Call it aiming high, call it completionism or call it the carefree ambition of youth.
Whatever you call this Cub Scout den’s mission to earn all 27 Webelos and Arrow of Light adventure pins, you’ve got to call it mighty impressive.
This year, an entire den of Cub Scouts from Pack 522 of Blaine, Minn., part of the BSA’s Northern Star Council, successfully reached its goal.
“These boys demonstrate what Scouting is,” says Derek Anderson, assistant Cubmaster. “They are living by the Law, Oath and Motto to help each other be the best — all while still having fun.”
Over the course of their two years as Webelos, the Cub Scouts earned all 27 adventure pins. That’s the five required adventures for Webelos (fourth graders), the four required adventures for Arrow of Light (fifth graders) and all 18 elective adventures for Webelos or Arrow of Light.
To put it another way, the Cub Scouts earned 16 adventures beyond the minimum required to earn Webelos and Arrow of Light.
The BSA doesn’t keep records of how many dens have completed all of the available adventures for their Cub Scout rank. But Anderson says this is the first time it’s happened in his pack.
“They have learned that you can set a goal and, with hard work, you can achieve great things,” Derek says.
But earning all 27 pins wasn’t easy. And like anything in Scouting, it required hard work from the Scouts and selfless sacrifice from dedicated parents and adult volunteers.
An idea is born
Most of the members of the den — Aden, Evan, Hamza, Isaac, Isaac and Nolan — have been together in Cub Scouts since they were Lions in kindergarten.
When they became Webelos, they set a goal to earn every Webelos adventure pin.
Rather than tempering their enthusiasm, Derek and his wife, Beth, encouraged it.
They knew that more work for the Cub Scouts would mean more work for them. But they were on board all the same.
Changes are made
Beth, the den leader, crafted a schedule that would accommodate the boys’ goal while still giving ample time to each adventure’s requirements. To make it work, she realized, the den would have to meet pretty much every week, all year long.
Unsurprisingly, the Cub Scouts were OK with that plan. More meetings means more fun, after all.
So Beth navigated everyone’s busy schedules while keeping in mind school holidays and the weather. (Best not to attempt the Aquanaut adventure in the Minnesota winter, for example.)
Each adventure generated new memories. To complete requirement 4b for the Aware and Care adventure, for example, Beth invited a friend who has Down syndrome to meet with the Scouts.
“She was very gracious to talk with the Scouts,” Beth says. “Through this interaction, the Scouts gained a greater appreciation for people with disabilities.”
An ‘opportunity’ arises
The den was well on its way to achieving its goal when a new Cub Scout named Carter joined the pack.
“The Cub Scouts quickly told Carter about the goal,” Derek says. “He was excited about the possibility but was really far behind the rest of the group.”
But leaving others behind just isn’t the Scouting way.
“The Cub Scouts and their den leader rallied around their new friend,” Derek says. “They all worked together to get Carter caught up. This included redoing many adventures the den had already completed.”
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Most of these Cub Scouts completed several adventure requirements twice.
“The biggest key, especially while repeating pins, was to make them fun and involving the Scouts in the planning,” Beth says.
What they learned
Here are some of Derek and Beth’s top takeaways from this thrilling journey.
- Plan with the weather in mind when making the year’s schedule — especially if you live in Minnesota.
- Share the schedule with families as early as possible, because “the boys participate in other activities outside of Scouting,” Derek says.
- Delegate! If your den has six Cub Scouts and wants to complete 12 adventures over the course of the year, assign two pins to each Cub Scout’s parents. Let parents select which adventures they’ll lead based on their professional talents or favorite hobbies.
- Read ahead. Look beyond the current month’s adventure to see if any requirements will necessitate additional planning or outside guests.
- Things change, so remain in constant communication with families using the parents’ preferred method — email, text, Facebook Messenger, etc.
If all that seems like a lot of work, you’re not wrong. But Derek and Beth wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“One of the best things that we have seen is the deep friendship that the boys have made,” Beth says. “They support each other in and outside of Scouting.”