Cubs’ centenary toasted with promise parties

Packing them in...Robert Anderson is delighted that pack numbers are on in the increase in this, the Cubs centenary year. (Contributed image)
Packing them in...Robert Anderson is delighted that pack numbers are on in the increase in this, the Cubs centenary year. (Contributed image)
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Cubs across the country celebrated an extra special 100th birthday party on December 16.

Boys – and girls – up and down the land renewed their cub pledge at promise parties in unique venues, exactly 100 years since the section was first launched.

Celebration time...for Cubs right across the country who celebrated a very special 100th birthday this year. (Contributed image)

Celebration time...for Cubs right across the country who celebrated a very special 100th birthday this year. (Contributed image)

Some promised to do their best and to help other people at 7.16am at Edinburgh Castle.

Then, at 7.16pm – 1916 being the official registration date of the Cub Scout section – cubs joined together around the UK in renewing their Cub Scout Promise.

Unique events were organised by packs across Scotland, adventure being at the heart of the plans.

Some 1200 cubs took over the King’s Theatre in Glasgow, there was a cubs sleepover at the Sea Life Centre at Loch Lomond and 500 cubs enjoyed a special showing of Puss in Boots in Inverurie.

And that was just a wee taster of hundreds of events which took place on Friday.

Figures released in April showed that, after 10 years of consecutive growth, Scouts Scotland had its highest membership numbers this century.

There were 46,095 members in Scotland, an increase of 1737 members (3.9 per cent) in the last year.

This makes the Scouts the largest co-educational movement in Scotland.

The cubs, which welcomes youngsters aged eight to ten and a half, has 12,549 members.

It was the fastest growing Scout Section in the last year and the most popular among girls, who have been part of the Cub Scouts since 1991.

So what makes the cubs such an attractive prospect for boys and girls?

We spoke to the Scottish Headquarters Commissioner for Cubs in Scotland, Robert Anderson, to find out.

The 50-year-old first joined as a cub pack member with the 157 Salisbury in Edinburgh, later to become the 157 Braid, when he was just eight years old.

He later moved into the Scouts, then became an Adventurer (now Explorers).

Aged 18, he became an adult volunteer and, 32 years later, he still is!

However, he is also now the lead volunteer for the cub section in Scotland.

So who better to ask about the cubs continued and growing popularity?

Robert said: “I’m very fortunate in my role that I’m able to go and meet a lot of cub packs and a question I often ask is what attracted them to the cubs.

“The predominant answer is camping as the children love being outside and taking part in adventurous activities.

“Fun and friendship is next on the list, followed quickly by learning new skills they can use for life.

“Tying knots, lighting a fire, using a map and compass, pitching a tent and taking part in activities they’ve never tried before – that’s what they enjoy.

“They love the challenges being part of the cub pack offers them.”

While there have been changes in the last 100 years and Cub Scouts have moved with the times, the core values have not.

Robert explained: “We still have a uniform, badges, challenges and awards and a structure, based on Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book.

“So while cubs might now be doing digital citizen or disability awareness badges, each cub pack’s leader is still known as Akela.

“We’ve changed with the times to ensure we are as relevant today as we were 100 years ago but the fundamental principles remain the same.”

It has been a busy year for cub packs across Scotland with four centenary themes to enjoy.

The celebration year kick-started with our journey, allowing leaders to pick a different theme each month to celebrate their history.

Thank you events were also staged to thank leaders – both past and present – for ensuring the cubs continued success.

Five adventure camps were held at the Scouts three national centres at Meggernie in Perthshire, national headquarters at Fordell Firs in Fife and Lochgoilhead in Argyll.

Attended by 1100 cubs, for many it was the first chance they’d had to camp under the stars and try new things, while making friends for life.

And on Friday, the special celebration year came to a close with promise parties across the UK.

Cubs scouts, past and present, renewed their promise at 19.16 exactly.

Robert added: “It’s been a wonderful year to be a cub pack member, with an amazing range of opportunities open to them.

“A lot of the cubs were really looking forward to the celebration on Friday.

“After all, it’s not every year an eight, nine or ten year old gets to celebrate their 100th birthday!

“A lot of cake has been enjoyed, that’s for sure.”

It is hoped the centenary will also help cement the cubs future in Scotland.

Robert added: “It has been a fantastic way to raise awareness of our activities.

“Hopefully, we will be able to continue to grow the section on the back of the success we have had in this, our centenary year.”

A brief history of the Cubs

Robert Baden-Powell founded Scouting in 1907. And thanks to its success, in January 1914 a pilot programme for younger boys named ‘Wolf Cubs or Junior Scouts’ was launched.

Just 12 months later the section was 10,000 strong.

After a two-year trial it was time to decide what to do with the Wolf Cubs. In June 1916 the first Cubmasters Conference was held and the following month Lady Scoutmaster Vera Barclay, who established one of the first cub packs in 1914, was appointed cubs’ assistant secretary.

Momentum gathered; in October 1916 it was announced that the Wolf Cubs had ‘...been put on to an official standing in the Boy Scout Association’.

By the end of November, the Wolf Cub Handbook and Magazine was published and on December 16 a launch was held with a Wolf Cubs display at Caxton Hall, London. The Wolf Cubs became Cub Scouts in 1967. Originally it was solely for boys aged eight to ten and a half. But in 1991, the organisation moved with the times and girls were allowed to join for the first time.

Cubs meet in packs, led by Akela, and move onto Scouts when they are aged between ten and a half and 11 years old.