Better activities, simplified advancement coming to Cub Scouting in 2015

Improved activities, easier-to-understand advancement and some sweet-looking handbooks — yes, Cub Scouting is about to get even better than before.

After finding that current achievements are overly passive in nature, activities lack connection to the missions of Scouting and the advancement model is too complicated, the Boy Scouts of America’s volunteer task force created a new and improved Cub Scout program that will debut in May 2015.

By the 2015-2016 Scouting year (which, for most packs, begins in August or September 2015), all packs will use the new requirements.

The new requirements coincide with the retiring of the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack. As part of the One Oath, One Law initiative I first told you about in 2012, all packs will switch to the Scout Oath and Scout Law beginning in May 2015. Cub Scouting will keep its current Cub Scout motto, sign, salute and handshake.

Not everything is changing. Follow the jump to see what will and won’t change come May 2015 (and thanks to Bob Scott, Russ Hunsaker and Debbie Sullivan for the info).

What’s not changing
  • Cub Scouting’s family focus
  • Ranks or approach
  • Age (or gender) of ranks
  • Den/pack meeting structures
  • Outdoor program
  • Delivery model
  • Current Cub Scout motto, sign, salute and handshake
  • Fun, though there will be even more than before
What is changing
  • Switch to Scout Oath and Scout Law, retiring of Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack
  • Tiger Cubs becomes simply “Tiger” with new image
  • Arrow of Light will no longer require earning Webelos
  • Activities will be more active, more aligned with Aims/Mission
  • Advancement will be simplified
  • Academics & Sports program will be discontinued (as of May 2015)
  • Current immediate/elective recognition devices will be replaced
  • One Den Leader Guide per rank
Cub Scout Adventures

New Cub Scout content will be broken into a series of “adventures,” which Cub Scouts (individually and as part of their den) will experience while working on their badge of rank.

Once a Cub Scout has completed the six core adventures, including one Duty to God adventure, and one of his/his den’s choosing he will have earned his badge of rank.

In addition to the adventures required for rank advancement, there will be 13 additional elective adventures that members of the den may earn. Each adventure is designed to take roughly three den meetings to implement, one of which may be an outing, ranging from attending a sporting event as a den, to taking a hike, to visiting a museum or going on a campout. At the conclusion of each adventure, a recognition device is awarded.

Presently, the recognition device is under development.

The authors also created a series of elective adventures in addition to the adventures required for rank advancement. This allows dens to create and customize a program for the interests of the boys in the den as well as create the opportunity for a year-round Cub Scout program.

To see the adventures, check out this PDF.

New Cub Scout handbooks

What’s a new program without new handbooks? The volunteer task force used considerable research with parents, adult leaders and, most importantly, Cub Scouts themselves, to create new handbook covers that are inspired by the concept of wood-burning. They look great and, just as important, look like one cohesive design throughout all four ranks in Cub Scouting.

Parents and leaders the BSA consulted said the designs reflect the heritage of Scouting and are solid and warm. Cub Scouts, on the other hand, found them exciting and different and said they suggest things they’ll do as Scouts.

Details of the covers are not yet complete but the concepts below will remain in tact as development moves forward. This new look will also be reflected in the interior pages of the handbook. If you ask me, these prototypes are awesome.





Get trained on these changes

Take the “Get the 411 on the NEW Cub Scout Adventure Program” courses at Philmont Training Center this summer during one of these weeks:

  • June 22-28
  • July 20-26
  • July 27-August 2
  • August 10-16

Cub Scouting isn’t the only program getting a makeover. Boy Scouting and Venturing will see big changes in 2014 and beyond. Find more about all that’s new and how you can get the latest training at this Program Updates page or this PDF.

403 thoughts on “Better activities, simplified advancement coming to Cub Scouting in 2015

  1. Cub Scout belt loops were added to give the boys a chance to learn and earn, while being rewarded. I keep reading about cost this, and too easy… Really? So what? A merit badge costs about the same, and to be honest, some of them are REALLY easy. Are we doing away with those? Remember that the experience is for the kids. That’s why we’re here. If you take away the loops (which are easier versions of merit badges, and if done correctly don’t have to be ‘too easy’), then the Cubs really have nothing to show for anything that they do.

    There will be no more beads. No more loops or pins. All that’s left are rank patches that are earned once per year, and unless I’m mistaken, arrow points. So that crucial Tiger Cub year where you get the boys excited to continue is about as vanilla as it gets.

    Sorry, but I think ‘some’ change can be good. But too much change at one time, when it really doesn’t make much sense, is not.

    I’m a dedicated Scout leader in the Cub program (past Committee Chair, past Asst. Cubmaster, Den Leader for three years, and am currently running two Dens – a Tiger and a Bear Den.) I’m finishing my Wood Badge ticket that I started two months ago, as well, so I have a decent grip on what the boys like.

    Taking away some of the things they really love (and) making earning rank easier doesn’t quite seem like it’s in the best interest of the boys.

    Not looking to debate, as it wouldn’t matter anyway. Somewhere, there is a group of very out of touch people making decisions for everyone.

