Pack 221's
Home Page
Scouting History
Past Activities

Cub Scout Pack 221
(Gaithersburg, Maryland)
ScoutLander Contact Our Pack Member Login

History of Scouting


The Beginning of Scouting

Scouting's history goes back to the turn of the 20th century to a BritishArmy officer, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell. While stationed in India, hediscovered that his men did not know basic first aid or the elementary means ofsurvival in the outdoors. Baden-Powell realized he needed to teach his men manyfrontier skills, so he wrote a small handbook called Aids to Scouting,which emphasized resourcefulness, adaptability, and the qualities of leadershipthat frontier conditions demanded.

After returning from the Boer War, where he became famous by protecting thesmall town of Mafeking for 217 days, Baden-Powell was amazed to find that hislittle handbook had caught the interest of English boys. They were using it toplay the game of scouting.

Baden-Powell had the vision to see some new possibilities, and he decided totest his ideas on boys. In August 1907, he gathered about 20 boys and took themto Brownsea Island in a sheltered bay off England's southern coast. They set upa makeshift camp that would be their home for the next 12 days.

The boys had a great time! They divided into patrols and played games, wenton hikes, and learned stalking and pioneering. They learned to cook outdoorswithout utensils. Scouting began on that island and would sweep the globe in afew years.

The next year, Baden-Powell published his book Scouting for Boys, andScouting continued to grow. That same year, more than 10,000 Boy Scouts attendeda rally held at the Crystal Palace; a mere two years later, membership in BoyScouts had tripled.

American Origins

About this same time, the seeds of Scouting were growing in the UnitedStates. On a farm in Connecticut, a naturalist and author named Ernest ThompsonSeton was organizing a group of boys called the Woodcraft Indians; and DanielCarter Beard, an artist and writer, organized the Sons of Daniel Boone. In manyways, the two organizations were similar, but they were not connected. The boyswho belonged had never heard of Baden-Powell or of Boy Scouts, and yet bothgroups were destined to become Boy Scouts one day soon.

But first, an American businessman had to get lost in the fog in England.Chicago businessman and publisher William D. Boyce was groping his way throughthe fog when a boy appeared and offered to take him to his destination. Whenthey arrived, Boyce tried to tip the boy, but the boy refused and courteouslyexplained that he was a Scout and could not accept payment for a Good Turn.

Intrigued, the publisher questioned the boy and learned more about Scouting.He visited with Baden-Powell as well and became captured by the idea ofScouting. When Boyce boarded the transatlantic steamer for home, he had asuitcase filled with information and ideas. And so, on February 8, 1910, Boyceincorporated the Boy Scouts of America.

The "unknown Scout" who helped him in the fog was never heard from again, buthe will never be forgotten. His Good Turn is what brought Scouting to ourcountry.

After the incorporation of the BSA, a group of public-spirited citizensworked to set up the organization. Seton became the first Chief Scout of theBSA, and Beard was made the national commissioner.

The first executive officer was James E. West, a young man from Washingtonwho had risen above a tragic boyhood and physical disability to become asuccessful lawyer. He dedicated himself to helping all children to have a betterlife and led the BSA for 32 years as the Chief Scout Executive.

Scouting has grown in the United States from 2,000 Boy Scouts and leaders in1910 to millions strong today. From a program for Boy Scouts only, it has spreadinto a program including Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boy Scouts,Varsity Scouts, and Venturers.

The Beginning of Cub Scouting

Back in England, younger boys were eager to become Boy Scouts. In 1914,Baden-Powell began implementing a program for younger boys that was based onRudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. The Wolf Cub program began in 1916, andsince that time, Wolf Cubbing has spread to other European countries with verylittle change.

In America, hundreds of Cub Scout-age boys and their families were clamoringfor a program of their own. As early as 1920, Scout executives at the firstnational training conference discussed the needs of younger boys. The BSA,however, felt it wise to postpone any action until there was more objectiveevidence.

In 1925, Dr. Huber W. Hurt, a research psychologist and veteran Scouter, wasauthorized to study existing organizations for younger boys, such as BoyRangers, Boy Pioneers, American Eagles, and Boys' Clubs. He found that only oneboy in 50 participated regularly in any type of organized leisure-time program.He also found that younger boys responded better to leadership and programefforts than older boys. He worked closely with Ernest Thompson Seton. Both menrecommended that the BSA adopt a program for younger boys, with older Boy Scoutsas leaders, to tie into home, church, school, and Boy Scouting.

The National Executive Board authorized the Chief Scout Executive tothoroughly investigate the matter. An advisory committee worked with the BSA todevelop a plan and produce the necessary literature. Advice was obtained fromleading psychologists, sociologists, teachers, school superintendents,professors of education, college executives, and recreation and welfaredirectors.

