Starting this fall, our council will be participating in the Lion Scouts pilot program (we just received our official approval from national on March 21), which will welcome kindergarten-age boys into the Scouting family for the first time. It’s an exciting opportunity to grow the Scouting movement and I’ve heard through the grapevine that many of our packs are looking forward to offering the Lion Scouts program in their packs. There’s still a lot of planning work yet to happen in getting ready for Lion Scouts in our council and offering the Lion Scouts program may not be right for every pack at this time. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead.
Why is the BSA moving now to implement the Lion Scouts program? Rather than restate in my own words what’s already been written by our Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, please take a few minutes to read this article about Lion Scouts.
Lion Scout dens (comprised of 6-8 boys) will meet twice a month (one will be a den meeting and the other will be an outing or pack meeting). Each Lion and a parent need to register with the BSA and Lions must have an adult partner with them at all times. Lions and their families are not required or expected to take part in unit-level fundraising efforts – those opportunities will happen the following year as Tiger Cubs. Lion dens may establish modest dues (suggested $1 per meeting) to cover the cost of some consumable supplies. Each Lion adult will need to complete Youth Protection training, but will not need to submit the PA-mandated background clearances (same situation as current Tiger Cub parents).
For those packs that are thinking ahead about participating in the Lion Scouts program, having the right volunteers involved in delivering the Lion Scouts program will be important. Research shows that the most important person for a successful Scouting experience is a good leader. There are two new adult leader positions within the pack that are directly engaged in the delivery of the Lion Scouts program – a Lion Coordinator and a Lion Guide. Where do these positions fit into the current pack structure?
What is the Lion Coordinator’s job description?
- Is an experienced and successful den leader
- Understands den and pack operations within the overall structure of Cub Scouting
- Demonstrates excellent communication and organization skills (and will remain in at least monthly contact with the Lion dens)
- Participates as needed in the unit’s School Night with all new Lions and their parents
- Assists the Lion guide in hosting the first orientation meeting for all the individual Lion dens in their pack
- Serves as a coach and mentor for Lion Guide
The position description for the Lion Guide is as follows:
- Has previous successful experience as den leader
- Works directly with other den and pack leaders to ensure that the den is an active and successful part of the pack
- Plans and prepares for initial Lion den meeting and outings
- Mentors adult partners in the delivery of Lion den meetings
- Attends the pack leaders’ meeting
- Leads the den at the monthly outings and other pack activities
- Ensures the transition of Lion Scouts to Tigers at year-end
- Prepares the Lions for day camp at the end of the Lion year if appropriate
- Coordinates shared leadership among the Lion adult partners in the den
- Ensures that each Lion and his adult partner have the opportunity to be the host team, which plans and executes the den activities, and rotates responsibilities monthly
It is also important to keep in mind that the Lion Scouts program is still a pilot program, meaning it is still being evaluated. To ensure that the Lion pilot program can be evaluated properly, each pack will need to use the program materials exactly as designed. The program needs to use the written den meeting materials (contained in the Lion Parent and Leader Guidebook) and not change delivery. Changes made by Lion guides and others to the program will invalidate the evaluation process.
As I mentioned earlier, there will be a lot of information to share, training to be provided and questions to be answered before packs in our council will be ready to offer Lion Scouts this fall. We’re awaiting updated new materials from national for the Lion Scouts program, but I wanted to pass along this information so that packs can begin the process of identifying experienced, successful den leaders who are willing to take on the roles of Lion Coordinator and Lion Guide. Those roles will be very important as the BSA reaches out to welcome kindergarten-aged boys and their families into our movement.
Yours in Scouting,
Scout Executive & CEO