United States Boy Scout Uniforms: Cubbing Chronology

Figure 1.--The BSA promoted a short pants Cub uniform for summer wear. This ad appeared in "Boys' Life" (June 1968). Most Cubs chose the long pants uniform, even for the summer.

Cubbing was discussed from the earliest days of American Scouting. Dan Beard was a leading proponent of a program for younger boys. The Cubbing program, however, was not founded until 1930. American Cubbing was introduced in 1930 so that younger boys could participate. The Cubbing program grew slowly in the first few years. The BSA National Committee on Cubbing closely monitored the program. The Executive Board was happy to find their fears that Cubbing would remove leaders from Boy Scouts were not realized. Of the Cubbing Leaders, over 75 percent were new to Scouting--in part because women were extensivly involved in the program. The BSA Executive Board on May 25, 1933 removed the "experimental" label from Cubbing and began to aggressively market the program. Scouting grew to be the major youth group in America with a substantial proportion of American boys particiapting in Cubs or Scouts with Cubbing eventually outpacing Scouting. The initial uniform was a blue uniform to ensure that Cubbing was seen as a destinctive program. Like Scouts, the Cubs initially wore knickers. The uniform was changed in the 1940s to short or long pants, although most Cubs wore long pants. The uniform continued virtually unchanged until the major change in the 1980s.

A reader writes, "I was a Cub in New York during the 1960s. We almost all wore long pants, even during the Summer. Many of us wore blue jeans rather than the regulation Scout pants. I do remember some (not many) wearing the short pants uniform but I do not remember knee socks and I am surprised the ad refers to them as stockings. No self-respecting American boy that I knew would willingly wear stockings." I think that you will find that the BSA fairly consistently used the term "stockings" rather than "kneesocks". I am not sure why. Boys as you say always said "socks".

Another reader writes, "You're right that this summer Cub uniform was not well received by the Cubs. The Cubs may have rejected its style, or perhaps they were accustomed in summer to some casual items, like jeans, taking the place of the uniform pants. Parents may have refused to spend such money on a uniform that might be worn only a few times in summer, then outgrown. This wouldn't be the last time, though, that a summer Cub Scouts uniform was offered."


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Created: November 24, 2002
Last updated: 11:48 PM 11/7/2005