Webelos to Arrow of Light transition gets a second option

The exciting changes to Cub Scouting are still a year away, but there’s good news for leaders of Cub Scouts, especially second-year Webelos, to ease the transition process.

Cub Scouts who have earned the Webelos rank as of June 1, 2015, and are moving on to earning the Arrow of Light will now have two options for completing the Arrow of Light:

Option 1: He may continue to work out of the current handbook and complete the Arrow of Light requirements as stated.

Option 2: He may begin using the new Webelos Handbook and the Webelos Den Leader Guide for the Webelos adventures. If he chooses this option:

  • He must complete the four defined required adventures.
  • To satisfy the requirement for three electives, he may use EITHER the new adventure electives OR activity badges earned under the current program but not used to fulfill Webelos rank requirements.

Previously only Option 2 was available, meaning when first-year Webelos transitioned to the second-year Webelos program in 2015, they would need to get the new book and earn their Arrow of Light Award under the redesigned program.

They may still do that, or they may choose Option 1 and stick with the current handbook and requirements as they finish Cub Scouts.

How do you decide between Option 1 and Option 2?

Webelos den leaders should look closely at the requirements for both the current and new programs prior to making the call on which way to go in 2015.

The new program has been built with an increased focus on the transition to Boy Scouts and may well be the best way to go for some dens and boys.

So sit with your fellow leaders and choose carefully! Your boys deserve it.

More about the transition

The updated transition plan was first announced on June 30 on the Program Updates page of scouting.org and was the result of continuing feedback about the transition from Webelos rank to earning the Arrow of Light. (In other words: Yes, the BSA is listening!)

That same announcement (PDF) includes guidance for how LDS units can seamlessly transition to the new Cub Scouting program.

What about Tigers, Wolves and Bears? Their transition remains the same:


Every Cub Scout deserves a great experience this year, too!

Some leaders are so excited about the changes to Cub Scouting in 2015 that they’re losing sight of the full year of Cub Scouting fun between now and then.

Don’t let that happen in your den or pack. Be sure that the 2014-2015 Cub Scouting season is one filled with learning, growing and having fun.


  1. Will you please address the 1 year program, as will continue to be done in the LDS units? Are we still going to be able to complete all necessary recognitions?

      • That document describes the transition but does not address her question. I also am wondering how we will finish both Webelos and arrow of light in 12 months!

  2. YES! The biggest flaw in the new program has been corrected. It’s nice to see BSA showing some flexibility here by listening to the many complaints about how Webelos II scouts would have been negatively affected by the transition.

    Thanks, Bryan, for providing this forum where we can voice our complaints and suggestions. Without it, I doubt the message would have gotten through to BSA in time.

  3. First off, bravo for finally getting this right. Hopefully the supply division continues to stock sufficient quantities of activity badges to meet demand through May 2016. Does this also mean that webelos who choose to keep the old requirements will be able to earn the belt loops that are baked into the activity badges? Will those still be supplied?

    Secondly, Bryan writes, “Some leaders are so excited about the changes to Cub Scouting in 2015 that they’re losing sight of the full year of Cub Scouting fun between now and then.”

    Is this based on anything but conjecture? I haven’t seen a single piece of evidence to support it.

    Frankly, if you’re NOT seriously thinking about the changes this year you’re doing a disservice to your cub unit. This is the last year to earn a&s awards, it’s presumably the last year of the current Nova requirements too. It’s impossible to put off until next year what needs to be accomplished this year or never.

  4. What about the boys that just earned their Bear rank and are just getting started with Webelos? Most likely they will not be finished by June 1, 2015. Should I start them in the new handbook now?? But, now that I say that, I don’t think it’s out yet. Advice?

    • Oh, I’ve seen plenty in inline forums about how leaders are going to ignore the program and do what they want til their son gets I to a troop. So, it’s real.

      • Adam,

        I’m guessing this is in reply to my question about Bryan’s comment that scouters are losing sight of the coming year.

        I, too, have seen comments here and elsewhere about leaders proclaiming their future defiance of the new program but that has nothing to do with the suggestion that scouters are “so excited” by the new program that they’re “losing sight of” the 14-15 program year.

