Cub Scout Program Begins

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.

As early as 1911, Ernest Thompson Seton had developed a prototype program he named Cub Scouts of America that was never implemented. James E. West felt that having BSA divisions for younger boys (those under 12; the "younger boy problem") would draw away boys from the core program, which was Scout troops focused on the 12–17 year old age group; thus he opposed such a program for some time. In spite of this, unofficial programs for younger boys started around this time, under names such as Junior Troops or Cadet Corps. The BSA obtained the rights to Baden-Powell's The Wolf Cub Handbook in 1916 and used it in unofficial Wolf Cub programs starting in 1918. This led to an issue with Daniel Carter Beard who felt that the use of the British book was nearly disloyal to the United States of America. West encouraged the formation of the Boy Rangers of America, a separate organization for boys eight through twelve based on an American Indian theme. The Boy Rangers used the Scout Law and their Chief Guide, Emerson Brooks, was a Boy Scout commissioner in Montclair, New Jersey. The BSA finally began some experimental Cub units in 1928 and in 1930 the BSA began registering the first Cub Scout packs, and the Boy Rangers were absorbed.

The British Cubbing program used elements of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book series, with the Cubmaster taking the role of Akela and the assistant Cubmaster the role of Baloo. The American program also syncretized American Indian elements, with all Cub Scouts belonging to the Webelos tribe, symbolized by the Arrow of Light and led by Akela. Webelos was also an acronym meaning Wolf, Bear, Lion, Scout. It has since come to mean "WE'll BE LOyal Scouts". The initial rank structure was Wolf, Bear and Lion, with ages of 9, 10 and 11. Dens of six to eight Cubs were entirely led by a Boy Scout holding the position of den chief.

By 1929, the new Cubbing program (it wasn’t called Cub Scouting until several years later) was taking shape. It was introduced as a demonstration project in a limited number of communities. Its structure was similar to today’s Cub Scouting, except that dens were led by Boy Scout den chiefs. The plan included neighborhood mothers’ committee to encourage Cubs and den chiefs. (Den mother registration was optional for the first few years. By July 1938, 1,100 den mothers had registered and soon became a very important part of Cub Scouting.)

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