Adventure ahead! By now, you’ve heard that Cub Scouting is getting a big upgrade on June 1 of this year. We’ve got your road map to the new Cub Scouting program, including what’s changing (and what isn’t), the new adventure loops and tips on how to transition your pack to the revised program.
The Cub Scout motto is “Do Your Best,” but maybe it should be “Embrace Change.” Since Cub Scouting began in 1930, the program has changed frequently. Age limits have dropped. Tigers have been introduced. Lions have gone extinct. The Webelos Scout program has appeared and expanded. Den mothers have become den leaders, and men and women now serve as Cubmasters. But perhaps the biggest changes lie ahead. Effective June 1, the BSA is making sweeping changes to Cub Scouting, changes that promise to make the program more fun and engaging.
What’s Not Changing?
Earlier this year, rumors flew around the Internet that the Cub Scout uniform was changing. It’s not.
In fact, most things about Cub Scouting are staying the same, including den and pack structures, age and gender requirements, and the emphasis on fun and doing your best.
Cub Scouting will now have seven methods: Living the Ideals (which incorporates the former Making Character Connections method), Belonging to a Den, Using Advancement, Involving Family and Home, Participating in Activities, Serving Home and Neighborhood, and Wearing the Uniform.
All that’s really changing is how the ideals and advancement methods are implemented.
Cub Scouting has come a long way from the 1930s, when Cub Scouts pledged to be “square” (considered a good thing at the time!). Back then, the Cub Scout Promise simply read, “I, [name], promise to do my best to be square and to obey the Law of the Pack.” As part of the revised Cub Scout program, the Cub Scout Promise and the Law of the Pack have been retired, and boys will now learn the Scout Oath and Scout Law. This change emphasizes the unity of the Scouting movement and makes it a bit easier for Cub Scouting to live out Scouting’s mission and vision statements, both of which refer to the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The Cub Scout motto, sign, salute and handshake are not changing.
What’s an Adventure?
Perhaps the most important word in the revised Cub Scout program is “adventure.” In Cub Scout terms, an adventure is a collection of themed, multidisciplinary activities representing enough engaging content for three den meetings and one pack meeting — about a month’s worth of programming, in other words.
The word “adventure” emphasizes that Cub Scout activities should be fun and should take boys places they’ve never been. The adventures focus on learning by doing instead of learning by listening. Requirements are full of words like build, play, go, find, demonstrate and discover, not words like discuss, learn and share.
The Tiger, Wolf and Bear books contain 19 adventures each, while the Webelos Handbook (which covers two years) contains 27. That means there will be plenty of material for year-round fun, even in the Arrow of Light year.
The Academics and Sports Program
Cub Scouts have been earning belt loops for individual and team sports since 1985 and for academic subjects since 1991, and it’s no doubt they enjoyed the bling. Often, however, earning belt loops detracted from the advancement program as some boys (and leaders) focused on easy belt loops over more challenging — and meaningful — achievements.
With the introduction of the new advancement program, the Academics and Sports Program has been retired. However, many of its best elements have been incorporated into the new adventures, and the new adventure loops ensure that boys’ belts will be as jangly as ever.
The old advancement program included a dizzying array of beads, badges, belt loops, arrow points, compass points and activity pins.
Now, each rank will follow the same format. To earn a rank, a boy must complete a mix of seven required and elective adventures.
New Cub Scouts will continue to earn the Bobcat badge before working on other requirements. To earn Bobcat, boys must learn about the Scout Oath and Scout Law and the Cub Scout sign, handshake, motto and salute; they must also complete the exercises described in the pamphlet How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide.
Boys receive an adventure loop (previously called belt loops) for each adventure at the Tiger, Wolf and Bear levels, and an adventure pin (worn on the Webelos colors or Webelos cap) for each adventure at the Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks. The recognition items for required adventures are full-color, while the ones for elective adventures are monochromatic. Once a boy completes seven adventures for a given rank, he receives the pocket patch.
To maintain consistency across ranks, boys entering the program in the fifth grade no longer must earn the Webelos badge as a prerequisite for Arrow of Light.
Transitioning to the Revised Program
The revised program goes into effect on June 1. Boys who join on or after that date will complete the new Bobcat requirements and then start on the appropriate rank for their age group (Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos or Arrow of Light). Similarly, returning Cub Scouts will move to the next rank in the revised program when their program year starts. (The transition works a little differently in packs chartered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See the guide posted atscouting.org/programupdates for details.)