    In the meantime, I’ll tell my cubs that if they want to earn all of the belt loops (as it’s a goal for many of them), that they have about a year to get it done. Good luck!

    • Steve, perhaps you missed the point on page 9 of the Program Change Overview and this: “At the conclusion of
      each adventure, a recognition device is awarded. Presently, the
      recognition device is under development.” from the New Cub Adventure document. The best of the Academic & Sports program is incorporated in the new program and there is recognition after every adventure’s completion.

  2. Are they trying to make cub scouting boring and unappealing to the boys by taking away the thing they look forward to? And why no arrow of light?

    • Who said there is no arrow of light? What I read was, “•Arrow of Light will no longer require earning Webelos.” That’s great, as a scout joining as an Arrow of Light scout always has to struggle to get Webelos and then AOL before the boys cross over. It’s tough if they join in August or September and want to cross over with their AOL with the scouts that cross over in February or March at Blue and Gold. We have one now trying to do that…and it’s tough.

  3. Bryan…thanks for the info but without any specifics on the changes, which are probably still a long way off, all we can do is speculate on the Cub/Boy and Venture advancement changes. Hence we see some of the postings above.

        • Patients is a virtue. I am not wild about the changes but the devil is working on the details. I hope they have set a goal of finalizing the details no later than this September/October. It will take no less than six months to get everybody on the same page.

    • Matt, the nature of the changes in the Cub Scout program are outlined in the 2015 Program Update document and the New Cub Adventure program document and Venturing’s in its documents. The task force is doing its best to get the information out when it is needed (remembering, please, that we need to continue to do a great job of implementing the current program and not get off track). If there are specific questions please send them to strategicplan.goal411@scouting.org and we will build them into our next round of communications.

  4. I knew some of the changes that were coming, but I didn’t know they were getting rid of belt loops and pins (sports and academics)!!! Are they replacing it with something else?? Obviously this will require changing some of the rank requirements.

    Belt loops and pins were a nice introduction into merit badges. My boys chose what they wanted to work on and we did that as a group, but they were also able to work on them independently if there were any we didn’t work on as a Den. I don’t see why they can’t keep them.

    I like that the activities will be “more aligned with the aims and goals”, but HOW. I have completed many surveys and questionnaires on this topic both locally and nationally, but this was not one of topics that I remember being on the list for changes.

  5. Bryan, one clarification. Each rank after Bobcat has seven required adventures, not six as posted. Tiger, Wolf and Bear are six defined adventures and one elective adventure. Webelos is five and two while Arrow of Light is four defined and three elective. Sorry for any confusion.

  6. Well I am open minded about the change, but belt Loops, well what replaces them? Some say, I gather, they were too simple? Actually with Piaget in mind, I think they are age appropriate. As the changes get closer then, I presume, Councils will offer training and orientations for Scouters to get a handle on what we need to do.

    • Phillip hit the nail on the head. The activities are very much developmentally appropriate and with a wide range of activities there is something for everyone to enjoy. Small rewards go very far, especially the tangible ones that young children can touch and show to others….”look what I did!”. I love how scouting is a mix of individual, group, academic, sport, and social activities. It provides something for everyone: the sport minded, the learner, the shy, the out going; the physically, emotionally, or socially impaired. The belt loop program was tailored for everyone to learn and grow.

    • Yes, the belt loops were very simple, especially the sports ones: learn the rules, practice for 30 minutes, play a game. Many in the academic side were challenging, but I see most of my Scouts gravitating to the sports ones, and the easy academic ones, particularly video games.

      The fact that they are simple is only part of the problem, in my opinion. There is no verification system like there is with the ranks. There is no handbook, no “sign-off” like there is with other awards–you simply take the parent’s word for it that the requirements were completed. I have had many Scouts earn belt loops who were surprised to receive them at a Pack meeting–the parents simply tell the den leader their son earned it. One Scout was surprised to earn the kickball belt loop. When the parent was later asked about this, they said, “he played a game of kickball once at a family reunion, so he earned it.”

      National thinks so highly of the pins that they don’t even have you record them as being earned when submitting advancement reports.

      They also get expensive for a Pack. Scouts who attended Day Camp this past summer came back earning 13 belt loops and 8 pins. At $1.89 apiece, times the 20 Scouts who went to Day Camp from our Pack this past summer, and our September Pack meeting awards bill was nearly $800, just for belt loops and pins! That’s a budget-breaker. Nearly half our Scouts each have 30-40 belt loops alone, and 12-18 pins.

      A frustration I have with the program are the dens that focus more on the belt loop/pin program than the rank program. Every year, I keep stressing to my den leaders to not focus so much on them and keep the focus on the rank requirements, because what inevitably happens is April and May roll around, and they panic that the Scouts need to do a ton of requirements because they’ve been spending all their time at den meetings working on belt loops so that “everyone gets something at every Pack meeting.”

