Totem Competitions

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Before the use of Totems by Wolf Cubs Cambridge Archives record one reference to Totem poles used by Scouts. At a District P/Ls camp, Easter 1915, totem poles were set in front of each tent. Notches were cut for each act of ‘exceptionally good Scouting’.

The Totem was an inter Pack competition.

Totem today, missing the leather scroll seen below

This was first held in 1917 and the last remaining disc on the existing standard is 1950. There is record of a 1951, and 1953 competition and a second place trophy for 1955 but without any names.  The Totem remains in the possession of the winners in 1950 (28th Cambridge).  No Trophy after this date has been located, but no markers of later winners remain on the Totem.

Undated from the Cambridge Scout Archive

Cambridge Archive

1915 Mention of a Troop in Cambridge that had used Totem for 5 years…  and that… the American Model of a Totem ‘which falls a little short of what we want…’ CC archives 12th Box 2

1919    County Challenge Totem Pole mentioned in District Minutes

1922 The competition comprised

  • Knots from 1st Star test
  • Draw an object at sight
  • Kaa dance (whole pack to participate)
  • Cub game (whole pack)

1931 – 2 The competition was a two hour hike around the gas works.                                               CC archive c 37.9 St Marks Newnham

1935    Grant from District for new Totem Pole (District Minutes  31/1/1935)

1936    ‘The Totem poles were presented, 1st to 53rd and 54th packs, 2nd to the 42nd.

This is the only reference to two poles being in existence.  The totem pole has a selection of 2nd place markers after 1938.

Points for                     (from 26th Wolf Cub log)

  • Howl
  • Inspection
  • Dance Tabaqui
  • Dance Mowgli
  • Game  i
  • Game ii


23rd Cambridge

1946    The defunct 66th were reported as having a Totem pole that may be available for LA use.

1947    Agreed to allow packs with two Akela’s to enter two teams

1949 Teams of 8 in pairs over and under 10 did Modelling, Flags, Bandaging and Observation. A runners up totem is recorded by 44th (who came second and returned the totem the following year).

1951    No totem competition

1952    Cub Scouters Minute book To restart Totem after two years


  • First Star work
  • Jungle dance of Kaa


  • Tie four knots
  • Kims game
  • Modelling after Jungle Book yarn

During the 1950’s the Competition was not run for increasingly periods.  It seems to have been last considered about 1960.

1958    No totem

Linton Pack in 1925 with the Cambridgeshire Totem

Cambridgeshire Totem from 1928 (14th Cambridge)

The Totem competition is not directly connected to Pack Totem Poles.  See Wolf Cub Head: Pack Totem Poles.

JWR Archivist Feb 2019