Jungle Favor Go With Thee




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Cub Camp Activities

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By Gilcraft

If the scene is a mango grove in a village some 25 miles from Madras; the occasion is the visit 1 of the Camp Chief to a Rural Cubmasters' Training Camp; the heroes of the story are a band of eighty Indian boys between the ages or 7 and 11.

These boys were collected together from fourteen separate villages in the neighborhood where Cub Packs have been established within the past three years. They represented 1,600 Cubs in 115 village Packs in that particular district.

This growing number of Cubs and Packs is due to the energies of one man - known to his fellow campers some years back as "Monkey." Encouraged and financed in part by the District Board he has spent the last three years in walking and bicycling from village to village, advertising, starting and strengthening Cubbing as a definite part of a general scheme for Village Development. To such an extent has Cubbing now grown that the District Board reckons it as the chief plank in their Development schemes. It has proved its worth, not only in the happiness it has conferred on the small boys of those 115 villages, but in the atmosphere of goodwill and activity that they have engendered among the grown-ups who live in these villages. The next step is "slowly, slowly," to start the introduction of *Village Troops. But, what of our heroes?

Under the shade of the mango trees, in the midst of a huge crowd of visitors and villagers, our heroes put up a Cub Display. When the Camp Chief saw the program he groaned, for there were twenty-two separate items on it, and he had seen some Cub displays before! With the welcoming Grand Howl, however, his face lost its grim look, and he realized that here was something out of the ordinary. The Grand Howl went with a swing and a precision that it would be hard for one single Pack to beat, and here was a Pack brought together for the first time and composed of fourteen Sixes from different villages. That Grand Howl was at once an expression of welcome and of delight, of unity and good discipline; it prepared the way for what was to follow.

So far as the subject-matter of the items was concerned, the Display was much like any other. It was the manner of the doing that differed, and led the Camp Chief at the finish to say - even to the Cubs themselves - that it was the best Cub show he had seen anywhere. Those who know him, know in their turn that he is not given to excessive praise. To begin with, the clearing under the mango trees, surrounded by an audience that grew more appreciative with every turn, provided a stage which was in keeping with the Jungle atmosphere for which each Cub Pack strives, and which these I 15 Packs had so obviously achieved. Item succeeded item without any kind of delay. As one Six completed its turn, and went off at one side of the circle, another Six appeared from the opposite side. "Monkey," the inspiration of it all, was neither seen nor heard; perhaps he was up a near-by tree, in keeping with his name, although by the results he achieved he could not have given the lie to it more completely. On only two occasions did an Old Wolf appear within the charmed circle, and then to remain as =conspicuous as a grown-up can possibly be. What was the secret of it all? In all these packs happiness had been achieved; the Cubs took a supreme delight in their Cubbing; it had touched a responsive chord in their hearts; they had to give expression to what they felt. Each Six followed in Grey Brother - or Black or Brown or White Brother - smartly at a walk or at a lope. They turned to Grey Brother's call, and came to the alert as he saluted. They fell into position on their own, went through what they had to do, lined up again at Grey Brother's call, saluted and followed his lead out again. Smartness and discipline were there self-evident for even the most obtuse to see, and yet there was a cheerfulness that outshone all else. In their homes these Cubs have not much reason for cheerfulness; they have grown accustomed in the past to dingy surroundings; they have known the indignities that labor can thrust upon those who are too young; they have known want and hunger. Cubbing has given them something else to think of, something to aim at, something to achieve for themselves; they have heard the "call out into the jungle," and they have responded to it whole-heartedly.

They have learned to give in to the Old Wolf, even when one of themselves - a Sixer - is temporarily in that position. They have learned to think for themselves. When one Cub, in his eagerness to follow quick after the one in front, banged his nose hard against the shoulder of that one, and had unwillingly to fall out, another took his place from the circle without the need of any order being given.

* In another four years the number of Packs had grown to 130 and 35 Village Troops had been started.

What these Cubs did might have been commonplace enough, but the manner of it differed. The Kaa Dance is a frequent performance-but those who have seen it happen know that, after a snake has coiled itself round, it raises its head and takes a last look round before it finally goes to sleep. These Cubs knew that, and portrayed it. "Tap up" is a common enough game, but these Cubs gave more vehemence and naturalness to it by being boyish in their presentation of it. Instead of digging his forefinger between the shoulder-blades of the fellow in front of him, each Cub gave the one in front a swinging smack on that part of his anatomy which Nature has provided for the purpose. Both the smacker and the smacked appeared to enjoy the process. Playacting was there, and reached its height when a couple of Sixes caricatured the superstitious performance of grownups attempting to drive any danger of plague out of a village.

It would take 'too long to detail all the items of that performance. Of all the items only one- pyramid building -was out of place, and how were the Cubs or their leaders to know that? That item was only out of place because it asks too much of small boys generally; by their performance it did not ask too much of the Cubs who did it. And how long did that program of twenty-two items take? Precisely forty-five minutes!

If there is one question that is asked more than any other in Scout circles in India - and elsewhere, too, for that matter - it is: "Is the Jungle atmosphere really wise?" These Cubs in that Indian village gave answer to that question out of the fullness of their hearts: "It is not only the height of wisdom, it is a howling success." Their answer was obvious in their final Grand Howl, which sent at least one of their audience on his way happy and rejoicing.

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