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Crossovers/Bridging for every rank?

Although I’ve been in scouting for over 30 years, it’s been about 25 since I’ve been involved at the Pack level. Now that Cub Scouts is accepting girls, We’re nearing the end of our first season in the pack. This pack didn’t let me off easy after hearing my extensive history. They recruited me as committee chair right away.

Anyhow, this pack is currently a smaller pack. I’d say it’s in a regrowth phase. There is nobody around that’s been in the pack for more than a few years. So the sense of history and tradition is very short, and there are many places where it’s obvious that some of the big picture stuff is happening.

This pack had a tradition of doing crossovers at blue and gold in February. And they didn’t cross over just the Webelos, they crossed everyone over to the next rank. This didn’t sit right with me. It felt weird advancing or “graduating” scouts to the next rank in the middle of the program year. They’ve barely had one month to work on each of the required adventures. (and that means only one meeting per loop, but that’s another problem for another thread) Not to mention, in CS, the rank advancement is more about age level than individual achievement anyhow. So I put a stop to that and moved the advancement to the end of the program year with the exception of the Webelos. Their program really is done by February and it makes sense to cross them over to the troop at that point. This doesn’t prematurely put them at the next rank since there’s no grade level rank association at the troop level.

So we did the B&G in February and acknowledged achievements for every scout, and crossed over the AOLs to the troops, but we made sure to skip the premature advancement ceremony for everyone else and defer that to the last pack meeting of the year. That’s now coming up next week and we’re now figuring out what it should look like.

The cubmaster is still thinking of it as a crossover/bridging ceremony. I guess it’s a matter of perception. But I don’t think it should be a crossover/bridging and include an actual bridge, and a fancy ceremony with with a fabricated storyline. This is just an advancement. Yes they get to stand in front of everyone and get presented the rank badge, and a new neckerchief.

IMO, the crossover/bridging and special ceremony should be reserved for the AOL to Scout transition. That keeps it as something special that they look forward to. Doing the big fancy ceremony for every rank waters down the experience for everyone.

Next, the Webelos don’t get a new neckerchief as they transition to their second year. Do you think they need to be given something besides just the rank badge?

I’ll remind you that this pack is in a state of transition and growth. This is a good time to fix things for the better because there aren’t a lot of people here who would notice that it’s different than previous years and complain about it

So I’m looking for opinions. What should the end of year advancement ceremony look like?

My pack owns the neckerchiefs so Scouts don’t get to keep them year to year. We have a hand down ceremony at the last pack meeting of the school year.

First, the Lions are called up, given their final awards and a neckerchief slide and congratulated on becoming Tigers. The Tigers are called up and stand behind them. They remove their Tiger neckerchiefs and place them on the Lions. After a cheer, the new Tigers sit down.

Now the old Tigers move up, are given their final awards and congratulated. The Wolves stand behind them, remove their neckerchiefs and place them on the new Wolves.

This repeats until the Bears. The current 1st year Webelos stand behind them and are handed neckerchiefs turned in by the 2nd year Webelos that crossed over earlier in the year. They place these neckerchiefs on the new Webelos.

Finally, the new 2nd year Webelos are up front by themselves. The CM explains they are now the senior Scouts in the pack, preparing to cross over to a troop. They are charged with setting a good example for the younger Scouts, helping to teach them how to be good Scouts and helping the leaders as necessary.

When I joined the pack as a Lion leader 8 years ago, I noticed at B&G there were new Scouts and those crossing over to the troop. There were very few Tigers, Wolves or Bears present. The reason turned out the pack made B&G all about the crossover, with one leader telling me “This is the Webelos day”.

I was able to convince the committee to move Crossover to a different night. Ever since the attendance at B&G has increased as it is now celebrating Cub Scouts, not just one den.

Best of luck with your ceremony.

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There is a book that you can get from the Scout shop called: Cub Scouts Ceremonies for Den and Pack. It has some ideas in it for end of year transition ceremonies. You can also do an Internet search for end of year den transition ceremony ideas.

For packs that transition based on grade (not age), the Cub Scout program is designed for Scouts to be able to earn their rank by the end of the school year (also see BSA Guide to Advancement 4.1.0.4 “Do Your Best”). An exception to this is that 5th grade Webelos Scouts typically earn the Arrow of Light rank and crossover to a troop around January-March. Cub Scouts who have already earned their rank can continue to work on adventures and awards appropriate for their den level until the end of the school year, when the pack transitions the dens to the next den level.

I have seen different ceremonies for the end of year transition to the next den level. It all depends on what you want it to look like. One option is where a den of Cub Scouts go behind a curtain of some kind where they get their new neckerchief and slide, and they come out the other side and are presented to the pack as the new Webelos / Bear / Wolf / Tiger den. Some packs call this the “Cub-o-Matic” because it simulates a “machine” where the Cub Scouts appear to go in one side as one den level and come out on the other side as the next den level.