    • Mary – you and your new Webelos will use the current hand book between now and next June. At that time, you and your Webelos have a choice: keep the same handbook and complete the Arrow of Light rank using the current materials or start using the new program beginning on June 1, 2015.

    • If you are taking more than a year to complete a 3 month requirement, there is something seriously wrong with the scouting program you are delivering. In this area, the kids start their scouting year in August when they start school, so by December, they are receiving their Webeloes Award. That is six months before the June 1 deadline identified in this article. If your scouts just earned Bear and are starting the Webelo program, there is no reason for them to NOT be able to complete the Webelos, AOL, and Transition to Boy Scouts under the current system. Those scouts that just earned Wolf and are starting Bear will use the new Webelo program, when they finish the current Bear program. Good luck.

      • Sorry, Kenneth. I am new to this…I have one son and all I know/knew was that we have Webelos I and II and they don’t cross over into scouting until around February of their second year. I didn’t know earning the actual Webelos badge/rank was relatively quick.

      • Kenneth,

        Every unit, district, and council is different.

        Some units meet year round, so the new Scouting year starts June 1st. So the Cubs are working on stuff at day camp and resident camp

        Some districts and councils schedule so many cool things to get the new Cubs pumped up, that having “normal” meetings isn’t possible until Nov. I know we had a lot of new folks sign up, and with 3 different district/council activities going on, prepping for them took time away from normal advancement.

    • Obviously the year is started so your original question is moot. However, I just took a class on the change over and learned something relevant to you (and me). IF your boys finish the Webelos rank by the cut off date, then they are grandfathered in and have the OPTION of which Arrow if Light program to follow.

      I’m going ahead with that plan, because I’m familiar with it, as this is my second son to go through the program.

  5. And my dad reminds me that before they had Webelos and Arrow of Light as they are now. (it used to be a 1 year webelos program for everything), He earned the Lion rank back when he was a kid. I can’t help wonder why the change to the webelos Program.

  6. “Adventures?” Seriously? Calling something an “adventure” doesn’t make it one. Scouting delivers the real deal. Why dumb it down with the phony Madison Avenue hype?

  7. Does the mean the current supply items (old handbooks, Webelos activity badges) will continue to be stocked by National for sale in scout shops for an additional year?

  8. Thank god! This was the biggest issue with the new program that is coming. I am concerned that the scout shop will not stock the necessary pins and patches for the boys for the 6 months of the Webelos 2 time period.

  9. LDS in the past have not let their Cub Scouts participate in Camping as a Pack. New requirements have camping as part of the program. Are LDS going to change their rules so that the boys can earn their Ranks?

      • Sorry to disagree, but just want to clear up this common misconception. While LDS does account for over 30% of the unit charters with BSA, LDS units tend to be much smaller than non-LDS units so LDS does not comprise around 30% of scouting.

        According to BSA membership stats provided at the end of 2013, on average, there are only about 12 youths per LDS-unit compared to about 28 youths per unit for non-LDS units. So, from a membership standpoint LDS only accounts for about 18% of the total BSA membership, followed closely by the Methodist church at about 14%. But, I do agree that the BSA has worked with LDS to come up with the LDS version of the new program. The updates site does includes details of the new program for LDS units (and, no, camping will still not be required).

  10. With the announcement of finishing Weblos/AOL requirements in the extra time, does this mean that the super achiever award is now going to be available in the full year and a half program or should we continue to plan on completing all 20 activity badges by May 2015?

  11. Yep, Lion Cub, then Webelos, then Boy Scout….

    I am reminded of when, at work, a new department chief is named, suddenly new procedures and requirements are declared, often without any meaningful conversation with the workers or consideration of the ultimate results. The rank and file adjust, true, but it is often done “just because ” they can. Maybe things become more efficient, maybe more fair, maybe more reasonable, but don’t depend on it.
    There is a reason why new Cub folks seek out the old Cub Scout Leaders Program Pages and BALOO Bugles.

