Webelos is a 20 month program for 4th and 5th grade boys to prepare to join a Boy Scout troop while learning outdoors skills and participating in 20 different activity badges. A well-run group of Webelos is a gradual change from being an ‘adult-run’ den to being a ‘boy-run’ patrol ready to fit right into an adventurous scouting troop. This migration requires the parents and den leaders to give the scouts more and more control, decision-making power, and responsibility as they progress in skills, abilities, and maturity.
The Webelos program has two major milestones – the Webelos rank badge to be earned around February of 4th grade and the Arrow of Light to be earned around February of 5th grade. The final part of Webelos is bridging over into a Boy Scout troop selected individually by the scout.
Once the goals of Webelos are understood, the methods of the program make a lot of sense! There are a few major changes between Cub Scouts and Webelos scouts that are very important to the success of your program.
Important differences from Cub Scouts to Webelos:
- Advancement Sign Off – each Webelos scout is supposed to take his handbook to the den leader or assistant den leader for sign off when a requirement is completed. This is a change from having a parent sign off every activity. This change prepares the scout to have a ScoutMaster sign off each advancement requirement in Boy Scouts. There is more responsibility put on the scout to remember and bring his handbook to meetings and get it signed.
Tip: Help the scouts along until they get the routine. Have them bring their Webelos handbook to every meeting and reward them for bringing them until they get it. Have a list of activity badge requirements that you plan on completing at a meeting so you, your assistant, or a parent on your behalf can sign off those that are completed right away. This will help the scouts understand the importance of the handbook.
- Webelos Activity Badges – Bear and Wolf scouts earned red or yellow progress towards rank beads to string on a totem. Once enough were earned, they received the rank badge. Webelos moves closer to the Boy Scout merit badge system with a recognizable pin for each activity badge earned. Individual scouts may earn different badges at different times and there are only a couple badges that are mandatory to earn ranks. This change gives the scout more control over his advancement and lets him choose areas he enjoys more.
- Camping – Webelos dens should Camp! Cub Scouts can camp as a pack, but Webelos should go out as a den as much as possible to give the scouts opportunities to learn and use their Outdoorsman, Naturalist, Forester, and Readyman skills. Each Webelos scout needs to have an adult responsible for him on each camping trip. Campouts in the backyard with dinner and s’mores made on a gas grill can be a great way to ease your scouts into the world of camping. Taking your den to a district or council organized summer Webelos camp should be a required part of your program.
- Patrols – a patrol is just another name for the den but it does have some significance. Boy Scouts are organized into Patrols, each with their own name, flag, yell, leader, and emblem. As Webelos, a den can begin to operate as a patrol and select an emblem for their uniform, make up a yell, name, and flag. This can really get the scouts to become a team. Taking their flag along on a campout or hike and announcing themselves with their yell is pretty fun.