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Answers to your questions about the Cub Scout modifications

The BSA announced this week that some Cub Scout adventure requirements that previously were mandatory will become optional, in a move intended to give Cub Scouters more control over their den program.

On Facebook, on this blog and elsewhere, Cub Scouters have shared questions about how these modifications will affect their pack and den.

The National Cub Scouting Committee has supplied the following answers:

Q1. Why were these modifications made?

A1. Extensive feedback from the field indicated that many dens were finding it difficult or impossible to complete the adventures required for advancement. In a survey conducted in September 2016, only 36 percent of the dens with eight boys in a den completed the adventures required to advance in rank by the end of the 2015-2016 program year.

Q2. Do dens have a choice about whether to use the modifications during this program year?

A2. Yes. A den may choose to continue with the previous adventure requirements or to use the modifications for some or all of its adventures.

Q3. Will the modifications be used with the current handbooks?

A3. Yes. The current handbooks provide a wealth of resource ideas to support each adventure. The detailed how-to information in the handbooks should continue to guide the “nuts and bolts” of den activities.

Q4. Will the National Service Center provide any additional new resources for advancement tracking?

A4. Yes. Downloadable revisions of “paw prints” and den tracking documents will be posted on the website, and a link will be provided soon at scouting.org/programupdates.

Q5. Will Cub Scouts still receive credit for work they have previously completed?

A5. Yes. Any completed requirements should be recognized and will count toward the rank advancement. No requirements need to be redone.

Q6. Do the modifications retain an emphasis on Scouting’s outdoor program?

A6. Yes. Outdoor program continues to be the focus of at least one required adventure at each level as well as several elective adventures. Options for day programs rather than overnight camping are now extended to all, rather than only those packs whose chartered organizations do not permit Cub Scout camping.

Q7. Do age/grade level guidelines and tenure requirements continue?

A7. Yes. Program levels correspond to school grades: Tigers for first grade, Wolves for second grade, Bears for third grade, Webelos for fourth grade, Arrow of Light for fifth grade. Tenure continues as in the recent past for Webelos (“Be an active member of your Webelos den for three months.”) and Arrow of Light (“Be active in your Webelos den for at least six months since completing the fourth grade or at least six months since becoming ten years old.”).

Q8. Have the number of adventures required for Webelos and Arrow of Light been reduced?

A8. Yes. In addition to the five Webelos required adventures and the four Arrow of Light required adventures, at least one elective adventure must be completed at each level.

Q9. Have the names of any adventures been changed?

A9: Yes. A few adventure names have changed, including “Outdoorsman” replacing “Camper” in Arrow of Light. The adventure loops have not changed.

Q10. Have any required adventures been changed to electives or vice versa?

A10: Yes. There has been one such change. At the Bear level, “Baloo the Builder” is now required, and “Grin and Bear It” has become an elective. The change was the result of survey results and feedback from den leaders.

Q11. Have changes been made to allow participation by boys from a variety of sociocultural backgrounds?

Q11. Yes. Several changes in wording reflect the varied family, economic, geographic and cultural situations of today’s youth.

Q12. Do the modifications continue to foster an effective transition into Boy Scouting?

A12. Yes. The age/grade level requirements remain the same. The Arrow of Light “Scouting Adventure” activities continue to prepare boys for the Boy Scout troop experience.

Q13. Will Scoutbook be updated to reflect these changes?

A13. Yes. Developers received the updates immediately after the Executive Committee’s decision and have begun working on the modifications. Additional staff were reassigned to make the updates as quickly as possible.

Q14. Our den meets frequently. With the changes in the requirements, our Cub Scouts will be able to earn their rank more easily. Can we complete some of the optional activities to fill our den meeting time?

A14. Please do. You may want to do the optional activities as you are completing each adventure, or you can do them later, whichever works best for your den. Also, for those packs that camp often, there is no need to reduce the number of campouts. Every Cub Scout should do his best.

See all of the modified requirements and more details at scouting.org/programupdates.

96 Comments on Answers to your questions about the Cub Scout modifications

  1. So 11 adventures to Arrow of Light instead of 14?

    What BSA is basically saying is that Webelos is no longer a legitimate 2-year program (or even 18-month) program. Even a moderately active pack can finish 11 adventures in one year, easily… especially with the new requirements that have been so watered down.

    How in the world are we going to keep Webelos engaged until age 10.5?

    And if one of the aims of Cub Scouting is preparation for Boy Scouting, how could I – in good conscience – award the Arrow of Light to a Scout who never has gone camping… which is possible under the new program? How can I look a Scoutmaster in the eye and say that Scout is “prepared” with a straight face?

    In my 17 years in the BSA, I have never been so disappointed with the national office, not have I ever felt this betrayed by those who are supposed to be stewards of the program and this organization.

    • Keep in mind, since the 2015 change, you no longer need Webelos before earning AOL. So you could be sending a Scout to the Troop who has earned Arrow of Light with only FIVE adventures now, if they didn’t join until 5th grade.

      • Absolutely true, and even worse.

        • But the new AOL was rigorous.

        • Joe Schmoe // December 5, 2016 at 2:50 pm //

          There’s no requirement for a Boy Scout to ever have been a Cub or earned an AoL, so how will him having one be a detriment to anything?

      • Keith Ciancio // December 10, 2016 at 7:09 pm // Reply

        Untrue. Read page the first paragraph of page 5 of the Webelos Handbook and the den leader guide states the same. You can also reference the second sentence, “Once a boy has completed his Webelos rank requirements or a new boy joins Cub Scouting in the fifth grade, he may work on Arrow of Light requirements.” at https://cubscouts.org/library/welcome-to-arrow-of-light-cub-scouting/. A Webelos Scout who joins in fourth grade MUST earn his Webelos badge first, then he can earn his Arrow of Light.

        I have conformation of this in an e-mail dated 8/17/2016 from Amy Hutcherson, a Cub Scouting specialist with Pilots and Program Development at National Council.

        • Nahila Nakne // January 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm //

          Actually that is not what is said in the CUB SCOUT WEBELOS HANDBOOK (caps to note title, not shouting.) on page 5. My 2015 copy says the following:

          “Boys who have completed the third grade grade work on the Webelos rank. Boys who have completed the fourth grade work on the arrow of light.”

