Mechanics of Advancement in Cub Scouting Delivering the Cub Scout Program

Den leaders, Cubmasters, and their assistants conduct meetings implementing the three steps in Cub Scout advancement: preparation, qualification, and recognition. Four separate den leader guides—one each for the Tiger, Wolf, and Bear programs, and one combined for Webelos and Arrow of Light—explain the mechanics for doing so while helping to maximize advancement. Den meetings—ideally three per month, one of which may include an outing—follow a traditional school year and are designed to result in advancement for all youth. Elective adventures provide flexibility for dens that meet more often and facilitate summertime den activities or adjustments for different school schedules. Den leaders complete most advancement activities, called adventures, in the den setting. To achieve a full experience and the greatest impact, some adventures are designed to be completed in the home or family setting. Packs should meet monthly to assure timely recognition of the Cub Scouts’ accomplishments. The Role of the Pack Committee

Den leaders, Cubmasters, and their assistants stimulate interest in advancement and present the program where it occurs. The responsibility for Cub Scout advancement administration, however, belongs to a pack committee (“Unit Advancement Responsibilities,” The pack committee collects den advancement reports, compiles and maintains them in pack records, reports advancement to the council (see “Electronic Advancement Reporting,”, purchases awards and assures the awards are promptly presented, and helps plan and facilitate various ceremonies. The committee may also recommend special pack activities that lead to greater levels of achievement.

Consult the Cub Scout Leader Book to learn more about the responsibilities of the pack committee. Who Approves Cub Scout Advancement?

A key responsibility for den leaders is to implement the den meeting plans as outlined in the four den leader guides shown within this topic. For Lion through Bear ranks, if the activity is completed outside of the den meeting, the parent, adult partner, or another trusted adult may sign in the Cub Scout’s handbook, indicating the Cub Scout has done their best to complete the requirement. The den leader then records that requirement after consultation with the family or the Cub Scout to confirm completion. If the requirement is completed in a den meeting, the den leader signs the handbook and records the requirement. Den leaders may delegate an assistant or parent who helps at meetings to assist with the approvals. For Webelos and Arrow of Light adventures and ranks, the den leader signs for approval of all requirements, unless the den leader delegates this responsibility. “Do Your Best”

Cub Scouts—even those of the same age, grade, and gender—may have very different developmental timetables. For this reason, advancement performance in Cub Scouting is centered on its motto: “Do Your Best.” When a Cub Scout has done this—their best effort possible—then regardless of the requirements for any rank or award, it is enough; accomplishment is noted. This is why den leaders, assistants, and parents or guardians are involved in approvals. Generally they know if the effort put forth is really the Cub Scout’s best.

A Cub Scout who has completed advancement should be congratulated immediately and publicly. And though badges of rank should be reserved for the next pack meeting, it is best to present items such as belt loops and pins soon after they have been earned. If it is possible for the pack to report and purchase these awards quickly, they could be presented at a den meeting, rather than waiting for a pack meeting. If presented at den meetings, the accompanying pocket certificates can be used in a ceremony at a subsequent pack meeting—or vice versa with the pocket certificates at a den meeting. However this is done, it is important to note that advancement is an individual process, not dependent on the work or progress of others. Awards should not be withheld for group recognition. Likewise, a youth should not be presented with recognition that was not earned simply to avoid anyone “feeling left out.”

In the same spirit as “Do Your Best,” if a Cub Scout is close to earning a badge of rank when it is time to transition to a new den, the pack committee, in consultation with the den leader and the Cub Scout’s parent or guardian, may allow a few weeks to complete the badge before going on to the next rank. Earning it will give the youth added incentive to continue in Scouting and carry on and tackle the next rank.

What about a youth who must repeat a grade in school? Generally, repeating a grade does not mean being kept back in Cub Scouting, but it depends on the circumstances and what is best for the youth. The decision is up to the parent or guardian. Cub Scout Ranks

The Cub Scout program is centered primarily in the den, the home, and the neighborhood, but often takes place in the outdoors. It leads to advancement through seven ranks, which—except for the Bobcat rank—are gradeor age-based. Cub Scout dens are named for the rank, other than Bobcat and Arrow of Light, that the members are working to achieve. Cub Scouts are eligible to earn ranks as follows:

Lion. For youth who are kindergarten age.
Bobcat. Earned first by all Cub Scouts except Lions, no matter when they join.
Tiger. For youth who have completed kindergarten or are 7 years old.
Wolf. For youth who have completed first grade or are 8 years old.
Bear. For youth who have completed second grade or are 9 years old.
Webelos. For youth who have completed third grade or are 10 years old.
Arrow of Light. For youth who have completed fourth grade.

