Be prepared for a successful life.

While 2007 was the centenary of the scouting movement as a whole, this year is more meaningful for me, because 2016 marks 100 years of the Cubs, and I loved my time as a Cub. When I think back to my childhood, many of my most affectionate memories will be those of Cub activities, although, it is not just the activities that linger in the mind. Be prepared to learn more.

Be prepared Feature

Be prepared for a little discomfort.

The uniform was not so much a thing of beauty, as of sensory overload. The regulation green wooly jersey was made of a fabric rarely encountered elsewhere in life. The smell of it readily springs to mind as I write, and the way it felt is a memory that will never fade. One can only assume the specification had its origins in Baden-Powell’s military background, and that it was intentionally designed for discomfort. It was apparently knitted from a yarn rejected by the bailing twine industry for being too rough. The result was a jumper that still makes me itch, just talking about it.

Accompanying the jumper was a fetching combo of short trousers and long socks, and n’er the twain shall meet. The intention of Scouting dress code was apparently to expose the knees to the elements, and many ex 1970’s Cubs retain the red scarred kneecaps as a permanent badge of honour to prove their time served.

Cubs badge - Nature

Be prepared for a life of adventure.

The Cub camp was the pinnacle of the year’s activities, and consisted of a month fending for ourselves in the wilds of Borneo. Oh, no, I remember, that’s what Bear Grylls does. We had a weekend in Babbacombe, in a cosy dormitory, with a choice of cocoa or soup before bedtime.

The activities were wide and varied, and provided us with everything we would ever need for a successful and exciting life. The badges set targets for new skills and crafts to learn, but not everything had a badge. There may have been badges for tying knots, and fieldcraft, but the all important skill of farting in a sleeping bag was never officially recognised in either badge-form or in the Cub Scout Handbook. From what I recall, this was one of the most enthusiastically practised activities of any Cub camp.

Cubs badge - Reader

Be prepared to travel far and wide.

Wide Games, were another high point of the Cub calendar and took place in the height of the summer when the evenings were lighter and warmer, thus avoiding too many of us getting lost or suffering hyperthermia of the kneecaps. According to the literature, there was a defined purpose to a wide game, but this seemed to be lost on us. In reality, it consisted of us splitting into two teams and scattering ourselves around the area. After wandering twice as far from home as we had ever been, and realising we had no idea of what we were supposed to be doing, control of the team fell under the guidance of the only kid in the group who knew where we were. This was invariably a feral child who would lead us through the lanes, pointing out where he usually lit fires, smoked fags or drank cider. Eventually, we would all go our separate ways, find our way back home and realise that we were now eligible for the Navigator badge. A successful evening’s work.

Cubs badge - Navigator

Be prepared for your next badge.

Of course, things change. The uniform is no longer the uncomfortable itchy smelly thing it was, probably on health and safety grounds. The activities are also different. These days, there are badges designed for the digital world as well as the more traditional activities of reading books and spotting birds. In fact, short of visiting the International Space Station, there are badges for virtually anything you can think of, with more being added all the time. Cubs around the world eagerly await the introduction of The Perfect Latte Maker, The Star Wars Character Namer and The Bear Grylls Grub Eater Badges.

Cubs badge - digital life

Be prepared for another century.

The Cub Scout movement may be 100 years old, but it is far from the frail old man one might expect.

As the organisation enters its second century… be prepared.

What badges would you suggest for 21st Century Cubs?

Scout salute