    • But you are ,mistaken in one key point, no where is it required for a boy joining Boy Scouts to have completed anything in the Cub Scouting program. Yes Cub Scouts helps Scouts start out on a strong footing in Boy Scouts but it is not required. Cub Scouting is a separate program for younger boys who learn valuable life skills participating in Cub Scouts and become better citizens as a result.

    • While you say that a pack can finish 11 adventures in one year and how are we going to keep them engaged until age 10.5, doesn’t the program offer optional adventures besides the 11 required ones?

      If so, why not complete those, in one of two ways:

      1. Make it a fun contest to see how many of the optional ones the group can complete in whatever time remains (this would be similar to those Scouts who try to get as many merit badges as they can, even though only 21 are required to get Eagle).
      2. Introduce a little bit of the upcoming Boy Scout levels by getting the boys together and looking over all the optional choices and having THEM decide which one to work on first – this gives them a chance to see how the Boy Scout program works, where it’s what the Scouts want to do rather than the adults leading everything.

      • This would be where we as leaders make the best of this time. Put the boys to the test with practicing what they have learned and master those skills. The also can assist in the younger dens.

      • Carl Schreiber // December 19, 2016 at 4:31 am // Reply

        Agreed. They are different programs with very different focuses and populations to serve. Viewing CS as solely a feeder program for BS is unwise.

    • It depends so much on the pack. Our pack is co-meeting with another pack this year and as the [much] smaller pack, we adopted their meeting schedule/style. So my AOL den is still working on Building a Better World – which is the adventure we started at our first meeting of the year – though we have also worked on Scouting Adventure a bit. But moving from weekly den meetings (except for the week of the monthly pack meeting, of course) of 1-1.5 hours depending on need to monthly den meetings, with a snack time, and only scheduled for an hour… it’s crippling. This pack expects a LOT of advancement work to be done at home, but so much of the AOL program is really den-based that it’s hard to do it that way.

      But even last year when we had more meeting time, we didn’t finish our 7th adventure until the 2nd or 3rd week of May. For those of us who live in the northern climes, cub camping and outdoor events (other than winter things like sledding and such) need to be planned for the very beginning of the year or else they have to wait for the end of the year. So I think that giving dens the OPTION to modify the number of requirements that they do, or the number of adventures that they do, is great.

      But ultimately, the important thing to remember is that an engaging program shouldn’t be built solely around advancement, anyway. The majority of our outdoor events aren’t about advancement, they’re about having fun. They are usually pack events, and trying to make a pack event work into every level’s advancement can be tricky. Sometimes it works, and that’s great – but if it doesn’t, that’s fine too, we can still have a fun event that the boys will love.

      Many service projects, Pinewood Derby, Raingutter Regatta, Space Derby, visiting a nature center, going to an observatory, camping, a day at camp, etc. don’t always fit into advancement but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t include them in our programming.

    • Jacques Naviaux // December 4, 2016 at 1:40 pm // Reply

      Seems like you have more room to be creative with your schedule which I see as a good thing. I have plenty of boys who join my Boy Scout Troop who were never Cub Scouts. They come up to speed on camping and backpacking just as quickly as those who were Webelos. Often they are more enthusiastic because they join Scouting at an age where they have have some choice in whether to join or not. I think there was an overemphasis on learning doctrine in the new Cub Scout requirements. This program is about fun and activity with a little character building snuck in when the boys are not looking. Is there really any point in having 10 year olds memorize the 4 steps of Boy Scout advancement? Better just to live it!

    • Because I’m curious, having helped with past projects involving Den Meeting plans (for the Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide), and involving the development of these requirements (on the “411 Task Force”), and although I have no role with the National effort here (I’m just a Pack Trainer and Troop Committee Chair and assorted District and Council roles), I downloaded the June 1, 2015 Requirements and these November 30, 2016 versions to see just exactly what the changes really are … and I’ve attached a comparison at our District website, along with the beginning of commentary about the changes.

      See http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3557 for the commentary, and scroll down to find the comparison.

      My essential comment about the change in the camping requirements now is “Packs and Parents are advised to not “hit the easy button” on these new requirements and do the minimum: the main impetus for this non-camping option arises from cold weather locations where it is believed that there is not enough time at the start of the school year to get a camping activity completed before temperatures are too severe. And many in cold climes note that “we have warm clothes, don’t worry about us … we won’t freeze!””

      Further comments to come …

    • Please slow down and read the advancement requirements for Webelos/AOL and think before you implement them in your pack.

      Analyzing this from the point of view of a Bear who just started grade 4. For the most part (aside from LDS) this is logical. The problem is that the age/grade to begin Webelos/AOL/Boy Scouts is very fluid!!! No one metric reigns supreme – as opposed to earlier Cub ranks.

      Why do I say that is the issue? Last year I was a Webelos den leader with 6 boys starting 4th grade. Last year, boys had to move Boy Scouts on their 11th birthday. I had one that would turn 11 in July and another that would turn 10 in July. Folks familiar with college athletics know the term ‘red-shirted’. “Red-shirted” gives a player/student an extra year of eligibility in college. It also applies to kids whose birthdays are very close to the cutoff of registering for kindergarten.

      The oldest Webelos in my den was “red-shirted” as a kindergartener and the rest of my den (save one) would be 11 by Dec. 1st. What do you do?! You economize meetings and outings and GitRDone! We did it in the 13 months for the oldest. Crossover was held at 15 months to accommodate school.

      Webelos/AOL adventures can be worked upon at the same time. On the shores of Lake Erie we did Camper and Castaway in early Sept.

      The one thing that hasn’t made the blog rounds is that BSA has changed age requirements to join Boy Scouts or complete AOL. A boy can join a troop if he is 10 and has earned his AOL. A boy can earn his AOL if he is 11.5. If you don’t believe me, just look at the most current youth application form.

      Had a 5th grade boy’s family attend our Pack open house in Sept. The boy is friends with my son and in his class. My son just crossed over to a troop. The boy doesn’t turn 11 till March. What do you do?!

      I counselled Dad about having him join the AOL den. His son would be better prepared to join my son’s troop next year. 3 months into this solution – everyone is happy. Sidenote – in 5th grade at their school the boys are starting to explore online gaming (minecraft, splattoon, et al). My son asked me the other day for permission to do this kind of activity with his friend (the boy still in Webelos). Wife and I debated and found a good solution. Both boys must complete Cyber-chip to earn the ability to play online together. Scouting rocks!