Cub Scouts do not “go back” and work on ranks designed for earlier grade levels, even if missed due to their time of joining. Likewise, Cub Scouts do not “move ahead” to work on the next rank until the completion of the current school year (or until their next birthday if their chartered organization transitions by age), with the exception of those who earned the Webelos rank in the fourth grade. Lion

Youth who are kindergarten age and a parent, guardian, or other caring adult approved by the parent or guardian in accordance with BSA policy may join the Lion program. Unlike other Cub Scouts, these youth do not begin with the Bobcat rank. Like other Cub Scouts, however, they earn the Lion rank by completing adventures.

Note that Cub Scouts do not go back and work on ranks missed due to their age at the time of joining. Bobcat

Except for Lions, all youth begin with the Bobcat rank regardless of their age when they join Cub Scouting. It involves learning about the values, signs, and symbols of the Boy Scouts of America and Cub Scouting. While working on Bobcat, a Cub Scout may work on the age- or gradeappropriate rank, but must finish Bobcat before any other rank is awarded.

Note that Cub Scouts do not go back and work on ranks missed due to their ages at the time of joining. Tiger, Wolf, and Bear

For Tiger, Wolf, and Bear ranks—which are earned by Cub Scouts who have completed kindergarten, first grade, and second grade respectively (or are age 7, 8, or 9, respectively)—the youth completes several adventures as described in the youth handbooks. Most of those adventures are required and at least one is chosen from the electives available for each rank. “Adventures” are collections of themed, multidisciplinary activities representing approximately three den meetings of engaging content. Elective and required adventures may be undertaken at the same time. As the youth finish an adventure, they are awarded a belt loop that is worn on the official Cub Scout belt. Belt loops should be presented as soon as possible. When the requirements for each rank are fulfilled, the rank badge is presented at the next pack meeting.

Note that although participation with a parent or other caring adult is required for all Lion and Tiger adventures, recognition items are for the Cub Scouts only. Webelos and Arrow of Light

Just as with the previous ranks, Cub Scouts complete a specified number of adventures as they earn the Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks. The mix of required and elective adventures for the Webelos rank and for the Arrow of Light rank is fully explained in each program’s youth handbook.

The Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks have some additional requirements in addition to the adventures. For the Webelos rank, Scouts must have completed the third grade (or be 10 years old) and must be an active member of the Webelos den for three months. For the Arrow of Light rank, Scouts must be active in the Webelos den for at least six months since completing the fourth grade (or since becoming 10 years old).

An adventure pin is awarded for each completed adventure. These may be worn on the Webelos colors or on the front of the Webelos cap. The youth are free to work on required and elective adventure pins at the same time. Adventure pins should be presented as soon as possible. When the requirements for the Webelos or Arrow of Light ranks are fulfilled, the rank badge is presented at the next pack meeting.

Arrow of Light is Cub Scouting’s final rank before joining Scouts BSA. Much of the experience gives a youth the chance to practice skills in preparation for becoming a Scout in Scouts BSA. Once completed, the rank should be presented during an impressive ceremony involving Scouts from a local Scout troop. Their involvement may encourage the eventual “bridging” of recipients into the troop.

Webelos, an acronym for “WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts,” is the rank for youth who have completed third grade or are 10 years old. Webelos Scouts wear the tan uniform.

The minimum age for a Cub Scout who has earned the Arrow of Light Award to join Scouts BSA is 10 years old. The requirements for joining Scouts BSA, as stated in the Scouts BSA Handbook, include the following: “Have completed the fifth grade and be at least 10 years old OR be at least 11 years old OR have earned the Arrow of Light Award and be at least 10 years old…”

The Arrow of Light rank is the only Cub Scout badge authorized to be worn on the Scouts BSA uniform once a youth transitions into a troop; it is worn below the left pocket. On an adult uniform, the Arrow of Light rank is recognized with a red and green square knot worn above the left pocket.

All youth who are in Webelos dens and are in the fifth grade shall work on Arrow of Light requirements. They can earn the Arrow of Light rank without earning the Webelos rank. More on Webelos and Arrow of Light Adventure Pins

Many adventure pins help Webelos and Arrow of Light Scouts develop interests in areas that may lead to hobbies or career choices. The Webelos and Arrow of Light den leaders and assistants, and the den chief, may handle portions of instruction during meetings. But some pins will have more meaning when a knowledgeable adventure pin “counselor” works with the youth on the requirements, providing resources, leading field trips, and giving other useful service. A parent or family member, pack leader, teacher, coach, or other adult with talents or skills related to the specific pin may serve in this capacity. A local Scoutmaster or the district advancement chair can help identify merit badge counselors who might also work with related adventure pins.

Note that except for the references to merit badge counselors, the policies and procedures for adventure pins offered through non-Scouting organizations or businesses, and those regarding charging fees for adventure pin opportunities, are the same as those described in section 7, “The Merit Badge Program,” topics and