      If the Scouts were truly looking to make an effort to earn the belt loops and pins, that’s one thing. But I as a Cubmaster far too often simply see the parents doing all the reporting that their sons earned the belt loop with little to no input from the Scout, not to mention the frustration from Webelos families that they have to earn a belt loop all over again that they earned previously so they can earn certain Webelos Activity Badges. All the Scouts want to earn is Video Games belt loop and BB Shooting and Archery belt loops.

      • Good Points! You address issues that should be addressed, and yes, the pins and belt-loops can be expensive. However, what you experienced may not hold for everyone, wrt den focuses. Some Packs have the parents pay for the pins and belt-loops (I am told). :)

        • Our packs pay for 10 belt loops per year, with parents paying for any remaining. I never like seeing less available for the kids to earn. This is sounding more and more like Girl Scout
          Changes over the past few years. Kids like their belt loops, like feeling proud they have earned many. The whole nation of cub scouts should not have to forego belt loops just because a few people on a survey say they are handed out with no discretion to anyone whose parent asked for them, as some have mentioned here. As a den leader I don’t order a belt loop unless I know the boy earned it. I thought that’s how all den leaders operated,

      • I was Asst DL for 2 years (Tiger & Wolf), Den Ldr for 2 years (Web 1 & 2 years). During the Bear year, I was technically the Asst DL but planned all the meetings because the DL was also busy as a SM with his oldest son. We had no problems getting our Scouts to meet their rank rqts by Blue & Gold banquet time in February.

        Along the way, most of the Scouts earned at least 1 belt loop (BL) a month so there were few months where one of my Scouts never got something at a Pack meeting. I did this by 3 different methods:

        First, many of the BLs cross over into the various rank rqts. I “studied” the BL requirements & when working on certain rank rqts, I added the BL (or activity pin) rqts at the same time. Often by only adding in a couple of activities, the Scout met the rank rqt while earning a BL or progress on his pin.

        Second, I was the “program director” for our Fall & Spring Family Campouts. I planned the various activities so they incorporated rank, BL, & activity pin rqts. We practice and played volleyball, kickball, & softball to meet the 30-minutes of practice & play rqts. We then went over the rules for each to meet that one. The Webelos Scouts went on a hike, but it was offered to all the Scouts. Thus the Webelos met some of their outdoorsman rqts while the Scouts worked on their hiking BL/pin rqts. Along the way if we saw any animals, we would stop & identify them that crossed over into Wildlife Conservation or another BL.

        Lastly when our School District was out of school on a Friday, I took the day off & planned an all-day Field Trip. With the help of 3 other parents to drive (along with myself), we would go from 8 AM until 4 PM for a cost of $5 plus the Scout had to bring his own lunch. At the time I had 12 Webelos & usually got 10-11 to participate.

        On Field Trip #1, we started off at the Kaleidoscope which is a free art experience sponsored by Hallmark Cards. We then journey out to a local county park when we ate our sack lunches. We then had the naturalist (that is what cost the $) bring in a bunch of her animals & I had given her the Wildlife Conservation BL/Pin rqts I wanted her to do along with any rank advancement rqts. She did it all perfectly. Afterwards, we went on a hike (10 Essential items/Hiking BL/Outdoorsman Webelos Pin). I always take a trash bag along & had the Scouts pick up trash along the way to work on LNT & a service project.

        On Field Trip #2, we went to Ft Leavenworth KS & did a 2-mile hike there followed by a visit to the Army museum there. From there, we went to a city park & ate our lunches followed by a quick visit to the carousel museum across the street for a ride (actually gave us 2 rides for the price of 1). We then went to Moon Marble Factory where they did all 3 BL rqts for us (that is where the $ went) followed by a visit to the local library near our meeting/pickup place to complete other rqts.

        The field trips were a combination of fun & meeting rank/BL/activity pin requirements. Sometimes my Scouts were also “surprised” they received a pin NOT because their parent provided the info to me, but I had been tracking their progress & they had met the standards. They were having fun & did not even know they were working on rqts at the same time. Rqt completion just occurred while the Scouts thought they were just doing a fun activity.

  7. I too am very concerned about the loss of belt loops and pins. Not only does this inspire the boys to stay engaged, it also motivates the parents! Every parent likes seeing their boy receive awards at Pack Meetings….I really hope they have something in place to replace these awards because if you don’t there will be a huge backlash from the parents

  8. Can you please explain what you mean by “Arrow of Light will no longer require earning Webelos”. I’m really confused. Is the new aim of Webelos the Arrow of Light without a Webelos rank? Doesn’t this make it unfair to 2nd yr Webelos who are completing both years to earn the Arrow of Light while a brand new 5th grader earns Arrow of Light after only 6-7 months and is completing less requirements?

  9. Jennifer – just a thought but one solution may be to develop a Webelos badge to be worn on the boy scout uniform in addition to the AOL badge.

  10. Just don’t think that the requirement of earning Webelos should be discontinued. The highlight of each scouting year in Cubs is the presentation of those rank awards. I know my Webelos were so excited to receive theirs last year. Now they are nipping at the heels of the AOL. Every year should culminate in attaining that rank award, even the Webelos badge in year one. These are milestones, markers on the trail. Changing the requirements themselves is one thing but discontinuing an entire rank is not acceptable. Those boys look forward to making those advancements. I can’t imagine the Cub Scout program any other way.