  2. I have not been involved with Scouts long enough to feel “betrayed” but I do wonder what BSA has against camping. If a boy doesn’t want to go camping, don’t join Scouting.

    • Answering the question “What is camping?” is quite different depending on your location. Is it in a museum, or only outdoors. Should you have to hike to the campsite, or is rolling up in your toy hauler ok? Can we camp in a small backyard, or must it be in a forest or national park? Is a KOA really acceptable?

      I think most scouts would like to camp more, but few are trust fund babies. Last year, the only pack campout we were able to pull off was in the court yard of a church where one of our den leaders is the pastor. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.

      The changes are about increasing the availability of Scouting to more youth. Inner city kids (who quite honestly may need Scouting more than anyone) may have very few affordable opportunities to camp outdoors. My unit struggles with adult leaders who can participate (lots of single parents, or elderly grandparents raising the kids). One rural unit in my council couldn’t afford to attend a council event literally in their backyard until a local brothel owner offered to buy several grand in popcorn this year.

      Last year, I attended some training at Philmont, and I was very surprised at the diversity of how units function. While there are core values in Scouting, it’s definitely not a one size fits all program.

      • Toni mom of boys // December 4, 2016 at 12:47 pm // Reply

        Being a single mom of 2 scouts one now First class and one Bear… I can tell you that it isn’t always possible to camp with my Cub Scout. They each started as Tigers and my Boy Scout never camped as a Cub Scout.

        I want my children in scouts as I believe it is a worthwhile program but I gotta tell you… I detest camping, although I have done it as I would do anything for my boys and I believe in being involved. I have even been a den leader and am not a merit badge counselor. However, being a single mom… it would have been really tough if this was in place when my older scout was a cub.

        • But you did it. That’s the significance of Cub Scouting, it builds strong families. We don’t go the easy path. It why parents want their boys in Scouting. If it isn’t a challenge nobody grows.

    • No outing is a bad outing or campout a bad campout, if you come prepared. Camping is part of the game it is usually the parent that don’t want to do it. Good leaders and planning make the experience great.

  3. Braden G Sprecher-Reinke // December 3, 2016 at 4:23 pm // Reply

    +1 stlmetsfan5. Since I found out about this whole change on Thursday, as a Webelos Den Leader I have been trying to understand if the total adventure count required for the Webelos program was actually decreasing or whether it was a typo/oversight. I’m incredibly disheartened to see that it was in fact correct. I think my Bears last year did more work than they will required to do this year as Webelos. We completed 8 adventures as a group last year and many boys completed 1 or even 2 more on their own. That was Sept – May. I can easily see being done with the AOL program before we’ve even hit the 6 month tenure mark.

    I liked the fact that as the boys increased in age they did the same number of adventures but had more control over what they did…fewer required, more by choice from the elective column. This to me was a good step towards boy scouts where their internal motivation will be a driving factor in what merit badges they pursue. I actually told my boys this year that I would pick on elective we’d do as a den and they had to pick one to do on their own based on their own interests. I guess they’ll finish their AOL elective this year.

    I think this change, as stated above, does a disservice to our attempts to prepare the boys to not only transition to boy scouts successfully but also for them to remain in scouting. If one of the issues the 2015 revisions were trying to address was address was retention issues stemming from the culture shock boys were experiencing going from cub to boy scouts, these changes reversed a number of the positive gains those revisions made.

    Braden

    • One of the changes with the new program is that the AOL is a completely separate program year, even though it shares a book. Saying that your Webelos will finish their AOL electives this year is almost like saying that the Tigers will finish their Wolf electives this year. Yes, it would be an elective or of their current book, but per advancement guidelines, if it is completed before June 1 of their AOL year, then it is an extra elective completed in their Webelos program, not their AOL elective.

      • Braden Sprecher-Reinke // December 4, 2016 at 8:13 pm // Reply

        I’m not sure this is the case. I have seen elsewhere that Webelos is an 18 month program split into two school years. Additionnaly, as a Webelos den leader, I have access to the AOL advancement tab in Scoutbook now. Taken together and given that the electives all come from the same source book, I think an elective completed in 4th grade could be recorded for AOL.

        If there is something from BSA in print that explicitly contadicts this approach, please link as I would sincerely like to read it.

        Braden

      • I have
        Been a scout leader for 5 years now. The biggest problem I have seen is adult leadership. Not to crack on anyone as we are all volunteers and dedicated to the boys we lead, but Alot of leaders are missing some key leader skills. Planning and organization , a few scout skills and the ability to utilize parents for assistance.
        The change last year for cubs was to prepare them for boy scouts. A couple of years ago we sent 6 cubs to a good scout troop. Only 2 remain. This was due to culture shock, after all you move an elementary student to high school and expect him to perform with the big boys he is going to get lost .
        We started going to the troops meetings and a few campouts to integrate the boys. My older son’s group bridged 5 scouts in April and all 5 are still active in the troop. My youngest son ,now a webelos 2, has completed 97% of the arrow of light requirements and my webelos den is in the 70% range for earning the arrow of light. I think taking requirements away is not the answer, trying to complete both Webelos and arrow of light in the same year will make things worse. In my opinion, a two year program is a better option for the webelos. Now the boys will be less knowledgeable, less mature and less experienced as they enter boyscouts.
        Webelos leaders 1&2 need think out their training year planned out in advance and utilize the parents more. Working with a couple of boyscout troops will be benifcial for both cubs and troops. The arrow of Light is sapposed to be a prestigious award. One not easily attained but respectively earned. Making it easier to earn takes that prestige away. It’s not hard to earn following the guidelines of the leader book and taking advantage of every meeting, especially campouts. Just takes for site and planning.

      • Nahila Nakne // December 5, 2016 at 9:19 am // Reply

        @Meganne,

        Could you please cite the reference that you cannot do Webelos and AOL ranks at the same time. This would cause serious problems for those LDS units that continue to do the pre 1989 version of the Cub Scout program, i.e. Wolves are 8 years old, Bears 9 years old, and Webelos are 10 years old.

