and the current system is to use just the first letter of the region name, followed by the area number, the council number, and the last two digits of the year. If a council has more than one course in a given year an additional 1, 2, 3, etc. is added at the end.

There is no difference in the numbering for weeklong and weekend courses.

Thanks, Mark.

So, C.J., what it looks like you were seeing was someone still using the older-style course numbering convention. “WE” was at one time used for Western region courses, but the current style is to just use the W. The “E” is unnecessary.

And so, as Mark points out, there’s no way to differentiate a weeklong course from a weekend course just by looking at a course number.

Hope that helps!

More Ask the Expert posts

Find more Ask the Expert posts at this link, and ask your Scouting-related queries via email. I can’t answer every email, but I do read them all.

Related posts

A visit to the original Gilwell Park, the happy land where it all began

10 things I learned staffing Wood Badge at Philmont

Wood Badge Wednesdays: Puerto Rico edition

What’s life like before, during and after Wood Badge?


  1. Thanks for the explanation for the current numbering, for an antelope from SR-1009…I took it in ’09

    • Prior to 2010, the Wood Badge courses couldn’t be traced back to any particular council. The course you cite was held in the Central Region, it was the 16th course approved to be held in 2007. I was a proud Fox in C-04-03, and I’ve been a staffer on C-24-06 C-15-08 and C-31-09, all held in the Miami Valley Council. Numbering got changed, and my son (a Bobwhite) and daughter (an Owl) both participated in C6-444-11. Both have earned their beads and Dad couldn’t be prouder.

  2. So when did they change to this current standard of Wood Badge course numbering?
    When I took WB it’s 10yrs now, you would never known the second number was council.

    • As the article above indicates, the change was in mid-2011, when the four distinct regional offices closed and the responsibility for assigning numbers moved to the national office in Texas.

  3. “Course, now that’s only the way us usa’s do it. No telling how they do it “over there”. Or why we should need to know. And this is the way we will ID the usa courses (so we can tell them apart why?) until someone else comes along and sez “I think I’ll do it THIS way….” I know I took Jeep’s course. All I need to know.
    Are /were some courses better than others? It’s too late now to take the “good” course (by reputation? Whose, what reputation? ) I suppose it helps to know where someone took WB by glancing at the ID badge (if it’s there) hanging on the shirt button, one more thing to start the conversation.

  4. I took the old course in 1990, in what was the North Central Region in what was then the St. Louis Area Council, so the course was numbered NC-538 (aka 312-41, the Council code and 41st course) as a Bobwhite. I retook Wood Badge in 2012 in the Greater St. Louis Council (2 other councils were merged with us in the mid-1990’s) and we are in Area 3 of the Central Region, thus, C3-312-12-1 (80th course in the Council). I am now a Buffalo.:) The interim numbering that Brian mentioned above now makes sense (e.g. C-nn-07).

  5. My course number is SR953.
    I took it in 2009 and Gulf Ridge Council is 086, which is in the Southern Regio. So, what does “53” mean?

    • SR-953 means the 953rd course offered by the Southern Region. SR (and SE before it) numbered courses sequentially without any indication of areas or councils.

  6. Council numbers and years are a very new part of the course numbering system, at least in some regions. Through 2011, in the Northeast Region, the pattern was “NE-“, then the area number as a Roman numeral, and then the sequential number of the course within the area. So my father, who took a course shortly after the NE Region added Area 6, was in NE-VI-4. Not all councils in the area ran Wood Badge every year, so the final number increased a bit every year.

    In contrast, Southeast Region courses tended to omit the Area number and go sequentially for courses within the region, e.g., SE-286.

    The change took place in mid-2011. Baltimore Area Council had two courses that year: NE-VI-80 in the spring and N6-220-11-1 in the fall.

    • Good question! It appears that one council is designated as the host and that council’s number is used. So the 2012 and 2013 GNYC/WPC courses were at Camp Alpine and were N7-640-12 and N2-640-13*(GNYC is #640). The 2014 course is GNYC, WPC, and Greenwich Council, is hosted at Durland Scout Reservation and is N2-388-14 (WPC is #388).

      (*Note that the NE Region was re-organized between 2011 and 2012 and in the process these councils moved from Area 7 to Area 2.)

      • That’s correct, if two or more councils combine to hold a course, the host council’s number is used.