By 1929, the new Cubbing program (it wasn't called "Cub Scouting" untilseveral years later) was taking shape and was introduced as a demonstrationproject in a limited number of communities. Its structure was similar to today'sCub Scouting, except that dens were led by Boy Scout den chiefs. The planincluded a neighborhood mothers' committee to encourage Cubs and den chiefs.

In 1930, Cub Scouting was formally launched, with 5,102 boys registered atthe end of that first year. By 1933 the time had come to promote Cub Scoutingthroughout the country as a part of Scouting. All experimental restrictions wereremoved, and the first national director of Cub Scouting was appointed.

Den mother registration was optional for the first few years. By June 1938,1,100 den mothers had registered and soon became an important part of CubScouting.

The first dens met weekly at a member's home, where boys played games andenjoyed crafts and ceremonies. The pack met weekly or semimonthly for games, dencompetitions, awards, stunts, and other activities. Cubs advanced from Bobcat(for all new members) to Wolf (age 9), Bear (age 10), and Lion (age 11) andjoined a Boy Scout troop at age 12.

In 1949, the age requirement was lowered to between 8 and 10 for Cub Scouts.In 1982, Tiger Cubs was started based on shared leadership of boy-adult partnerteams and the school year calendar. In 1986, Cub Scouts could register assecond-grade boys.

Cub Scouting in America is different from the younger-boy programs of othercountries because it is centered in the home and neighborhood. With theencouragement of family and leaders, boys enjoy a program that covers a widevariety of interesting things. It suggests activities that boys enjoy doing ontheir own when adults are not supervising them. These activities areparticularly suited to boys of Cub Scout age and are different from those theywill encounter in Boy Scouting.

A strong influence from Kipling's Jungle Book remains today. The terms"Law of the Pack," "Akela," "Wolf Cub," "grand howl," "den," and "pack" all comefrom the Jungle Book. At the same time, the Gold and Silver Arrow Points,Webelos emblem, and Arrow of Light emblem are taken from our American Indianheritage.

Baden-Powell's Legacy

Although Scouting has changed over the years, the ideals and aims haveremained the same: character growth, citizenship training, and personal fitness.Scouting is updated periodically to keep pace with a changing world. It isn'tthe same as it was on Brownsea Island in 1907, but the ideals are still based onprinciples that Baden-Powell had been taught as a boy.

Scouting's founder was never able to completely overcome his surprise atScouting's worldwide appeal. As it swept the globe, Scouting brought him newadventures and responsibilities as Chief Scout of the World. He traveledextensively and kept in touch with Scouting around the world.

Eventually, Baden-Powell's health began to fail. He set up a winter home atNyeri, Kenya, in 1938, where he spent his remaining years until his death in1941. Scouts of different races carried him to his final resting place in thesmall cemetery at Nyeri. His grave is marked with a simple headstone that bearshis name and the Scout sign for "I have gone home." Today, in Westminster Abbey,a tablet records his name, along with the names of some of the greatest Britonsof all time.

After Baden-Powell's death, a letter was found in his desk that he hadwritten to all Scouts. It included this passage: "Try and leave this world alittle better than you found it." These words are a fitting epitaph, for as hewon the respect of the great by his strength, he won the hearts of youth by hisexample.

Important Dates

1910  Boy Scouts of America incorporated on February 8. Baden-Powellvisits America to talk with leaders. President Taft becomes first honorarypresident of the BSA; Theodore Roosevelt first honorary vice-president. 

1912  Boys' Life magazine becomes official publication. 

1918  James E. West, Chief Scout Executive, secures the rights for theAmerican printing of the British Wolf Cub's Handbook for sale to U.S.Wolf Cub packs. 

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

1927  A portion of a Laura Spelman Rockefeller grant of $50,000 supportsa research and development project on the younger boy program. Dr. Huber WilliamHurt named full-time executive for the committee. 

1929  The National Executive Board approves demonstration Cub units. 

1930  The National Executive Board approves the Cub program "controlledexperiment" as of February 10. The board authorizes Cub packs to register withthe BSA starting April 1. Uniforms for boys are issued ($6.05 complete) and5,102 boys and 1,433 pack leaders in 243 packs are registered during the firstyear. 

1932  First Cubmaster's Pack Book and Den Chief's DenBook. 

1933  "Experimental" restrictions removed as of May 25th; Cubbing to be"aggressively promoted as a part of the Boy Scout program." 

