Cub Scout History - The Virtual Cub Scout Leader's Handbook
The Virtual Cub Leader's Handbook


1925 Cubs
Boys participating in an experimental Cub program in 1925!  



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The "Cubbing Program" was introduced by the Boy Scouts of America in 1930, but its roots go all the way back to the first days of Scouting. With the early success of the Boy Scouts for boys 12 and over, there was popular demand for a "younger boy program" for the siblings of Scouts. Because of concerns that a younger boy program might have a negative effect on the fledgling Boy Scouts program, the BSA was very careful in their dealings with this "younger boy problem." (See Scouting Magazine article on "Cubbing" June 1930)

In 1916, Sir Robert Baden-Powell introduced the "Wolf Cub" program for younger boys. This program soon found its way to numerous communities in the Americas. There were also other 'younger boy' organizations such as the "Little Lodge" of the "Woodcraft Indians," the "Boy Pioneers," and the "Boy Rangers." Some BSA Boy Scout Troops were also sponsoring unofficial "Junior Troops" and "Cadet Corps."

Finally, after 20 years of Boy Scouting in America, "Cubbing" was introduced! What has followed has been nothing short of phenomonal! Boasting over 50,000,000 members since its inception, no program in history has had the far ranging impact on American youth than Cubbing and Cub Scouting have!

The following is a condensed history of Cubbing in America. From then, to now.......

  • 1910 Boy Scouts of America incorporated on February 8, national Executive Board formed. Baden-Powell visited America to talk with leaders. President Taft became the first honorary president of the BSA; the first honorary vice-president was Theodore Roosevelt.

  • 1911 At the urging of the national Executive Board of the BSA, Ernest Thompson Seton develops prototype "Cubs of America" program with "Cub Moms" and a motto of "We do our best." This program was shelved due to a "tremendous upheaval" within the BSA.

  • 1912 Boys' Life magazine became official publication.

  • 1913 First local councils were chartered.

  • 1916 Wolf Cubbing becomes an official part of the British Scouting with the publication of Robert S. S. Baden-Powell's "The Wolf Cub Handbook."

  • 1918 Unofficial Wolf Cub Packs appear in Butte, MN, Stamford, CT, Paris TX and other locations. James E. West, Chief Scout Executive, secured the rights for the American printing of British Wolf Cub Handbook for sale to unofficial US Wolf Cub packs. This book was sold by the BSA for 10 years before the introduction of Cubbing.

  • 1920 The first National Training Conference for Executives emphasized the need for a younger boy program. First world jamboree in England.

  • 1924 The national Executive Board proposes the "adoption of a younger boy program at the earliest date, should be kept entirely distinct from Scouting, should prepare for graduation into the Scout movement."

  • 1925 William D. Murray was named chairman of a committee to look into the younger boy program. Dr. John N. Finley and Dr. Jeremiah W. Jenks were named to the committee. All were members of the BSA national Executive Board.

  • 1926 First Silver Buffalo Award presentations made to Lord Baden-Powell and to the unknown Scout whose Good Turn brought Scouting to America.

  • 1927 A portion of a Laura Spelman Rockefeller grant of $50,000 supported research and development project on the younger boy program. Dr. Huber William Hurt was named full-time executive for the committee, which was to "report to the national Executive Board at the earliest date."

  • 1928 The fifth National Training Conference for Scout Executives held at Cornell University generated intense interest in the younger boy program. Experimental Cub units were started in each of the 12 regions of the National Council. In all, 106 locations were sanctioned for experimental Cub units across the nation.

  • 1929 Demonstration Cub units were approved by the national Executive Board. The Hurt committee prepared its definitive report and worked on the first Cub publications.

  • 1930 The national Executive Board heard the Hurt committee Report and approved the Cub program "controlled experiment" as of February 10. They authorized Cub packs to register with BSA starting April 1 for those packs qualifying under "special permit" requirements to assure adequate resources and leadership. Dr. Hurt and the committee were to monitor the program through its experimental stages. Cub books were issued including: Wolf, Bear, Lion, Parents' Cub Book, and Cub Leader's Outline. Uniforms for boys were issued ($6.05 complete) and 5,102 boys and 1,433 pack leaders in 243 packs were registered during the first year.