  12. I attended the first “Getting the 411 on the NEW Cub Scout Adventure Program” at the Philmont Training Center last month, A volunteer task force worked on this program and is still fine tuning aspects. The NOVA program is being worked on now. The National Supply Service will keep pins in stock for a while. Dennis, a lot of thought, time, and effort was put in to creating the program. The current program was deemed too sedentary. The new Webelos and Arrow of Light programs will have the boys better prepared to cross over to Boy Scouts. Bob Scout, the National Council Professional, summed it up, “More fun for the boys. Easier for the leaders.” The new program IS great. You can find more information at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/programupdates.aspx

    And for those so set in their ways that they can’t see the forest for the trees, The Eagles have a comment for you: http://youtu.be/Gek3maVEoLY

    • I’m curious about a couple of things, Chinapete65. Did anyone in the PTC training session you attended complain about Cyberchip being added as a requirement for each of the ranks (even Bobcat!)? I’m fine with the Cyberchip program being available as an option, but it seems silly to me to add this as a requirement to each of the ranks.

      Also, was there any discussion about how much more difficult it will now be to earn the Tiger rank? The current program has just 15 requirements to earn the Tiger rank, and many brand new Tiger Den Leaders struggle to get all of their Cubs to complete them by the end of the year. The new program has over 35 requirements to earn Tiger (depending on which elective adventure is used for the 7th adventure) so I imagine many units will struggle to get the Tiger rank completed.

      • See, in my mind, the Tiger program has always been too easy – you had to really slow things down to NOT finish early…and the electives were so easy, that many of them could be done in a meeting. The program needed more depth, IMO.

        • Sure, if you have the leadership in place and active parents who are willing to sign on as Tiger Den leaders from the start, then Tiger is a breeze today, which allows it to be a nice, low-stress intro to scouting for boys and parents. Some years, though, it doesn’t work out that way and families are still working in May to complete the Tiger requirements.

          While I’m OK with adding more challenge to the Tiger program, it seems we’ve gone to the extreme by nearly tripling the requirements (if you include the steps needed to complete Cyberchip). The lucky (or well-run) units that have eager and knowledgeable Tiger Den Leaders on day one will now have more of a challenge, but should be able to complete the required part of the program by the end of the school year provided they have 2 or 3 den meetings every month, though they likely won’t have much time left to get to any of the elective adventures. I think those units will be a minority, however, and I predict there will be a noticeable decline in the number of Tiger rank patches that are earned during the 2015-16 school year compared to the prior years.

      • I have to ask, are you familiar with the Cub Scout Cyber Chip requirements? Boys should be able to complete them in about 90 minutes. This requirement will probably eventually be added to all levels of the scouting program.

        • Sure I’m familiar with it and am completely fine with it being an optional program that all Cub Scout families have access to and can choose to use how they see fit. We’ve had a handful of Cubs earn it the couple of years since it was introduced, but frankly we’re glad not many showed an interest because the ridiculous $3.60 pricetag of the Cyber Chip patch could have wiped out half of our awards budget if all 60-70 Cubs in our Pack had earned it.

          Many parents politely smile when you tell them about the program, but then roll their eyes because they are quite capable of teaching their children how to stay safe online without their son’s Cub Scout Pack requiring them to do so. Most of their kids get enough computer use (with accompanying safe surfing instructions) at home and in school as it is. Part of their reason for signing their sons up with Scouts is to get them away from the screens.

          How shall we work this new requirement into our first Pack Meeting? Maybe: “Hello everyone and thanks for joining our Pack. I know you’re anxious to get started on all those fun outdoor activities we promised you’d get to do on Rally Night – camping, fishing, hiking, rockets, archery, bb shooting, and so on – but before you can do that, you have to pass this 90 minute course on how to stay safe on the internet, you know, since we’re going to be spending soooo much time playing on the internet during our Pack and Den meetings and camping trips….”

          Part of my annoyance with it is that I’ve yet to hear a single valid explanation for why it was added as a requirement for every rank. I’ve asked this question in several forums and no one has provided a sensible reason. Hopefully, BSA will come to their senses like they did with the Webelos options, and return this one to it’s rightful place among the optional programs.

  13. I’m really excited about the new program and am disappointed to have to wait another year now that I have seen glimpses.

    I with there was a way to mold the current program to work much like the new program; a way to reorganize the current achievements and elective to mimmic what is to come.