        • Unfortunatly there is no “Source” I had to dig into the issue at Roundtables and and every online source I could get to this was however the consensus that the AoL and Weblos Tenure was a total of 9 Months and could NOT be served Concurrently
          Like I said in a later post on this topic … I can seethe LDS Units being responsible for a LARGE amount of push when it comes to the Weblos / AoL Changes

    • Perhaps the same suggestion as I gave above would work for your group also? That is, go ahead and do what they require first so that everyone gets the Arrow of Light, but then continue using the elective options, giving the boys the choice of what to do when (as you mentioned doing already) – that way it gives them even more of the experience of what they’ll be seeing in the future in Boy Scouts.

    • “I think my Bears last year did more work than they will required to do this year as Webelos”

      Then do more. It’s a poor Scouting program that only does exactly what’s required and never does anything else.

      Additionally, there’s the NOVA awards: https://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/NOVA_Awards the Shooting Sports program: http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Cub_Scout_Shooting_Sports the Conservation Good Turn Award, the Emergency Preparedness Award, the Hornaday Unit Award, the World Conservation Award, the BSA Family Award, the International Spirit Award, not to mention courts of honor and the blue and gold banquet and the pine wood derby, and the list goes on.

      For instance, if you’d ever looked at the Age Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/Age-AppropriateGuidelines.aspx (look at the PDF linked on that page), you’d see that Cub Scouts can visit age-appropriate man-made climbing facilities. So find a level 2 Cope Instructor who knows where to go, or go visit a rock-climbing gym, like the YMCA or something. Not all activities have to be tailored to particular requirements.

      For instance, Cub Scouts can go horseback riding. Or go visit a petting zoo. Or if you can’t go camping then have a “camping in” activity where you put up some Coleman stoves to cook, and pretend to have a campout, but then everyone goes home to sleep. Or a shakedown for an actual camping event. Whatever.

      Or, heck, pull up a wolf/bear activity that you never got around to because bears was apparently so full, and do it as a webelos. The scouts don’t need to know that you were using a previous adventure as a guide and they’ll have fun anyway.

      There’s a lot of stuff for Cub Scouts to do. Heck, if you want more ideas, you can still go do any of the old Cub Scout activities or old belt loop activities. You may not get a reward/patch for it, but I’m sure you’ll all still have fun with it.

      • I love Bart’s response here! People need to realize that making the program more flexible doesn’t equate to a duller program. Packs and Dens have a lot more flexibility to fill their year with programs and activities meaningful to them now. I am a Nova mentor for our Pack and I am thrilled about the possibility that more boys in our Pack will now have time to pursue the STEM electives. This is a big deal and should be seen as a big win all around.

        • Braden Sprecher-Reinke // December 5, 2016 at 3:48 pm //

          Bart/John,
          I appreciate the feedback and all of those are good ideas. I do want to make clear that by no means was I suggesting that a Den/Pack should just stop coming up with program ideas once the rank requirements are completed. We did a number of non-required electives last year after my boys had finished up their Bear rank and I fully planned on doing 2 or 3 electives this year that would either count towards AOL (once all Webelos req’ts were met) or just be fun to do.

          That being said, my concern was that the minimum amount of work required to earn the Bear/Webelos/AOL rank was at most staying constant and at worst decreasing as the boys get older with the total adventures required going from 7 to 6 to 5 per year respectively. I know some adventures can be more involved at the higher ranks (thus the comment that the work load may be staying flat from one year to the next) but if the boys are getting older and more responsible, we should require more of them to advance.

          Adding flexibility to allow leaders to deal with a given requirement is not a bad thing. That said I see too many of these changes where instead of flexibility being added so that the spirit of the requirement can be met where the letter cannot (for whatever reason), the need to complete that requirement was removed all together. That’s the source of much of my disappointment in these revisions.

  4. I love camping but to say that you shouldn’t join scouts of you don’t want to go camping isn’t the attitude I think we should have as leaders. As much as camping is a part of Scouts, is not the entire program.

  5. Interesting…what survey? I an a Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner and I nor anyone in my Council have seen or heard of any such survey.

  6. Regarding Webelos. I have a Webelo who is already 10 but in 4th grade. Small Den. He is nearly finished with all the Webelo requirements and several of the AOL requirements. Is it possible for him to advance to Arrow of Light and complete AOL and move on to Boy Scouts by Summer Camp time? Or is he required to stay as a Webelo I through fourth grade and do AOL starting in fifth grade?

    • I have the same question. Especially when requirements for both can be achieved in 1 program year with a scout that never misses meetings or outings.

      • I think a Scout can learn alot in throughout the year and complete the requirements. My issue is he learned to tie a bowline loop but can he the know it well enough to tie it when the need really comes up. Practice through out the 2 years during meetings, outings and campouts is more benifcial. Plus the maturity level from grade to grade is huge.

    • AOL requires you to be active in your Webelos den for at least 6 months since completing the fourth grade (or for at least six months since becoming 10 years old). Use that official requirement as your guideline.

  7. Until they make going fishing a mandatory requirement for “A Bear Goes Fishing,” it will be hard to take this seriously.

  8. Would I be possible for everyone to see the report on the “extensive feedback?” To my knowledge all research that BSA does is not to be secret, correct?

  9. I never received a survey on this either. To my experience, if a boy doesn’t advance, then there has been little to no parental involvement.

    • I wonder if it wasn’t a true survey, but the results coming in during the current re-charter season and the latest JTE scorecards.

  10. Heather Blankinship // December 3, 2016 at 6:49 pm // Reply

    If you want your AOL scouts to be successful and increase the chances of retention after cross over, you’re going to have to make a conscious decision that Boy Scout Transition will be your priority as a Den Leader and within your unit. If you are fortunate enough to have a Troop you can partner with to help you, all the better. We have put a tremendous amount of emphasis on this even organizing other activities that are extra opportunities for the AOL scouts to have face time with youth and adult leaders in our Troop. Many of them have verbalized that they are ready to be done with Cub Scouts and can’t wait to join our Troop. It is exciting to see AOL scouts with that level of confidence. It is possible to achieve this even with the challenges described. However, it does require help and experience from leaders that have previously gone through that transition with Scouts. Otherwise, you’ll be flying blind if you just follow the AOL program requirements.

