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1st Reservoir Cubs - Baden Powell and the Jungle Book

Cubs visiting state parliament

Who was BP? What does he have to do with cubs?*

The founder of Scouting, Lord Robert Baden-Powell (B-P) was born on 22 February 1857 in England. He lived a busy and adventurous life, and as a boy spent much of his spare time in open-air pursuits, hunting in the woods, and joining his brothers in expeditions by land and in their boats. Thus he developed his powers of observation and resourcefulness and acquired many useful skills.

As a soldier, Baden-Powell rose to public prominence during the war against the Boers in Africa at the end of the 1800s. Most noteworthy was his leadership of the defending force in the siege of the South African town of Mafeking. Baden-Powell returned to England as a national hero in 1899 having successfully defended the town against the Boers.

The first Scout Camp

Baden-Powell was encouraged to set down his views on how he would apply Scouting to the training of boys. He first conducted an experimental camp in 1907 on Brownsea Island off the Dorset coast of the UK. With some 20 boys from all walks of life and suitable adult leaders, Baden-Powell taught the boys what he meant by Scouting. They lived in tents, cooked their own food and learnt many valuable skills through games. 1 August 1907 is regarded as the beginning of the Scout Movement worldwide. Two years later Baden-Powell retired from the army as a General to devote his life to this new Movement called Scouting. A rally at the Crystal Palace, London, drew together 10,000 boys.

Scouting expands and grows

Wolf Cubs were formed in 1916, Rover Scouts in 1918 and the Special Test (now "Extension") Department in 1926. The Group system of Cub Scouts, Scouts and Rovers under the leadership of the Group Scoutmaster was established in 1927, Deep Sea Scouts in 1928, Air Scouts in 1941 and Senior Scouts in 1946 (now known as Venturer Scouts). Meanwhile Scouting spread to Australia, New Zealand and India in 1908 and other countries followed shortly after.

The Jungle Book and Cub Scouts

When Lord Baden-Powell was developing his ideas for wolf cubs he drew upon the work of his good friend Rudyard Kipling. B-P regarded Kipling's stories in "The Jungle Book", and other stories he had written as highly appropriate for youth between the age of 8 and 11, as the stories demonstrated personal vitues and strengths to which young people could aspire. He wrote to Kipling to ask permission to use his stories for wolf cubs, and Kipling agreed. Stories from the Jungle Book still make up an important part of the cub scout experience, and cubs to this day draw inspiration from the tales and lessons found in Kipling's writing. The names of cub leaders are drawn from the Jungle Book. In The Wolf Cubs Handbook, B-P described Akela, for example, as "the wise Old Wolf, the head of the Pack, who lay on the Council Rock and saw the younger Wolves all kept the Law of the Pack." Leaders can only choose (or have chosen) names of good characters from the Jungle Book, of course - no leader can be called 'Shere Khan', the "great bullying tiger, all stripes and teeth and claws; but, like most bullies among boys, was not very brave at heart if you only tackled him." If you would like to read the Jungle Book, you can find it in libraries, or even download it for free (it's so old it's out of copyright!) at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/236.

The first three paragraphs are an extract from the Scouts Australia Website, http://www.scouts.com.au/main.asp?iStoryID=722
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