Wolf Cubs

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Cambridge Archive

Before the beginning

 ‘My own connection with scouting began in 1913 when for a short while, I together with a few other ten and eleven year olds, living around my home in Sturton Street were tacked on as an unofficial patrol to a Troop formed by “Taffy” Gray at Ditton. We met in a large room at my home which covered the back portion of two houses, which had originally been built in the 1860’s for a College laundress. There was “Taffy’s” battered copy of “Scouting for Boys”’    Archaeology of Scouting W T Thurbon 1978

George Black ‘joined’ the 1st Cambridge in 1912 when he was nine.  He was adopted as a mascot by the older boys.

Vere Stoakley was attached to the 9th Cambridge aged 9, attending camp with his brother and mother who was in charge of catering, in 1918 and given exemption to parade alongside his brother for the Prince of Wales inspection in 1920 (1919?).

In the beginning

In the beginning all Troops were Boy Scouts until in 1916 Wolf Cub packs were formed.  (Note: Some Wolf Cub packs were in existence in 1914 and Wolf Cub scarves [Navy and Lemon halves] were advertised as if for all packs in June 1914.  These trial packs predated the formal start of the Section in 1916).

  • 19th Cambridge District Downham (St Leonard’s) has a very clear start date 15th June 1914. They later became P Pack before transfer tot the new Ely District.
  • 12th? A 5th Cambridge History refers to a reference that in 1914 Wolf Cubs were trained at Chesterton School. I have not located the source. Chesterton was possibly Milton Road School (New Chesterton).
  • 5th The same review tells of ‘future Scouts at the Perse Prep’ which may either suggest an early Wolf Cub pack or just the recognition that future members of the 5th would come from the feeder school.
  • The 8th (All Saints) had a Pack which required re-organization by November 1914 – according to the Parish magazine.
  • The 6th record a Pack in April 1915 with Miss D Le Huray and Mrs. Church P/L Darkin ‘chiefly responsible for he training of the Wolf Cubs‘ in July 1915. (Cambs Chronicle)
  • 10th The boys from this troop were young and a note on the 1913 registration document states that in November 1914 it was decided to turn them into a pack.

In Cambridge and Cambridge District some packs before 1924 were listed with letters and links to the numbered troops, if any, were often not explicit.  At the same time other packs were given the numbers of the associated troop.   With the advent of the Group system in 1928 all Sections were given a number, some Groups having no pack and some no troop. 

1916 – 1927

Twenty nine Cambridge ‘Numbers’ are listed before the 1928 Group system.  Only three of these did not start a pack at some point, 1st Cambridge Sea Scouts and the 7th and 9th Cambridge both based in schools.  The 25th Cambridge is the only troop/pack that started in the same year, 1918, during this period.   From many sources the information suggests that in any year about half the troops had associated packs.

Wolf Cub at 1920 Stourbridge Mediaeval Fair

1928 – 1972

The following is taken from the forty four years between the start of the Group systems 1928 and when the district split in 1972.  The period of the second war has disturbed census returns.  Wolf Cubs became Cub Scouts in 1967.

Packs but no troops                 It was unusual to have packs running alone for long periods. The 28th Cambridge, opened 1928, was initially a troop then within three years the troop had folded but a pack, having opened in 1930 remained for eighteen years until a troop was restarted.  The 2nd ran for twenty seven years without a troop, the 42nd for eighteen years and 19th for eleven years.  The 52nd, a specialist school with specific age range, ran a pack for nineteen years.     Packs running for short periods without a troop were significantly more frequent, usually at the start of a new group, occasionally for a year or two between troops, sometimes as a group runs to a halt.

The greatest number of packs with no troops during this period was six of thirty six groups.  Between two and four was more usual.

Movement between packs and troops

Little has been recorded about the move between specific packs and troops.  Those within a Group, before or after 1928, can be assumed.  There are no records of arrangements for keeping numbers in packs compatible with troop spaces, but the problems with retention then as now will have moderated this problem.  Pack sizes were smaller and some catchment areas so small that section in one village closed ‘because there were no more boys of a suitable age’.

Movement into troops without a pack is not documented.  Schools for those in education above the age of fourteen (6th and 7th Cambridge) had a recruitment base, as did private schools.   Recruitment to the 1st Sea Scouts, which ran without a named pack, is unclear. 

What Wolf Cubs did

 As one of the last Wolf Cubs and first Cub Scouts I recall a greater attempt at smartness, two handkerchiefs on inspection, one for use and one to lend or emergencies, polished shoes, shorts, caps, two fingered salute, purple jumper (and retaining it as most of the others got the new green tops) and Akela’s name, Mr Johnson.  And handing in subs and putting up a tent, but not camping.  British Bulldog, children outside my school circle, and a slightly different bit of town, someone else’s school buildings, different parent helpers every week and a reliance on uniforms (I was short sighted and relied on them to distinguish between big people), not quite understanding how my record card got filled, the Cub library and a book on astronomy, going home and looking up at the stars, third prize in a pack competition and winning an Airfix model, being passed over for sixer (mine by right of age but I was a shy child and not a leader), being sixer for a short period before becoming a Scout.

Recorded Cambridge District Events for ‘Cubs’

  • St George’s Day
  • Carol services
  • Sixers parties
  • Cubs Own
  • Athletic Sports
  • Swimming Sports
  • County Rally    Jubilee Day
  • Totem Pole Competition
  • Scout Social (for those moving up)
  • Football sports
  • Rounders

Group/ Pack Events

  • Church Parade
  • Trip to the Red Cross and walked to Roman Woods games, blackberried, tracking
  • Show for camp funds
  • Articles of handicraft for District display in Guild Hall ‘A mixed bag’
  • Lantern Lecture

The use of the abbreviation ‘Cub’ is from these reports

Camping Cubs           

A logbook 1928 – 1937 for the 26th records one camping trip each year

  • 1929    Summer camp at Abington 10 Cubs site lent by Miss Motlock (before the County Camp)
  • 1930    Upshire nr Waltham Abbey  No bathing and very few streams to paddle in
  • 1931    West Harling Norfolk (with Scouts) 13 Cubs
  • 1932    W/e camp Quy
  • 1933    W/e at Quy – only 2 had camped before.  “So now we have to work hard through the winter, so that we can earn some money to go to Camp for a week next year”
  • 1934    Brown’s field, Quy 10 days
  • 1935    Whittlesford for Whitsun w/e a fine site with a jungle
  • 1936    Mr Merry’s field Whittlesford for 9 days, a trip to a paper mill, a grand tea in a lovely house and taken to farms  
  • 1937    a hut in Haslingfield

Photographs exist of cubs ‘Trying to make Akela do somersaults in the hay and burying Miss Frost’, alongside tent inspection, chores, food and fun.  Outside the central camping jobs the structure was very loose.  Cubs are recorded as wandering across to the Guides camp and being useful and eventually joining in their show, helping the farmers gather harvest or catch rabbits.

In 1948 the GG&AA     (a temporary reversion to the old title) reported the IHQ proposal that Cubs don’t camp.  In May that year a new set of rules was published in The Scouter.

Hike     Cycled and walked to the old Roman woods and road 26th Cambridge

Day in the Jungle       This was a term used to describe general Cub activities in the countryside.  The earliest meetings at Abington camp site for Wolf Cubs were ‘Days in the Jungle’.  A ‘day in the country’ was also used to describe trips.  The difference is not clear.

In the End

Wolf Cubs became Cub Scouts with the adoption of the Advance report in 1967. The Jungle Book theme was retained but it was identified as being useful for younger Cubs and steadily less useful for those nearing Scout age.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019