A Cub Scout is a member of the section of the worldwide Scouting movement for young persons, mainly boys normally aged 8–10. In some countries they are called Wolf Cubs and are often referred to simply as Cubs. The movement is often referred to simply as Cubbing. Originally, like the Boy Scouts, the Cubbing was for boys only; girls were expected to join the Brownies and then the Girl Guides or Girl Scouts. Since about 1990 the Cubs has been open to both girls and boys in several countries. In the USA, it is exclusively open for boys to join. Some countries also have a Sea Scout version of Cub Scouts.
The Cub Scouting movement was founded by Robert Baden-Powell in 1916, ten years after the foundation of the Scouts, in order to cater to the many younger boys who had not yet reached the age limit for the Boy Scouts but who wanted to take part in Scouting. During these first ten years many troops had either allowed younger boys to join or had set up unofficial Junior or Cadet Scout Troops. These Cadet Troops taught a much simpler form of Scouting, including just the basic knotting techniques, basic first aid and tracking. In 1914, there were articles in the Headquarters’ Gazette (a then regular newsletter to leaders) outlining an official scheme, however this was not what Baden-Powell wanted. Rather he sought something quite different — a movement in its own right, with its own identity and program.
In 1914 Baden Powell announced a Junior Section for Scouting. In 1916, he published his own outlines for such a scheme, it was to be called Wolf Cubbing. It has been speculated that Baden-Powell may have had a number of reasons to call this section Wolf Cubs. Wolf was one of the names Native Americans gave to their best scouts; Wolf was the name of the cannon made in the railway workshops at Mafikeng. So a young boy not old enough to be a wolf or true Scout could be a baby wolf or Wolf Cub.
Baden-Powell asked his friend Rudyard Kipling for the use of his The Jungle Book history and universe as a motivational frame in cub scouting. Baden-Powell wrote a new book The Wolf Cub's Handbook for junior members. In 1917, junior members became known as Wolf Cubs.
In the 1960s and later, the Wolf Cub section departed in many organizations from the jungle theme. Some changed their name to Cub Scout or something similar but retained the Jungle Stories and Cub ceremony as tradition -- such as the use of Jungle Books names (as described below); and the Grand Howl which signals the start and end of the Cub Scout Meetings. Other organizations kept the name but changed the theme totally.
Originally, Cub Scout membership was open only to boys while the Brownies were set up as a parallel section for young girls. This remains the situation in some places. Most member organizations of World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) admitted girls to the Cub Scouts while others have separate co-ed sections with a different theme. Most member organizations of the Union Internationale des Guides et Scouts d'Europe (UIGSE) have two single sex sections both named Wolf Cubs and both in the jungle theme.
Cub Scouting has ideals of spiritual and character growth, citizenship training, and personal fitness. Cub Scouting provides a positive, encouraging peer group, carefully selected leaders who provide good role models and a group setting where values are taught to reinforce positive qualities of character.
Like Scout Troops, Cub Scouts are assigned to small teams within the Pack. Baden-Powell named the team Six, which refers to the six members in each team. In most countries the members of a Six are from all Cub Scout-ages with the oldest as sixer ("leader"). In the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), these teams are each called a Den, and each Den has all boys in the same school grade. Youth Leaders from more senior Sections of Scouting are actively encouraged to assist as Cub Scout Leaders. In the UK and in Australia these persons were originally called Cub Instructors. Within Scouts Australia the term Youth Helper is now formally applied to such persons, whilst in the United Kingdom they are called Young Leaders. In Canada, a Scout who assists in the Cub program is designated as a Kim. In the United States, the term Den Chief is used.
In many European countries (especially where the Jungle theme still has a strong part in the programme), Saint Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Cub Scouts, because of his relationship with wolves.
The emphasis of Cub Scouting is to have fun and learn at the same time. A Cub Scout gets satisfaction from meeting challenges, having friends, feeling good about himself, and feeling he is important to other people. Cub Scouts learn new things, discover and master new skills, gain self-confidence, and develop strong friendships. A Cub Scout learns the basics of the Scout method, a simple version of the Scout Promise, and a simple version of the Scout Law. Common ways to implement the Scout method include spending time together in small groups with shared experiences, rituals, and activities. Cultivating a love and appreciation of the outdoors and outdoor activities are key elements. Primary activities include games, camping, woodcraft, first aid, aquatics, hiking and sports. Each Pack has a number of annual events at Group or District level and can join nationwide events at pack level such as the Pinewood derby in the USA. Camping most often occurs on a unit level, such as in the pack, but sometimes at Group or District level. For many Cub Scout and Scouters, the highlight of the year is spending up to a week in the summer as part of an outdoor activity. They can stay in a lodge, cabin or tent.
The three points of the fleur-de-lys, Scout salute, and Scout sign remind the Scout of the three points of the Cub Scout's Promise: "Duty to God and Queen, Helpfulness to other people, and Obedience to the Cub Scout Law.