  11. I understand people are frustrated, but there is nothing to prevent dens from completing more adventures than the minimum. I think thee adjustments were made to allow kids to participate in more than just scouting (kids come and go during sports seasons when there is a conflict in meeting nights).

  12. Is there any talk about bringing back the SuperAchiever patch for Webelos? My oldest son’s den did this to keep up interest. This could be a nice option for groups that finish the new requirements quickly. The plus is that the boys learn more!

  13. Raymond Hoskinson // December 3, 2016 at 7:09 pm // Reply

    I don’t see the problem. My Webelos will finish in January and then continue with electives. My AOL patrol are finishing up next week and only need to finish up two electives to complete them all. I thought the program was well thought out and easy to present. The boys have learned a lot and really enjoyed the work.

  14. Poor timing for these changes to be rolled out. It is very difficult to switch hit mid scout year. Most units run on a school year calendar. Nationally, all children are mid year right now, which means requirements that may not have needed to be done per these changes, may have unneccesarily been done. If we are thinking about leaders, lets look at the whole picture.

    • This is my biggest complaint too. Especially as a Bear den leader where they just “un-required” the Grin and Bear It loop. We were one week into that loop preparing for a Winter Carnival. If it was elective from the beginning, we would have adjusted it to an end-of-year carnival and finished the required stuff first. Now we have that obligation as an elective AND have to squeeze in Baloo the Builder.

      Switching gears, even a little in the middle of a year, is a bad idea. This should have been saved for the next year but rolled out now so people could start thinking ahead.

      • On “Now we have that obligation as an elective AND have to squeeze in Baloo the Builder” === > Actually, you can continue this year to finish out Grin and Bear It as the required adventure. And you should.

        And you don’t have to do Baloo the Builder at all.

        Note in the answer to Q2 above, it says you can “use the modifications for some or all of its adventures”.

        So just because you keep Grin and Bear It as the required adventure doesn’t mean you can’t use the new modified requirements for the rest you have to finish.

        Hope this helps.

        • From everything I have read we have done Grin and Bear it and it counts. My den is on track for Bear by February and will not be adding Baloo the Buider at this time to ear Bear. They will do as an elective in the spring.

  15. I like some of the changes & other I don’t like. Happy to see Religious Awards option included for Tigers & Wolfs, but they should have kept the wording as: Option 1 – to earn the Religious Award for your faith or Option 2 – 2a – discuss with your parent…. & either 2b or 2c, etc. However, if the boy does the work to earn the religious award, he will do #1 (discuss with your parent..) and at least 2 others in the process, so it will work out.

    We had already decided to do Pack Family Camp as a one night experience, with plenty of day activities & a campfire program. Overnight was optional, but strongly encouraged for Bears & Webelos. The purpose was to teach them outdoor skills & have fun – so they will want to camp as Boy Scouts. Each level continues to focus on the Outdoor Code & Leave No Trace.

    Happy about changing the Bear required adventure to Baloo the Builder. We had fun with Grin & Bear It – but it was very difficult to make up for any boy who was unable to attend the Carnival.

    Mixed feelings about Webelos/Arrow changes. Outdoorsman is more like the old activity pin than Camper. Wish they had kept Geocaching as one of the optional activities. Option B loses a lot. Reciting the Outdoor Code & Leave No Trace for kids from memory requirements are in Webelos Walkabout & Outdoorsman. They may have reduced the number of electives too much, but boys who earn Webelos rank in 4th grade will be able to earn their Arrow of Light at the Blue & Gold Banquet in 5th grade and join the Troop in time to register for summer camp. Boys who join in 5th grade will still need at least one more month active in their den before they are eligible.

    I would rather have seen Webelos/Arrow of Light change to:
    Webelos – complete any 3 from the following: Cast Iron Chef, First Responder, Stronger Faster Higher, Outdoorsman & Building a Better World, plus Webelos Walkabout, Duty to God & 1 Elective;
    Arrow – any 2 not already completed from Cast Iron Chef, First Responder, Stronger Faster Higher, Outdoorsman & Building a Better World, plus Scouting Adventure, Duty to God & 2 electives. We a very small combined level den (4th & 5th grade) – trying to work on both levels AND have the Webelos advance in June was impossible. None of them joined the Troop or came back in the Fall.

    I like the flexibility & choices (such as do requirements 1-4 & one from 5-7). With so many (do all of these), it was difficult to get the required Adventures & one elective done – there was no time or incentive to work on additional electives. I think the end result will be more boys advancing and more boys earning a lot more electives..

  16. From the Guide to Safe Scouting: “All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.”

    BSA should share the detailed results of the survey, including questions asked, how many people were asked, where those people were located, and the responses.

  17. Funny how they say that the survey found that the adventures as they are written made it difficult or impossible to complete the ranks. All of the boys in our pack (those that stayed the entire year) all received their Rank Badges (we average 40-50 boys), in fact I was just at our crossover today where 6 boys earned their AOL and none of them had a problem getting the Adventures completed.

    I have one boy in Boy Scouts and one Webelos Scout. After seeing what my older boy had to do as a Boy Scout, I was more impressed with how the Webelos/AOL Adventures were written. My older son was not prepared under the old program for Boy Scouts.

    I don’t like that the service project was taken out of Webelos Walkabout and from what I can see there are no other requirements for the scouts to do service projects. This is very sad, every rank should have some service project that should be completed. As a Boy Scout each rank has a certain number of hours and increases as they rank up. We should be highly encouraging the boys to get out and serve their communities and a great way for them to learn is by making it a requirement.

    This to me just seems to be a way to let scouts complete the ranks and not really have to do as much work. NObody ever said Scouts would be easy and no work.

    • The service project having to be completed as part of the hike is what caused me an issue. My unit does multiple service projects throughout the year. Finding a service project to do at or near the hiking site can be a problem.

  18. Referring to Q1: what was the % of Cubs earning their rank in the old program?

  19. While I’m happy that many of the adventures have made some of the requirements optional, and they’ve also made them much easier for families to do without the Den or Pack for makeup work, I’m very disappointed to find out that the number of total adventures for Webelos and AOL has decreased. I’ve been presenting these years to my Scouts as an introduction to Boy Scouts, where they’ll be more responsible for their own progress. Having the same number of adventures as the other levels, but more choice in which adventures to complete is a great transition. Taking that away I feel sends the wrong message.