  • 1931 At the end of the second year 25,662 boys were registered in Cub packs in 258 councils across the nation with 5,228 registered pack leaders. First Silver Beaver Awards.

  • 1932 First Cubmaster's Pack Book and Den Chiefs Den Book. Cubbing policies were published. By the end of the third year, 44,083 boys and 8,060 pack leaders registered.

  • 1933 "Experimental" restrictions were removed as of May 25th; Cubbing to be "aggressively promoted as a part of the Boy Scout program." Cub Leaders'Roundtable publications issued for pack leaders. Registration for the fourth year: 51,884 boys and 7,542 leaders were registered. The Schiff Scout Reservation is formally opened.

  • 1934 Cubbing had 64,739 boys and 8,269 leaders registered during the fifth year.

  • 1935 William C. Wessel became the second director of the program succeeding Dr. Hurt on January 2. Cub Leader's Roundtable and Scouting publications were sent to all registered pack leaders. Local Cubbing advisory committees were encouraged. "Leader-of-leader" training was made available. The Cubbing program judged "excellent in every field of operation," including graduation to Scouting. Registrations: 82,373 boys and 12,843 leaders. This is the first year the Cubbing program was reported to the Congress of the United States.

  • 1936 Registrations of den mothers was made "optional"; before this year, it was not permitted. Smocks available for den mothers. C. Walter Seamans named assistant director of Cubbing. Cubbing reached 10 percent of the total of all boys registered in the Scouting program. Registrations: 114,515 boys and 19,296 pack leaders.

  • 1937 The Pack Financial Record Book was developed and the "Pack Thrift Plan" was introduced. Full year planning calendar was issued. First Den Mother's Den Book. Registrations: 147,418 boys and 23,232, pack leaders. Cubmobiles (Soap Box Derby) racers introduced.

  • 1938 First International Cub Leader's Conference at Gilwell Park, England. Bobcat pin introduced (for civilian wear). Den mother's badge approved. New den chiefs shoulder cord. Cub advancement record introduced. The How Book of Cubbing published. Registrations: 182,514 boys and 34,117 pack leaders. Waite Phillips made a gift of land in New Mexico now known as Philmont Scout Ranch.

  • 1939 Cubbing Guidebook and new manual for den mother training were produced. A cub literature bulletin outlined all of the publications available to pack leaders. Donald C. Green appointed Assistant Director of Cubbing. Registrations: 234,953 boys and 42,009 pack leaders. Pow-wows and roundtables began in many councils.

  • 1940 John M. Bierer became the second chairman of the National Cubbing Committee, succeeding Dr. William D. Murray. Themes were introduced into the Cubbing program. "Summer Program" pamphlet issued, Cub pow wows were introduced as a training medium. "Your Boy" promotion. Cub "Goodwill" emphasis. Den chief training course launched. Gerald A. Speedy was named assistant director. Registrations: 286,402 boys and 49,161 pack leaders.

  • 1941 The Webelos rank was created for 11-1/2-year-old boys with the Lion badge. Accumulated badges could be worn on uniforms. A set of 10 pack organizations charts was issued for pack leader training. Registrations: 335,775 boys and 56,691 pack leaders.

  • 1942 Cubbing participated in the support of the national war emergency. Registrations: 373,813 boys and 65,775 leaders. Boys were allowed rank corresponding to age if late entry into the program (no need for "catch-up.")

  • 1943 First blue and gold banquet. Packs sell War Bonds and War Stamps. During the year 442,853 boys and 80,458 leaders were registered in the program. First Silver Antelope Awards.

  • 1944 A shortage of literature and uniforms due to wartime priorities. Packs collect grease, newspapers, and milkweed floss. Many packs had Victory Garden programs. Registrations: 574,605 boys and 104,211 pack leaders.

  • 1945 "Cubbing" changed to "Cub Scouting." New bars for denners and assistant denners. World Friendship Fund established. Registrations: 695,014 boys and 141,468 leaders.

