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Webelos to Scout Guide for Packs

Webelos to Scout Guide for Packs

Webelos to Scout Transition

All youth in the New Birth of Freedom Council should have the opportunity to benefit from a Scouting program. 

The transition from Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA is often a point where youth leave Scouting.  There are a number of reasons for this including being tired of the Cub Scout program after 5 years, more competing activities, or they are simply not asked.

The first two are more challenging to address; however, the last should never be a reason for a Scout to not continue.  It is important that packs and troops work together to make sure that Scouts and their families are aware of local Scouting opportunities and get a chance to visit them and try them out before having to commit to which troop they want to join. 

The crossover ceremony should not be the Scout’s first introduction to the troop, but should be the culmination of “getting to know you” opportunities where the Scout and family are excited about this next big step on their Scouting journey. 

Webelos to Scout transition shouldn’t be a time where troops sit back and wait for Scouts to them.  Just like a pack works to recruit Scouts and families a troop should do the same.  This guide is designed to help packs support Scouts and their families as they find the troop that is the right fit for their future Scouting adventures.

Webelos to Scout transition is everyone’s responsibility—Webelos Leaders, Cubmasters, Parents, Scoutmasters, Commissioners, and District Committee. All must work together to ensure that Webelos and their parents know all the great fun and adventure in store for them as they become Scouts BSA.  Remember, Webelos is not the end of Cub Scouts.  The transition from Webelos to Scouts BSA is a normal and expected part of the program.

Resources

Eligibility

Youth can join Scouts BSA if they have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old, OR have earned the Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old, OR are age 11 but have not reached age 18.

All new Scouts, either through transition, or otherwise must make sure to submit a new youth application. 

Responsibilities of the Pack

  • The Committee Chair and Cubmaster should ensure that the Arrow of Light Den Leaders are properly motivated and focused to ensure that Arrow of Light Scouts are prepared to and do crossover. The Committee Chair and Cubmaster will ensure that the pack has a Pack Membership Chair or New Member Coordinator (position description is available here) who will fulfill the pack responsibilities or guide and assist Arrow of Light Den Leaders in fulfilling their responsibilities.
  • Develop a working relationship with the leadership of Scout BSA troops in the community. Most troops should have either an Assistant Scoutmaster or a Committee Member assigned to new Scouts.  Your unit commissioner can help put you in contact with troop leaders.
  • Compare calendars of troop and pack activities to coordinate the activities. Community events can be done together, and planning can help prevent conflicts in the use of equipment and facilities. 
  • Work with troop leaders to secure den chiefs for each Webelos den and Cub Scout den.
  • Work with troop leaders to plan and conduct Webelos overnight activities.
  • Work with troop leaders to plan visits to troop meetings.
  • Invite the Scoutmaster and troop youth leaders to special pack activities. This will help create familiarity and a level of comfort for the Webelos Scouts and their parents as they ease into the troop.
  • Plan a meaningful crossover ceremony at the pack’s Blue and Gold Banquet. There are many great examples available online.  Have troop leadership be present to accept the Arrow of Light Scouts/Webelos Scouts as they graduate to Scouts BSA.
  • Arrow of Light Den Leaders should be strongly encouraged to move into the troop with the Scouts, either as Assistant Scoutmaster or troop committee members. This will give the new Scouts a familiar face at troop meetings and a connecting link to Scouts BSA
  • If a troop does not exist in your community, discuss with the District Membership Chair or the District Executive the possibility of organizing a troop. A graduating Arrow of Light Den can form the nucleus of a new troop. 

Arrow of Light Den Leader Responsibilities

  • Be enthusiastic about the coming crossover of your Scouts to Scouts BSA!
  • Speak to your Scouts and their parents about troop visits beginning in September. Discuss options such as:  various troops and their different programs; crossing over as a group or to different troops based on personal preference; troop location and impact upon participation; existing/historic pack/troop relationship and the fact that no youth is required to crossover to a particular troop, rather youth should crossover to the troop that is the best fit.  It is very important that every Scout and parent know that completion of Arrow of Light is not the end of Scouting, it is just the beginning and that the real adventure is to be found in Scouts BSA.
  • Ensure parents have copies of the forms (“Questions to Ask When Visiting Troops,” “Webelos Troop Visit Checklist,”Parent Troop Visit Checklist”).
  • Ensure that parents understand that they are welcome and encouraged to participate in the troop their child chooses.
  • Ensure parents understand the differences between Scouts BSA and Cub Scouts, particularly the different roles of parents.
  • Plan for your transition to a leadership role in the Scouts BSA unit.

