PILLAGER — Five Pillager Scout leaders completed the Wood Badge, Pine Tree District officials reported in a news release.

Mike Anderson, Ryan Veith, Beth Ausland, Casie Tighe and James Gehrke each completed the seven day course and then went on to complete their ticket to earn their completion status and be awarded their Wood Badge beads and neckerchief, Kortney Jendro, Wood Badge course director, stated in a news release.

According to the national BSA website, Wood Badge is an advanced, national leadership course open only to Scouting volunteers and professionals. It covers topics of instruction such as listening, managing conflict, leading change, stages of team development, coaching and mentoring, leadership for different stages, servant leadership and project planning.

“When a person completes Wood Badge they are not just a better Scout leader but a better leader all around because this course is not just about Scouting but about leading people in all parts of your life,” stated Kenneth Toole, Pine Tree district executive.

Wood Badge dates back to 1919 when the first course was conducted at Gilwell Park outside of London. Founder of Scouting Robert Baden-Powell himself lectured during the course along with Francis Gidney and Percy Everett.

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For a participant to earn their Wood Badge beads, they must complete their ticket. The phrase “working your ticket” comes from a story attributed to Baden-Powell: Upon completion of a British soldier’s service in India, he had to pay the cost of his ticket home. The most affordable way for a soldier to return home was to get assignments progressively closer to home.

Jason Vos presents Beth Ausland with her Wood Badge beads during a Sept. 12 ceremony at the Baptist Church in Pillager. Ausland is one of five leaders from the Pillager Scouting units to complete the Wood Badge program with Central Minnesota Council. Submitted Photo
Jason Vos presents Beth Ausland with her Wood Badge beads during a Sept. 12 ceremony at the Baptist Church in Pillager. Ausland is one of five leaders from the Pillager Scouting units to complete the Wood Badge program with Central Minnesota Council. Submitted Photo

In most Scout associations, “working your ticket” is the final step of Wood Badge training. Participants apply themselves and their new knowledge and skills to the completion of items designed to strengthen their leadership and their units. The ticket consists of specific goals that must be accomplished within a specified time, often 18 months due to the large amount of work involved.

Effective tickets require significant planning and approval by the Wood Badge course staff.

“The ticket items are not just about how a leader will improve Scouting but how they will improve themselves through what they learn,” stated Holly Carlson, a troop guide for the course. “Often a leader will find a way to incorporate a self-improvement goal, which can include a personal health aspect.”

“I did 10 hikes in 10 different state parks and that was the kickstart for my personal improvement for health,” stated Anderson. “In order to be there to lead the Scouts I need to be healthy and this has really helped motivate me to be healthy.”

One of the five ticket goals generally impacts either recruiting more Scouts or more leaders to a unit.

“As many people are aware Scouting opened up its ranks and now includes females, which is awesome, because here in Pillager our unit was always about the family and one of my ticket items was to get more family involved with our unit,” stated Ryan Veith, charter organization representative and Pillager Lions Club president, the charter partner for the Pillager scouting units.

At the end of the ceremony each of the leaders were presented their Wood Badge beads by their course leadership. The beads were first presented at the course in September 1919 at Gilwell Park.

According to the history of Wood Badge, the origins of Wood Badge beads can be traced back to 1888, when Baden-Powell was on a military campaign in Zululand. He was pursuing Dinuzulu, son of Zulu king, but never managed to catch up with him. Dinuzulu was said to have had a 12-foot-long necklace with more than a thousand acacia beads. Baden-Powell is claimed to have found the necklace when he came to Dinuzulu’s deserted mountain stronghold. Such necklaces were known as iziQu in Zulu and were presented to brave warrior leaders.

Baden-Powell sought a distinctive award for the participants in the first Gilwell course. He constructed the first award using two beads from the necklace he recovered, and threaded them onto a leather thong given to him by an elderly South African in Mafeking, calling it the Wood Badge.

“The wearing of Wood Badge beads is a significant identifier that that leader has completed something very special in the Scouting world,” stated Toole. “They have made a commitment to the youth of our programs to ensure they are getting the best from that adult leader.”

Wood Badge is offered every two year in Central Minnesota Council and on average there are 40 participants for each course.