    • What am I missing? The Webelos badge isn’t going away is it? I didn’t read that (or do I need to read it again?). Not requiring it for AOL does make some sense as we almost every year have 5th graders who join and it can be discouraging if the leaders don’t handle it well. This allows them the opportunity to earn AOL thus keeping them I the program.

        • One possible correction to what you said. It is not only newly joining 5th graders who won’t need the Webelos badge to get AOL. If I am reading it correctly any Webelos can earn the AOL without the Webelos badge.

        • Not acceptable!! The AOL is/should be the culmination of achievements completed over time. I don’t believe that a Fourth grader could earn AOL in just one year because they can’t even cross over to a troop until they turn 10.5 yrs old. It just makes sense that they earn Webelos first, then AOL in yr 2. Under the current program new 5th graders can still earn both Webelos and AOL if the leaders and parents manage the program correctly. But not requiring those new 5th graders to complete Webelos is unfair to those scouts completing both years. Otherwise what would be the reason to even do both years? Without the requirement of earning Webelos why not take off the whole 4th grade year, return as a 5th grader and get handed AOL for only completing half of what is now currently required of Webelos. I tell you, the proposed changes to the Webelos program has me scared to find out what kind of new Boy Scouts will be coming out of Packs. One more concern I have is the requirement of Aquanaut. Swimming requirements are scary for scouts but I know many scouts that don’t know how to swim. My own son has been told by several instructors that he will probably never learn because of mitigating circumstances. In other words, for some kids, it’s physically impossible. My son, bless his heart, tried with everything he had but could not do the swimming requirements for T-1 and he never earned Aquanaut. Thankfully, his sympathetic Scoutmaster gave him credit for trying, but he’ll never earn MB with swimming requirements. By the way, Swimming MB is not required for Eagle because it’s in option with Hiking or Cycling. Guess what? There’s BL for Hiking and Bicycling. Amazing that the experiences that Cubs get from these BL could help with the MB. So true for many BL that have a good correlation with MB. I propose that den leaders hold on to the Academic and Sports guide and still incorporate this program in their packs and dens. There won’t be anything to award the scout but they’ll gain in knowledge and skills.

        • I think the AoL without Webelos rank concern is generally overblown. There just aren’t that many kids joining as 5th graders. It’s a disservice to everyone involved to turn them off to scouting from day one with a defeatist approach. Why not let them get hooked on scouting? Comparing it to joining boy scouts at age 17 and being told to only complete the incremental steps between life and eagle is a straw man. Cub scouts is preparation for boy scouts. The next step after boy scouts is typically the real world. Boy scouts is more about individual accomplishment and building strong leaders and there is a universal understanding of what eagle means and the work it takes to get there on an individual level. Cub scouts is different.

          Where I do agree with the AoL/Webelos sky is falling crowd is that AoL is “special” because it can be worn on the uniform for life, just like eagle, and having boys and men who worked six months for the distinction be treated the same as those who worked 4.5 years seems a little unjust. Perhaps the AoL knot should be retired and replaced with a Yellow and Blue knot that signifies completion of the cub scout program, however you define it. It’s debatable how many years should be required to earn that distinction but I think it’s a valuable one.

        • It seems to me that you just don’t get that the AOL is supposed to be regarded as the highest Cub Scout Award and there are a good many reasons why earning Webelos first is important. This time in a scout’s career is training for their first year of Boy Scouts. There are so many skills that need to be taught. Brand new 5th graders can and should fulfill all of the same basic requirements as if they started as 4th graders. It’s totally doable however it may mean cross over gets pushed back to May. I’d much rather award a scout for making the commitment to completing the program than saying oh well they can earn it for only doing half as much work as the 4th graders do over 2 years. It’s doable if the same basic requirements are still there, all of them.

        • I never saw the purpose of AOL as training for their first year in Boy Scouts and around here I attempt to down play that idea. There are no skills taught just because they are trying to earn AOL that won’t be retaught when they cross over (if they are joining a troop who is doing it right).

          Every youth who joins a Troop whether he has AOL or has never been in scouting, if are active in a vibrant troop will all advance at the same rate. AOL doesn’t truly give anyone a leg up that cannot be caught up in a good first year Boy Scout program.

          Pushing back advancement until May just because the adult leadership believes that in order for a scout to deserve AOL is doing that scout a huge disservice. I mean let’s say his counter parts join a troop in Feb. Now while they are learning the scout skills necessary to advance and bonding with their new patrol members, those others that were left behind are doing what? Scientist, Craftsman, Handyman, Readyman………none of these will make any difference when he finally joins the troop. Not only that but if he is lucky, he will get to go on one maybe two campouts before summer camp.

          Any boy who joins in their 5th grade year should be learning a few things but really the leadership needs to be concentrating on them having a good time, bonding with those scouts who are already there, and getting pumped about Boy Scouts. And if with this new advancement model if they earn AOL, so much the better.