    But the number one question I’ve had still wasn’t answered. I understand that we can use the addendums with the current handbooks, but will there be a new printing of handbooks for next year? How long will we have to tell people that the handbooks aren’t accurate to the program requirements?

    Also, like others, I’d love to see what surveys were sent out to determine that dens were unable to make rank each year. Every Den in our entire district that I know of didn’t have trouble with the old requirements last year. And this year, with a bit more familiarity with the new program it’s been even easier from what I’ve seen.

  20. The AOL Award has been completely devalued. There should be a new Rank involved with completing only the fifth grade year requirements, and AOL made to be a separate, more involved, harder to attain award. Awarded to those who do have significant tenure, have been camping, can display rope and other outdoor skills, are intending to Bridge to a Troop, etc. Use the Troop Scout Rank as a mirror.
    Cub Scouting has far more value for young boys than learning, or enduring the process of,camping. Remember the Core Values. If needed to encourage Scouts to continue, make that Rank achievable, so they remain active and can be taught to live by the Scout Law.
    Troop bridging is more than just the next level of Cubs, and should be prepared for differently.
    AOL should continue to be an AWARD and not a RANK.

  21. Let’s be honest and call the new Cub Scout program what it is … “girl scouts.”

    • This comment is, at the VERY LEAST, obnoxious. Are you in the 4th grade? If you are a leader, I hope someone is teaching the boys more respect than you are showing here.

  22. :In the changes to Bear Neccessities, if they don’t have to go camping, then why are they required to help set up a tent? I would suggest leaving that one out, and putting learning to tie two half hitches back in.

  23. Why does it take a survey to know how many boys have completed advancement? Don’t we fill out advancement reports for a reason? BSA should have all this data at its fingertips.

    I’m sorry, but I find it difficult to believe that nearly 2/3 of boys that are in 8-boy dens failed to advance last year. If your pack has an 8-boy den and maintains it all year, that means your pack has a pretty active program… otherwise, you wouldn’t maintain 8-boy dens for long. If you have an active program good enough to maintain an 8-boy den, advancement should have been no problem.

    Something isn’t adding up to me.

    • “Why does it take a survey to know how many boys have completed advancement? Don’t we fill out advancement reports for a reason? BSA should have all this data at its fingertips.”

      Previously, beads were given out for these things. Now they’re belt loops. National is probably looking at how many beads were sold (X) and how many belt loops have been sold (Y) and saying, “Holy cow, X is a lot bigger than Y, tons of people aren’t buying anything, they must not be earning the new rewards at all, we should make it easier to earn Y” and ignoring the fact that, proportionally, the belt loops cost like 300 times more than the beads did.

      • … which is why I feel like this is more of a “revenue issue” than anything else.

      • Not to mention that active scouts (ones from Tigers) will need suspenders just to hold their belts up now. I see another marketed uniform part!

    • StLMetsFan5: On your note that you “find it difficult to believe that nearly 2/3 of boys that are in 8-boy dens failed to advance last year”, your skepticism turns out to be dead on right.

      I have asked about that, and the response from the BSA is that 36% is just a snapshot of “dens of 8” that had “all 8 advance”. That ignored all of the “dens of 8” that had 7 advance. Or 6, 5, 4 etc. It ignores dens of different sizes, and when you include all of the Scouts in the dens in the survey, the completion rate is actually an 80% advancement rate overall. Not 36%.

      Hmmm. Something isn’t adding up.

      And in terms of difficulty and satisfaction, the survey shows that 94% of Den Leaders were somewhat or very satisfied, versus 6% not very or not at all satisfied.

      This is in line with Voice of the Scout survey results from Spring of 2016 shows that Net Promoter Scores were Increasing: Cub Scouts were at 37.3%, or up 4.1 points from Spring of 2015; Cub Scout Parents were at 43.4% or up 1.8 points from Spring of 2015. In most worlds, that would indicate that more people like the program.

  24. If you are feeling betrayed you should reflect on the scout oath and law. Also get a little more creative and not make your meetings all about advancements.

    • I agree that “betrayal” is probably a strong feeling for this, but you have to be realistic as well. They say each loop should take 3 meetings. For 7 loops to achieve rank, that’s 21 meetings. Typically B&G is in late-February and most Packs start with school in late-August. This year, there are 26 Mondays between the end of August and our B&G, but then take out holidays and the potential for snow days and it just fits.

      To work in some breathing room, we try to count as much as possible including activities done over the summer with families, things done at school, sports programs, and we ask that Duty to God be done at home. Still, unless everyone shows up to every meeting, you start playing catch-up after your first meeting. If you are trying to keep the kids CHEERFUL, then working towards a goal that is achievable is an important task. Making it harder for the kids makes it stressful for the leaders, which causes a loss of engagement for everyone.

      Changing gears in the middle, short of just dropping some requirements, makes it harder for people that plan their scout year out in advance. With the Bears, they ADDED a required loop and removed one of the other required loops, however the one the moved was one many Packs either already completed or are in the middle of doing (Grin and Bear It – the carnival one). I don’t feel betrayed; I feel disappointed and frustrated.

      • Nahila Nakne // December 7, 2016 at 8:33 am // Reply

        You do realize that advancement does not have to be earned by Blue and Gold? Blue and Gold is meant to be a party celebrating Scouting’s birthday.

        It’s only been recently, circa 1990s, when the Cub Scout program was expanded from 3 years to 4, and Webelos being an 18-24 month program, that Blue and Gold became a target, specifically for the Webelos IIs and AOL, so that they could Cross Over in time for them, and IMHO their parents, to get comfortable with a troop and get them to summer camp.

        Somehow the entire idea expanded to all ranks, and I see way too many packs focused on earning rank by BnG, and not on having FUN.

      • And as noted above, you can continue this year to finish out Grin and Bear It as the required adventure. And you should.

        And you don’t have to do Baloo the Builder at all.

        Note in the answer to Q2 above, it says you can “use the modifications for some or all of its adventures”.

        So just because you keep Grin and Bear It as the required adventure doesn’t mean you can’t use the new modified requirements for the rest you have to finish.

        Hope this helps.