  14. Rob I appreciated reading your comment. I have only seen a little bit of the preview of the new program. I have Webelos 2 this year. I really liked how the new program organized the transition activities to Boy Scouting, and I think I will use the new materials for that – from a cursory look, it looked like they would fit well with the current requirements.

  15. Glad the choice is there! Way easier to keep Webelo 1 the same. For the parent who is new, read through the book. A lot is done at home – by the end of summer, our son will have done artist, family and traveler, handyman badges and completing multiple other requirements from simple hikes and summer things that we do. One thing for handyman is washing the car. Aquanat is swimming. Just make some intentional time and have a plan. It’s fun and rather easy. And it’s great family time…even our 4 year is into it…he thinks he is a bear: )

  16. I still remember being tossed the khaki shirt and being told “you’re the leader” three years ago when my son was just entering Tiger Cubs. And even though I’ve managed multimillion-dollar projects and led many teams and committees through the years, we were still working on our Tiger beads in May. It happens – especially when the leaders and parents are busy and burdened outside Scouting. But we’ve had 100% rank progress from the boys that stayed in the den and program.

  17. When will the current Webelos and soon to be AOL scouts bridge to Boy Scouts?
    Right now we receive boys from early February till April. It would be helpful to have a set transition time, so that the boys can plan a good program to help the cub scouts bridge into boy scouts. Having them spread over 3 months is hard.

  18. Locally I was laughed at when I suggested this; it makes NO difference for those in 4th grade this year as their focus is Webelo badge and next is Arrow of Light… no matter which system you use… it’s most important THIS year for NEW 5th graders because we either penalize them by making them do 2 years of work (Webelos badge is requirement for present Arrow of Light) or let them do the new path/requirements for the next years’ program and just focus on Arrow of Light… everyone here was trying to say it was more important for this year’s 4th graders… I just don’t understand some people’s logic

    • I see your point. Now that we know that next year’s new 5th graders will able work on AOL without having to get the Webelos badge first, it is frustrating that we have to wait for the program to be completely released. Nevertheless, this is not any different than what we have had in previous years. New 5th graders must earn Webelos Badge and AOL in a shortened period of time. This is especially problematic for young 5th graders — April birthdays and later. They either have to wait for their 11th birthday or else for the end of the school year before crossing over if they have not earned their Arrow of Light. Thus, they do not cross over with the rest of their den.

      As to this year’s Webelos 1s. Since my son is a Webelos 1 and I am an Assistant Leader, Committee Member, and former Advancement Chair, I can say that the transition — as originally announced — was very much an issue. A lot of us view Webelos as an integrated 18 month program (with crossover in Feb/early March). You start working AOL requirements as soon as you have earned your Webelos Rank. And we always have Scouts who have completed enough pins for AOL even before they have finished their Webelos 1 rank requirements.

      We also start planning for the Webelos years in the Spring (especially to take into account Day Camp, Resident Camps, and other advancements the boys will achieve as Webelos 1s during the summer). When the program changes were first announced, rising Webelos 2s had to switch to the new program June 2015 no matter what, and it was unclear if any work completed after earning the Webelos badge would be grandfathered over. Add to that the expense of new books, having to switch gears midstream to the new program, our local Pack’s tradition of having Super Achievers (all 20 pins) each year, repeating the Citizen pin, and having to cover Readyman in Webelos 1 since First Responder is not an Arrow of Light Requirement in the new program, it is understandable that the rising Webelos 1 leaders were quite frustrated.

      Since the initial announcement, the frustration has been mitigated. We have been told that up to three Activity pins beyond the Webelos badge will grandfather over as the three AOL elective adventures. Mid-summer, we were given Option 1 to grandfather completely and stick with the old program (which threw a small, but ultimately favorable, monkey wrench into our plans). For those dens planning to stick with the old book, the transition will be seamless (and identical to the Boy Scout transition where Tenderfoot->1st Class get to finish 1st Class before transitioning to the new materials in 2016.) The one hiccup we have to be aware of is that if we get any new 5th graders next year, they must follow the new program. Our pack is large, but not large enough to run Webelos 2 dens with the old materials plus an AOL Den with the new materials. (Both of our Webelos 1 dens have chosen Option 1. Unless we can convince enough parents to make the switch out of consideration for the new scouts, we don’t have the resources for a third den just for the new Scouts — which is counterproductive in my opinion.) It can be done, but it will take extra planning and effort to make sure both sets of requirements are fulfilled so that all of the Scouts earn AOL according to the corresponding program.