        • I am a little confused by all of this hullabaloo about not requiring the earning of the Webelos badge in order to earn AOL. I mean the whining about how it’s not fair makes adults sound like the youth we are mentoring!. I mean just because it’s not required doesn’t mean 4th graders won’t be strongly encouraged to earn it, same as if no changes had been made. I mean why do the youth and parents even need to have this on their radar? I don’t mean keep it some kind of super secret, it’s just that if scouts are in the program as 4th graders then they will earn the Webelos badge. And if they join as 5th graders then they can earn AOL same as their counterparts and should never be made to feel they deserve it less.

          These are young men who look up to the adults running their programs and need to see them as role models and not people who are caught up with what they feel is “fair” or not.

  11. I’ve seen changes come and go. Before my son became a Tiger Cub in 2011, my last direct dealing with Cub Scouts was when I was a Den Chief in 1983-84. I was shocked that there wasn’t a Bobcat Den. These changes look fine to me (although the belt loops and pins are among my favorites)

    I’m just looking for specific guidance as to how to handle our current 4th Grade WEBELOS — they’ll be earning their badge either this month or next, and have no choice but to start on the “old” Arrow of Light program for the next 4 or 5 months and then transition to the “new” program. I’m kind of hopeful that my Bear Cub son can start the new WEBELOS program but our current WEBELOS can finish under the requirements for Arrow of Light that they started with.

    • I think your math is off. Current fourth graders will finish before the changes kick in *next* May. It’s current Bears that are going to be caught in the transition.

      • Lucky me since I am the current Bear leader (with my son in my den). I’m at a loss as to how/what I am supposed to do about that.

        • If it’s anything like the Merit Badge system at the Boy Scout level, they’ll give you a 1 year transition option: a scout will either be allowed to do it the old way or the new way for just that one year. after that one year of grace, everyone moves to the new way.

        • As Mike noted, I would imagine that “Transition Guides” will be part of the rollout in the year before the transition to the new handbooks and requirements kick in, but even if there isn’t a “transition period” for the “mid-stream” current Webelos Dens like yours (which might be as simple as “Webelos II Dens in the 2015-2016 program year that started as Webelos I Dens in the 2014-2015 program year may elect to continue through Arrow of Light in 2015-2016 under their existing handbooks, or follow the new Arrow of Light Requirements, at their option”), the path to Arrow of Light would be to complete whichever adventures are in the new Arrow of Light Handbook (instead of the existing Arrow of Light requirements). On the downside, maybe you did Readyman and Outdoorsman and some extra Activity Badges that now don’t “count”, but then you’ll still be able to award those, plus if/when you recruit new 5th Graders to your Den, if you follow the new adventures, you would all be working together — no remedial “Webelos Badge” for the new guys. I would imagine that other Dens would simply go to the new books/adventures right off, since they would not have begun work on “the next rank” earlier anyway. But yeah, for Webelos I dens, there could be issues.

  12. This looks fantastic, and I think the changes will be awesome! I trust the BSA to do what’s right for our boys. And guys, if you read above, it says that new recognition devices are in development. Just because the belt loops are going away doesn’t mean that the Cub Scout world is going to come crashing in and the boys will be less incentivized. I think the new book covers are a great design, and I wholeheartedly look forward to seeing what’s around the corner for us!

  13. What?? No Belt Loops & Pins??? As a District & Council Cub Leader Trainer (& RT Cub Comm)….I was just getting most of our Packs caught up on the IMPORTANCE & SIGNIFICANCE of this part of the program! Plus National just added so many more topics that seemed to be aligned with the BS MB. Seemed to make sense to me. Yes, some changes are good….but really??? And I totally don’t understand the AOL/Webelos deal. I haven’t even made it down the whole list of changes….these 2 caught my eye & I’m seeing some red ;~( So glad my boys were in it early-they are both Eagle Scouts (now 17 & 21) but still proudly show off their belts that made their pants hang down-before that that ugly trend started ! ;~) Will be waiting for all the NEW training AGAIN-to re-teach AGAIN!

