So, let’s come back to the fresh times of our youth, just for our anniversary. Not to take refuge in them but to check whether the commitments taken on All Saints’ Day 1956 have borne fruit and if we are still their heirs.


On this photograph taken at the Jamborette[1] of St-Loup de Naud in 1960 by Wilhelm Jung[2], we can see three sixes in uniform: on the left, it is a six of wolf cubs of the German association, the sixer holding a flag; on the right, we see a six of the French association. Hidden by the French, there is a Belgian six.

At that time, the FSE had not yet fixed the ceremonial of the youngest branches. For boys, should we adopt Cub Scouting directly from Vera Barclay and B.P. or should we go, as we had done for the Explorers, through Father Jacques Sevin’s filter?

The various proposals were presented at the Jamborette, prior to the congress about Cub Scouting that was to be held in Lessines – Belgium – a few weeks later. It was then decided to adopt for the boys the type of Cub Scouting developed by the Catholic Scouts of Belgium and France; within the emerging FSE, the wolf cub branch was entirely led by male leaders. From that time on, female leaders were allowed to lead the branch, but a leading staff could never be mixed. Until then, saint Nicholas was the protector of wolf cubs, but he was replaced by saint Francis, considered as less legendary and nearer to us in time and more adapted to the jungle world.

We owe all this to Karl Schmitz-Moormann, then General commissioner of the German association, who advocated for a bigger integration of the French scout style into the Bund Europaïscher Pfadfinder-FSE. He was supported for this by Suzanne Hanns who was leading the branch in France, and by Father Joseph Timmermans, newly ordained priest and religious adviser of the Belgian national team. Because of manufacturing problems, the Belgian original cap was replaced in France by the beret a few years later.

Female or male leader ? In France, packs were led by female leaders, whereas in Germany and in Belgium they were led by male leaders. The French young female leaders defended their viewpoint without being opposed to the fact that young men might lead the happy family successfully. Unanimously, it was decided that packs could be led either by boys or by girls, on the condition that there would be no mixed leading staffs and that the male leaders should not transform their wolf cubs into young explorers ahead of time.

The sky-blue shirt was adopted to differentiate the wolf cubs. But the male and female leaders had to wear the beige shirt because they were rovers and rangers on duty in the yellow branches.

Saint Nicholas or saint Francis of Assisi? A discussion took place about the holy Protector. Although it the Kingdom of God, there is no hierarchy between saints, it was underlined that the history of the bishop of Myre belonged rather to the Golden Legend and that this figure had a “Father Christmas” connotation. The female leaders pleaded the cause of the “Poverello”, the most perfect image of Christ, who was able to listen to the fraternal voice of the Creation. This is why the wind, the fire, the water, and even death became brothers, larks obeyed his orders and the ferocious wolf gave him its paw gently. This is how saint Francis became the protector of wolf cubs and wolvets in the FSE.

For young girls, the clearings appeared later, as the Girl Guide branch evolved. For some time, they were called elves[3]. But female leaders were not satisfied with that name. It sounded a bit like “garden gnomes”. The word “Jeannette” being a registered trademark belonging to the Guides de France at that time, the neologism “louvette” (wolvet) was invented in 1967; immediately it knew a big success, leading to the adoption of the “Jungle Book” for the wolvets in the French speaking world. For the Italian “Guide e Scouts d’Europa” created in 1976, wolf cubs are called “lupetti” led by boys, and wolvets are called “coccinelle” living among flowers in the forest.

Maurice Ollier

[1] Nowadays, we use the term “Eurojam”.

[2] He was to be Federal commissioner from 1963 to 1966.

[3] Translation into French of the German word “Wichtel”.

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