  • 1946 Registrations: 759,829 boys and 175,425 leaders.

  • 1947 Uniform revision: long trousers for boys. Scouting magazine carried program outlines for leaders for the first time. Registrations: 819,487 boys and 215,485 pack leaders.

  • 1948 All den mothers must register with BSA (optional before). Registrations: 887,215 boys and 261,563 leaders.

  • 1949 William C. Wessel, director of Cub Scouting, died. Gerald A. Speedy was named the director, and in November Marlin Sieg was named as assistant director. The age levels for Cub Scouting were changed to 8, 9, and 10 with boys entering Boy Scouting at 11 years of age. A re-study of the achievement program was ordered. At the end of its 20th year, Cub Scouting pierced the million mark for the first time with 1,142,079 boys registered and 317,057 pack leaders, a 25 percent gain in enrollment.

  • 1950 A second international gathering of Cub leaders was held in Edinburqh, Scotland. A new Cub Scout leader training plan included eight training subjects utilizing film strip, illustrations, and cartoons. Scouting Magazine increased its Cub Scouting coverage from one to eight pages. The registrations during the year reached 1,263,658 boys and 385,342 pack leaders

  • 1951 The Wolf Book was revised to the reading level of the 8-year-old boy. Other new literature: Den Chief Training and 10 Steps to Pack Organization. First Philmont Cub Scout Conference stressed basic ideas, policies, and procedures. Registrations during the year climbed to 1,339,861 boys and 440,348 pack leaders.

  • 1952 O. W. (Bud) Bennett named director of Cub Scouting; and Marlin S. Sieg was assistant. Philmont Cub Scouting course was opened to women. BSA theme: "Forward on Liberty's Team." Registrations during the year: 1,472,955 boys and 502,388 pack leaders.

  • 1953 First 'un-official' Pinewood Derby run on May 15 by Pack 280c under Cubmaster Don Murphy. Den Chief Conference Plan approved and released. Cub Scout advisory group studied the Webelos Den Plan. Cub Scouts donate 2,889 pennies for Korean Scouts plus "tons" of used uniforms. Registrations: 1,606,249 boys, 570,751 pack leaders.

  • 1954 Robert N. Gibson named chairman of the National Cub Scout Committee. Webelos den created for 10-1/2-year-old boys. New Webelos den badge. Lion badge changed to Lion Webelos. Pack numerals colors were changed. Minimum age for den mothers and assistant cubmasters changed from 18 to 21. Den Chiefs Training Conference booklet printed.

  • 1955'Official' Pinewood Derbies introduced. New den mother's uniform skirt and blouse offered. New Webelos pin approved for Cub civilian wear. New Cub Scout pocket piece. New training posters. Backyard USA, published for summertime activities, illustrated by Bud Bennett. Revised Den Mother's Den Book and Den Chiefs Den Book. Cub Scouting pierced the two million mark for the first time: registration reached 2,050,625 boys and 753,892 pack leaders.

  • 1956 Webelos day camp program introduced. Webelos advancement chart available. Den Mother's Training Award introduced. First Cub Scouting books in braille for the handicapped. Cub Scout Fun Book and Pack Committee pamphlet published. BSA Theme: "Onward for God and My Country." Registrations: 2,346,090 boys and 879,253 leaders.

  • 1957 Emphasis on Cub Scouting for the handicapped boy is increased. Bike safety highlighted. George C. Frickel appointed assistant director of Cub Scouting. Registered Cub Scouts subscribing to Boys' Life was 34 percent. Registrations: 2,540,691 boys and 96,498 pack leaders.

  • 1958 New Cub Scout sports electives include skating and skiing. New Webelos Den Book with meeting outline helps for Webelos den leaders. Parent Review Party Kit prepared to bolster family participation in Cub Scouting. Registrations: 2,695,124 boys and 1,010,886 leaders.

  • 1959 H. H. Coffield named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. Bobcat Pin introduced for the uniform. Cub Scout Water Fun Book issued to help dads with dad/son activities. In 47,286 packs, there were 1,006,969 leaders serving 2,691,153 boys.