    • Rhonda Stengel it is refreshing to hear your comments about what do we do about the many boys that as you refer to and I agree that half way through a program that has really worked for a many, many years. There have been changes along the way that many programs have to do we have always improved them with small steps.What we are talking about is completely throwing out successful programs that keep many boys in scouting and parents happy if the Cub parents are involved they will be better Boy Scout parents. It reminds me of our school curriculum across this nation it became to hard for the students what did they do they lowered the standards so it was simpler and easier for the students to pass and move on. This to me is what the Scouting is trying to do with these whole sale changes to time proven programs. One Scouter blogged that some volunteers received a survey and as a result the petition was for change in the Cub Scout program and so it was changed. I remember a Survey last April 2013 about allowing homosexual youth into the organization by 600,000 responding volunteers who I believe are the nuts and bolts of the BSA the survey petitioned the BSA leadership to keep the ban by 60% and what did they do but remove the restrictions anyway by 1400 delegates. Which proves one thing the BSA will do what it wants regardless what the volunteers want. I believe the BSA has created an atmosphere of division much like this nation has done in the last 5 years. Will the change be successful I pray it will, only time will tell. I would like to add that in my 11 years old Scouting program many Scouts advanced to First Class Rank before they turned 12 some even made the Star rank was it work you bet it was. Making things simpler and easier is not always the best way Baden Powell proved that. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  14. I was the vice Chairman for the original Cubs Scouts Sports Program back beginning in 1983. One of the original purposes was to retain boys in Cub Scouting by giving them credit for activities outside of Cub Scouting and to involve adults. Cub Scouting is about participation and we developed different levels with the belt loop and the pin. As a den leader, marbles was a great rainy day/hip pocket den meeting.
    From the outside, it appears that the sports portion has morphed into one of the five organizing principles: personal fitness. Good! glad it was not lost.
    The Academic program was a natural and great adjunct to the original Cub Scouts Sports program. STEM additions to the new program appear to maintain some portions of the Academic program.
    The Cub Scouts Sports Program and its eventual transition to the Cub Scouts Sports and Academic program was one of the most successful programs ever included into Cub Scouting. The success was because it worked and was popular; expense was a drawback. We’ll have to see how well the new program embraces the key characteristics of the older programs. As part of our Wood Badge for the 21st Century, we need to embrace change . . . and do our best. If it does not work, then let your Council know and design new elements to give the new program rudder.

  15. I do not want to see the Belt Loops and Pins go away. For one thing they affect the new STEM focus and Nova Awards. I would like to hear more about the elective recognition, i.e. beads and arrow points and how that will shake out. I think they are effective. I do not think that Webelos rank should be taken out of requirements for AOL. That seems wrong. The new ‘activities’ seem to put more pressure on the adult leaders to develop ideas and a plan for implementation for each ‘activity’, increasing the work load on the adult volunteers. What is ‘One Den Leader Guide per Rank’ all about? Should we have been shown the PDF when it is still stamped with ‘Confidential’? I would like to see some type of transition period where the boys are given time to learn the scout oath and law, and some effort to explain to them why this is being done.

    UC, Arapahoe, Denver

    • Hi, Scott – let me address some of your questions, since they capture some of the questions that have been shared by others, too. They are good questions and I hope my answers will help clarify things as well as possible.

      “I do not want to see the Belt Loops and Pins go away. For one thing they affect the new STEM focus and Nova Awards.”

      >>The BSA task force that supports STEM and Nova is aware of the changes and they will adjust those recognitions as needed.

      “I would like to hear more about the elective recognition, i.e. beads and arrow points and how that will shake out. I think they are effective.”

      >>A series recognition devices are under development to mark progress along each rank and for boys who earn additional “adventures,” beyond each rank. The device will provide immediate feedback along the way as well as additional encouragement for those who achieve more.

      “The new ‘activities’ seem to put more pressure on the adult leaders to develop ideas and a plan for implementation for each ‘activity’, increasing the work load on the adult volunteers.”

      >>The Cub Adventure Team (the group of volunteer leaders who developed the materials) made it their goal to develop den leader materials that are “all in one” den leader support materials. The guides are designed to support den leaders in their use of the materials. The pilot testing that has taken place confirms that the writing team was successful. Den leader preparation was about the same as with the current materials.

      >>As a further aside, all of the members of the Cub Adventure Team are highly experienced Cub Scout leaders. They made certain that their wisdom – gained from experience and training – came out in the development of the program materials.

      “What is ‘One Den Leader Guide per Rank’ all about?”
      >>It means that there is a comprehensive den leader guide for each program level: One for Tiger, one for Wolf, one for Bear, and one for Webelos/Arrow of Light.”

      “Should we have been shown the PDF when it is still stamped with ‘Confidential’?”

      >>Yes, you are welcome to see the materials presented by Bryan. The document shared online was used last May to present the materials at the National Annual Meeting to the committee that has oversight on the development of the materials. It remains a good overview of the program materials, which is why it was shared here.

      “I would like to see some type of transition period where the boys are given time to learn the scout oath and law…”
      >>Materials are under development to support transition into the new program.

      “…and some effort to explain to them why this is being done.”
      >>The big “why” is to ensure that the Cub Scout program remains relevant and the program of choice for boys in grades 1 through 5. The materials developed did a good job of supporting a program that is more active and fun and captures the imagination of the boys and the parents/leaders that deliver the Scouting program. The program maintains its focus on developing character, citizenship, and fitness along with a stronger commitment to service and outdoor adventure.

      * * *

      I know that this may not go far enough to alleviate all of your concerns, but there is really good stuff coming down the road. Please keep an eye on this blog for the next set of updates.

      Thanks for sharing your questions…

      • Ken,
        Thanks for your response!

        It occurs to me to ask what will the boys be asked to do with their old ‘recognitions’ as we transition?

