Here we have a little help for to those who conduct a course and are not satisfied with the offered ceremony given for the new staffers. The Course Director’s name in this one is Adam.  The name of the Principle Speaker playing the part of Green Bar Bill, is Bill, which simplifies things.  Please feel free to leave me a comment.



The Scout Guide meets the staff in their meeting place. The Guide introduces himself and tells them a story about the beads of Wood Badge, and the man behind the Wood Badge course –and perhaps a short poem to set the mood. When the story is finished he invites them to follow him in silence. He reminds them that they must be silent through out the ceremony or fear the shame of disobedience. He asks them to put the candidates (Adam and those with 2 beads) into the middle of the group for their own protection. When this is done he takes them slowly up the path where eventually they come to rows of torches leading to a mystical place where a fire is burning lowly and they meet the Guardian of the Gate. This fellow’s character is the spirit of Green Bar Bill (who also serves as the leader of the proceedings to come). He stops all, but after an introduction passes them into the fire bowl area. There, the Course Directors have set up their plan for Adam’s ceremony.

Adam is called forward by Bill who performs the Course Director’s ceremony of choice, and Adam is awarded his fourth bead.

Attention is now drawn to the staff wearing their first two beads. They are brought forward and praised for their dedication. Their names are announced as they stand before Adam. He and the other Course Directors change the 2-bead thong for the new one with 3. They are reminded that with tomorrow’s sun, comes the testing of all they have learned and to which they have dedicated themselves.

Next, the staff forms a circle around the CD’s and they sing Scout Vespers and there is a closing prayer. Adam leads them out and the CD’s stay to tend to the fire, clean up and conversing for the evening as they may choose.


Guide introduces himself.

You have each heard the story of how Lord Robert Baden-Powell came into the possession of the carved acacia bead necklace. You have heard the story of how he used these Zulu beads as a gift and the tradition was born along with the naming of the Scoutmaster’s Training Course we now call Wood Badge. I hope that my story will interest you further.

I will tell you tonight about beads, and the man behind Wood Badge inAmerica.

We will start with something to open both your ears.

The Lonely Bead byAlan Smason

A lonely little Wood Badge bead

Lain lightly in a drawer

He wanted to be somewhere else

 He wanted to be more.

 He’d heard about the history

Of Wood Badge beads afar.

Of relatives in Africa From Chad toZanzibar.

He’d often wax so proudly

On Baden-Powell’s beads

That were given to trained leaders

For their work and for their deeds.

Chief Dinizulu’s beads were

B.P.’s gift and legacy –

An acknowledgment of their hard work

For all the world to see.

The lonely little Wood Badge bead

Only wanted to be like the rest

Of those carved pairs of beads

Strung proudly now and hanging on a chest.

He was keen on being added

To a Scouter’s leather thong

Aside a brother bead of wood

He’d hear the “Gilwell Song.”

But, alas, he found himself alone

And full of misery.

Till a Scouter grabbed him forcefully

And made him one of three.

Truth now dawned upon the bead

And he stopped being a complainer.

He was merely waiting for that time

He’d be worn by a Wood Badge trainer.

After securing the financial support of Mr. W. de Bois Maclaren, District Commissioner for Roseneath, Baden-Powell charged P.B. Nevill to find a suitable camp. He did so and recalls in his diary, that Gilwell was first mentioned to him by a young Assistant Scoutmaster named Gayfer who said he had come across the estate whilst exploring for bird life. It was 55 acres of land and a rather dilapidated Georgian country house.  The purchase cost was £7,000, donated by Maclaren, who gave an additional £3,000 for improvements to the house which sat on the property. Opening ceremonies were held on July 26, 1919, including a rally of 700 Scouts. Mrs. Maclaren cut the ribbons and Baden-Powell presented Mr. Maclaren with the Silver Wolf.