Some packs use a monkey bridge and have Cub Scouts climb over it to represent transitioning from one den level to the next (and have a lot of fun at the same time). Some packs use the same bridge that is used for Webelos Scouts who crossover to troops. I think that some kind of neckerchief ceremony is the most common. It’s up to you and your pack what you want the ceremony to look like. A goal would be for it to be fun and memorable for the Scouts.

Many packs let the Webelos Scouts help put the neckerchiefs on the younger Scouts.

I would recommend that if there are any ranks badges to present, that the rank badges be presented to the Scouts prior to the den transition ceremony to give some separation between the two different ceremonies. Cub Scouts should be earning their ranks throughout the school year and presented with their rank badge soon after earning it preferably at the next pack meeting (GTA section 4.1.0.4 “Do Your Best”). One of the goals should be immediate recognition (or close to it) for completing adventures, ranks, and awards.

Best wishes for your ceremony!

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We ran into the same issue when we moved to a new Pack. Our original Pack made B&G about all the Scouts. We had skits and recognition for all the boys, then the cross-over ceremony performed by our OA lodge, then some appropriate entertainment (a magician a couple of times, a zoologist with some interesting animals, etc.) Turn out was almost always near 100% of the scouts, along with their whole families.

We had to move to a new Pack for my younger son’s last year as a Cub. That pack treated B&G as the “Web2 cross over” event, and made the 4th graders host it. Engagement was low, almost none of the younger scouts attended, and nobody really looked forward to it.

tl;dr Make the event include all the scouts, and it will be much more successful!

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Thanks for the ideas folks.

When we changed around B&G this year, we were careful to make it not just about the Webelos. Sure they had the most significant ceremony of the day, but that’s appropriate considering they’ve reached the end of the CS trail. But for the rest of the dens, we acknowledged all of the loops they’ve earned thus far, and we did a little facepaint ceremony marking the step along the journey they’re currently at.

I totally agree that there should be stuff to involve all of the scouts at every pack meeting But I don’t think that it should necessarily be the same stuff for all of the levels. And I believe in a progressive program where each successive rank looks like a bigger and bigger achievement. it gives them a set path to follow and benchmarks for which to aspire.

Thanks Jennifer for the resource ideas. I often forget to go back to those print resources that are out there for us. And while there’s certainly a lot to be found on the internet, you have to sort thru a lot of junk to find quality program features that’s on point and consistent with the overall vision.

I’m in complete agreement about semi-immediate recognition. We hand out belt loops at the very next pack meeting. But we structure the rank curriculum into the meeting plans so that it intentionally takes a whole year to earn the rank. In this way nobody actually earns the rank until the end of the year. But there’s a good chance that everyone has actually earned it because nobody missed out on an important requirement. We front load the year with elective stuff to pad the recruitment season. That way we’re not working on the required stuff till we’ve given ample time for people to join and get acclimated. The Cub Scout program has that awkward concept of annual level advancement even if the previous rank was not earned. So scheduling the program so that the earning of the badge corresponds with the end of the year, helps to eliminate that awkwardness. And it also gives the most people the chance to actually earn the rank so you don’t end up with many people advancing without earning the previous rank.

I must say that the idea of Webelos 2 (AOL) scouts transitioning in the winter season is a bit odd to me. That’s not how it was done years ago when I was last involved in cub scouting. Back then we would bridge to a troop in May and then go straight to camp with the troop in July after only a few meetings with them. It also feels weird to have all of your oldest scouts in the pack missing for that last half of the year. But it does make sense to get them into the troop earlier and that’s how the new AOL program is structured anyhow.

CrossoverCeremony.pdf (547.8 KB)

This is one I made for our Pack a couple of years ago - It’s not all spelled out, as it was meant as mostly notes for me, but it may give some ideas.

We have a small bridge that was built by a former Scout’s dad that we use at our Crossover.

We have a Scout from the next rank up come to the middle of the bridge and serve as a “guide” for the den preparing to cross over. The Scouts cross the bridge and get their new neckerchiefs, and their Akelas paint their faces as part of the celebration. It’s relatively simple, but they enjoy the experience immensely.

IMG_8034

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Wow, attractive bridge.

I’m going through some similar things now. I actually had some really good ideas at roundtable this past month. Here’s what I sort of want my plan to look like next year:

  • Blue & Gold is a celebration of Scouting’s Birthday, and happens to be a great time to transition the Webelos 2 / AOL scouts over to Scouts BSA. This will happen in Feb (because that’s the month of BP’s birthday)
  • Scouts should, as according to the guide to advancement, get their rank badges as they earn them. If a scout earns Wolf in March, then we’re going to award that in March. I think it takes a little away from earning that badge, but I also think that it can be useful to get other kids going when they see their friends that are already wearing that rank badge.
  • In May, at our pack meeting (might be shifted outdoors and/or on a weekend…), we will do a neckerchief ceremony to signify them going to the next level of scouting. This can also include a bridge, if you want (it’s up to you, I get both sides here).
  • For Webelos I to Webelos II / AOL, I have given them walking sticks in the past. I put some sort of story together as “use these walking sticks to help you along your trail to Scouts” or something like that.