Differences Between Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA

The difference between Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA encompasses critical categories like unit structure, leadership, parental involvement, advancement and camping.

Both programs are built on Scouting’s time-tested values. That’s evidenced by the fact that members of both programs recite the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Beyond that, though, you’ll find more differences than similarities — for good reason.  You wouldn’t teach a third-grader the same way you’d teach a ninth-grader, right? By that same logic, your approach to Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA shouldn’t be the same either.

Below are some examples of how Cubs Scouts and Scouts BSA differ.  This Scoutwire article has a great, full list of the key differences to share with your Scouts and families.  

Unit structure

Cub Scouts: Cub Scouts are in dens, which are part of a pack.  A den is made up of girls or boys of the same rank. There are two kinds of dens: all-boy or all-girl.  A pack can be all-boy, all-girl or include a mix of all-boy and all-girl dens.

Dens usually meet weekly or biweekly; packs meet monthly.

Scouts BSA: Scouts BSA members are in patrols, which are part of a troop. Troops are either all-boy or all-girl. Some leaders form linked troops, which means an all-boy troop and an all-girl troop share a chartered organization and troop committee.  Some troops prefer mixed-age patrols (in which an 11-year-old and a 17-year-old could be in the same patrol), while others prefer to keep Scouts of similar ages together.

Troops meet weekly. Patrol meetings typically are part of the weekly troop meeting, but patrols are welcome to meet on their own.

Leadership

It’s pretty simple: Cub Scout dens and packs are led by adults; Scouts BSA patrols and troops are led by the youth.

Cub Scouts: Adults plan and conduct the meetings and promote advancement, teamwork, fun and character-building.

Scouts BSA: The Scouts plan and conduct meetings and outings. Adults step in when asked for help and model good behavior.

Youth-led troops might not be as organized or successful as if adults were running things, but kids learn from their mistakes.

Parental involvement

Parents are a critical part of both Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA.

Cub Scouts: The parents are expected to assist the pack with planning or helping with at least one activity or event annually.

They may also take a leadership role in the pack or den. Parents are usually required to accompany their son or daughter on overnight campouts.

Scouts BSA: The parents are expected to continuously assist the troop by supporting the Scouts and participating in those tasks that the Scouts cannot do.

This may include: transportation to an activity, shopping for a trip or chaperoning a trip. It also may include assisting with fundraisers (finances and organization) and coordinating special events. It is expected that each family take an active role in the troop. Unlike Cub Scouts, parents aren’t required to camp with their sons or daughters. But they’re encouraged to do so if they’d like

Camping

Cub Scouts: Limited to Scout and parent weekend or day trips. May have some camping in tents or cabins. Summer camp is limited to two or three nights, usually. Campouts usually have a very structured schedule.

Scouts BSA: Monthly or bimonthly camping trips as well as additional outdoor day activities.  Much of the program involves activities that can only be done in the outdoors (nature, ecology, pioneering, orienteering, conservation etc.).  Also available to the Scout is at least a week of camping each summer. Not every minute of the campout is scheduled. Free time is important.  Scouts normally get a couple of hours of free time to hang with friends, walk in the woods, work on advancement, sleep, play sports, or do nothing at all.

Timeline

The time-line should be modified to accommodate the Arrow of Light dens that complete all requirements and are prepared to cross-over to Scouts BSA, some as early as December. The Troop Membership Chair and Pack Membership Chair are responsible to ensure that Scoutmasters, Cubmasters, and Webelos and Arrow of Light Leaders are informed of and follow the timeline.  You can download a printable version of the timeline here.

June

  • Arrow of Light Den Scouts receive Webelos to Scout Transition Guide for Scouts and Parents

August

  • Assist troops that request names, addresses, and telephone numbers of second year Webelos and parents from the packs from which your troop recruits.
  • Work with the troop to plan a joint Scouts BSA Troop/2nd year Webelos Den/Arrow of Light Den camping trip for October.
  • Help to welcome and orient a Den Chief if one is provided by the troop.

Other “connecting” activities: Invite the local Scouts BSA troops to assist with Pack School Nights or Sign Up Nights. They can be great for organizing games for the incoming Scouts while their parents sign registration forms. Invite the Scoutmaster or Scoutmasters to attends Pack Committee meeting to explain how the Den Chief program works and find out how many dens are interested in securing a Den Chief. This gives the Scoutmaster adequate time to recruit Den Chiefs and send them to Den Chief training.

