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Cub Scouts are 100 and still going strong

12:00am | & News

Were you ever a Cub Scout? All this year the Cubs are celebrating their movement's centenary, with events taking place across the UK and around the world.

A hundred years since its birth, the Cubs still offers its young members the opportunity for adventure, new challenges and, for many, their first taste of camping with friends and spending nights away from home.

Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant general in the British Army, founded the Scout Movement in 1907 when he organised a camp for a group of boys on Brownsea Island, Dorset. The following year saw the publication of his book, "Scouting for Boys", which proved incredibly popular and led to a speedy and massive growth in Scouting, with new troops established up and down the country.

The first Scouts were aged 11 to 18, but as the movement continued to expand there came a growing demand from younger boys to be involved. Many of them were the younger brothers of Scouts who, seeing the enjoyment and adventures their older siblings were having, wanted a piece of the action for themselves!

Several Boy Scout Troops had already formed unofficial junior or training troops to meet this demand from younger boys, teaching very basic Scouting skills such as tracking, first aid and ropework. However, Baden Powell wanted a separate and properly organised scheme for younger boys, not a 'watered down' version of Scouting but a body with its own identity and programme of activities.

He began outlining his own ideas for what he would call 'Wolf Cubbing', asking his good friend Rudyard Kipling if he could use names from his "Jungle Book" to help shape the new organisation, including Akela, the wolf who is leader of the pack. A pilot scheme for Wolf Cubs was launched in 1914 and proved extremely popular, with the first Cubmasters appointed and 10,000 Cubs signed up by the year end.

After a two-year trial it was clear that the demand of Wolf Cubs was overwhelming. In June 1916 the first Cubmasters Conference was held and in October it was announced that the Wolf Cubs had been "put on to an official standing in the Boy Scouts Association". At the end of November Baden-Powell's "Wolf Cub Handbook" was published along with the first edition of "The Wolf Cub" monthly magazine.

To officially launch the new movement a public display was organised at Caxton Hall, Westminster, on December 16th, 1916. Designed to show the world what the new organisation had to offer, it featured demonstrations of various Wolf Cub activities, including the investiture of a new Cub and a demonstration of a "Grand Howl".

It also included the signing of the charter officially registering the Wolf Cubs, which is why December 16th, 1916, is now celebrated as the official founding date of the Cub Scouts.

Adopting the motto "Do Your Best" (the origin of 'dyb dyb dyb'), the emphasis of Cub Scouting has always been to have fun while learning new and valuable skills, and building character and citizenship. Cub Scout packs were usually linked to Scout Troops, allowing boys to 'move up' when they reached the appropriate age. Packs were split into patrols called Sixes, each with its own leader, or Sixer. Typical activities included games, woodcraft, hiking, camping and first aid.

As the Scouting Movement spread around the world the Cubs went with it, and today Scouting has more than 40 million participants worldwide. Throughout its 100-year history millions of boys have been members of Cub Packs, which since the 1990s have been open to girls too.

Throughout this year, activities including camps, jamborees and many other events are being held to celebrate the Cubs' centenary. They will culminate on December 16th with "Promise Parties" around the world, where Cubs will remake their Cub Promise. They will be timed to take place precisely 100 years since the signing of the Wolf Cubs Charter at 7-16pm, or in the 24-hour clock, 19:16.


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