Cotton Pickin’ Wood Badge

by Shawn Wright on January 22, 2016


I have been lucky enough to have served on multiple courses and to have been a Troop Guide on two of them. Course S9-114 ended not too long ago and the tickets worked by the participants have been making a big difference around our council. The course made quite an impression on Kurt Schultz who wrote some of us a letter and enclosed a picker spindle (more on that later). It was an incredible testament and I asked him if I could share it with you.

Hello Fellow Wood Badgers !

I just wanted to thank you all for making my Wood Badge experience so successful. It is all the support and training from fellow Scouts that really make me feel like I am doing less harm than good for the Scouts!

Stay with me here, I kind of take the long way around here: A few years ago a college friend of mine had some vacation to burn and asked if I would be interested in touring the Mississippi Delta region with him on a Blues pilgrimage. It was on that trip that cotton really began to fascinate me. It really kicked off when we were looking at an old tractor that had been fitted with one of the earliest cotton harvesters. It was really amazing the purchase of a single row harvester could wipe out the lives of dozens of families. But it also amazed me at how complicated they are today and how that technology was developed. I enclosed a nice summary of the history (read the story at that also sets the stage for why I have enclosed the “spike.”

We as the adult leaders function as the picker spindle helping to harvest all the potential in the Scouts and help to turn it into something useful not only to them, but to society also. The fact that someone noticed the cotton picked easier when it had dew on it or that his grandmother wet her spindle when she was making thread was kind of amazing to me. But more so was the fact they significantly improved the efficiency of the picker by simply adding a slight spritz of water to it is pretty amazing. And probably wouldn’t have been learned in a lab environment. It was his past experience and exposure that led to the efficiency and success.

I see the training BSA and all the volunteers offer as that spritz of water. We probably could be successful just spinning around on our own,but with the knowledge of the previous generations we truly become Sir Baden Powell’s minions.

I hope you all got as much out of the program as I did. These used picker spindles I am sharing with you all are pretty common in cotton country. You can find them embedded in the roads as survey markers and coat pegs in older cotton gins. They also make nice icicle-like Christmas ornaments or interesting paperweights. But they, in whatever form, will always remind me that I am never at my best without gleaning from the knowledge and experience of not only the people who came before me, but also the people I am currently on this journey with.

God’s Peace to you all! Thank you for being such a big part of my Wood Badge experience!

Kurt Schultz
S9-1-14Buffalo.  And proud of it!

Thanks Kurt! That’s what we are doing at Wood Badge Alabama, just being that spritz of water to get others to take Wood Badge and become even more successful scout leaders. If you would like to know more about Wood Badge, look around the site, click on the sign up button. Contact a course director or the next time you see someone with beads hanging around their neck by a leather thong, stop them and ask them why you should attend.

Past Wood Badge Courses

by Shawn Wright on December 21, 2015

At, we focus on upcoming wood badge courses but we also list our courses starting in 2001. Around this time was when the Wood Badge syllabus was rewritten and became what was known as Wood Badge for the 21st Century.

Of course Wood Badge has been around since 1919 in England and 1948 in the United States. I am not sure when the first course was held in what is now the Greater Alabama Council but evidence of pre-2000 courses are at Camp Jackson in Scottsboro, Alabama.

The rafters of the dining hall at Camp Jackson are filled with patrol flags from past courses and before they fall apart or get removed I wanted to make sure that they are documented and preserved electronically. Here are the flags.

S9-114 Is In The Books

by Shawn Wright on October 14, 2015

S9-114-Scoutmasters-Patch-250pxWood Badge course S9-114 is officially in the books. After leaving Camp Westmoreland on April 13, 2014, the 38 participants went back to their units to start working their tickets. After 18 months, 34 men and women completed their ticket. Scoutmaster Elaine Zeigler (Mrs. Z) has already had beading ceremonies and will finish the rest soon.

I speak for all the staff members by saying congratulations! It was an honor to serve you during the past year and a half. We look forward to seeing your your ticket helps you and your unit in the future.

S9-115 still has until the end of 2016 to finish their ticket and we look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor.

2016 has two courses that need to be filled. If you are considering Wood Badge then this is the year. If you have gone through already, convince one adult in your unit to attend.

Everyone needs to go – A Wood Badge testimonial

April 14, 2015

We just returned from a fantastic Weekend 1 at Wood Badge S9-115. I could go on-and-on about the course but I think this testimonial sums it up best. As soon as we returned I started to monitor the troop and patrol sites to see how the participants are decompressing and how they can be helped. Needless […]

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Wood Badge By The Numbers

February 27, 2015

I produced this video for course S9-113 but it is just as accurate for all courses. If you wonder how Wood Badge gives back to your units, district and council, this video does the math for you. If you have been thinking about attending a Wood Badge course then the time to go is now. […]

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The Digital Eagle Sidebar – Guest Edition

February 24, 2015

I was lucky enough to be featured in the Greater Alabama Council’s Digital Eagle this week. I got to tell my story and help promote for course S9-115 that is just a month and a half away. My name is Shawn Wright and I will be the Senior Patrol Leader for Wood Badge S9-115. I […]

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Only 2 Months Until The Start of S9-115

February 10, 2015

The only Wood Badge course for 2015 in the Greater Alabama Council is starting 2 months from today. The staff is putting final touches on presentations. The grub staff is getting the menu in order. The quartermaster staff is still deep in the equipment trailer. The Troop Guides are as hyped up as a three year […]

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The BSA Vision Statement

January 26, 2015

If you have ever attended a wood badge course then you have written your own vision statement. Your vision statement may have even changed since you took the course. Did you know that the Boy Scouts have a vision statement? The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a […]

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Staff development for S9-115 has started

December 15, 2014

Things have been a little quiet here at Wood Badge Alabama. The Wood Badge Reunion was a big success at ScoutFest last month but there has not been much to talk about in terms of the next Wood Badge Course in the Greater Alabama Council. That’s all about to change. The entire staff gathered for […]

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Leading When You Have Doubt

November 10, 2014

One of the biggest problems in scouting, business, and life in general is the lack of skills to lead. Not the lack of ability, just the skill needed to lead and then step out of the way. In Scout Troops you hear too many stories of Scoutmasters running the show of their “boy-led” troops. You […]

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