September

  • Pack distributes: “Questions to Ask When Visiting Troops,”“Webelos Troop Visit Checklist,”and “Parent Troop Visit Checklist” to parents and guardians of Arrow of Light Scouts. Forms are at the end of this Recruiting Guide and are part of the Webelos to Scout Transition Guide for Scouts and Parents that families should have received in June.
  • Encourage Arrow of Light Den Scouts and their families to join the mailing list of troops they are interested in joining. This is a great way to see how active the troop is and how well they communicate.
  • Continue planning the joint camping trip for October.

Other “connecting” activities: Invite the local Scouts BSA troops to assist with Pack School Nights or Sign Up Nights. They can be great for organizing games for the incoming Scouts while their parents sign registration forms.

October

  • Participate in the joint camping trip with the troop.
  • Webelos leaders go through Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills.
  • Encourage the Arrow of Light Den to visit troop meetings and work with local troops to schedule.
  • Discuss with troop leadership fundraising opportunities in which Arrow of Light Scouts may participate with the Troop to have funds for camp next summer.
  • Begin discussion with troop leadership about Scouts BSA summer camp.Then help share information with Scouts and parents. Troops should provide printed material for Webelos leaders to distribute.

Other “connecting” activities: Scouts BSA Troops should be eager to have your Scouts participate in a campout so the Webelos can get to know the Scouts and adults in the troop.  They should invite the first and second year Webelos. The troop could teach skills needed for a variety of Webelos advancements, particularly ones that need to be done outside. Troop conducts a campfire with skits & songs.

November

  • Welcome troop leadership to a den meeting to teach the Scouts how the troop works.
  • Make sure that your Den Chief is planning to attend training.

Other “connecting” activities:Scouts attend the pack meeting to show camp video/pictures and “talk up” summer camp to the Arrow of Light Scouts. The troop gives the Arrow of Light families the dates the troop will be attending Summer Camp along with the annual troop program plan. The Scoutmaster should prepare a list of basic Scouting equipment that the brand-new Scouts BSA Scout will be needing, like flashlights, pocketknives, mess kits, sleeping bags, backpacks, etc., so that these items can be Christmas gifts. Help the parents by giving tips on best prices, best brands, best sources – remember the Scoutshop is the source for official BSA clothing and equipment.

December

  • Work with troop leadership to set a date for Arrow of Light Scouts and their parents to visit a troop meeting in January if they have not already visited.

Other “connecting” activities: Troop Membership Chair should attend Pack Committee meeting to introduce themselves to Webelos Leaders. From now until February crossover, the Troop Membership Chair should work closely with the Den Leaders to assure that all Scouts will be earning the Arrow of Light and to get youth applications completed. This person should attend a Den Meeting in January to explain troop operations, answer questions, and establish a good relationship with all Arrow of Light parents.

January

  • All Arrow of Light Scouts and their parents attend a Scouts BSA troop meeting.
  • Plan a crossover ceremony for the Blue and Gold Banquet.
  • Invite troop leadership to a meeting for 1st year Webelos to introduce them to Scouts BSA.
  • Accommodate those Arrow of Light Scouts that wish to cross-over early with an appropriate ceremony.

Other “connecting” activities: Invite Scouts from the troop attend the Pinewood Derby and act as announcers, interviewing winners and “calling” the races. Encourage interaction between the Scouts and all the Cub Scouts.

February

  • Hold the crossover ceremony at the Blue and Gold Banquet.

Other “connecting” activities: Scoutmaster and several Scouts attend the Pack’s Blue and Gold Banquet to welcome the Arrow of Light Scouts into their new troop. Form an honor guard for the flag ceremony using a mix of graduating Arrow of Light Scouts and Scouts BSA Scouts for the honor guard. The Scouts should change out the Arrow of Light Scouts’ shoulder loops and give them their new neckerchiefs, handbooks, etc. Don’t forget those Webelos Leaders, they need new green loops too!

March

  • Follow-up with the family by phone, email, and letter of every youth that did not crossover into a troop from your pack. Assure them it is not too late, describe the fun events scheduled, and work with them to visit additional troops or to help make the right decision for them.

April

  • Invite the troop to attend a meeting of Bear Cub Scouts to introduce them to Scouts BSA.
  • Work with the troop leadership to pick a date for a field trip to summer camp one day during the week the troop is in camp.

