Come back to Gilwell by joining the American Wood Badge Alumni group

It’s time for Owls to unite as a parliament, Antelopes to join the herd and Bears to form a sloth. (Yes, I looked it up, and that’s what a group of bears is called. I couldn’t believe it either.)

It’s time to remember, reconnect and rekindle. It’s time to come back to Gilwell.

The American Wood Badge Alumni group unites BSA volunteers across the country who have completed that transformative training experience called Wood Badge.

Think of American Wood Badge Alumni as a group within a group. In this case, the larger group is Scouting Alumni & Friends (formerly called the Scouting Alumni Association).

How to join American Wood Badge Alumni

Joining is easy.

First, you become a member Scouting Alumni & Friends at the free (Hiker) or $35 (Pathfinder) level.

Then you go under “My Scouting Information” and select your Wood Badge critter.

Then … you’re done! But those small steps go a long way.

OK, I’ve joined. What next?

In short, American Wood Badge Alumni is about rekindling the fire for all Wood Badgers.

And I do mean all Wood Badgers. That includes those who just completed their ticket last week and those whose Wood Badge experience was on the “old course” — the one used before the 2002 introduction of Wood Badge for the 21st Century.

In long, American Wood Badge Alumni works through local councils to help them connect with Wood Badgers who might want to give back to Wood Badge or Scouting in general.

The association has these five areas of focus:

  1. Membership. Assist and promote new courses and the recruitment of Scouters to experience Wood Badge training. The association will assist in the promotion of all Wood Badge courses in the council, the area and the region.
  2. Communications. Promote Wood Badge, the association and the awarding of Wood Badge scholarships.
  3. Alumni Events. Network through Gilwell reunions and other council alumni events.
  4. Service. Gather Wood Badgers to promote, organize and support service projects within the council, at camp properties and within the community.
  5. Recruitment. The association will assist in identifying and recruiting Scouters who have experienced Wood Badge training and are well suited for additional roles and responsibilities.

The timing is right

I spoke with Rick Bragga, chairman of American Wood Badge Alumni. He said the timing is right to introduce this new Scouting alumni group.

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of the first official Wood Badge course in the U.S. In 1948, two official BSA Wood Badge courses were held, one at Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey and one at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Scouting legend William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt served as Scoutmaster at both nine-day courses.

In 2019, the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first ever Wood Badge course, held at Gilwell Park in England.

But beyond the history, Bragga says, Wood Badge is a shared experience that shouldn’t be confined to those six days and a reunion or two.

“You can’t think about Wood Badge without people thinking about singing a song, sitting around a fire and having a cracker barrel,” he says. “We’re looking at that whole concept of re-engaging, reconnecting, rekindling the fire.”

But what about the patch?

I know, I know. Bragga tells me a patch and other merchandise featuring that awesome American Wood Badge Alumni logo seen below “is in the works.”

Stay tuned!