  • 1960 The Golden Jubilee of Scouting and 30th anniversary of Cub Scouting in the U.S., special coin and patches issued. BSA theme: "For God and Country." Commemorative tribute in Washington D.C. from funds contributed by Cub Scouts and Scouts across the nation. First den mother's conference held at Schiff Scout Reservation, N.J. Registrations: 2,762,480 boys and 1,026,480 pack leaders.

  • 1961 Den mother's training program at Schiff. A comprehensive survey of the complete Cub Scout program was initiated with Research Service spearheading this effort under the direction of Kenneth Wells. Registrations: 2,752,027 boys and 1,016,764 pack leaders.

  • 1962 F. Brittain Kennedy named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. Registrations in Cub Scouting reached 2,819,752 boys and 1,02 9,100 pack leaders.

  • 1963 Cub Scout Advisory Group considered many uniform variants, but recommended only the den mother's tie as an alternate to the neckerchief. Registrations were 2,841,958 boys and 1,028,073 pack leaders.

  • 1964 The National Summertime Award is created to encourage year-round Cub Scouting. Cub Scout Swim Plan introduced. Registrations: 2,915,972 boys and 1,044,180 leaders.

  • 1965 Cub Scouting broke through the three million mark for the first time with registrations during the year reaching 3,031,137 boys and 1,075,863 pack leaders.

  • 1966 Cub Scouting survey results felt in the deliberations of the national Cub Scout Committee. Kenneth L. Miller named assistant director of Cub Scouting. This is the Jubilee year for the British Wolf Cub program. Registrations in Cub Scouting reached 3,115,002 boys and 1,130,153 pack leaders.

  • 1967 The Cub Scout Advancement Program was overhauled. The Lion rank was discontinued in favor of the new Webelos Scout program with its distinctive uniform and 15 activity badges. William R. Jackson named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. Registrations reached 3,280,955 boys and 1,261,815 pack leaders.

  • 1968 Cub Scout day camps were approved by the National Executive Board. Membership fees were increased to $2 for adults and $1 for boys. National staff included 0. W. (Bud) Bennett, director; Marlin S. Seig and Edmond T. Hesser, assistants. Registrations: 3,467,738 boys and 1,261,815 pack leaders.

  • 1969 First women were appointed to the national Cub Scout Committee. Total registrations in Cub Scouting hovered just short of five million people 3,602,688 boys and 1,284,363 pack leaders. J. Bowling Wills named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee.

  • 1970 Donald J. Parry, vice-chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee, acted as interim chairman. Bud Bennett retired as director of Cub Scouting. Summertime pack awards were stressed. Project SOAR (Save Our American Resources) was launched throughout Scouting. Forty-two councils held Cub Scout day camps during the summer. Registrations in Cub Scouting reached of 3,664,287 boys and 1,273,980 pack leaders.

  • 1971 Robert L. Untch named director of Cub Scouting; Donald H. Flanders, chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. The Cub Scout Promise was changed from "to be square' to "to help other people." The Silver Fawn Award, for lady Scouters, was introduced at the council level. Total registrations pierced the five million mark: at 3,742,411 boys and 1,268,367 pack leaders.

  • 1972 First national Den Leader Coach Conference at Schiff Scout Reservation, New Jersey. New embroidered badges for Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, Webelos. Cub Scout Day Camp manual printed. During the year, 3,763,202 boys and 2,255,526 leaders were registered.

  • 1973 Achievements and electives updated. New Webelos leader and Cubmaster neckerchiefs. Cub Scout Leadership Development kit introduced. C. Joseph Nelson named associate director of Cub Scouting. Registrations: 3,762,367 boys and 1,214,882 leaders.

  • 1974 Safe Bicycle Driving Program and Cub Scout Physical Fitness Program introduced and emphasized. First regional Cub Scout chairman training at Philmont. Silver Fawn Award discontinued in favor of the Silver Beaver Award for both men and women. Registrations: 3,513,746 boys and 1,097,267 leaders.