Other “connecting” activities: Troop invites Webelos (4th graders) to district Camporee or other district event. They can join with the recently crossed-over Scouts to learn basic Scoutcraft, which will meet Webelos/Arrow of Light requirements for the Webelos and Tenderfoot requirements for new Scouts BSA. If the District Camporee isn’t conducive to this, the troop could put on its own campout to teach these skills to the younger Scouts. Invite any Scouts who still have not crossed over and use this event as an “Invite a Friend” activity. Be sure to let the younger Scouts help cook and help tend the campfire.

June/July

  • New Arrow of Light Scouts take a field trip to summer camp for one day the week the troop is at camp. Someone from the troop gives them a guided tour of camp.
  • Troop offers Scouts to assist Webelos leaders at Webelos camp, for example the evening when there is cooking in the campsite.

The Troop Visit

Either by invitation or by research, it is important for an Arrow of Light Scout to visit the troop(s) that he or she is interested in becoming a part.  Scouts are encouraged to visit multiple troops.  The information below is what we encourage Scouts and families to look for.  By following the timeline above, Troops should be able to do a great job of orienting prospective new Scouts and their families.  When a Scout officially becomes an Arrow Light Scout in June, he/she and his/her family will receive a Webelos to Scout Transition Guide that includes things that they should be looking for in a troop as well as suggested questions to be asked. 

Cubmasters and Arrow of Light Den Leaders should work with troop leadership to set up these visits.

Top Ten – Things to Look for in a Troop

When looking for a troop, this is a great list of some of the best things to look for in a local troop.

  1. Fun – It’s got to be fun! Most of the activities within the troop have to be understood by the Scout as a fun, friendly, pleasurable, and rewarding experience. If a troop is too strict and regimented the Scout will lose interest.
  1. Program – this is key to a well-run troop. The program has to be planned out by the troop committee with input from the Scouts. This should be done annually and tied to a budget. The program needs to include all the elements of Scouting, weekly troop meetings, monthly outings/events, weekend campouts, and yearly summer camps. The activities have to be new, exciting, and fresh to keep the Scouts interested.
  1. Adult Leadership – All troops should have ―Trained adult leadership. Trained leaders are crucial to any well-run troop. The training provides the leader with the knowledge to understand the aims and methods of the Scouting program. The training presents a wealth of advice and resources to run a successful program. When you visit a troop, look for the trained patch on the leader’s uniform.
  2. Youth Leadership – The Scouting program is designed to have the youth elected and appointed into leadership roles. A troop should have periodic elections to fill those positions. In addition, the troop should provide leadership training for those roles. The troop should conduct Junior Leadership Training (JLT) and/or send Scouts to council JLT training. Look for the trained patch on the youth leader’s uniform.
  3. Scout-Run Troop – the whole philosophy of Scouting is for the Scouts to run the troop. The adult leaders are there to provide guidance, counsel, and support. The weekly meetings, troop campouts, and troop activities should be planned and executed by the Scouts and the junior leaders. The troop should encourage and strive to have its junior leaders run the troop. When observing a troop in action, see if the Scouts are running the program or the adults.
  1. Patrol Method – A troop should divide its Scouts into patrols of not more than 8. These patrols act like a team within the troop. They will elect a patrol leader and have periodic meetings either at the troop meetings or at a separate time and place. The troop should provide competitive activities at meetings and outings for the patrols to work as a team. This allows them to demonstrate their Scouting skills and plan for camping events or district camp-o-rees. The troop should also have functioning monthly Patrol Leaders Council, which plans the troop activities.
  1. Meetings – Weekly troop meetings are pretty much the norm in Scouting. The troop should have a calendar for the year with the dates established for regular meetings.
  1. Uniform – the field uniform is an important part of Scouting and should be required in troop functions, like: ceremonies, religious activities, troop dinners, and district & council events. An activity uniform, which usually consists of a scouting T-shirt and Scout shorts or pants, is commonly used for troop/patrol meetings, day activities, and weeklong camps. Troops may define or require uniforms in different variations, but should have some defined requirements and periodic inspections.
  1. District & Council Involvement – A troop should have representatives attending monthly district roundtable meetings. The district and council provide a wealth of experience and knowledge to help the troop run a great program. They are a wonderful resource for information on training, activities, advancement, planning, and ideas.
  1. Recruiting – A troop needs to bring in new Scouts. New Scouts provide the older Scouts with opportunities to mentor and teach them what Scouting is all about. It helps them build leadership and charter. The best source for new Scouts is from the Cub Scouts Webelos program. A troop should have established a working relationship with local Cub Scout pack(s) to help bridge graduating Webelos to Scouts BSA.

Resources

Questions

For any questions on Webelos to Scout Transition, please contact your District Executive or your District Membership Chairman.