The names we call leaders

Cambridge District Scout Archive


The POR titles have altered with the changing sections and growing roles within scouting. 

1919                (with Assistant roles)

  • Scoutmaster and Lady Scoutmaster
  • Surgeon, Curate, Instructor, Lady helper

1938                (with Assistant roles)

  • Ak.L.               Akela Leader                           (A district role)
  • C.C.                 County Commissioner
  • C.M.                Cubmaster
  • D.C.C.              Deputy Camp Chief
  • D.R.S.L.           District Rover Scout Leader
  • D.S.M.             District Scoutmaster
  • G.S.M.             Group Scoutmaster
  • R.S.L.               Rover Scout Leader
  • S.M.                 Scoutmaster

Where permitted titles for ladies prefixed the name with ‘Lady’, thus ‘Lady Cubmaster’ or ‘Lady Scoutmaster’.   The term Akela Leader is interesting; it is akin to ADC Cubs, and assumes all CM are Akela’s.   Ladies could be Ak.L but not A.C.C. or D.C.C.  See also page on ‘Ladies’.

The use of Leader as in Rover Scout Leader may be noted; was it supposed that Scouts needed mastering, Rovers leading?  Now we are all leaders.

District records, other than the formal AGMs, usually give ‘DC’ and ‘CC’ without an accompanying name. Decisions and events which fall around the start and end of their time in post are often without an identified leader. The irregular visits by the ‘Chief Scout’ are similarly but less confusingly without personal identification.

Group names

Many leaders are known by the names they pick themselves; the Jungle book and a wider Kipling cast for Cubs leaders and many other sets for Beaver leaders.  Scout leaders and above may plant the seeds but they tend to take only ‘if the hat fits’.

I am Hornbeam to the Beavers and Akela to the Cubs which carries into Scouts. Scouts and Young Leaders tend to move through a variety of diminutives of my forename as they explore the changing relationship in roles.  My given name finally returns as the most suitable.  Parents tend to follow the same route.  Attempts to introduce ‘Old Wolf’ by a third party have, as yet, failed.  Bits of my kit still call me Kaa.

The general use of the Jungle Book as a source of names for Cub leaders means that they are rarely used in District records.  As any cry of Akela at a District camp is likely to alert several leaders so the title Akela in records demands a group number alongside. 

Miss Long, founder and for many years Lady Cubmaster of the 42nd, was generally called ‘Miss Akela’ by her cubs.

Some group records, particularly of individual events, do use Pack or Troop names. 


Only the most popular have nicknames that are sufficiently well known outside a group to be used for district publication. Most of the archives are formal records and eschew such frivolity.  The tendency in memoirs is to use nicknames; invoking the camaraderie, introducing the characters, acting as a recall mechanism for the author and generally adding colour.  Such written recollections are few but very valuable sources of information (see Nicknames).


In July edition of ‘The Scouter’ Maid Marion wrote an article questioning the over emphasis on the jungle element that some Cubmasters generated.  She quoted one investiture ceremony where the new Cub was licked by the pack members.  She owned to using a Robin Hood themed naming for her leaders.  Whilst gaining the editorial support ‘I have never known it to be officially suggested that Mowgli and Co are the only inhabitants of the Cub land of Romance.  I have met Red Indians out of Hiawatha and pirates and even Robin Hood…’ the reaction, even moderated through letter selection, was strong.  One letter stated the original name was Mad Marion.  A number of articles on using the jungle theme were published in the following months; superficially to mollify, possibly to gently modify excessive jungle themes.

The 1966 Advance Report recommended

            ‘That the Jungle Book theme be retained as the imaginative background to introducing Cub Scouting to 8 to 9 year old boys, but that after the ninth birthday this background theme be phased out and that certain techniques in common use be discontinued.’

            ‘… and the use of the terms Old Wolves, Palaver, Tenderpad, Council Rock and Leaping Wolf should cease.’

No alteration of naming has been identified at this time in the district. The loss of ‘A day in the Jungle’ was lamented ‘as we no longer have a jungle’.

Cambridge Archives

Minutes and District records generally do not use pack or troop names.  They are shared between Groups and require qualification, ‘Skipper of the 54th‘.  Group records, few of which have made their way to District Archives, do illustrate the names and the usage.  The 54th Court of Honour records list leaders as Skipper and Bosun.  As these original leaders moved on and the PLs and Court of Honour became the driving force in the troop the newer, younger leaders were called by their given name, as with Eric.  The original leaders kept their nicknames.         

JWR Archivist Jan 2019