1936  Registration of den mothers made "optional"; before this year, denmothers not permitted to register. 

1937  First Den Mother's Den Book. Cubmobile racer introduced. 

1939  Pow wows and roundtables begin in many councils. 

1940  Themes introduced into Cubbing. 

1941  Webelos rank created for 11-year-old boys with the Lion badge. 

1942  Boys allowed rank corresponding to age if late entry into theprogram (no need for catch-up). 

1943  In program literature, first reference by name to blue and goldbanquet. Packs sell War Bonds and War Stamps. 

1944  Literature and uniform shortages due to wartime priorities. Packscollect grease, newspapers, and milkweed floss for the war effort. Many packshave Victory Garden programs. 

1945  "Cubbing" changed to "Cub Scouting."1947Uniform revision: long trousers for boys. 

1948  All den mothers must register with the BSA (registration optionalpreviously). 

1949  Age levels for Cub Scouting changed to 8, 9, and 10, with boysentering Boy Scouting at 11. At the end of the 20th year, for the first time CubScouting has more than a million boys registered at some time during the year, a25 percent gain over the previous year. 

1950  Cub Scout Promise changed to add the line "to do my duty to Godand my country." 

1953  First pinewood derby held in California.1954Webelos den created for 10-year-old boys. 

1955  Pinewood derby becomes part of Cub Scout program. More than twomillion Cub Scouts are registered during the year for the first time. 

1956  Webelos day camp program introduced. First Cub Scouting books inBraille. 

1957  Increased emphasis on Cub Scouting for boys with disabilities.1960Golden Jubilee of Scouting and 30th Anniversary of Cub Scouting inthe United States. 

1964  National Summertime Pack Award created to encourage year-round CubScouting. Cub Scout Swim Plan introduced.1965For the first time Cub Scouting breaks through the three-millionmark for boys registered during the year. 

1967  Cub Scout advancement program overhauled. Lion rank discontinuedin favor of new Webelos Scout program. 

1968  National Executive Board approves Cub Scout day camps. Membershipfees increase to $2 for adults and $1 for boys. 

1970  Project SOAR (Save Our American Resources) launched throughoutScouting. 

1971  Cub Scout Promise drops "to be square"; adds "to help otherpeople." 

1972  Cub Scouts account for 51 percent of BSA youth membership. 

1974  Cub Scout Bicycle Safety and Cub Scout Physical Fitness programsintroduced. 

1975  Webelos-to-Scout transition program launched. 

1976  Women could now serve as Cubmasters and assistantCubmasters. 

1977  Cub Scout program year changed to coincide with the school year. 

1978  Five ranks established in Cub Scouting: Bobcat, Wolf, Bear,Webelos, Arrow of Light Award. 

1980  Golden Jubilee of Cub Scouting in the United States. The 30millionth Cub Scout since 1930 is registered. The first Cub Scout Action Booksfor boys in low-income, rural, and Hispanic areas. 

1982  The 75th Anniversary of World Scouting. Tiger Cubs BSA introducedat National Council meeting in Atlanta.1984Extended camping approved for Webelos Scouts. 

1985  The 75th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. New Cub ScoutSports program. 

1986  Cub Scouting expands to serve all elementary school grades.Webelos program expands to two years to include fourth-grade and fifth-gradeboys.

1987  BSA Family program developed.1988Webelos Woods introduced to aid in Webelos-to-Scout transition.Tiger Tracks introduced. 

1989  World Crest emblem approved for wear by all Scouts and Scouters. 

1991  Cub Scout Academics introduced. Ethics in Action program. ItHappened to Me Youth Protection video. Guide to Safe Scoutingcreated. 

1993  Pack charters extend to include Tiger Cubs. 

1994  National Den Award introduced. 

1995  Tiger Mania. Tiger Cub groups become dens. Boys' Lifecreates Cub Scout edition.

1997  Cub Scout Academics and Sports program opens to Tiger Cubs. 

2000  Pack family camping approved. "Climb on Safely" introduced toallow Cub Scouts to climb and rappel in a controlled environment. 

2001  Character Connections and Core Values introduced. Wood Badge forthe 21st Century for all leaders in Scouting. Tiger Cub rankintroduced.

2002  Age-appropriate guidelines adopted. Leave No Trace FrontcountryGuidelines and Leave No Trace Award introduced. 

2003  Character Connections activities included as part of Cub Scoutadvancement requirements.

2004  National "Good Turn for America" launched. 75th Anniversary Awardand Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Award introduced. A new Cub Scout Hispanicoutreach initiative known as Soccer and Scouting is launched. 

2005  Cub Scouting celebrates its 75th Anniversary: "75 Years of Fun,Family, and Friends."