The first beads from the necklace of Dinizulu were awarded 1 each, upon completion of the week of The Scoutmaster’s Training Course.  The second bead was awarded upon completion of the ticket.  The third bead was awarded when someone was chosen and agreed to be a staff member.  The fourth bead is awarded when one is accepted to be a course director.  The fifth bead (oh you didn’t know there was one?) is awarded to the Deputy Camp Chief of Gilwell.  Deputy Camp Chiefs are usually the personnel of national Scout Associations in charge of Wood Badge Training.  Six beads were worn by Robert Baden-Powell and by Sir Percy Everett, then deputy Chief Scout and BP’s right hand man.  BP’s beads are on display in the Baden-Powell House inLondon. Everettendowed his beads to be worn by theCampChiefof Gilwell as a badge of office.  And currently beads of six are worn by the director of leader training atGilwellPark.

Now, let us travel many years later and find ourselves inAmerica… As the Boy Scout program matured in theUSA, it became apparent that Wood Badge could provide valuable advanced training. To familiarize theUnited Stateswith Wood Badge, John Skinner Wilson, Gilwell Park Camp Chief, came fromEnglandto provide a Rover Scout Wood Badge Course for BSA atNew Jersey’s Mortimer L. Schiff Scout Reservation. Bill Hillcourt was a member of the Burnham Patrol on that WB Course, May 12-20, 1936. Four days later, Bill was the Staff Troop Leader and “Dog’s Body” (Senior Patrol Leader) for a second course. It qualified Bill to receive his WB Beads in 1939, and to become the national Deputy Camp Chief of theUnited States.

So who is this fellow Bill? William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt is considered by many Scouters to be the Baden-Powell of American Scouting. He has had significant influence on the program of the BSA and the training Scouters receive through Wood Badge in this country. William Hillcourt was born Vilhelm Bjerregaard Jenson inCopenhagen,Denmarkin 1900. His introduction to Boy Scouting came in January 1911, at the age of 11, after his parents gave him B-P’s newly translated Scouting For Boys as a Christmas gift. Bill went on to become the Danish equivalent of an Eagle Scout. His Troop sent him to the first World Jamboree inLondon, in 1920, and a habit started that would move him into the international Scouting spotlight for the rest of his life.

THE START OF A NEW CAREER…. Bill’s enthusiasm about Scouting and being a journalist led James E. West to offer Bill his first job in the Supply Service of the new, expanding BSA Program. Later, Bill challenged West’s implementation of the scouting program — that BSA didn’t follow B-P’s Patrol Method correctly. West then challenged Bill to write a replacement for BSA’s 1910 Official Handbook, that had been published as an Americanized version of B-P’s Scouting for Boys. Bill had already written his first book three years earlier at 23: A TALE OF SCOUT CAMPING, based upon his own Patrol’s experiences. But this book had to be written in English; boys not only had to read it, but enjoy it, and follow B-P’s Methods. Bill always enjoyed telling his story of how a Dane with poor English came to learn our language well enough to write a best-selling book for American boys. What did he do to improve his English? He went to the movies, sometimes 3 and 4 per day. Bill Hillcourt went on to write a Patrol Leader Handbook, a Scoutmaster’s Handbook, and the Field Book; then updated them from 1929 until he retired.

In 1932, while writing the various handbooks, Bill started to enliven the pages of Boys’ Life with his famed Scoutcraft features, leading generations of boys into the outdoors. For four decades until he retired, Bill wrote his feature column under his pseudonym of “Green Bar Bill”, with a logo of “Bill” hand-written on top of the two green bars of a PL symbol.

Early in 1948, the new Scout Executive who had replaced Dr. James E. West, appointed four national Staffers to get Wood Badge underway as a national training standard. Bill Hillcourt was one of the four, BSA’s first Deputy Camp Chief and by then, also the national Director of Scoutcraft. These four national Professional Staffers decided from the start that two BSA Wood Badge courses would be run in 1948:

* The first atNew Jersey’s Schiff Scout Reservation with Scouters mostly from the Northeast, as a proving ground for this BSA WB training . (Course #1, July 21 – August 8, 1948)

* The second at Philmont Scout Ranch inNew Mexico, would be fine-tuned to become the standard of Wood Badge for the BSA (Course #2, October 2- 10, 1948)

William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt was the Scoutmaster for both. The Philmont course was held Cimarroncito. Thirty-five (35) men mostly from the Western parts of theU.S., assembled at Philmont’s “Big House” at noon on October 2, 1948, to launch BSA’s Wood Badge. The course started tenuously with Professional Scouters pitted against Volunteer Scouters. Scoutmaster Bill Hillcourt regrouped his Staff and broke an impasse. Patrol spirit soared and Participants overcame the obstacles of high altitude, physical and mental fatigue, slow and difficult supply deliveries, poor communications with the Philmont Ranch, and bad weather with rain, sleet, snow, and cold! Philmont’s Wood Badge #2 Course followed that of WB #1: it was unquestionably a mountain-top experience. Tired Scouters returned home with strong, enthusiastic feelings; the future of Wood Badge in BSA was assured. 

