The Cub Scout Angle
Who Is Akela? And, What Role Do Parents Play in Cub Scout Advancement?
Akela is a character in Rudyard Kipling’s stories, The Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895) that were turned into animated films by Disney (The Jungle Book in 1967 and The Jungle Book 2 in 2003). In the stories and animated films, Akela (pronounced Ah-KAY-la) is the leader of the pack of wolves and presides over the pack’s council meetings. In Cub Scouts, Akela is a title of respect used for a Cub Scout leader and, in many cases, the Cub Scout’s parent.
As a youth begins in Cub Scouting, parents (or adult partners) should act as Akela and sign off in the boy’s handbook for the Bobcat trail and Tiger achievements. The den leader then approves as progress is recorded in the den’s advancement record. This is done for two reasons: to foster a sense of involvement and participation among parents of Cub Scouts, and to have the youngest Cub Scouts work early on with a parent or trusted adult partner. Advancement becomes a learning process between the parent and child. Cub Scouting cannot be a “drop off” activity when parents serve in this role.
As a Cub Scout matures, for Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light advancement, den leaders take the lead in approving requirements. Their assistants and also parents who help at meetings may be asked to play the role of Akela. Parents may be asked to lead den meetings based on the skills and hobbies that interest them, and on the requirements needed for rank advancement. This is all outlined in the meeting plans in the Den Leader Guide for each Cub Scout level. In addition, parents sign for requirements that, according to meeting plans and instructions in the handbooks, take place at home. This change in the role for Cub Scout parents allows them to take greater roles in the pack by serving as assistant den leaders, pack committee members, or in other positions, and thus they assist in building advancement opportunities into unit programming.