"We'll Be Loyal Scouts"
The Webelos Program
The goal of the Webelos program, for 4th and 5th grade boys, is to prepare the Cub Scout to join a Boy Scout troop. This is done over the course of 20 months 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. A good program also provides the Scouts with many opportunities to grow in the Webelos Virtues.
Our Webelos Dens have been very exciting to watch as the boys change from being squirrely 3rd graders mostly intent on running around and playing to being a Patrol that can recognize a goal, the requirements to fulfill the goal, and the ambition to accomplish the goal. The trail to the destination is as rewarding as the destination, but they learn to plan the work and work the plan and enjoy the process. Of course, we do not turn everything over to the boys at the First Webelos meeting -- we gradually give them more tasks to do, such as taking attendance, checking uniforms, leading flag ceremonies, making announcements, preparing snacks, planning Webelos activity badge outings, organizing campouts, and leading entire meetings.
We are having very good success running the Webelos program more adult-led up through January of the 4th grade, gradually passing responsibility to the Scouts. By that time, each Scout earns his Webelos rank badge... so it is a good time to change from blue shirts to tan, receive the Webelos badge, and start morphing into a Patrol. It is also a good point to start promoting the fact that each Scout is responsible for his own advancement and there will be few 'Den-wide' completions of activity badges - each boy will complete these on his own schedule. We concentrate on having more Patrol games, contests, and skill-building rather than activities directly related to an activity badge at our Den meetings - this causes each scout to perform more of the activity badge requirements on his own and then contact the Den Leader for sign off. Again, this is a gradual change over a few months and we still do activity badge projects and tasks at the meetings, but not all of them.
The Webelos program has two major milestones:
- The Webelos rank badge -- to be earned around February of 4th grade
- The Arrow of Light -- to be earned around February of 5th grade. It is the final part of Webelos... "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 that are very important to the success of the program. Making sure that the Leaders, Scouts AND the Scout Parents are understanding of these changes and the expectations of the program is critical to success. The Webelos Den Leader has much more paperwork and tracking to perform than the Wolf or Bear Den Leaders.