It is a year of significant anniversaries. So far we have seen the 400th anniversary of the death of both William Shakespeare and Cervantes, the 90th birthday of the Queen, the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the 350th of the Great Fire of London and the 100th of the Battle of the Somme. Want some more? It is the 60th anniversary of the UK release of “Heartbreak Hotel”, the 40th of British Punk music and the100th anniversary of the founding of the Wolf Cubs, a.k.a The Cub Scouts.
Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts as an organization for 11-16 year olds in 1908, a few months after his first trial scout camp on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. Encouraged by his book ‘Scouting for Boys’ the movement grew rapidly. By 1914 thousands of younger boys were clamoring to join and many Scout Troops began to take them on as ‘Juniors’. Because of the age difference Baden-Powell realised that this was not a satisfactory solution and set out to create a new younger section with an identity of its own. Building his idea around the moral principles and characters of Rudyard Kipling’s popular ‘Jungle Book’ Baden-Powell created the Wolf Cubs for 8 to 10 year olds. ‘The Wolf Cub Handbook’ with it many references to the ‘Jungle Book’ was already in proof when Baden-Powell sent it to Kipling on 28th July 1916 for his approval. Kipling accepted it without a single editorial suggestion. The concept of the ‘Wolf Pack’ under the leadership of the Old Wolf ‘Akela’ supported by ‘Baloo’ and ‘Bagheera’ and its unusual rituals like “The Grand Howl” and the “Council Rock” was set…
“If God made the boy a creature of extreme and restless energy, with an inquisitive and eager mind, a sensitive little heart and a romantic imagination, it is up to you to make full use of these instead of crushing them.”
BADEN-POWELL – Instruction to new Cubleaders 1916
In the 100 years since its foundation Cubbing has changed. Now the young members are called Cub Scouts rather than Wolf Cubs – and they include girls in their number. Some of the old rituals have gone – its goodbye to ‘Dyb, Dyb, Dob, Dob>/em>’ but the Grand Howl still remains with its iconic chant – ‘Akela, we will do our best!’, even though in many Packs Akela and his chums, Baloo and Bagheera have been replaced by Tom, Dick and Harriet. Baden-Powell wanted the Cubs less formal than the Boy Scouts and more responsive to the needs of its young members – and he has got it… in the shape of over 150,000 Cubs in the UK alone.
But there is one overwhelming challenge from 1916 that remains just as testing today – the search for leaders. Baden-Powell knew that if Cubbing was to be more than just a pleasant pastime for the children it had to set role models and principles for the citizens of the future…
“If the training is not good enough for today, much less is it good enough for tomorrow, and it is to tomorrow that we must look forward.”
There isn’t a Scout Group in the country that doesn’t face the problem of finding leaders – and so it is with the 1st St Margarets Group, now approaching its own 100th year. It was something the “Richmond and Twickenham Times” was aware off as long ago as 1920…
“It is not recruits who are wanted so much as officers and scoutmasters. Here is an opportunity for men (and women) who lack an aim in life or wish to use their time to the best advantage. Let them help to create citizens…”
So there it is. The 1st St Margarets Group, growing in every way, is looking for new leaders and in all sections – Beavers (6-8 year olds), Cubs (8-10 years old) and the Scouts (10 plus). There are many reasons for not volunteering – and modern life doesn’t make it any easier. An uneven work-life balance, lack of time, lack of incentive… but the rewards of leadership are inestimable and unexpected. As well as the simple reward of seeing young people moving on through their lives and hopefully taking something of you with them there are other smaller pleasures – things that you thought you had abandoned years ago – sleeping under canvas and cooking over an open fire, overnights in places like London Zoo or aboard H.M.S Belfast, Zip-wires and night hikes, sing songs and pantomimes… the list and the adventure goes on.
If you think that you would like to become a leader or occasional helper and take up the challenge of Scouting please contact our Group Scout Leader Donna Wilson on GSL@istmar.org You don’t need to have been a scout. You don’t need experience and age, sex, faith and background are largely immaterial. All you need is application and a willingness to rediscover your own childhood,. You will soon find that it is a goodly thing to do…
“Here in this joyous brotherhood there is vast opportunity open to all in a happy work that shows results under your hands and a work that is worthwhile because it gives every man his chance of service for his fellow-men and for God.
Old Socrates spoke truly when he said, “No man goeth about a more godly purpose than he who is mindful of the right upbringing not only of his own, but of other men’s children.”
BADEN POWELL- Scouting for Boys 1908
Volunteer? Me? Why should I want to do that?
— from Martyn Day