Webelos often transition to Scouts BSA during the spring. Here’s what you need to know

The Arrow of Light Scouting Adventure pin

Springtime is the best time for the Webelos-to-Scouts transition.

This time of the year, Cub Scouts all across the country are participating in crossover ceremonies, after which they will officially be members of Scouts BSA.

How does it all work? And how can den leaders and parents make it work better?

It’s such a big deal that #CubChatLive decided to do not one, but two shows dedicated to the subject.

The first, “How Den Leaders Can Help Webelos Make a Smooth Transition to Scouts BSA,” aired last Friday. The second, “How Parents Can Help Webelos Make a Smooth Transition to Scouts BSA,” will air this Friday at 2 p.m. Central on Facebook Live or YouTube.

Watch last week’s discussion in its entirety below and read on for the highlights.

What is this “crossover” thing?

A crossover ceremony is when a Cub Scout crosses over into a Scouts BSA unit. It begins with a young person being a Cub Scout and ends with that person as a member of a Scouts BSA troop. Crossover ceremonies can take almost any shape and form you like, as long as they signify this transition to a new level of Scouting.

It could include the presentation of the Arrow of Light badge, a Scouts BSA Handbook and a troop neckerchief.

But the Webelos-to-Scouts-BSA transition actually begins months before the crossover ceremony.

How does the Arrow of Light program prepare Cub Scouts for Scouts BSA?

Cub Scouts in the fifth grade are working on their Arrow of Light requirements. One in particular, called the Scouting Adventure, is designed to prepare them for Scouts BSA.

“The Scouting Adventure is designed specifically to help Cub Scouts learn some of the methods and practices and parts of a Scouts BSA troop,” says national Scouts BSA committee member Angelique Minett, a former Cub Scouts den leader. “They’re going out to visit a troop, they’re going out on a campout or an outdoor activity with their troop, and they’re organizing themselves into patrols, which is a lot different than a Cub Scout den.”

How can the den leader help?

The Arrow of Light den leader’s job during this transition is to make contact with at least one (but hopefully more) Scouts BSA troops to set up visits and camping opportunities.

If your Cub Scout pack doesn’t have a pre-existing relationship with a particular troop, that’s OK — any Scouts BSA troop is going to love being contacted by a den leader looking for a troop for their Cub Scouts to visit.

“As a den leader, we are in charge of helping them make that transition so it’s smooth and enjoyable for both the Scouts and the families,” says Minett.

Older Scout helping a younger Scout join the troop
A crossover ceremony doesn’t have to take place on a bridge, but it’s a nice symbol for the transition from Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA. Photo by Michael Roytek

How can a den chief help?

When I was the den leader for my son’s Tiger Cub Scouts, all the kids just loved Mr. Aaron. (I miss those days!)

As they got older, however, they began to look more and more toward their peers for examples of leadership.

This is where a den chief comes into play.

When I brought a den chief into my son’s Arrow of Light group, it was a revelation. Here was a kid, much cooler than me (fine, I admit it), showing the Cub Scouts how to set up a tent, pack a backpack and do all these other fun things that Scouts BSA members get to do.

Our den chief played a major role in all of our kids crossing over into Scouts BSA simply by being a good leader and friend to the younger Scouts.

Is the transition more difficult for kids or their parents?

This is really a trick question because the answer is obvious: It’s more difficult for parents!

In Cub Scouts, the den leader or Cubmaster is in charge. In Scouts BSA, however, it’s the other Scouts who are in charge.

There’s a learning curve, and it takes some getting used to … for the parents. Parents who used to serve as den leaders or assistant den leaders are now being asked to stand in the back and wait patiently for the Scouts BSA youth to practice leading their own meetings and outings.

“At the very base level, Cub Scouts is leader-led and parent-led, and in Scouts BSA the leaders really are the youth,” Minett says. “And that’s an important transition, not just for the youth, but it’s definitely a big transition for the parents.”

About Aaron Derr 438 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.