Mechanics of Advancement: In Cub Scouting Delivering the Cub Scout Program

Den leaders and Cubmasters conduct meetings implementing the three steps in Cub Scout advancement: preparation, qualification, and recognition. The Den &Pack Meeting Resource Guide, No. 34409, explains the mechanics for doing so while helping to maximize advancement. It has four parts: Overview of Cub Scouting and Using the Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide; Den Meeting Plans; Pack Meeting Plans; and Resources, Forms, and Applications. Den meetings—two monthly—support a traditional school year and are designed to result in advancement for all boys. Supplemental plans are provided for dens that meet more often, and adjusting for different school schedules is simple. To achieve a full experience and the greatest impact, regular "home assignments" challenge parents and sons to work together. 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 "Internet Advancement Highlights,", purchases awards and ensures their presentation,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, No. 33221, 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 core den meeting plans as outlined in the Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide, No. 34409. For Wolf, Bear, and Webelos advancement, den leaders take the lead in approving requirements, though their assistants, and also parents who help at meetings, may be asked to play the role of "Akela" and assist. Parents sign for requirements that, according to meeting plans and instructions in the handbooks, take place at home. For the Bobcat trail and Tiger Cub achievements, parents (or adult partners) should sign in the boy's handbook; the den leader then approves as progress is recorded in the den's advancement record.

Akela (Ah-KAY-la) is a title of respect used in Cub Scouting—any good leader is Akela, which is also the leader and guide for Cub Scouts on the advancement trail.

After a new member earns his Bobcat badge, he begins on the Cub Scout rank appropriate to his age or grade. Once he has progressed past the Bobcat rank, he continues to move forward. In other words,he cannot go back and work on ranks that he missed due to his age. Upon earning the Webelos badge and the Arrow of Light Award, he will also have learned the requirements for the Scout badge and begins his journey through Boy Scouting. "Do Your Best"

Advancement performance in Cub Scouting is centered on its motto: "Do Your Best." When a boy has done this—his very best—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 effort put forth is really the Cub Scout's best. Cub Scout Ranks

The Cub Scout program is centered primarily in the den,the home and neighborhood, but often takes place in theoutdoors. It leads to advancement through six ranks.


The Bobcat badge is earned first, before all other ranks. The trail to Bobcat involves learning the Cub Scout Promise, Law of the Pack, and signs and symbols of Cub Scouting, with an introduction to Character Connections®. After earning the Bobcat rank, new members begin work on the rank appropriate to their age: Tiger Cub, Wolf, Bear, or Webelos.

Tiger Cub

Tiger Cub rank is for boys who are in the first grade (or are 7 years old).

After earning Bobcat rank, first-graders or boys at least 7 years old work on the Tiger Cub badge. Its 15 requirements are divided evenly among five achievements. Each of the five includes a family activity, a den activity, and a den outing called "Go See It."

Before receiving his Bobcat badge, a Tiger Cub earns the Immediate Recognition emblem. Then he adds a bead upon completing each of the 15 parts of the achievements. White beads are for family activities, orange for den activities, and black for Go See It outings.

Once a boy has earned his Tiger Cub badge, he can earn "Tiger Track" beads. These spark interest in new hobbies, activities, or skills. The flat, yellow beads are added to the Immediate Recognition emblem. One is awarded for every 10 electives finished. The elective activities appear in the youth handbook. There is no limit to the number of Tiger Track beads a boy can earn, and he can repeat electives at the discretion of the den leader and adult partner. A boy can work on them at the same time as achievements, but he cannot receive beads until he has earned the Tiger Cub badge. Wolf

The Wolf rank is for boys who have completed first grade or are 8 years old.

For the Wolf badge, work begins with 12 achievements involving simple physical and mental skills covering—for example—knowledge of the U.S. flag, a Cub Scout's religious duties, and other age-appropriate educational activities. When the 12 are completed, the Wolf badge is presented at a pack meeting. Bear

For the Bear rank, 12 achievements are required, just as for Wolf. However, boys have 24 from which to choose, organized into four categories: God, Country, Family, and Self. The requirements are more challenging than those for the Wolf rank. Progress Toward Ranks Emblem

The Progress Toward Ranks emblem acknowledges advancement as Wolf and Bear Cub Scouts complete the achievements. Like the Tiger Cub Immediate Recognition emblem, it hangs at the right pocket of the uniform shirt. It features a lanyard divided in two: one for Wolf, one for Bear. When a boy completes three achievements, he earns a bead: yellow for Wolf, red for Bear. Arrow Points

A newly recognized Wolf or Bear Cub Scout then turns his attention to Arrow Points. Arrow Points develop interests and teach skills, many of which are useful in Boy Scouting. One is awarded for every 10 electives: a Gold Arrow for the first 10, and Silver for every 10 there after. There is no limit to the number of Silver Arrows that can be awarded, but they must be completed before boys move to the next rank's program. Boys can choose from a number of electives; each represents an opportunity for experiential learning. Though designed to broaden horizons, those so designated may be earned multiple times; but when a boy repeats an elective, he should get credit only when his skills have improved over the previous experience. Boys may work on elective projects concurrently with achievements, but cannot receive Arrow Points until they earn the badge for their age or grade level.

