Gilwell Society Founders…
Gilwell Society co-founders and leaders Judy Ford of Jacksonville and Maurice “Mouse” Sterling of Palatka are widely recognized as two of the most respected Scouters in the North Florida Council (NFC).
As true of many ranking council-level leaders, their complete Scouting bios are far too lengthy to tell their entire Scouting stories and the devoted contributions these two leaders have made.
Icons within the local Wood Badge community, Judy served on 8 Wood Badge staffs; Mouse on 9. Both leaders are Wood Badge course directors. Judy was Scoutmaster of NFC course SR-94 in 1995; Mouse directed three NFC courses—SR-59 in 1994; SR-190 in 1997; and SR-244 in 1998. When Mouse was named a Wood Badge course director—a permanent appointment by the National Council of the BSA—he became, at age 36, the youngest ranking training director in the history of American Scouting.
Of note, Judy holds the distinction of being one of the first two women to attend Wood Badge in the North Florida Council. She was the first woman to serve as a Wood Badge Scoutmaster in both the NFC and the Southern Region, BSA. She was also the first woman to hold the post of council Wood Badge coordinator in the United States.
Since 2011, Judy has served as Scouting’s Area 4 Wood Badge coordinator, supervising the administration of Wood Badge training throughout Florida and south Georgia for the Atlanta-based Southern Region of the Boy Scouts of America. By virtue of this current post, Judy is also a member of the BSA’s Southern Region Wood Badge committee.
From 2004-2011, Mouse served as Scouting’s Area 4 Wood Badge coordinator (a post re-titled to Area Training Chair in 2010), supervising the administration of Wood Badge training courses and all other national level training throughout Florida for the Dallas-based Southern Region of the Boy Scouts of America. By virtue of this post, Mouse was also a long-serving member of the BSA’s Sothern Region Wood Badge committee and regional committee.
Both Judy and Mouse have given countless hours of senior-level volunteer service at the unit, district and council levels. Both have attended Philmont Scout Ranch and several national and international Scout jamborees. Both leaders are recipients of BSA’s District Award of Merit, NFC’s Silver Fox Award, The Gilwell Society’s Silver Axe Award and BSA’s coveted Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service to youth.
In an effort to marshal and galvanize Wood Badge-trained Scouters within the North Florida Council to give additional service-oriented leadership, in 2004 Judy and Mouse created and co-founded The Gilwell Society—a local intro-council organization now comprised of several hundred Wood Badge Scouters whose aims are to give meaningful beneficial service to the cause of Scouting throughout north Florida. The Society is also a network where like-minded Wood Badgers can rekindle and enjoy the special spirit, fun and camaraderie for which Wood Badge is so well known.
The Gilwell Society exists today because of the vision and fortitude of its two founders and the Society owes a great debt of gratitude to Judy Ford and Maurice “Mouse” Sterling. Since its founding in 2004, Judy and Mouse have been gratified that several hundred Wood Badge Scouters from throughout the 17-county North Florida Council have joined The Gilwell Society as an expression of their continuing commitment to the selfless ideal to “help other people at all times.”
If a legacy, as Ralph Waldo Emerson defined it, is the “lengthened shadow” of someone, then in conceiving and founding The Gilwell Society, Scouters Judy and Mouse have made an indelible mark of the face of Scouting in north Florida for a long time to come!