  25. Personally I like the changes for the Webelos/AOL programs for the most part. I would have kept the safe food handeling requirement in Cast Iron Chef because that is important for everyone to know. I am so, so, so glad they did away with the food tracking requirement though! So many of my boys had a hard time getting that one done since the average Webelos grazes all day long anyway. I like that there are more optional choices instead of so many required per adventure. I don’t think we’re done here with amendments, as with every new system there’s going to be glitches to work out. I wish I was on the committee to figure this stuff out! BSA give me a call! I’d love to help!

  26. It’s interesting… Our pack has had no trouble completing all 14 adventures for the Webelos/Arrow of Light tracks within a 12 month period. We found that with adequate planning and plenty of group involvement in Day Camp, it is easy enough to do so. I think that maybe one of the downfalls of cubs is a lack of examples on properly scheduled programs. These would help some folks quite a bit.

    • Hayley Gunther // December 6, 2016 at 11:21 am // Reply

      As a Day camp director it was not our goal to complete adventures. We strive to make sure every boy who attends day camp has fun, and opportunities that might not be possible for a den or a pack to arrange. So assuming that day camp will help your scout achieve his next rank by completing adventures is a big assumption. In our area most packs shut down for the summer.
      I will also say that the units who had a large numbers attending day camp also seemed to have the most adults volunteer for day camp, which seems to equal a well thought out program, and well supported program.

      • Hayley – Is there no guidance from BSA or your Area Council for setting up and running a day camp? I’m asking not to call you out but because I don’t know. If there is none, then BSA is doing you a disservice. There should be some sort of program guidance for day camps so they not only work towards meeting the Oath and Law, but also the potential advancement opportunities as well as having fun. I know in our area (Baltimore Area Council), the different districts all have a common theme but work independently and rely on the volunteers to coordinate the daily activities.

        As you said, groups with more kids provide more volunteers and their involvement typically sets up the day camp to cover activities (my wife volunteers and does this). Two years ago she worked with Bears and completed Forensics at Day Camp. Last year she did Bears again and they completed Bear Claws. A few of our scouts attend camp in other Districts and they didn’t do anything coordinated towards the adventures at all. At the Council level there should be some sort of framework provided to the volunteers that shows them the various requirements for their den levels and has some ideas on how to complete things

        • Nahila Nakne // December 7, 2016 at 8:40 am //

          To run a day camp, the Camp Director and Program Director (CD and PD) must attend National Camping School. When I went through NCS under the old CS program, the emphasis was on fun and NOT advancement.

          However a good camp can incorporate advancement while having fun. Especially since that is what the Scouts, especially Webelos, want. We were fortunate to have enough staff and opportunities to have them work on some advancement, usually the outdoor, harder to get stuff since we were at the local Scout camp.

          Now our Webelos program was interesting. We could not do a separate Webelos Day Camp as some places do. We also took surveys of what the Webelos wanted out of camp and implemented it. That program was very advancement oriented.

          But I had some “resistance” to incorporating more advancement into the program.

  27. Kris Rollins // December 5, 2016 at 11:04 am // Reply

    People are missing the ” A den may choose to continue with the previous adventure requirements or to use the modifications for some or all of its adventures.” Do what works for YOUR den. I don’t have a problem coming up with ideas for my Webelos to do to keep them engaged and involved. Make your own award for boys going above and beyond what is required. My oldest earned “Super 20” in the old program. You don’t have to wait for National to come up with something.
    I always get my Webelos ready for Boy Scouts by showing them the Merit Badge worksheets that they will be working on when they are in Boy Scouts. Prepare them by having them lead a den meeting(since Boy Scouts is boy-led).

    TL;DR Do what works for your boys. Nothing says you have to change your program.

    • Nahila Nakne // December 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm // Reply

      “Super 20,” “Super Achiever,” etc were never national awards, instead units came up with them, and created custom patches for them. National in turn saw a demand and made a patch, but nothing official.

  28. Heather Fulton // December 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    “A boy who is in the fourth or fifth grade is a Webelos Scout, and his adventures are found in the Webelos Handbook. Once a boy has completed his Webelos rank requirements or a new boy joins Cub Scouting in the fifth grade, he may work on Arrow of Light requirements Like all other new Cub Scouts, a Arrow of Life Scout must first earn his Bobcat rank. After completing the requirements for Bobcat he may go on to complete the requirements for the Arrow of Light rank and the many electives that are offered for his rank.

    All Cub Scouts, except for those boys who join Cub Scouting for the first time in fifth grade, must earn their Webelos rank prior to earning Arrow of Light. The requirements for Webelos and Arrow of Light may be worked on at the same time but the tenure requirements for each must be met and the awards must be earned and presented sequentially.”
    https://cubscouts.org/library/welcome-to-arrow-of-light-cub-scouting/

    • Nahila Nakne // December 6, 2016 at 7:47 am // Reply

      I have an issue with the quote as it is NOT (emphasis) in the Webelos Handbook, but in a document most parents, and leaders too, may not even know exist. That’s the first time I’ve seen the statement, and I am the CS RT commissioner who broke out the program to the packs in 2015.

      Someone can argue that the quote is “adding to the requirements” since it is not in the official handbook requirements. Just saying.

  29. “..the requirements for Webelos and Arrow of Light may be worked on at the same time but the tenure requirements for each must be met and the awards must be earned and presented sequentially.” – The 2015 Webelos/Arrow of Light was very problematic for small Webelos dens. We did not have enough boys for a separate Arrow of Light den. We tried alternating Webelos and Arrow Adventures, but then the Webelos would not complete their rank until fall of 5th grade, but would be ready for Arrow of Light by Spring.

    We have reworked the plan with the new requirements (thanks to the poster who suggested this), pairing up electives with core requirements: Webelos Walkabout with Outdoorsman; Looking Back/Looking Forward with Building a Better World; Duty to God; First Responder with Build my Hero – then The Arrow of Light candidates will work on Scouting Adventure with the Troop & bridge, while the rest of the Webelos continue with Stronger, Faster, Higher & Cast Iron Chef. This “builds in” two electives, but the boys are certainly encouraged to work on electives that meet their interests.

  30. Hayley Gunther // December 6, 2016 at 11:03 am // Reply

    The new program is too easy, the old program is too hard…
    I think the program is what you make of it. We struggled to fit the Camper into our fall program in order to have our AOL scouts eligible for the rank by the Blue and Gold in February. We lucked out with a gorgeous warm weekend at the end of October.

