Guide & Scout goodies
The Baden-Powell family
The Left Handshake
Chief Commissioner's Standard
Victorian State Standard
Western Border Region
Western Plains Region
The Australian Badge Club
In 1888 B-P returned to South Africa as aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Henry A. Smyth, and soon afterwards trouble broke out with the Zulus under their Chief Dinuzulu.
This chief was a very clever man, and he had a necklace made of about a thousand wooden beads, which he wore round his neck on state occassions. Dinzulu was six feet seven, so you can imagine the length of the necklace which, when wound twice round his neck, still touched the ground. It was a sacred symbol of the tribe, and was kept in a particular cave and guarded night and day. There was a saying amongst Dinuzulu's warriors that all resistance would end if the necklace was ever stolen.
B-P got to hear of this, and all through the campaign he hoped he would have the luck to capture the Great Chief himself and get his necklace.
There were many dangers during this fighting with the Zulu warriors, for they were not only clever in knowing every inch of their wild country, but they could hide themselves like wild animals, and would lie in wait and ambush the men looking for them. So our soldiers, and B-P in particular as their leader, had to be tremendously alert, quick of eye and foot, and also immensely brave, penetrating into that unknown bit of country.
B-P and his men combed the mountainsides. They found improvised forts and innumerable huts, all indicating that a very large force had been camping there. He found weapons in some of the forts and trinkets left behind. In the largest, he came upon a long rope of curiously carved wooden beads. Only a great chieftain would have possessed such an impressive necklace; B-P was convinced that it had belonged to Dinuxulu himself. He put it in his pocket as a trophy, little realising then, to what use he would put the strange beads in the future.
The first scoutmasters' training camp held at Gilwell Park in England started on 8th September, 1919. It followed the pattern B-P had used with boys on Brownsea Island 12 years before. The patrol system was again put to the test with the 19 participants divided into patrols and living a patrol life.
What should these men be given as a token of having finished their training camp? The usual and obvious things would be some kind of certificate, but B-P did not care for certificates.
He rummaged among his trophies and souvenirs for a suggestion and pulled out the long string of wooden beads he had found in Dinuzulu's deserted hut. He presented each man who had taken part in the camp with one of the beads.
These simple wooden beads signifying the completion of the training course soon became one of the most highly prized possessions a scoutmaster could want. The beads gave the training its name of the Wood Badge Course.