The very first sentence in the Ladybird Cub Scouts book gives away just how out of date it is.
“A Cub Scout is a boy between eight and eleven years old.”
Quite what the author would have made off the fact that my nine year old daughter is currently a Cub I have no idea! I think if I called her a “Cub Scout” she’d also give me a weird look. As far as she’s concerned she’s a Cub. Also, the idea of her having to wear a cap, shorts and knee high socks seems as alien to her as not being allowed to be a Cub because she’s a girl.
As a woman who was only able to be a Brownie and a Guide as a child, some of the history of the Cub Scouts is actually quite interesting, and puts lots of things into context for me. I had never understood before as to why all the leaders were characters from the Jungle Book (starting with Akela who in my daughter’s case happens to be one of my friends – I’d just never dared admit that I didn’t know why!)
Baden-Powell had realised that boys that weren’t yet old enough to be Scouts (aged 12 and up then) needed something similar to join. He found the right background for what they wanted in the Jungle Book where Mowgli, the man cub, is growing up in the jungle with wolves, in particular obeying Akela, the wise old wolf. He also was taught the law of the jungle from Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther, Kaa the snake, Chil the kite and Raksha the mother wolf. This led to the Wolf Cub part of Scouting being started in 1916, with the Wolf part of the name eventually dropped.
As much as Scouting has moved on since 1970 when this book was written (50 years ago – let that just sink in…) there are some elements that are still reassuringly familiar. Things like the Cub Scout promise, motto, handshake and salute are used today (or at least are in my daughter’s experience).
An outline programme of a typical pack meeting also looks familiar with the Grand Howl, Flag-break and Flag-down and Inspection are all part of the weekly meeting that LMC knows. The badges may have changed and been updated somewhat (although I must admit that I much prefer the look of the old badges!) but the general idea behind them remains the same, and children still feel the same level of pride when they wear them on their uniforms.
I do love reading the requirements though for the Arrow badges. They are just so of their time. Things like knowing how to behave when National Anthems are played in public and having to make a scrap book on the Royal Family almost seems comical in 2020.
From a Ladybird book perspective, the Cub Scout book, like the others in the Scouts and Guides series (series 706) is packed full of relevant information for any boy (as it was only boys then!) who wants to join Cub Scouts, or has already done so but wants to be the absolute best Cub he can be. In the way that Ladybird did so well, at the end of the book is a list off other Ladybird titles “which Cub Scouts may find particularly helpful in their training”. Some great titles are on the list, including some of the Junior Science series, nature books and titles from the How it Works series. Also on there is A First Book of Saints and books on Stamp Collecting, Coarse Fishing and Cricket and Football. Unsurprisingly for 1970 they don’t seem to think that the Ladybird book of Knitting or the similar book of Sewing are of interest to Cub Scout boys!
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.