(Pass out small wooden blocks) Take now your wooden block and your writing tool. Draw on your block your mark by which others know you; that will make your block unique from all the others. Mark on it also the totem from your patrol when you were but a participant. There are 8 current Wood Badge patrols. It would be best if all patrols are represented this evening. Please acknowledge quietly as I call your patrol. Beaver, Bobwhite, Eagle, Fox, Owl, Bear,Buffalo, Antelope.

As we go forth from this place I ask each of you:

Keep your ears ready for the instructions that will come your way in the future.

Keep your eyes sharp that you will not miss any of the events that will come to pass in the circle. Keep your hands ready to be strong for all who need help.

Let your tongue speak wisely and foremost of the truth.

Are there any questions before we continue?

Let us go outside and then I ask the experienced staffers to form a ring around the new staffers, and shield them from the spirit of under-achievement. Protect them from the spirit that would make them lazy.  We will walk in this manner to the chosen place.

I am ready, follow me in silence, and look always for the truth.

(NOTE to guide – lead them to the Guardian and when you meet him, silently shake hands make the Scout sign to each other.)

(When the group arrives at the “gate”, the guide turns the group over to the Guardian. He does so in silence and waits quietly for Bill’s questions.  He answers and then he may tend to other duties as have arisen. Fire tending comes to mind)

(GBB) I am the spirit of Green Bar Bill, Guardian of the fires of Gilwell.  I have prepared the fires of Gilwell in hopes it would bring dedicated Scouters intent on furthering the lessons I taught so many years ago.

Who are you, and why do you walk my path?

(Scout Guide) “Green Bar Bill, we are of the 8 patrols of Wood Badge and we walk the path of The Promise of Scouting. We seek a sacred place where we may adorn our worthy ones with a greater burden of service and commitment to Scouting inAmerica.”

(GBB) This is the place of the council fire of the Staff of Gillwell. You must bear the Wood Badge to be admitted to the circle.

(CD’s are already there and set up)

(Guide) I have brought the members of the Gilwell patrols. They are  the Beaver, Bobwhite, Eagle, Fox, Owl, Bear,Buffalo, and Antelope. These are my brothers, and have labored on their ordeal for many months. It is fitting that we recognize their achievements in this the circle of Gillwell

(GBB turns and goes to the CD’s who are standing back towards the fire and he counsels quietly with them about this matter. Then he returns to speak to the group.)

(GBB) The Course Directors respectfully request that the members of the 8 patrols come now and witness these events. (the group is brought in and seated by the CD’s)

(continue when all are seated and still)

(Scout Guide) I bring to you one called Adam. His heart is great, and holds much for the benefit of Scouting’s leaders. He has passed the challenge and is here to be recognized for his achievements. He is the chosen one as decreed by the Elder Course Directors.

(GBB) You, of the staff of Wood Badge, send forth the one who is called Adam, as he is deemed most worthy and dedicated to the training of Scouting’s leaders.



Green Bar Bill — We turn now to our brothers and sisters who have fulfilled their promise of the Wood Badge course. You are the bearers of the 2 beads given in honor of finishing your course of study and working your ticket to completion. These awards were earned with your own commitment to serve Scouting. It matters not whether the beads are new or old, what is important is that you have the vision to know how important is the trained adult leader to the youth of Scouting.

Scouting does not send its teachers to schools to be taught by people who do not know scouting. Like the red man who taught from elder to youth, Scouting teaches that adult training is passed best from hand to hand and course to course by the experienced members selected from the most dedicated and talented of the volunteers. From these teachings and courses, the Spirit of Scouting goes forth to be freely given by the dedicated. Those that you touch will be drawn to the council fire, and you will show them the true path of Scouting. You are responsible for renewing the unending circle of training. Come now forward, you who chose to carry the burden of 2 beads, and be recognized for your dedication to carry the burden of 3. Stand now before these elder Course Directors and be recognized by YOUR course director Adam. (Adam makes his remarks)

(insert the names of each individual here and announce them.  Course directors will remove the two beads and replace them with three.)