  7. Fun, fun – – I am a good old Beaver from New England, original course number of NE-1-120 so to convert that so everyone can understand it – NE1-218-86?? …”I’m growind old and feeble”……

  8. John, you are almost 100% correct; Under the previous format, your course’s designation is: NE – Northeast Region; IV – Area Four; 58 – fifty-eighth course in the sequence; 07 – the seventh person of the course as listed by Patrol, last name alphabetically, e.g. you are in the Beaver Patrol, seventh person by last name alpha sort. This number would only be mentioned for record keeping purposes.

    It is not the 7th course graduate:

    This format does not include the Year the practical session was completed NOR the sponsoring Council by number;

    e.g. I completed NE-I-148 – Northeast Region, Area One, Course #148 in sequence;

    Does not indicate the Course was held at Camp Onway, Raymond NH, then North Essex BSA #720(Lawrence MA), was a five-council cluster course administered by Minuteman Council #240 (Stoneham MA) in the September 1990.

    This was also shortly after Regions were consolidated from six down to four in the 1980’s. Another story in itself for later…

    Lastly, each of the four Regions administer the approval of a Wood Badge course as well as the Training of the Course Director and “back-up” Course Director each year. Hence, the Regional Offices at the time maintained an accurate list of distributing Course Numbers within the Region and respective Area.

    Hence, a “NE-I” would essential be a WB Course held within the New England, six state area.

    I hope this data assists the conversation.

  9. Thank you for the information. I haven’t been to Wood badge yet, hopefully this summer. Would you write an article on how to get the most out of Wood badge for those of us who have not yet attended? It would be very helpful. Thanks.

  10. Now the current Seabadge numbering is a completely different system. All Seabadge courses are now done under the auspices of national. My course was SB-13-PA-12 Or explained (Seabadge Course 13, Pennsylvania 2012.) If you ever get an email from me, you’ll see I have a small delta burgee immediately after my course number because I was the crew leader of the Delta Crew. (Fundamentally the same logic as a patrol .)

  11. Granted that when I first took Wood Badge was a frighteningly long time ago and I’ve staffed a few times since then but, involving 3 regions and 6 councils, the courses I have been connected with have used seven different numbering systems. Probably the one of which I am most proud is that I had the honor of directing course “Western 1” the first Wood Badge Course authorized when Western Region was created. The course that I took was R12-25.

  12. Here’s one for the group; my course was NE-IV-121-X – this was one of the eXperimental courses which helped develop/shape the ‘new’ Wood Badge course. After having served on staff with a few courses since then, we found out the staff members on the experimental courses were being driven crazy by constant, daily course changes. I’m sure that wasn’t an easy task; none of us particpants were even remotely aware of all those changes the staff endured.

  13. I took Wood Badge in 1967, with a course number 347-1. 347 is the council # and 1 was the first course that the council held. A few years later there was 347-2.

  14. I’ll go with Charles, took my course in 1976 and it was EC92 (of which I was the third person paid in full). The course I took a couple years ago was just to update.

  15. Attended course 328 a seven day course held Aug 1968 at Gorton Park in OLYMPIA, WA. Horace Gorton was the SM. The course was national course the number 328 indicated this was the 328 national course held in the US. Staffed 17 courses three times as a Course Director. Each one was numbered from national many different sets of course numbers.

  16. In Crossroads of America Council we switched in 2011. Though I went through on course C-28-09 when they were numbering them across the country and staffed C-32-10, I also served on C6-160-11-2 (Central,Area6,CAC is Council 160, 2011, 2nd course, and am currently course director of C6-160-14-2.

  17. I attended Wood Badge course NE-IV-71 in 1995 . That was Northeast Region, Area IV within the region, and course number 71 for the year. I staff course NE-II-93 in 1998. That was Northeast Region, Area II within the region, and course number 93 for the year.

  18. Hey, C6-160-14-2 was my first time on staff! I was a good ol’ Buffalo on C6-160-12-2. Looking forward to serving again on C6-160-15-2.
    Save the Antelope!

  19. NE-CS-40 was my course. Northeast Region-Cub Scout Trainer-course number 40.
    then staffed NE-I-208 in 2001…we went home from the first weekend, and the following morning was 9-11. sigh Course Director of NE -I-234…brought to you by the letters
    B P and the number 12!! (c’mon, you can guess why that was the course tagline!)
    “..and a good old Owl, too”

  20. For us really old timers, I took mine in 1991 and number is: NC-278-1. North Central, 278 the Wood Badge, and I was the first on on the roster for that class. I am an Eagle. The course I just completed, C1-250-15-1. Beaver.

  21. I did my woodbadge in 1996. my course number was WE4-53-96 for Western Region Area 4, council #53 (Los Padres Council), and the year 1996.

