Beavers (Scouting)

Beavers is one name for programs associated with Scouting for young children usually aged 6 to 8. A participant in the program is called a Beaver. A group of Beavers is often called a "Colony". The programme is based on co-operating and sharing. Some Scouting organizations have programs for similar ages but use different names such as Keas or Joeys.

The Beavers program was originated in Northern Ireland in the 1960s to provide a program for boys who were too young to be Cubs.[1] Beavers or similar programs were adopted by many other Scouting organizations, in particular Canada. The Canadian program was developed by three people: Harry McCartney, who was the Manitoba Executive Scout Director and the author of the Beaver book, Friends of the Forest; Alan Jones, who was a Winnipeg Scout Executive; and Gordon Hanna, who was part of the United Way Youth Council and was asked by Harry to be the Project Coordinator. As concepts were developed by Jones and Hanna, McCartney would write the next chapter of Friends of the Forest.

Some Scouting organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America and certain Traditional Scouting organizations, have not adopted programs for ever younger age children. Baden-Powell-ist Traditional Scouting rejects Beavers or similar programs because they are not one of Robert Baden-Powell's programs. Some organizations have adopted Beavers or similar programs but distinguish and disassociate them in identity from Scouting.

Originally, the Beavers program was open only to boys but, in most organizations operating Beavers or similar programs, the programs have been opened to both girls and boys.


Northern Ireland was the first country to have Beavers.[1] The title was officially adopted there in 1966. The Canadian program began in 1971 in Winnipeg and in 1972 it went countrywide. It was made an official section of Scouts Canada in 1974. This was closely followed by the Republic of Ireland in the same year. Beaver Scouts became an official section in the UK in 1986. Beavers and programs for similar ages spread to a few other Scouting organizations around the world. Beavers were not formally recognized by many Scouting organizations until well into the 1980s.

Beaver programs around the world


Baden-Powell Scouts' Association in Australia

The Baden-Powell Scouts' Association in Australia has a programme called Koalas, although some Groups do not operate Koalas as they were not part of Baden-Powell's concept. The programme serves 5 to eight year olds, and is followed by Wolf Cubs. The Koalas program uses a catch phrase and themes around "Koalas climb high" with participants reciting the phrase and mimicking the motions of a climbing Koala.

Scouts Australia

In Scouts Australia, this age section is called Joeys. A joey is an infant kangaroo. The Joeys programme uses a catch phrase and themes around "Hop, Hop, Hop" such as Help Other People with participants reciting the phrase and mimicking the motions of a hopping joey kangaroo.


Scouts Canada

In Scouts Canada Beavers are aged five to seven. Members normally wear a brown vest as a uniform with a brown Beaver coby hat. The programme is based on a specially written story called Friends of the Forest written by Harry McCartney. A one month grant from the United Way was provided to hire Gordon Hanna as the Project Coordinator to help develop and practically test the concepts. Three colonies were initially started in 3 parts of Winnipeg to pilot the ideas: Elmwood, St. James and St. Vital. The first colony in Elmwood had 13 boys join on Sept. 23rd, 1971. The program was an immediate success and grew exponentially.

Beaver Promise: I promise to love God and help take care of the world.

Beaver Law: A Beaver has fun, works hard and helps their family and friends.

Beaver Motto: Sharing, Sharing, Sharing

A new Beaver is called a "Kit"; a Kit must learn the Beaver Promise, Law, and Motto and go through an investiture ceremony to become an "Eager Beaver". The investiture ceremony officially welcomes the Beaver into the Beaver programme and during this ceremony the Beaver receives a tail, neckerchief, and badges for his uniform. The Beaver Leaders take their names from the Beaver Story, such as Hawkeye. Keeo is the name of the Cub who comes to the Beaver meetings to share his experiences in Cubs and to be a buddy when the Beavers swim--up to Cubs.

A five-year-old Beaver is a brown tail, a six-year-old is a blue tail and a seven-year-old is a white tail. The tail is attached to the back brim of the Beaver Hat.

The beavers "swim up" to Cubs towards the end of the year that they are white tails.