Green Bar Bill– Each of you has brought with him a small wooden block. Each block bears its owner’s mark. These represent your knowledge and dedication to the task at hand.  As you each will make a contribution to this task ahead, now we ask you to take your wooden block and contribute to this evening’s council fire.  As the flames consume the fuel and the smoke mixes from each block and rises to the sky in one continuous cloud, let this be a mixing of your strengths and a unification of your spirits.  Let your focus be as one in the coming days.  Adam, know well your staff and their strengths and talents.  When comes tomorrow’s sun, so comes the day when your skills will be the recipient of an ordeal the same as that which was passed by the trainers of years past.

Your strength is at its greatest when you work together. The task you have chosen can be consuming. Watch for a brother weakened by this ordeal. Help him up, that he may keep pace with the group.

You have labored hard to learn these lessons which you give to those who seek your guidance.  Those who come at tomorrow’s light will seek the wisdom of the elders. They will seek your wisdom and you must realize that to them, YOU, now, are the elders.  You are the ones they will trust to get them through this ordeal.  They will question many things as you challenge them.  Let them all come back to Scouting’s units with a renewed understanding, instilled by your hand and focused by your example.  With confidence, give them the answers and in all things, fail them not. 


(GBB) At this time I ask that you would all pray with me.

Great Spirit,

Thank You for guiding me to Gilwell.

Thank You for my animal spirit guide and for those who share it with me.

Great Spirit, I am afraid

As I have climbed Your Mountain, I have learned the wisdom

But as I look at my guides, I ask myself,

Can I ever have the sincerity of my Troop Guide?

Can I ever have the ageless wisdom of the Instructor?

Can I ever have the fatherly love of the Scoutmaster?

How can I ever mean as much to others as they mean to me?

As I look down the mountain at those who seek my guidance, I feel unworthy.

When I look up to the clouds and see the spirit in the Quartermaster, I wonder if I can care so much for so long.

Great Spirit, I will not let my fear cause me to fail.

But I know I will need help.

Grant my heart wings, that I might soar with the Songmaster.

Grant me charity, that I may wear the caring smile of the Assistant Scoutmaster.

Grant me Strength, that I may show the confident Leadership of the Senior Patrol Leader Grant me these, Great Spirit, and I will carry this Learning to every young man who looks up his mountain and to me his Guide.

I will share Your Wisdom all of my days, until I join my Wood Badge Guides again and we walk with Impessa through the Lea of Gilwell. Amen

(Daniel Flynn — Wood Badge Course C-35-98)

(GBB) Form now a circle around your Course Directors and we will sing Scout Vespers.

(GBB) Adam, lead them out as you will lead them in these next days.

(a wish from the ceremony authors)

Plant the acorn.

Nurture the seedling.

As the seedling grows,

Harvest the acorns until the tree has the growth to be used to support the House of Scouting.

Spirit Owl and Endeared Bobwhite

Lennie Schoonover WE1-612-03 and Gary Petersen (WEM-612-99)


Course directors except Adam are to meet at the ceremony area and do the following:

1 get the fire started

2- set the tiki torches or bags with candles in them along the path and get them lit

3- set up the axe and log on a table with beads – kudu horn – and other regalia as desired 

4 each course director needs a wooden block, just like the rest of the staff.  Mark it with your name or initials and your totem.

5 make sure the seating arrangements are acceptable for the staff members

6 have your copy of your lines in hand as well as your block.

7 torches (or a lantern) should be used to read your script and staff names (flashlights take away from the ambiance)


Other notes:

Staff members will meet at a chosen place indoors, in Class A uniform.

Setup requires a torch or lantern burning outside to be picked up upon exit

The Scout Guide will be in Class A and have his script.

The Scout Guide will have a bag of wooden blocks cut to resemble a large version of the Wood Badge Beads – enough for all Scouters.


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