return to: BSA Badge History

Cub Scout Rank Badges
1930 - 2010

Den Mother History and Badges

Cub Scout Signet Ring
by Joy Jewelers

The above Den Chife cord is mine from the late 1950's.  I enjoyed those years!

Like most of us who were in scouts as boys, we have nice memories of our Cub Scout years.  In my case, I have those good memories with Cubs because I was a Den Chief for two years, as an eighth and ninth grader.  At first, it was because I could wear a Den Chief cord but I soon found out how fun it was helping the Cubs and the Den Mother with crafts.

Cubbing History

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 the program.

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 1940ís to mid 1950ís 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.

Bobcat Pin

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 regular issue 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.

Before the first round Bob Cat pin was issued, a square Bob Cat pin was introduced but soon the Cub Scout Division realized that it looked like a rank even though it was smaller (view).  A rank pin was .5 inches on a side the Bob Cat pin was .4 inches on a side.  (Thanks to Carl Cummins and Jim Stevenson for the images and information.)

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.
Lion Mane types
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 cloth.
Webelos Den Badge

Webelos Den Created

In 1954, a Webelos Den was created for boys 10Ĺ.  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.

Lion Dropped

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 1967.

Between 1967 and 1972, Cub Scouts could only wear two diamond shaped patches, Wolf and Bear.  They were worn side by side.

Webelos Development at Philmont

This information is from Mel Neiman:  "In the early 1970's I and about 30 other Volunteer Scouters were invited to Philmont to help add to the Webelos program,  The first time Volunteers were asked to help with a program.

We put together some of the ideas still in use and were given the task to introduce the new ideas to Units in our Councils.  At that time as you know there was no official Webelos badge, and we were issued a packet of temporary Webelos badges to be used until the new badges were available."

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 for the badge were significantly changed.  The changes meant that Webelos could begin working on their Arrow of Light at the age of 10.

Activity Badges

As mentioned above, 15 activity badges (pins) were added to the Webelos program in 1967.  The activity pins were worn on the Webelos colors.  The colors were strips of woven ribbons in yellow, red, and green for Cub Scouting, Boy/Varsity Scouting and "Senior Scouting" (used to be Exploring and now Venturing) respectively.  The ribbons were attached to a metal arc that said Webelos and worn at the top of the right sleeve.  The pins themselves were silver toned pins.

In 1987, the number of activity pins was increased to 20.  I believe that 1987 was the first year that colored enameled pins were introduced.  (To me this is a logical assumption as 5 pins were added so now all pins would be enameled and all made in a similar fashion.)  This is probably the same time that the Cub Scout US flag was move from over the right pocket to the right sleeve.  When the change in the flag position was first made, the colors were dropped but because of so many complaints they were approved again.  At that time, the Webelos colors were moved down the sleeve and the Webelos bar made strait instead of curved as it originally was.  You can learn and see some of the changes here:

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.  Tiger Cub StripThere 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 wearerís 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 pack.

2001 Changes

In 2001, there was 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.

2010 Ranks

In 2010, BSA made special Cub Scout and Boy Scout rank patches for the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.  I am proud to say that the designed used for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts were designed by me.  You can see my original drawings in 2010_Ranks.pdf.

These designs were intended to be issued only in 2010 so that the boys receiving ranks that year would have something special.

View images of the Cub Scout rank badges on these pages:

Tiger Cub & Bobcat
Webelos & Arrow of Light
Rank Badge Diamonds

Early Uniform


This is not an official site of the Boy Scouts of America.  The rank badges are scanned images of Pat Gould's collection and the scanned images are copyright.  You are welcome to print these pages for your reference.  However, if you would like to use the images in any other manner, you must receive permission from Craig Murray.

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