        My intent of asking how we are to explain the adoption of the Scout Oath and Law to Cubbies was more toward talking ‘at their level’. I’m sure we will be asked, both my the boys and parents, why…why was our old oath and law not good enough. :)

        Of course all this change will make it difficult to show my kids how and what they are doing in comparison to my achievements. [I like when my kids out-do me. :) ]

        UC, Arapahoe, Denver

        • And one more response:

          “It occurs to me to ask what will the boys be asked to do with their old ‘recognitions’ as we transition?”

          >>Keep them and wear them with pride. If they have immediate recognition beads or belt loops from the Sports and Academic program after the transition to the new program, they are welcome to wear them. No “credit” is lost for the change in the recognition system. And since the transition to the new program takes place when starting work on a new rank, the transition should be very simple for every boy.

          >>For LDS units, where boys join a den and move on to new program levels on their birthday, we are preparing transition materials to assist in that process as well.

          Best regards,

          (a representative of the Cub Adventure Team)

  16. Scott–

    My metaphor is that program changes are like planning a picnic. Use what we currently use for the time being…and when the advancement requirements/recognition devices change, use the new ones. It is easy for me to say, “don’t worry about 2015 right now, focus on 2014,” but I realize that Scout leaders are often good planners, so anticipating changes is part of the job description. :-)

    “My intent of asking how we are to explain the adoption of the Scout Oath and Law to Cubbies was more toward talking ‘at their level’. I’m sure we will be asked, both my the boys and parents, why…why was our old oath and law not good enough.”

    >>Bryan posted some previous entries on the move to a single Oath/Law across all levels of the program, so that is a good place to address big questions on the “why.” All I can add to it is that the motto – which remains the same – is the lens that boys should use when using the new (to them) oath and law. A common oath and law serves to connect youth at all levels in the program to what we aspire to: to live up to the expectations of the Scout Oath and Law. The (Boy) Scout Oath and Law are also more clearly aligned with the aims of the BSA: developing character, citizenship, and fitness. If we accept that Cub Scouts will do their best to learn and live up to the Scout Oath and Law, then they will have achieved what we expect from Cub Scouts.

    There is nothing “bad” about the use of the CS Promise….the change, to me, reflects a “recalibration” to connect all members of the movement with the same ideas/values and to express them the same way.

    Best regards,


  17. Change is good. I won’t miss the beads. I won’t miss the belt loops or pins. I will appreciate a simpler advancement system. The Bear Handbook is driving me a little bonkers this year. I will probably miss the arrow points, but the new elective device might be awesome. I noted the Webelos book uses the same olive green that the Boy Scouts have adopted. I don’t love the baby blue for the bear scouts. And I wish we had panthers to maintain some consistency with the Jungle Book theme. The tiger is a villain in that story.

  18. Well everyone, remember that “change” is the new normal in scouting. Quit yer whining! (I kid.) It will work out. I hated when they changed the Boy Scout program and got rid of belt loops and added “Trail to First Class” stuff…but it worked and became the norm. Some of you are jumping to conclusions though. Be careful about doing that. Also, just think of the money the pack s will save not buying belt loops and pins! ;) Just sayin’.

  19. Concerning AoL, right now it’s a bit of a privilege to have worked through both the Webelos rank and the AoL requirements to sport the knot on the Boy Scout uniform.
    If they take away the Webelos portion of the AoL requirements, seems to me to make that privilege a little less of an honor. Sort of like having a 17 year old walk into Boy Scouts for the first time and jump right to Eagle without having to go through previous ranks.
    Maybe those who earn AoL without the Webelos rank being earned don’t get to wear it on the Boy Scout uniform?

    • Excellent points. Had I reloaded the page, I might not have written a more wordy version of the same in my comments below. :)

  20. Unfortunately, this hits my den 2/3 of the way through our 18-month Webelos program. Will Webelos dens in this situation be allowed just to complete the original program (for continuity sake?) Also, it appears that there will no longer be 20 achievements… we make a big deal out of boys who accomplish this feat. I’m hoping the answer for our situation is “yes”.

  21. Just a bit of a different view on this discussion — half way down the first page of the PDF document is a “Confidential — please do not share this information” disclaimer. It looks to me like this is not something that is ready yet for an in depth discussion. There are a lot of questions that need to be smoothed out. Let’s not jump to too many conclusions.

  22. About the Arrow of Light. I wonder if the new program could still require the Webelos Rank to earn the Arrow of Light, and if Cubs joining in the 5th grade year could be awarded their Webelos Rank in lieu of the Arrow of Light at the crossover ceremony? Meaning the same Webelos II adventures could lead to the either the AoL or the Webelos badge. Perhaps new Webelos IIs wanting to earn both could complete some subset of “required” Webelos I adventures?

    I was always impressed by my fellow Boy Scouts who got to wear the Arrow of Light on their uniforms, knowing it represented cumulative effort throughout the years of Cub Scouts. (My personal experience was taking a “hiatus year” sometime in the Webelos I/II timeframe, then returning for 6 great years in Boy Scouts. I’m also on track to be a Webelos II Den Leader during the implementation year, so might be signing myself up for some pain with this suggestion.