  • 1975 Cub Scout Day Camp School introduced. Webelos transition program launched. "Learn to Swim" program promoted. New literature for the leaders of handicapped Cub Scouts. Den chiefs cord repositioned on the uniform. Registrations: 3,121,035 boys and 1,065,719 pack leaders.

  • 1976 First national Cub Scout Trainer Wood Badge course in US. conducted. The God and Family and Metta Awards introduced for religious recognition in Cub Scouting. Dress uniforms redesigned for adults. National Executive Board approves women as Cubmasters and assistant Cubmasters. Cub Scout Family Book prepared. Cub Scout Family Award is designed. Russell A. Williams named associate director of Cub Scouting. Registrations: 2,887,791 boys and 1,001, 134 pack leaders.

  • 1977 Dr. Rodney H. Brady named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. Cub Scout program year changed to coincide with the school year Cub Scout day camp inspections made mandatory. First regional Cub Scout Trainers Wood Badge courses held (six during the year). Audrey F. Clough named associate director of Cub Scouting. Registrations: 2,736,955 boys and 961,301 leaders.

  • 1978 Five ranks established for Cub Scouting: Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, Arrow of Light. Training awards updated. Family camping encouraged. W. Boyd Giles named associate director of Cub Scouting. Long Range Planning Committee for Cub Scouting appointed. 50th Anniversary Year of Cub Scouting set for 1980 and a Jubilee committee appointed. Registrations: 2,795,051 boys and 962,565 leaders.

  • 1979 Wolf Book rewritten. New Bear neckerchief. Family Vacation Training Project. Cub Scout Trainers Wood Badge course approved as standard training. Burts J. Kennedy named associate director of Cub Scouting. National Council moved its offices to Texas. National Cub Scout Committee prepares for the Jubilee Year in 1980. Fiftieth anniversary literature included Council and District Plan, Public Relations Plan, and Guidebook For Packs. Registrations during the year: 2,721,415 boys and 913,270 leaders.

  • 1980 The 50th anniversary of Cub Scouting in the United States. The 30 millionth Cub Scout since 1930 was registered. New designer uniforms for boys and leaders. Cub Scout Family Award now standard. New Den Chief Handbook and Low Income and Hispanic Cub Scout books. Family Forum introduced. International tour for Cub Scout leaders to England. Cub Scout Jason Sherman visited the White House on behalf of over 1.8 million Cub Scouts. First National Blue and Gold Banquet at National Council meeting, New Orleans. All packs participate in the Jubilee celebration. A total of 410 councils held 1,800 Cub Scout day camps for over 300,000 boys. Registered during the year: 2,715,341 boys and 889,958 pack leaders.

  • 1981 Cub Scouts visited a national Scout jamboree for the first time at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. International tour of Cub Scout leaders to England. Glendon E. Johnson named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. Registrations during the year were: 2,569,223 boys and 847,166 pack leaders.

  • 1982 The 75th anniversary of World Scouting. Tiger Cubs, BSA, was introduced at the national meeting in Atlanta. E. 0. "Robbie" Robinson named associate director of Cub Scouting. Robert L. Untch retired as director of Cub Scouting. Peter W. Hummel named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. Registrations during the year were: 2,604,351 boys and 829,199 pack leaders.

  • 1983 Jack Billington was named director of Cub Scouting. Ernest R. "Tommy" Thomas, Jr., named associate director of Cub Scouting. Registrations during the year were: 2,513,725 boys and 805,658 pack leaders.

  • 1984 Extended camping was approved for Webelos Scouts. New sports program for Cub Scouts developed. The Big Bear Cub Scout Book was introduced. Registrations during the year were: 2,483,950 boys and 805,237 pack leaders.

  • 1985 The 75th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America; 55th anniversary of Cub Scouting. International tour of Cub Scout leaders to England. New sports program introduced for Cub Scouts. Registrations during the year were: 2,168,487 boys and 682,882 pack leaders.

