*** U.S. boy scout : cubs

United States Boy Scouts: Cubs

Figure 1.--American Cubs mostly wore knickers until the 1940s when they switched to long pants. Some Cubs wore short pants, but long were more common. Note the Cub salute.

The Boy Scouts of America in 1930 created a new opportunity called Cub Scouting for boys younger than Boy Scout age. A Wolf Cub program had long been a part of English Scouting. A year-round, home-centered program used by chartered organizations, Cub Scouting emphasizes involvement between boys and their parents, adult leaders, and friends. In the multidimensional plan of the Boy Scouts of America, Cub Scouting is where it all begins."


The origins of the Cub Scouts, or Cubbing as it was first called, date back to the very beginning of the Scout movement as it was first conceived in England by Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Organized youth programs in America preceded Scouting. The author and illustrator, Ernest Thompson Seton had created an organization called the Woodcraft Indians in 1902. It was designed for boys aged 12 to 15 years and was based on American Indian lore and outdoor life. In 1906 he added the Little Lodge of Woodcraft Indians for younger boys and girls. The Little Lodge was the first group for younger children--the first Cub-like organization. Seton met with Baden Powell in London during 1906 to discuss his ideas. Baden Powell incorporated some of Seton's ideas and later credited Seton with being one of the fathers of Boy Scouting and Cubbing.


The Cubs were organized as the junior division of Boy Scouting. This continued for years before the Beavers were organized. The program and uniform was made destinctive so that the Scouting would not be seen a younger boys' program. An important part of the Cub program, however, was a Scout who served as a Den Chief, providing a role model and to help mentor the Cubs. There would also be Den Mother, the American version of Akela. This is a key characteric of Scouting, the extent to which the family was involved. Cubs were orhanized similarly to the Scouts. Dens were organized into packs, just as in Scouting, patrols were organized into troops.


One of the key gaols of the Boy Scouts is to provide boys with a strong male role model. Cub Scouts in particular focus on father son activities such as picnics, field trips, and fishing.

American Cub Scouts
Figure 2.--This Cub booklet shows the uniform worn in the 1950s. Except for the long pants it was little different than the original 1930s uniform. Note the piping on the pants pocket and fold-over flap.

Cub Salute

Cub Scouts have a distinctive salute. Unlike the military which uses all four fingers, Cub Scouts use only two fingers. The salute today is unchanged from the salute intoduced in 1930 when Cub Scouting began in the United states during 1930. The Cub salute is always given with the fight hand. Cubs hold their index and middle finger straight as they do to give the Cub Scout sign. The Two straight fingers are kept close together. The tips to the two straighr fingers are to touch the brim of the Cub cap. Cubs not wearing a cap touch their eyebrows. Cubs are told that a salute, as in the military, is a way to show respect to Cub leaders. It shows that Cubs look up to them and respect them. It is also used to salute the Anerican flag to show respect to America.


Cubbing focuses on home-based activities much more than Scouting which emphasizing camping and outdoor activies. A Cub den with the help of the Den Mother and Scout leader meets and plans its activities in one ofthe boy's homes. There are games and activities conducted in or near the boy's home. The younger Cubs and parents are often more comfortsble with this approasch. It is illustrated in a 1970s advertisement. Meetings normally include games, both indoor ad outdoor depending on the season. Crafts were another major activity. The Cubs also got help with the arrows and rank progression. Of course the Cub program is not limited to the home. There are field trips to interesting places like museums and zoos. There are also pack meetings and some usually short camping experiences. The boys all had their favorite activities, but the program was varied enough to attract the interest of most boys.


The American Boy Scout Association in 1930 created a blue and yellow uniform for American Cubs in that was mostly worn with knickers. It included the British-style peaked cap. Short pants were also introduced, but long pants became prevalent by the 1940s. The basic 1930s uniform was worn with few changes until 1980. Even in the 1970s when more Scouts began wearing short pants, most Cubs stuck to long pants inspite of efforts by the BSA to promoye the short pants uniform. The Cub uniform was redesigned in 1980, but retained the blue and yellow colors. A major feature of the new uniform was a baseball cap. Short pants had become more common by the 1980s, but many boy wore jeans instead of the official Cub pants, in part because of the cost.

Cub Glossary

Cub Scouting has a language all its own. A full understanding of the program and uniform requires an understanding of these terms. Many of the terms come from or are shared with Boy Scouts, but many are unique to Cubing. The original English Wolf Cubbing drew heavily from Africa and Kippling's Jungle Book. This was not as popular in America which looked more toward native American Indian lore.


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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 1:29 AM 1/21/2008