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Doing away with Cub Scout loops/pins & replacing with merit badges

A while back, I think over the summer I took a server about changing cub scout rewards from belt loops/pins to just pins for all ranks or doing away with both loops and pins and doing merit badges like scouts bsa. What’s everyones opinion on a possible change? My unit and a couple other units in my area like the possible change from loops and pins to badges like scouts bsa. For example for Lion the boarder would still be yellow like the loops currently are and same with the background colors that required and elective loops show, the same with the outter boarder for tiger being orange, wolfs boarder being red, bears would still be blue, webelos and Arrow of light required and elective badges I think the servey described it to look just like the pins do currently.

I like the belt loop structure the way it is. It shows a systematic progression (belt fills up) over time. It’s fairly cost effective and they are clearly visible for the scouts.

The pins aren’t bad, would the adventure logos be visible on the pin?

Goodness! Just keep the loops! Adventure patches will most likely cost more per item and if anyone has ever done segment style patches in the past or remember the elective arrow points (that had to be sewn on to the uniform) - how quickly those get lost from the time you hand them to the scout to the time they walk over to their parent for them to get misplaced.
Makes me long for the old plastic pocket bead holder thing - beads are cheap.

BSA needs to refocus the cub program back to outdoor skills stuff and less inside academic meeting stuff - especially now that most dens/packs are dealing with indoor meeting restrictions…


I hate the belt loops

No one wears the belt in our pack. I don’t think most even buy the belt.

The problem with a merit badge esque program is Cub Scouts is targeted to the age while merit badges the whole troops is close to the same maturity level. A 1st grader can be way less mature than even a second grader.

I put this in another thread but I want age appropriate required activities, maybe five per year. Hiking, first aid, nature, citizenship, etc. The list of required items today isn’t bad, it just needs expanding. Like doing knives at 3rd and older is right. Cooking at 4th is right.

To the point made on going outdoors, I want a mix of requirements that would be best indoors and mix that would be outdoors. Like fitness ones- running is hard indoors so give me more aerobics alternatives. Writing is hard outdoors so replace with speaking roles.

Then have an everyone elective program with 10-15 requirement options per and much more that is hands on. Some can be all age, others can be age specific. Can require older Cubs to do more requirements or a different subset.
Ex K-3rd has to do 1-3 and 4th+ does 1-6. Or K-2 does 4 of any in the list while 3rd+ has to do #6 and five others.

So this does the merit badge program without it literally being the same for all ages.

Then instead of handing out a unique pin/loop per activity it’s more like the old arrow loops where you keep the same item in bulk for all ages.

And make it be something that’s worn on the unform. The old wolf/bear progress towards ranks used beads on a shirt worn lanyard. Another iteration was arrow shaped patches on the uniform. The old webelos program used compass pins on a patch. In all three cases advancement was very visual.

I was thinking pins yesterday and I still like the idea of a patch worn on the shirt, with a custom required pin for all ages and a simple single elective pin for all ages, buy millions and they’ll cost a lot less per. but beads can work too. They’re super cheap and easy to keep in bulk.

We liked the beads (even if they did bounce around when loose). We operate our pack on a shoestring budget and going from pennies for a bead to $2+ for a beltloop has had a huge impact on our budget. That along with the increased BSA fees and offering only spiral-bound books (two times as expensive as the regular books) has made it very difficult for some of our families to afford to continue with (or join) the pack.

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I thinks patches and beads (which was my Cub experience) would be the only alternate I would consider. Although many parents don’t even sew on the few patches that Cubs get now or if they do they place them improperly. In my own Pack it’s only the kids of Scouts that have all their patches sewn on and sewn on properly.

I feel pins are a bad idea for several reasons. Loss of pins due to backers falling off, safety issues if a Cub falls down on the pin side of their uniform, constant removal and replacing of pins for washing or activities can result in lost pins or pins just not being worn, cost to parents of replacing lost pin or backers.

While I understand (and empathize with) the cost issue I personally like the belt loops as the individual awards images often stir up conversation. Back in the day you’d see a Cub with the elective arrows and just say “oh they earned some electives” (which was my experience). What I’ve seen with the loops is rather different since, as I said, the images tend to stir up more conversation. My son has so far earned an average of 6 electives for each rank (which we pay ourselves for as our Pack dues only cover loops required for advancement). I’ve seen younger Cubs, new Cubs and Parents ask him about a particular loop because the image on the loop was interesting (something he did himself when he was a younger Cub). Each time this gives him a chance to explain and discuss the award and what he did to earn it. This really instills a sense of pride and accomplishment in him and encourages him to do and earn more.

Although I have to say when you run out of space on your belt it’s a pain in the rear figuring out a way to display all belt loops earned. We ended up creating a horizontal lanyard from a second Cub belt (it hangs from belt loops of his uniform bottom) to display Adventure Loops from previous ranks that don’t fit anymore.

Kinds hardly wear the loops in my back as well and I can’t tell you how many times parents have complained cause their kid lost an item. From my understanding about the merit badge set up was the designs currently shown on loops will be the same. Other scouting programs such as Cub scouts scouts in canada use merit badge styles for their Cub scouts too. They would still be rank/age appropriate too. Tigers would still earn tiger MB same with wolf, bear and Webelos. Only difference in webelos design would be they would look like they do now with webelos 1 required mb still diamond shaped like the pins, webelos 2 MB still arrow head shaped like the pins and webelos 1&2 electives still oval shaped like the pins. I have had a few cub parents agree with that design as well as a couple of our committee members.

Following the comments below has been difficult to understand. Entire packs where the Scouts are not wearing their awards doesn’t sound good. Part of the Scouting method is that the Scouts are awarded for their achievments and then get to display that achievement.
I do sympathize with the many comments on cost. My Webelos den has been learning about Scouting in Brazil, and they have a very streamlined award system in that program such as the merit badge system is part of all age groups in Scouting. The program is very different than our setup here. I think some form of streamlining could be possible in the cub scout program to decrease costs and improve the program delivery.
I have had my children in violin and cello lessons from age 4 through high school. And the costs are significantly higher, with summer camps running beyond $900 - $1,000 for 1 week and highschool orchestra fees that exceed anything I have paid in one year of scouting.

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