  23. I absolutely DISAGREE completely about doing away with the belt loops and pins!!!! BAD decision. I’ve got a Boy Scout and a Web I, and they both have earned around 40 each over the years. They have a younger brother looking forward to doing the same and now can not be like his older brothers. Also, this is the only way we get kids to come to Pack meetings. I guess we’ll still have Dens, but they’ll never see the rest of the Pack because there will be no incentive to come if they aren’t rewarded for work in front of their peers. We have a Pack of 45 right now, 70 last year. I hate to see something the boys love and work hard at, disappearing. I’m sure it’s purely a business (ie: $$$$$$) decision. Sad that more thought isn’t given to the boys. Hey, here a thought….ASK current members and especially Advancement Chairs (me) before making such sweeping changes!!

  24. Exciting times ahead. Looking forward to the course at the PTC. Hope it’s not a repeat of the “Red Berets” for the Boy Scout program,

  25. I as an active leader over the last 5 years including currently being cub master of our great pack completely disagree with many of the changes. Our boys work HARD for those belt loops and pins! They look forward to receiving them, show them off to their buddies who are NOT in scouts and create interest in those who now want these awesome things to wear on their belts! Both my cub scouts wear these belts EVERYDAY with all their loops. They are proud of earning them!
    as for the Arrow of Light.. our Webelos EVERY YEAR work so very hard for that accomplishment and I see it on our former pack boys scouts uniforms when they come “home” for a visit. To take these things away from the boys feels very wrong! I know our cubs will not be happy boys to hear they wont be able to earn them anymore :( BSA you could have done so much better!

  26. NOT happy with the decision to remove the Sports and Academics program. I have gone through 2 complete Cub groups and still have one more to go- this will really take some getting used to. I have always incorporated the belt loop program into our regular advancement schedule as a means to “round out” the program. For some of these boys, that may be the only chance they have at playing a sport or learning a topic. Our pack will also loose out on material for our campouts- we traditionally hold Belt Loop college on Sundays to entice families to camp overnight.

    Also- what about the Webelos activity badges? Those are a great way to make the “transition years” from Cubs to Boys (which is what Webelos is intended to be) so much more- I explain the correlations between the badges and Merit Badges and how some that are required are similar to those required for Eagle. It really brings it all together for my boys.

  27. One major concern about the new program I haven’t seen previously mentioned is that Aquanaut is listed as a core requirement for Webelos, and thus probably required. With all the problems getting both funding and members the BSA is having, it seems foolish to require what is (at least in my area)a very expensive activity (since even the public pools are pricey). It’s bad enough having swimming required for Boy Scouts, why add to the problem by requiring it for Cubs?
    I also agree that getting rid of the Sports and Academics Program is unwise. It needs to be revamped perhaps, but it lets the boys try more activities they spcifically are interested in.

    • Amen. If a den can’t reasonably do something with limited financial means, it shouldn’t be *required*.

      Others have suggested that an increased emphasis on swimming is important. I disagree. I am a terrible swimmer. No measure of instruction helped me be anything but a terrible, borderline complete non-swimmer. I did my 2nd and 1st class swimming requirements in one hellish night at a council swim center. I earned my eagle through personal fitness and emergency preparedness rather than swimming and lifesaving and resent the suggestion some have made here that my eagle is somehow cheapened by having taken that path. Had swimming been a bar to completing the AoL too, I may never have continued in scouting.

      • Baden Powell said that no scout is a real scout until he is a first class scout and no man is a real man if he can’t swim. You proved that you could pass the swimmer’s test. Many troops let it go by for first class if a full and honest effort is made to learn. You made that effort, why bail out on this fundamental scout building block before an honest effort is made?

      • I think we need to remember that the motto is not changing so Do Your Best still is going to apply to everything they do.
        As a BSA Aquatics Instructor swimming to me is a vital skill. Do you need to be an expert? No. But knowing enough not to panic if caught in a situation on the water is so important and in the last 15 years I have seen fewer and fewer youth come through who can swim. I certainly don’t feel that Eagle is at all cheapened by taking the route you did.

        As far as cost I certainly won’t say that money concerns are not valid although around here we have YMCA’s and community centers with free swim times where it only costs $3.00 per person. But what can happen is that councils can make sure that there are opportunities for units to get these requirements done if National does indeed make them required. It would be a shame if something is made required and no support is offered. Now it may take some pressure from the volunteers and if that pressure is not there, then shame on them too.

      • Agreed!! Aquanaut has no place as a requirement for AOL. It’s not even required for Eagle. My boys can’t swim. My oldest has been told by several instructors that he will never learn due to mitigating circumstances. He never earned Aquanaut because he can’t due the swimming parts. He did all the rest of the requirements. For his T-1 swimming requirements, he tried but couldn’t do them. Thankfully, his empathetic SM passed him on his merit and efforts. My younger son is following the same path.

  28. I am a Bear Den leader now. That means I will be a Web 1 leader using the current program for the 2014-2015 scout year, and then I will use the new program for my Web 2′s in 2015-2016. Anyone got insight on how to handle this? What should I focus on my first year as a Web den leader?

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