      In short, I see where you are coming from and appreciate your frustration. Now that we have a taste of the new program, many of us are eager to switch to it. I also hope you can better understand the frustration of the Webelos 1 leaders and parents.

  19. Nationally and locally there are many packs that are doing a great job with the present program. Those packs will do well with the ‘new’ program too. The reason they do well is because they engage the parents in active and meaningful roles with their sons and they also engage the ‘whole’ family in activities through the year. They also generally have very active summer programs to keep the boys involved. A healthy Pack maintains/retains and even grows through the ranks to have as many or more boys in the higher ranks than in the tiger and wolf dens. They attract new members from all grades because of a high quality, well planned program and through involvement at all levels along with great monthly Pack meetings built around the boys with lots of recognition for the Cubs and their leaders/parents. That has always been true and will continue to be true. I hope to see a lot more emphasis in the future by packs on engaging parents and families year round and to understand that the only reason a family/cub drops out is because we failed to meet their expectations.

  20. I have been my older son’s leader since he was a Tiger, and right now, he’s a W2 so he won’t be taking part in these changes to Cub Scouts. I’m my younger son’s Wolf Den Leader, and I’m totally bummed to have to make these changes for next year. I SO wish I could just stick with the old Bear requirements next year and make the changes the FOLLOWING year with Webelos for this Den. I don’t feel like learning an entirely new program. It was SO MUCH WORK the first time around…. I’m really unhappy about this entire thing!!!

  21. Does anyone know if under the new program, Webelos will have to wait until completing the Webelos badge before earning AOL advetures?

    Specifically, we typically take the Webelos out den camping right away (summer/fall after completing grade 3). Thats a great time to earn Cast Iron Chef. But can they or cant they also work on the Camper adventure at the same time?

    In the past we picked away at outdoorsman multiple times during the 18 month program (a hike here, cook a meal there, fire starting/safety another time). Each boy had at least 2 or 3 chances to complete each outdoorsman requirement (in case they missed a hike or campout). Now they appear to be broken out into seperate requirements divided between webelos and AOL.

    • As I’ve been instructed you cannot take it out of order. You can do Web/AOL electives in either year but you can only do the core adventures in the correct year. They are being treated as two different ranks just like T/W/B with the exception of the shared electives.

      For my money, I think the T/W/B electives should have more overlap. E.G. the “marbles” belt loop has effectively been turned into an elective adventure but it’s limited to just one year so the pack can’t do a marbles activity and award the loop to everyone, just the kids who are the right age. Seems like a missed opportunity.

  22. Other sources indicate you CAN work on Camper as a Webelo. They are in the same book and we already gave them the book. There is a reason for this… Page 19 of the Webelos Den Leader Guide says “there is no required order in which adventures must be earned.”

  23. I hope this hasn’t been covered before, but we have this common situation — fifth graders who have already completed most of the old Arrow of Light under the previous rules. No problem, we just stick with the old handbook.

    However… we have two new boys joining the den who have never been scouts before. Here, we have a problem. We could have them pursue the new requirements for AoL, but since the other six boys in the den aren’t going to be doing those, we cannot have two parallel meetings at the same time.

    My thoughts are that there are two options: just give the new boys credit for everything we did last year. I have no moral objection to this, as they’re caught in the middle and it gets everyone on equal footing. The other option is a lot harder–trying to take our three remaining activity badges from the old book (Readyman, one technology, and any other badge) and somehow make them work as fulfilling everything that the new-style AoL requirements expect. I suspect that’s a lot more difficult.

    Surely others now have these “blended” AoL dens and how are y’all approaching it?

  24. Hi, I’m Ryan Graczyk. I am the boy in the picture. I remember the day the picture was taken. Now I’m in eight grade, a first class boy scout, and I might attend going to the 2017 Jamboree. I am very exited. I hope me and the photographer can meet up together. Thank you for all of the experiences me and other Boy Scouts can have at The Summit.

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