    As the den leader I was floored to find I have to teach the concept Rule of Law to fifth graders! I did it, but I think what they really learned had more to do with our form of government and the three branches than what rule of law is, since I did not even attempt to explain Parliament and the British rule of law….

  31. Unless you have a year-round program I can’t see any way that an AoL den could be nearing completion of all rank requirements this early in the year (Dec.) if any time was spent on the activities unless most work was done at home. We’ve been out for a geology hike with an expert, spent two meetings to learn about and then go geocaching, and many other in-depth activities with the goal of spending most meeting time “out doing” rather than sitting in our meeting space . Build A Better World was seemingly endless with the old requirements, but the den enjoyed our budgeting game even though just that activity took half a meeting.

    Our pack (40+ scouts) has no interest in becoming a year-round program. I would much rather spend more time on fewer activities as we can do with the new program. I find that the boys are enjoying this much more than just moving through the minimum to hit requirements. The new program is only a step back if you want it to be. To me it lets us do more because we don’t have to rush.

    • Nahila Nakne // December 7, 2016 at 8:46 am // Reply

      It’s doable without a year round program, but does entail heavy planning.The planning meetings my pack did were extremely long the first year.

      With a moderate summer program it does get a little easier. CSDC can also help too.

  32. Bear Den Leader // December 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm // Reply

    Happy with the changes. Requiring an overnight was a challenge for several in my den for various reasons – and yes – some parents do not want to go camping – but instead of denying these families participating in cub scouts – I like the amendments allowing flexibility. Our pack has always included camping even when it was not required and we will continue to do so.

    I do hope the scoutbook is updated in a timely manner – as many of our parents rely on scoutbook to view requirements and mark off homework assignments.

  33. Bear Den Leader // December 6, 2016 at 12:56 pm // Reply

    My only disappointment is that the changes since 2015 have removed a lot of sports and physical activity and replaced them which much more academic requirements. I personally felt that the sports oriented awards offered a nice balance for kids who may struggle academically, and for boys with limited attention spans.

    • I wish they hadn’t removed the Sports and Academic belt loops for this reason too. It kept the kids engaged outside of meetings since those were all things they would do as extracurriculars.

  34. Christopher Schuster // December 6, 2016 at 5:08 pm // Reply

    How do these changes affect other awards such as the Webelos/AOL World Conservation Award?

  35. Just curios (and perhaps I missed it in another comment) but seeing as Scoutbook will be updated to reflect the new modifications, what about the PackMaster program?

  36. Will Scoutbook online be updated for these new modifications?

    • Bryan Wendell // December 8, 2016 at 7:39 am // Reply

      Please see question 13.

  37. John Barsnica // December 9, 2016 at 7:35 pm // Reply

    With all the changes being made I would like to sugust one more. In the Build It elective in the Old # 5 and the New #4 the wording of “visit a construction site” should be eliminated. If you find a builder nice enough to let a child on a construction site without proper protective gear that opens him and the BSA up for liability if the Scout gets hurt. Example: steps on a nail or any hazard on a construction site. Let’s keep the Scout safe and the contractor out of litigation and possibly losing his insurance coverage. Maybe we could put in something like visit a big box store and look at building material and explain how to pick out material for different kinds of jobs.

  38. Keith Ciancio // December 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm // Reply

    What is the effective date of the changes? Is it 11/30/2016 when they were released, exactly half way through the 2016-2017 program year, or are the changes back dated to 6/1/2016, the first day of the 2016-2017 program year? I don’t recall reading that in the Cub Scout Advancement Modifications at http://www.scouting.org/filestore/cubscouts/pdf/CubScout_Advancement_Modifications.pdf, or on the Program Updates – 2015 and Beyond webpage at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/programupdates.aspx.

    This is important because all Cub Scouts in 4th and 5th grade should be on a level playing field, especially when some already earned Camper and others will now have options in earning Outdoorsman, Some Bears have already completed Grin and Bear It, and some Webelos have already earned their Webelos badge using two electives when one would have been counted toward Arrow of Light if the modifications had been released earlier.

    Can we get an official policy statement on the effective date from National Council?

    • Did you get an answer?

  39. Personally I think the Weblos requirements were fine as they were
    UNLESS – you were a member of an LDS Unit who runs the Weblos program in a year
    for them I think the change is almost Needed
    I am an Assistant Cubmaster and former Weblos Leader of a Tri-ward Pack and have (since the changes) only seen 4 Legitimate Arrows – and those 4 kids worked their Butts off to get stuff done (we had Illigitimate ones due to the Program change that completed in June 2016)
    I think Particularly when it comes to the Weblos / AoL Req’s .. the biggest push came from the LDS Units

  40. Not really sure what the preceding message means but I’ve been a den leader for two flights of scouts from Tiger to AOL, Committee Chair, and involved with dens, packs and troops in other states as well as plenty of other youth organizations. Everyone does things differently based on climate, community, resources, leader strengths/weaknesses, etc. Let’s not worry so much about 3a or 7b being left out or made optional or getting all high and mighty because we were able to finish 12 requirements and someone else struggled with 7. The goal is to get boys, families and leaders in scouts and keep them there because our country is better when we raise and mentor citizens who have been involved in scouts to the best of their and our ability.

  41. Has it been confirmed for certain that Webelos and AOL only require one elective each now? I realize the answer is I the FAQ but recently the author of Scout Trax and it seems Scoutbook both kept the old 2 and 3 elective requirements. When I questioned it, I was told they felt it was a clerical error and that the number of electives had not changed.

    Also, for the other awards, such as the Outdoor Activity Award, what is the time frame to accomplish this? I assume there is a fiscal year for each years award. We had some activities this past summer, but I’m guessing those don’t count for this year. Also, they changed the requirements to now require attendance at a day camp or resident camp. I assume for this year you can still use the old requirements?

  42. Just wondering if there is a condensed version of the changes to give out to the parents.

  43. My AOL candidates are crossing over next month. One joined in Sept and is now asking if he only needs to complete 1 elective instead of 3. Is one elective acceptable due to the modifications, immediately?

    • Yes. One is fine now. Cross ’em over to Boy Scouts …

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