Man finds treasure trove of long-lost Wood Badge documents

Today’s Wood Badgers can get by without a handkerchief, canvas wash basin or second spoon.

But those were considered essential pieces of gear 70 years ago at the very first Wood Badge course in the U.S.

It’s been seven decades since July 31, 1948, when 29 men descended on Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey to learn Scout skills, Scoutcraft and pioneering.

The packing list and other long-lost documents reveal how much has changed — and how much has stayed the same — at Wood Badge, the essential training course for adult volunteers.

As we look forward to 2018’s yearlong anniversary celebration — which is welcomed with a special patch — let us also look back.

A trove of Wood Badge documents

When John Mahaffey of North Carolina attended Wood Badge in 2014, he chose as one of his ticket items a seemingly straightforward history project.

The Wood Badge ticket is a series of five projects that benefit local Scouting. For one of his five, Mahaffey wanted to identify a local Scouter who had attended the 1948 course at Schiff.

But finding out information about the man named Reginald Price proved difficult.

“My search took me on an adventure where I interviewed dozens of individuals in the Charlotte, N.C., area,” Mahaffey says. “Unfortunately, everyone from his generation had passed along.”

Finally, Mahaffey came across a set of boxes in the council storeroom.

“I found a series of letters written to and by Reginald Price regarding Wood Badge,” Mahaffey says.

He scanned those documents and shared them with me to post on this blog.

Looking back in time

Here are some of my favorite documents from Mahaffey’s collection.

Equipment check list: There are some items you’d find on a packing list today — raincoat, sleeping bag, mess kit — and some you would not, like tobacco.

Wood Badge card: Price’s card is signed by William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt.

Wood Badge pre-course letter: Correspondence to Price from Frank W. Braden.

Wood Badge post-course letter: Correspondence to Price from Green Bar Bill after the course.

Campcraft suggestions

Course summary