Emmaus for Scouters – Wood Badge for Christians

Are you ready to take the next steps on your journey in either Christian Discipleship or Servant Leadership?

If so, there are two remarkably similar volunteer/lay-led retreat programs that I hope that you will consider.

Wood Badge is advanced leadership training for adults in the Boy Scouts of America. It truly is “leadership” training that is simply delivered in a Scouting setting, because the foundational principles that help Scouts grow as leaders can help adults, as well (http://www.woodbadge.org).

The Walk to Emmaus is a non-denominational Christian experience, intended to truly fan the flames of the Holy Spirit in ways that many people describe as being almost as powerful a catalyst in their walk as their initial surrendering to Christ (http://emmaus.upperroom.org).


To be clear, Wood Badge is not Christian-centric, nor are there any other direct connections between the programs. My hope is that by sharing some parallels, those that may have realized the blessings of one might consider the other. Download this flyer to see more about how the programs compare.

Both are a retreat, in order to help you truly focus on your own growth – you will come back changed!

  • Wood Badge is six days, or two 3-day weekends
  • Emmaus is one 3-day weekend

Both use small groups to help you build life-long bonds as you experience new ideas together.

  • Wood Badge uses Patrols — “I was in the Beaver Patrol of Circle Ten Wood Badge 94.”
  • Emmaus uses Table families — “I sat at the Table of Paul on Dallas Emmaus Walk 113.”

clip_image004Both are structured curriculums that are delivered in your local area by volunteers who have been where you are.

  • Wood Badge curriculum is from the Boy Scouts of America, but then taught by a volunteer staff.  Each lesson has key points that are consistent but then adapted by the personal experiences of the speaker.
  • Emmaus curriculum comes from the Upper Room and is then taught by a lay-led staff, with a handful of clergy. Each lesson has key scripture and core ideas that are then adapted by the personal experiences of the speaker.

Both have opportunities to re-experience and refine your learnings while serving in future events.

  • Recent Wood Badge graduates can serve as Troop Guides for new participants or behind the scenes as Scribes or Quartermasters; and in later courses as SPL, ASM’s or Scoutmaster in future courses.
  • Recent Emmaus pilgrims can serve as Table Leaders for new pilgrims or behind the scenes in the “Outside” or “4th day” teams; and in later weekends as ALD’s or Lay Director in future courses.

Both foster communities for fellowship, but are intended to better equip you to serve those in your normal world.

  • Wood Badge graduates are recognizable by the wooden beads on their uniform, but it is not a clique. The purpose of WB is to grow leaders that can then go serve their Scouts, their families, their churches and their workplaces.
  • Emmaus has reunion groups and other fellowship events, but the purpose of the Emmaus experience is to help you grow as a Disciple of Christ and leader in service to God, your family, church, and the world.

CALL TO ACTION: If you are a Christian Scouter who has experienced the blessings of either of these programs, then you know how powerful they can be. Please consider taking the other journey as well. Search the web for “Emmaus” and your local major city … or ask about Wood Badge from your BSA Council representative.

And if you want a truly remarkable Wood Badge experience – consider taking Wood Badge at Philmont!!  Each year, Circle Ten Council hosts a course that is available to all Scouters.  Check out www.WB110.org for details about the August 2014 course.


  1. Mark Larson says:

    Your title is amusing because I refer to Emmaus as “Wood Badge for God”, and Wood Badge as “Emmaus for Scouters”. I was a Wood Badge course director (S7-602-12) and also served on an Emmaus Team (Richmond 108). Taking my walk one year before directing a Wood Badge course made my Wood Badge leadership a holy journey.

    The courses are both very complementary and powerful. Though structured similarly, each is different and the impact will depend on the openness of the individual to accept what God can do in their lives. Both develop leadership and empower the individual to accomplish great things.

    Seeing the power of both programs, I developed and led a 5-Saturday leadership course this past winter for my own church – focused on emerging leaders. There were 65 people from our church that had some part in its implementation – either as instructors, mentors, or helpers. To my Scout friends, I wink and call it “Wood Badge for Baptists”. Instead of a Wood Badge ticket, participants develop a “Personal Plan for Ministry.” The final session included a 5-10 minute presentation by each of the 17 participants – describing new programs they felt led to create or how they would into an existing ministry connected to our church. It will likely become an annual program.

    Yours in Scouting and Christ,

    Mark Larson

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for the note, Mark. I did mine in the other order, having not only taken my walk but served on a half-dozen walks up thru Lay Director, before taking Wood Badge. So I saw the parallels from the other side.

      Serving Him and you, through Scouting,


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: