Will Lions be part of the Cub Scout pack?
By adding another year to the program, is the BSA at all concerned about “burnout”?
And why was the Lions name chosen anyway?
Those were just a few of the questions excited leaders have posted — on this blog and elsewhere — about Lions, the pilot program for kindergarten boys set to roll out this fall.
The Lion team has been listening. Volunteers and professionals in charge of the Lion pilot program have seen your questions and have compiled some answers, excerpts of which I’ve included below.
Your Lion questions answered
Question: How will Lions be structured? Who will lead them?
Answer: Lions will be organized in dens of six to eight kindergarten-age boys. Dens will be mentored by Lion Guides (experienced Cub Scout adult leaders). Similar to the Tiger rank, each boy will be required to have an adult partner. With the guidance of the Lion Guide, each adult partner will take turns leading den meetings or activities in a shared-leadership concept.
Question: Will Lions be part of the pack?
Answer: Yes. For units participating in the pilot, Lions are a part of the Cub Scout pack — at an introductory level. The Lion program is designed to introduce 5-year-old, kindergarten-age boys to the fun and excitement of Scouting — but in appropriate ways.
Because of their age, it’s unrealistic to expect Lions to participate fully in pack activities. For example, Lions shouldn’t participate in pack fundraising, overnight camping. Those experiences, and others, are more appropriate for older boys as they move through Tiger, Wolf, Bear and beyond.
Instead, keep the Lion dens focused on their exciting (and age-appropriate) adventures. Invite them to attend two or three pack meetings throughout the year. Remember: the Lion program is an introduction to the world of Scouting.
Question: Our council has run a kindergarten-age program for years. How is this a new program?
Answer: Although a few councils have run locally developed programs in the past, the Lion pilot launching this fall is the only approved BSA program for 5-year-old kindergarten boys. The curriculum was developed by a team of experts, including representation from the fields of childhood development, education and child psychology. Locally developed content was reviewed by that team, and the best pieces were woven into the new curriculum. That team worked to ensure that the organization’s high standards were met in delivering effective (age-appropriate) character and leadership programs. A small number of councils have tested the new curriculum over the past two years, and it is now ready to expand as a national pilot.
Question: Why was the Lion name selected? Wasn’t there a Lion rank in Cub Scouting long ago?
Answer: The Lion name has significance as a rank within Cub Scouting from the 1930s to 1960s. Honoring a name from our past made sense.
Question: Is this the Tiger program rebranded? Will boys be doing the same activities two years in a row?
Answer: No. The Lion pilot program is designed to be an introduction to Cub Scouting. It is filled with fun, age-appropriate activities that will appeal to kindergarten-age boys. The activities will be fun and challenging in a way that is separate and apart from what boys will experience as they enter Tigers in first grade.
Question: Is there concern about burnout by adding another year?
Answer: The pilot will help determine whether a kindergarten program will benefit the development of 5-year-old boys and how it might affect their movement through BSA program areas long-term. A fun and engaging program delivery is more impactful on retention than a program’s overall length.
Question: How will we know whether we’re in a pilot council?
Answer: Interested councils may apply through their area director to become a pilot site. Scout Executives are aware of the application and notification processes. Monitor your council website and social media pages to learn more.
Question: Why go younger?
Answer: The development of a kindergarten program lets us reach more of America’s youth with the purposeful outcomes only Scouting can provide. Families often make the decision to join a group at about the kindergarten age. As he enters first grade, a child’s schedule is filling, and we’ve missed the opportunity. We know from the recent Tufts study that Scouting works; the Lion pilot is a way to reach more young people through Scouting’s life-changing program.
Question: How have the previous Lion pilot councils and units fared?
Answer: Pilot units have been extremely positive. A common theme has been their ability to identify engaged families for future leadership roles within the pack. In addition, pilot units showed very strong Tiger recruitment the following year. We’ll learn more this fall as the pilot expands.
Question: What will Lions wear? What will they earn?
Answer: Look for more details about Lion T-shirts and stickers soon.