Unused parts of achievements that were used for the Wolf or Bear badge may not be counted toward Arrow Points. For example, in Bear Achievement 9, "What's Cooking," four of seven parts listed are required for the achievement. The other three may not be used as electives toward Arrow Points. Since 12 achievements will have been used to earn the Bear badge, electives may be chosen from any of the remaining 12. Once a boy moves to the next rank level, he may not earn Arrow Points from the earlier level.

Webelos, an acronym for "We'll Be Loyal Scouts,"is the rank for boys who have completed third grade or are 10 years old. Webelos Scouts can choose between the diamond and oval patches for uniform wear. Webelos Badge

The Webelos Scout advancement plan has two primary components: the Webelos badge and the Arrow of Light Award. Both are based on activity badges that range from Aquanaut and Sportsman to Geologist and Forester (see "More on Webelos Activity Badges," Webelos badge calls for earning three of them, along with several other requirements listed in the Webelos Handbook.

There are 20 activity badges in all. Webelos Scouts may earn as many as they like. Compass Points

Compass points recognize progress beyond the Webelos badge and offer intermediate recognition leading to the Arrow of Light Award. The compass points emblem is presented to each boy who earns seven activity badges—four in addition to those required for Webelos rank. For every four thereafter, a metal compass point is pinned to the emblem. It takes 19 activity badges to earn the emblem and all three points. The Arrow ofLight Award

The Arrow of Light Award is Cub Scouting's highest rank.It is earned after fulfilling the requirements for the Webelos badge, usually during the second-year Webelos program. Much of the experience gives Webelos Scouts the chance to practice skills that prepare them to become Boy Scouts. Once completed, the award should be presented during an impressive pack ceremony involving Scouts from a local Scout troop. Their involvement may encourage eventual "bridging" recipients into the troop.

Webelos Scouts who have earned the Arrow of Light Award have also completed most of the requirements for the Scout badge. This can be easily completed and then presented when the boy has joined a troop and his Scoutmaster has signed for accomplishment in his Boy Scout Handbook.

The Arrow of Light Award may be completed only while the following four conditions are met: (1) The Webelos Scout has been registered and active for at least six months since completing the fourth grade or since turning 10 years old; (2) he is still registered in a pack or as a Lone Cub Scout; (3) he has not yet joined a troop; and (4) he has either not yet graduated from the fifth grade or has not yet turned 11, whichever is the latter.

The minimum age for a Cub Scout who has earned the Arrow of Light Award to become a Boy Scout is 10 years old. The Boy Scout joining requirements as stated in the Boy Scout Handbook, read as follows: "Be a boy who is 11 years old, or one who has completed the fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light Award and is at least 10 years old …" Cub ScoutingActivity-Based Programs

Many activities and related awards are available for Cub Scouts, dens, and packs. A few are outlined here. Others are covered in the Cub Scout Leader Book, No. 33221, and featured in the new Guide to Awards and Insignia (available in winter 2012).

All achievements, electives, and other requirements for Cub Scout ranks are shown in the respective handbooks. The Webelos Handbook includes requirements for the Arrow of Light Award and all activity badges. Fun for the Family Program

Cub Scouting's Fun for the Family program is a series of activities designed to help strengthen families. All family members are encouraged to participate and earn the Fun for the Family Award. Details can be found in Fun for the Family, No. 33012. The award includes a patch along with Fun for the Family program pins in five categories. Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program

More than just a recognition opportunity, this program develops new skills, improves those existing, and otherwise enriches Cub Scouting. Details can be found in the Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program Guide, No. 34299. Activities include subjects like science, video games, collecting, and chess; and sports such as baseball, skateboarding, and table tennis. Each has two levels—a belt loop and a pin. Belt loops, which can be earned more than once, are awarded when each of three requirements is met. Cub Scouts may then continue with additional requirements and earn the pin. Archery and BB gun shooting are included, but can only be conducted at a council presented activity with certified supervisors. More on Webelos Activity Badges

Activity badges help Webelos Scouts develop interests in areas that may lead to hobbies or career choices. The projects involved help accomplish the purposes of Cub Scouting while providing the foundation for exciting and worthwhile den meetings. Some badges may occupy a den for a few weeks; others may take longer. Families are encouraged to work at home with their boys on projects begun at den meetings, but the Webelos den leader approves completed work.

The Webelos den leader and assistant(s), and the den chief, may handle portions of instruction during meetings. But the badges will have more meaning when a qualified activity badge counselor teaches most of the requirements, provides resources, leads field trips, and gives other useful service. A parent or family member, pack leader, teacher, coach, or other adult with talents or skills related to the specific badges 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 activity badges.