Association des Scouts du Canada

In the Association des Scouts du Canada Castors (Beavers in French) are aged from seven to nine. Members normally wear a yellow T-shirt and tan or brown pants. The programme is based on a specially written story called Les aventures de Cartouche et Namor (The Adventures of Cartouche and Namor).

Castor Promise: Je m'engage à faire des efforts pour jouer avec et comme les autres. (I promise to do my best to play with and like others)

Castor Motto: Effort (Effort)

The new Beaver receives his neckerchief and uniform at a promise ceremony where the Beaver, generally, must demonstrate that he has joined the unit. From that moment, the new Beavers have entered the Beaver programme.

Beavers collect individual badges following a four-step programme:

  • Source (spring) which is for objective integration
  • Ruisseau (stream) which is for objective participation
  • Cascades (waterfall) which is for objective initiative
  • Étang (pond) which is for objective sharing

They can also collect two technique badges which are called buchettes (splint): Security and Environnement.

When they climb to Cubs, they receive a badge called "Castor découvreur" (discovering beaver).



Beaver Scouts (Japanese: ビーバースカウト) started in Japan in 1986. Like all of the Scout Association of Japan units, Beavers have been coed since 1995.[2] Beaver Scouts are the youngest age group in Scouting Japan, a two year program that covers 1st and 2nd grades.


In Asociación de Scouts de México, A.C. there was a Beaver Section, but it has been closed down.[3] However, there are many beaver groups or "castores" in Spanish working unofficially in parallel.

New Zealand

In Scouts New Zealand, this section is called Keas. A kea is a New Zealand parrot.

South Africa

In 2019, Scouts South Africa launched a Meerkats branch for children age 5 and 6. The motto "Stand Tall" is based on the upright posture of a meerkat standing guard near its burrow.[4]


Various troops in Switzerland also have Beavers (in some Cantons also called Fünkli, Füchse or Murmeli), but they are not officially recognised by the Swiss Guide and Scout Movement.[5]

They usually only wear the troop's neckerchief but have no uniform.

United Kingdom

The Scout Association

The Scout Association officially recognised Beaver Scouts in 1986, but there had been a fully fledged Beaver section in Northern Ireland since 1966, plus informal colonies in other parts of the UK country for many years prior to 1986. The programme is run for 5¾ to 8 year olds, and precedes Cubs.

The Beavers section currently makes up the largest proportion of participants within The Scout Association in the United Kingdom, with many colonies having waiting lists, some of which may have several times as many waiting as there are actual members.

The uniform is a turquoise sweatshirt or T-shirt, with the group colours for the neckerchief. The motto, shared with the rest of the UK Scout Association sections, is "Be Prepared".

Baden-Powell Scouts' Association

The Baden-Powell Scouts' Association recognised Beavers in 1982, although some Groups do not operate Beaver colonies as they were not part of Baden-Powell's concept. The programme serves five to eight year olds, and is followed by Wolf Cubs.[6]

The uniform is a vest that can be many colours, with the group colours for the neckerchief. Some groups also issue Beavers with caps.

United States

Boy Scouts of America

Boy Scouts of America does not operate a Beaver program. Tiger Cubs started in 1982 as a Cub pack associated program for 1st grade boys. It continued as a separate program section until 2001 when it was moved into the Cub Scouting division. In 2016 a pilot program began for Kindergarten (age 5-6) boys with a new rank, Lion. Lion Scouts became a permanent rank in 2018. Also in 2018 girl Lion and Tigers units became permitted in all Cub Scout packs.

Baden-Powell Service Association

In the Baden-Powell Service Association, the corresponding section for this age group is called Otters.[7]

See also


  1. Member Resources. "In which country did Beavers first start?". Scouts UK. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  2. "Johoku Tokyo Boy Scouts". Johoku Tokyo Boy Scouts. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  3. The Canadian Leader Magazine, August/September 2006, page 37.
  4. Rens, Craig (1 October 2019). "Stand tall and Do your best!". Scouts South Africa.
  5. " - Entry on Beaver Scouts". (Independent Swiss Scout wiki). Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  6. Baden-Powell Beavers
  7. "Otter". Baden-Powell Service Association. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
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