From Akela to the pack, Cub Scouting has roots in ‘The Jungle Book’

You know that Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book spawned a number of movies, including the 1967 animated film and a 2016 live-action version.

But did you know Kipling’s 1894 collection of short stories also spawned the Cub Scouting program?

In 1914, Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell started a Scouting program based on Kipling’s stories and targeted at younger boys in Britain. Sixteen years later, the BSA launched its version of Baden-Powell’s new program.

They called it Cub Scouting. The new program meant younger boys could benefit from Scouting’s values.

Even though American Cub Scouting has evolved since its 1930 inception, today’s boys still use terms like Akela, pack and den that can be traced to The Jungle Book.

Cub Scouts learn about this century-old connection to The Jungle Book on page 9 of their Tiger HandbookWolf Handbook or Bear Handbook. The passage reads:

Baden-Powell liked the stories in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and he thought many of the characters were fun and playful, just like Cub Scouts. He also knew it was important for the boys to have a wise leader like Akela, the wolf. Akela lets Mowgli, the boy, join the wolf pack. Maybe you also know about Baloo the bear, who helps teach Mowgli the laws of the jungle so he can live among the animals. To this day, we have names like Akela and Baloo, and words like den and pack, in Cub Scouting. That’s our way of remembering how Cub Scouting began with The Jungle Book.



The new Disney film stars Breaking Bad‘s Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, a character billed as “a great leader” and a “wise teacher.”

In Cub Scouting, Akela also is a wise teacher. Anyone who is older than the Cub Scout can be Akela, including the den leader, the assistant den leader, the adult partner, a parent or a guardian. There’s a space in the handbooks after each requirement for two signatures: one from the den leader and one from Akela.



In the new movie, Baloo is a free-spirited bear played by Bill Murray.

In Cub Scouting, BALOO stands for Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation and is a council-level training course for leaders who want to add a camping component to their pack activities. In other words, BALOO training helps Cub Scout packs become a little more free-spirited.

Contact your council to learn about the next BALOO training.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.