That’s my thoughts and input. It sounds like you’re going in the right direction. I agree to not force everyone to get rank badges complete by Feb. I’ve seen major burn-out on scouting families that do that, and then you loose them sometime after the pinewood derby and hope that they come back in the fall.

Presenting the Scouts with their rank badges soon after they are earned (at the next pack meeting) reinforces the fact that they are being recognized for their individual achievements. Most Cub Scouts will have forgotten what they did in order to earn the rank if they have to wait until the end of the school year (could be several months later) before they are presented with their rank badge. As you said, it can also be useful to get other kids going when they see their friends already wearing the rank badge.

These replies lead to an interesting question. How many of you actually have scouts that work on individual advancement? We really don’t see that here. Pretty much all advancement is earned at den and pack meetings. There’s a few exceptions for things that need to be done at home, but those are generally done like “homework assignments”. The question of when advancement is earned by each scout really comes down to what meetings they were in attendance for. And because of that, the den leaders (not the scouts) are really the ones who control when rank is earned.

Jon,

When I was a den leader, I often had Scouts work on and complete rank prior to others in the den. Many times this was because these Scouts attended summer camp, camporee, etc, others it was because the Scout was more motivated to finish. In general, the Cub Scout program is designed so that most Scouts finish the rank requirements at the same time, however, there are exceptions.

We have some finish their rank requirements as early as October and others take until May based on activities they’ve attended and getting their homework done.

I have seen many Cub Scouts do at least some advancement outside of den / pack meetings or activities. However, a lot of parents do not realize that their Scouts can do some things at school or with their family that can count towards Cub Scout advancements.

Hi, Jon,

Typically, all of the “Duty to God” adventures have been outside of the den environment, due to the diversity of faith groups in our pack. We have also had scouts/parents who can’t make a given meeting propose an alternative (e.g. building something at home for Build It instead of group project activity at Home Depot).

There are basically two schools of thought on advancement. Slow, steady, structured advancement or at your own pace. I prefer the latter for a few important reasons. When we do advancements according to involvement we allow the program to be about the scouts, not the protocol, not leaderships convenience, not ‘the program’, but about the scouts. Also, if you have dedicated parents that are involved and they ask for discretion in advancement you should honor their request as it is ‘discretion’ not actual scouting policy that is being discussed. It is also tempting to ‘keep everyone together’ but again, that is a discretionary decision, not a policy decision. You will find your pack will be a fun place if you keep your discretion in line with the parents. Also, there is nothing wrong with the AOL scouts crossing over in December as long as they are active throughout the summer. This is not a question of how you personally feel about it or how it affects ‘the program’ but rather what is best for the scout. Again, it is tempting to think this weakens the pack but again, make it about the scout, make it about enabling them in any way, shape, or form. Make your meetings dynamic. Honor discretionary requests whenever possible. You will find this will eliminate previous frustrations and strengthen your pack’s spirit.

I would add another reason:

Allowing Scouts to pursue their own advancement outside of den / pack meetings and activities (when allowed by the requirements) is good preparation for when they move on to a troop.

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I wasn’t questioning the merits of working on the advancement on their own. Just wondering if anyone actually sees it happening in the real world these days.
Perhaps it’s a function of where you live and what the family life looks like around there. In these days of single working parents, or two working parent households, and elementary school students that get homework, there’s very little time left in the day to do things like cub scout advancement at home.

Yes, I still see it. I saw a Webelos Scout in February who had earned every Webelos / AOL elective adventure. Packs / dens might not do some of the adventures, due to cost or lack of access (for example: access to a pool for the Salmon Run or Aquanaut adventures). But a family can do those activities on their own.

I create a program based on getting requirements met. My duty is to the scout as an individual. I try to involve families as that is a big purpose of Cub Scouting. More often than not I see a lot of talk and little action from the parents. Or parents (and leaders) are so involved in other activities that showing up (or not) 1 hour per week is the complete extent of their involvement.

Here is what I have seen work and not work.

The Good.
Good plan from the Den leaders at least a month in advance.

Cub Master co-ordination to help with requirements across the entire pack (service project planning).

AOL having a separate ceremony just for their crossover.

Every rank neckerchief ceremony cross over (tomorrow night).

The bad.

Having a rank up ceremony at Blue and Gold.
Parents and leaders dropped off like we closed shop. Part of this was due to Baseball. I was the Bear Den leader and I held meetings for Lions, Wolves and Weblos because of it.

I am trying something new this Summer. I will be the Tiger Den Leader and I am running a summer program for Tiger Electives.

We may be an outlier.

Our B&G is this weekend. We bridge our Web II’s in Feb with a ceremony. Scouts earn rank thru the year. We will have about 40% of the pack getting their badges this weekend, the other 60% have already earned their’s.

Holding the B&G later serves the purpose of promoting all dens at one time in a ceremony where almost all have earned their rank.

We are trying a camouflage tunnel with strobe lights and smoke for our ceremony.