Boys who have earned the Webelos badge and are moving to Arrow of Light this summer or fall have two options:
- they may continue to work out of the current handbook and complete the old Arrow of Light requirements, or
- they may begin using the new Webelos Handbook for Arrow of Light.
If they choose option 2, they must complete the four required adventures; their three electives may come from the new adventures or from activity badges they earned under the old program but did not use to fulfill Webelos rank requirements.
Boys are aspirational by nature. They long to become like their big brothers, their older cousins, and the kids who are a grade or two ahead of them in school.
Starting this year, many Cub Scouts will aspire to be Ethan.
Ethan is a new character who appears in all four Cub Scout handbooks and speaks directly to the reader about what he’s been doing in Scouting. In each handbook, Ethan is a year or two older than the boys he’s addressing. (In theTiger Handbook, he’s a Wolf, while in the Webelos Handbook, he’s a Boy Scout.)
Ethan introduces each of the required adventures, shares tips from his own experiences and previews what boys can look forward to as they progress in Scouting. While Ethan is a good Scout, he’s not a perfect one. He struggles to master the square knot, he gets scared by a spooky ghost story, and he forgets the jelly for PB&J sandwiches. But he always has fun and is always ready for his next adventure.
New for 2015: Den Leader Guides
The revised program comes complete with four printed den leader guides that complement the youth handbooks. More comprehensive than the old Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide, these books offer the following resources for each adventure:
- The rationale for the adventure
- Takeaways for Cub Scouts (learning objectives)
- A list of the adventure requirements
- Planning and implementation notes
- Detailed meeting plans (including supply lists and handouts)
Meeting preparation should be easier because the guides are self-contained — there’s no need to search through other publications for games or song lyrics, for example. Leaders who pilot-tested the adventures found that it took them about 45 minutes to prepare for an hourlong meeting.
What About Akela?
In the revised Cub Scout program, Akela will still be a special term for any leader, and the Cub Scout sign will still resemble the attentive ears of a wolf. Cub Scouting’s use of characters from The Jungle Book will be mentioned in the youth handbooks but, beyond that, the TC, Akela and Baloo characters won’t show up. (Keep in mind that The Jungle Book was published in 1894 and that most people’s frame of reference is the Disney movie that came out 48 years ago.)
New Pack Meeting Plans Available Now!
Pack meeting plans for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 Cub Scouting years are now available! From the Cubmaster’s Minute to resource lists, you’ll find everything you need to lead fun and engaging pack meetings! And they support the new Cub Scouting program, too! Click here to download the plans.
Updated Requirements for Cub Scout Awards
The requirements for the National Den Award, National Summertime Pack Award, Cub Scout World Conservation Award, and the Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Award have been revised to reflect the new Cub Scouts program launching June 1, 2015. Click here for details .
New Cub Scouting Images Available Now!
Looking to update your presentations with new graphics? Click here for images such as: the new Tiger logo, new adventure loop and pin icons, new youth handbook covers, new leader resource covers, and more! Click here.
Purchasing Adventure Loops and Pins for Recognition
The new adventure insignia (belt loops and pins) will be available for purchase in Scout Shops as immediate recognition devices. No advancement report required. Purchase of rank badges continues to require signed advancement reports. Click here for policy statement .
Day Camp Guidance – New Cub Scout Program Launch
If you’ve planned your 2015 Day Camp using the current Academics and Sports program (retiring as the new program transitions June 1), no need to change course. Work with your local scout shop to make sure the needed insignia from the current program are still available and in their inventory. Click here for further guidance .
Transition in LDS Chartered Units – New Cub Scout Program
Need additional guidance on transitioning from the current to the new Cub Scout program in LDS units? Click here for details on making a smooth transition .
Exciting changes are coming to the Cub Scouting program that will make it simpler to execute for unit leaders and more fun for boys! Check out the videos below outlining the changes.
Supplemental Roundtable Content
To help prepare unit leaders for the new Cub Scouting program launching June 1, supplemental roundtable content has been developed to replace or supplement the current sessions listed as "Cub Scout Interest Topics" for January–July 2015.
Available installments are posted below.
January – Program Support for Den Leaders
February – Advancement
March – Program Planning
April – New Pack Meeting Plans
May – Aquatic Adventures
Additional content will be posted the last week of each month as follows:
June – Campfire Programs
July – Resources for Packs and Den Leaders
Find more information at scouting.org/programupdates.