  22. Fox Patrol SR 56 held at (then) Bonner Scoup Reservation East Carolina Council, 3 weekends all in camp, still very outdoor oriented then.

  23. Greater Saint Louis Area Council offers the course twice a year. They host it in the Spring at Beaumont and the Fall course rotates between 3 camps This year it is at Lewellen down south. My Husband A Surly Centennial Bear took the Course C-14-10 at Beaumont in the spring. So I know that they changed things after 2010. I took the Course Rowdy Righteous Raven C3-312-14-1 at Beaumont in the spring last year. And now our oldest Son is taking the Course C3-312-15-1 at Beaumont in the spring. Starting on the 15th. That course is so full 75 paid participants they are using 9 full patrols. It should be interesting where he winds up. I believe they have a few slots left for Fall but that is filling fast also. GSLAC runs a great program.

  24. My course number was 82-21. NCAC was in the SE region at that time. It was the first modern weekend Woodbadge course.

  25. When I took mine in 1999 it was one of the last Boy Scout Woodbadge courses offered. C-14L-99. The L was for the week long course. My full Woodbadge number is C-14L-99-42 as I show up 42nd on th roster (which is odd considering my last name starts with G), I am to assume that it was because I am a Buffalo…

  26. Well, just reading about all the other “seasoned” Scouters, I just had to jump in. My first course was EC-CS-23……East Central Cub Scout Trainer’s Wood Badge in 1992 as an Antelope. Growing old and Feeble is an understatement. But I just finished the new course in September. I now went to C6-438-15. Central Region, Dan Beard Council in 2015 and I am still a very proud Antelope. Actually I’m a Double-Lope. And still smiling.

  27. My course was ” 82-21″ The first modern weekend Woodbadge course. It was in 1972. 82 is the National Capital Area Council, 21 was the course number. Yea Beavers!

    • Norm — Your Mom attended a Wood Badge Course in the Northeast Region, it was a Cub Scout Leaders Course, and the 20th one conducted (I think that I got all of that right).

  28. My reeeeally old course number is 802-3. Presented at Camp Freedom, West Germany, in 1964. Transatlantic Council, Nr. 802.

  29. EC-24 “1974” This was the “New Wood Badge” year when they switched over to focus more on leadership, rather than woodcraft. A “Great” course… staff put in 2300 hours preping….. they left no stone un-turned. Picture perfect in every way,i.e. the Scoutmasters office was a replica of Baden Powell’s office……The staff area look like something out of South Africa B.P, drawing, and many, many more surprises……… I didn’t want it to end.

  30. My father was a scout master for 23 years and took a woodbadge course at scouters mountain in portland oregon. Had to be around 1960-65. His critter is Eagle as is mine. I have an eagle head neckerchief slide that he carved while on the course and it has the numbers 492-2 written on it. I was wondering if that is an old course number and if there was any information that I could find about it. He died in 1973 still a scoutmaster.Thanks.

  31. This must be the “new way”. Dad finished his ticket in 1965 REG # 11160 given at Region 7 canoe base. Finished my ticket in 1992 certificate #EC416-w-37. Took mine White River Council Bloomington, IN.

  32. I was a proud Eagle of SR-302 (the last Boy Scout Woodbadge course) at Sam Houston Area council in 1999. I served as staff of SR-578 (a 21st century WB course) in 2003 at the same council.

  33. There were also codes not previously mentioned for when the BSA converted from an older course format to a newer one. These courses were called Experimental National Wood Badge Courses, and were issued the prefix of “XN” and then a number assigned thereafter.

    From a member of SE-327 (held at Camp Echockotee at Orange Park, FL by the North Florida Council)…

  34. I completed the Wood Badge course in 1981. And a member of the very first Antelope patrol of Gilwell Park, England. My question is, that on my Wood badge card my certificate number is NE-III-71-49. Shouldn’t it have been NE-III-81-49?

  35. What about EC 336 X held June, 1986 at Camp Hook, hosted by Dan Beard Council? I Google that and only find out about campfire ashes sharing. This guy Hillcourt was the CD.

  36. I love reading your articles. I’ve been in scouts for a long time but always expanding my knowledge in no small part due to this page.
    Thank you from Eagle scout ’89 and wood badge class MT-62 (Eagle)

  37. Did the course in 2010, finished ticket in 2011 rocking Beaver from NE-VI-69. My course number seem to be from a system between the old 12 region system and the new region-council-year-course system

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