  • 1986 Boy Scouts of America took a new and dramatic step to serve boys in all school grades. Membership requirements for Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts became primarily based on grade in school, rather than age. The plan was expanded to included first-grade boys as Tiger Cubs and second-grade boys as Wolf Cub Scouts. The program included plans for expanding Webelos Scouting to 2 years for fourth- and fifth-graders. In the first 4 months of the expanded program, Cub Scout membership increased by 14.3 percent compared to the previous year. Stan Levingston named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee. Revised Wolf Cub Scout Book introduced. Registrations during the year were: 2,466,707 boys and 793,856 pack leaders.

  • 1987 Boy Scouts of America began to address five ''unacceptables'' in American society-drug abuse, hunger, child abuse, illiteracy, and youth unemployment. The nation's largest anti-drug abuse education campaign was launched with the release of eight million copies of a booklet titled Drugs: A Deadly Game for members, chartered organizations, schools, and local institutions. Cub Scout leaders received Fast Start videos that discussed their positions. A new edition of the Webelos Scout Book, featuring five new activity badges boys could earn, was published. More Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts went camping this year; total camping participation rose to 817,582 youths, an increase of 8 percent over that of 1986. Vittz-James Ramsdell named chairman of the national Cub Scout Committee.

  • 1988 Largest national Good Turn since World War II was held in November when Scouting for Food sent the BSA's youth and adult leaders into their neighborhoods to collect food for the needy. The harvest was more than 60 million containers of food.A 2-year Webelos Scouting program was introduced; for the first time fourth-graders were eligible to become Webelos Scouts. Henceforth, both fourth- and fifth-graders could participate in Webelos Scouting to prepare for Boy Scouting. Resident camping for Cub Scouts was approved, and many councils opened weeklong camps for Cub Scouts while continuing to operate Cub Scout day camps.

  • 1989 Cub Scouting instituted a ''Renewal Plan for Separated Cub Scouts'' to invite dropouts back into the program. Local councils that tried the plan reported a 40 to 50 percent return of dropouts. The BSA continued its attack on the "unacceptables." The second annual Scouting for Food drive netted 72 million containers of food for the nation's needy. A new package of materials for Drugs: A Deadly Game was distributed. It included an 18-page brochure, a comic book-style true story of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, a body chart showing the effects of drugs, alcohol, and smoking on the human body, and a teacher's guide. Advice for preventing sexual abuse of children was incorporated into all training of adult Scouters.

  • 1991 Cub Scouting introduced two programs: Ethics in Action to promote ethical decision making, and the BSA family program to strengthen the family from within. Membership grew for the tenth consecutive year in Tiger Cubs, BSA; participation increased in Cub Scouting's day, family, and resident camping.

  • 1992 A Cub Scout Academics program is debuted.

  • 1993 A new Train-the-Trainer Conference manual was produced to train the people who train leaders in Cub Scouting. Cub Scout camping drew nearly 573,000 youth, including 5,000 new campers.

  • 1997 Cub Scouting membership - Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts - grew to more than 2.1 million, an increase of 2.7 percent and the third consecutive year of growth. The percentage of trained Cub Scout adult leaders increased to 40 percent, a gain of 9 percent over 1996. Cub Scout day, resident, and family camping continued to grow in popularity, with more than 38 percent of members - almost 570,000 boys - participating in one of these outdoor experiences.

  • 1998 Cub Scouting membership - Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts - grew to more than 2.17 million. This increase marks our fourth consecutive year of growth. The percentage of trained Cub Scout adult leaders increased 8 percent over 1997 figures. Cub Scout day, resident, and family camping continued to grow in popularity, with almost 39 percent of members - more than 583,000 boys - participating in one of these outdoor experiences. New Wolf and Bear handbooks introduced.

  • 1999 New Webelos Book introduced. Cub Sports and Academics program modified and re-named Cub Scout Academics and Sports program. Garfield (the cat) named as national Cub Scouting 'spokescat.'

  • 2000 Cub Scout Trainer Wood Badge discontinued.

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Portions excerpted from "History of Cub Scouting"
Boy Scouts of America
Copyright © 1987
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