Cubbing, as it was first know, started in the United States in 1930. However, it was in 1916 when Baden-Powell published The Wolf Cub Handbook
that Cubbing became an official part of scouting in England and
endorsements for the program began in the United States. At that time,
James E. West, BSA Chief Executive, felt that this new program might
take adult leadership away from the Boy Scouts so initially he opposed
It is interesting to note that in the beginning, each Cub den was led
by a Boy Scout Den Chief. It wasn't until 1936 that the position of
Den Mother was added as an optional position even though Den Mothers
had been helping since 1932. Still, that position was to provide
support for the Den Chief. It was not until the late 1940’s to mid
1950’s that the Den Mother assumed full control of the den.
Dens were formed by age until 1986 when the phase in for grade level
began, lasting until 1991. In the beginning, Wolfs were 9 year olds,
Bears were 10 years old and Lions were 11 years old. They could enter
Boy Scouts when they turned 12. Until 1942, when a boy joined, he
would start with the Wolf rank after completing his Bobcat requirements
and work his way up regardless of his age. During these early years,
he could only wear his current rank and associated arrow points.
First Cub Rank Badges Were Wolf, Bear & Lion
The first rank badges of Cubbing were made of felt with wide borders.
The badges have Cubs, BSA embroidered on them. This is because the
boys referred to as Cubs in the early years, not Cub Scouts.
In 1938, the Bob Cat pin was introduced as the entry-level badge for a
new Cub. It was only to be worn on civilian clothes. This first Bob
Cat pin can be identified because it has the words CUBS B.S.A. on lower
front. These words changed to CUB SCOUTS, B.S.A. in 1948 when the
cloth ranks badges made the same change. Sometime between 1948 and the
1950's the word BOB CAT on the pin was changed from two words to one
word, BOBCAT. In 1959, the Bobcat pin was approved for uniform wear.
Webelos Rank Added
Several changes were made in the early 1940's. In 1941, the Webelos
rank was added. It was for a Cub who had completed his Lion badge and
had also completed certain requirements for Tenderfoot, the first rank
in Boy Scouts. The Webelos badge at that time looked like the Arrow of
Light badge we use today. In 1943, another change was that a boy could
wear all of his rank and arrow points on his uniform shirt. The
positions of the badges as viewed by another person were Lion at the
top, Bear to the left and Wolf to the right. This order lasted until
it was changed in 1949 to Wolf on the top, Bear to the right and Lion
to the left.
Cubbing became Cub Scouts in 1948. And at that time the badges began
being changed from Cubs, BSA to Cub Scouts, BSA. There also appears to
be two different types of manes on the Lion badges after the change.
The two type of manes continued for many years on both felt and twill.
In 1949, the age level was dropped one year for both Cub Scouts and Boy
Scouts. In the 1950's, the badges were changed from felt to a twill
Webelos Den Created
In 1954, a Webelos Den was created for boys 10½. The
new Webelos Den badge was introduced as a dark blue "W" on a gold or
yellow twill background and was worn on the right sleeve in place of
the Den Number insignia. This badge often gets confused as a Webelos
rank insignia. The size of this den badge is a bit smaller than the
rank insignias of the time.
1967 was the next big change in Cub Scouts. The rank of
Lion was dropped, 15 activity badges were added and the last year of
Cubs became the Webelos program. Although a number of references say
that it was at this time that the original Webelos rank became the
Arrow of Light rank, that name change did not occur until beginning of
1972. The 1971 printing of the Wolf Cub Scout Book
still refer to the highest Cub Scout rank as the Webelos rank. It is
interesting that the same reference states that "Three months before
your 11th birthday, you may start to work on requirements for the
Webelos Award." I expect that this three months requirement began in
Between 1967 and 1972, Cub Scouts could only wear two diamond shaped patches, Wolf and Bear. They were worn side by side.
Arrow of Light
In 1972 or at the end of 1971, the old Webelos rank badge changed its
name to the Arrow of Light badge and the requirements were for the
badge were significantly changed. The changes meant that Webelos could
begin working on their Arrow of Light at the age of 10.
Bobcat and Webelos Cloth Badge Added
Towards the end of 1972, the Bobcat rank badge was added and the Wolf
and Bear badges changed to the style that is used today. It was not
until 1977 or 1978 that the diamond Webelos rank badge that can be used
today was developed.
With the development of the Bobcat and Webelos badges, Cub Scouts could
who earned all the awards would wear a full diamond badge. Bobcat was
on the top, Wolf on the wearers right, Bear on the wearers left and
Webelos in the bottom of the new four badge series.
Tiger Cub Graduates Get Their First Badge
In 1982, Tiger Cubs was started as a program only associated with a Pack. At this that time Tiger Cubs were 7 year olds. There
was no award initially, but in 1996 when a Tiger Cub graduated to the
Pack, he was presented with a Tiger Cub BSA strip that could be worn
just below the wearer’s right pocket. In 1986, the Boy Scouts of
America began phasing an aged based program to a grade based program
and at the same time they lowered the beginning time for Tiger Cubs to
first grade. This would change the Webelos program a two year
program. In 2001, the Tiger Cub Den became an integrated part of the
The most recent changes occurred in 2001 with the introduction of a new
oval Webelos badge and a Tiger Cub badge. When a boy has earned his
Webelos award, he may wear in place of the rank badge diamond, the oval
Webelos badge in the same manner as a Boy Scout rank badge. For packs
choosing to use the oval Webelos badge, the new Tiger Cub badge can be
worn in place of the old diamond Webelos badge hence retaining a full
diamond for boys earning their Bobcat, Tiger Cub, Wolf and Bear.
View images of the Cub Scout rank badges on these pages:
Tiger Cub & Bobcat
Webelos & Arrow of Light
Rank Badge Diamonds