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A look back at ‘Cubbing’

At next week’s National Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., the BSA will announce  revisions to the current Cub Scouting program. (You can read more about these changes in this post, and Bryan will have more live updates next week from Nashville.) Until then, let’s take a look back at how “Cubbing” first began. Cubbing

The national executive board first proposed a program designed specifically for younger boys in 1927. But it wasn’t until 1930 that the BSA began offering limited resources for this program. (Check out this announcement in the March 1930 issue of Scouting magazine.) In 1933, Cubbing — as it was known at the time — was fully launched and promoted among councils across the U.S.

In those first years, the Cub Scout program — even before it had been fully understood — contributed to the largest net growth in registered boys, according to the 1932 annual report.

While some of the program remains similar today, the first Cub Scout dens were led by Boy Scout den chiefs and den mothers (like the mom in the photo above, featured in on the cover of the May-June 1954 issue of Scouting). Weekly meetings were held at the den mother’s home, where the boys made crafts and played games. The program was meant to stand on its own with its own leadership and “not trespass on Boy Scouting.”

Flashback to Cub Scouting in the 1950s with this Scouting magazine article, “Come Into My Living Room.”

What are your early memories of Cub Scouting? Share these in the comments and stay tuned for more annual meeting coverage next week.

8 Comments on A look back at ‘Cubbing’

  1. Dustin Tarditi // May 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm // Reply

    I was a cub scout in the 70’s and remember the den meetings in the “Den Mother’s” home… fun pack meetings… but we never camped out, went to Cub-o-Rees, or did more than the occasional service project. Bottom line is we did a LOT less than Cub Scouts do currently and we still had a blast doing it. Some of that was due to where I grew up, some was due to the program being fundamentally different back then.

    As a Cubmaster, I try to make sure the boys in our pack get the best scouting experience possible, but am a little disheartened at how some scouters look down on the cub scout program or consider it just a farm team for their troop. At the age these boys are in life, Cub Scouts can provide every bit of a challenge as the Boy Scout program does to its scouts. If you only regard Cub Scouts during the annual Webelos invitational camp out (in order to garner as many applications as you can come Feb/Mar time frame) you’re missing out on many opportunities to make a positive impression on these young boys and future leaders – they may take their talents elsewhere.

  2. I want to see that “Is Scouting Out Of Date?” article on page 5 of that May-June 1954 issue of Scouting magazine.

    We had a short-lived Cub Scout pack in the little town where I grew up, that one or more of my older brothers were in. I still have some of the books, which would have been from late 1950s era. I was in awe of the things in those books that Cub Scouts were encouraged to build — in particular, a plane that they could sit on with strings attached to a joystick so that parts would move.

    • You can see it. Just scroll down. It caught my eye also, and I read it. The back to the woods basics and its appeal to a boy is just as true today as it was in the 1950’s. It made me smile. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  3. Dan, they link to the full magazine in the article – which has the “Is Scouting Out of Date?” in it (http://scoutingmagazine.org/archives/#1954-05/page/1/mode/1up). It’s a great read.

    • Excellent! Thanks — I missed the link when I read through the blog post the first time.

  4. Phil Jennings // May 15, 2014 at 11:56 pm // Reply

    Looking at the picture, Den Mom looks like a flight attendant.

  5. Brian Mee // May 16, 2014 at 9:20 am // Reply

    That is about how I remember Cub Scouting in the 60’s. I did Wolf, Bear, Lion (can’t remember if there was WEBELOS or not) and had a great time. One of my grade school classmate’s mom was the Den Mother. Best activity: Making paper mache space helmets (painted silver) and web harnesses and marching in the town parade as a den. Parents other than the Den Mother were not very involved so it felt more like a patrol with an adult patrol leader.

  6. I remember my den mother and her family in 1968-69. Some of the boys are still life long friends. I remember Chicago Bears Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo visiting our big meeting at school. It made it all cool! It would have been around the time Brian was diagnosed. My mom remembers him being great with the boys.

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