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Language of Scouting - Missing terms

Today, I discovered the “Language of Scouting”. I had always hoped that something like this existed, but never knew where to find it until today.

There are two terms related to Cub Scouts which I couldn’t find in it. They are “bridging” and “cross over”. I was reviewing some of my training recently, and noticed that in CS19 - Conducting a Cub Scout Pack Meeting, it defined these two terms.

  • Bridging - This is when Cub Scouts have completed their grade level at the end of the school year and officially form the next grade level den.

  • Cross Over - This is when 5th Grade Webelos join a troop. This should be a special ceremony that involves a local BSA troop.

When I was a scout, we only had a cross over, and I had never heard the term bridging until I was in a pack as a parent. Based upon my adult experiences, it seems that many packs and leaders refer to cross overs as bridgings incorrectly.

Does anyone know if there is a place where these two terms are defined outside of this training module? Also, any ideas on how I could submit a recommendation to have them included in the Language of Scouting?


I have passed this along.
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@WilliamNelson Thank you for passing them along and for the form to submit others. I have a few other terms I may submit, but the only publication I could find that actually defined these two terms was a training module. I feel that if we can get them out in circulation, they might be used properly.

I passed it along, but I don’t agree with the definitions as given in the training. Cub Scouts bridge into ScoutsBSA. The tradition has been there for a very long time (at least 50 years) to call the act of a Cub Scout becoming a Scout, bridging.

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In my experience, the term crossover has been more common, but the Webelos-to-Scouts Transition page uses both terms, although in different contexts: “crossover ceremony” vs. “bridge into a Scouts BSA troop”.

From what I understand, GSUSA uses the term bridging to denote the transition between their various levels. I’m guessing this is why some folks who are familiar with that process may use the same term to represent the transition between the different Cub Scout ranks/grades.

Personally, I’ve preferred the term “graduation” (for when scouts switch grades) and “crossover” (to represent AOL to Troop “bridging”), but I admit that graduation isn’t exactly the most appropriate term either.

In Ceremonies for Dens and Packs, the term used is “transition ceremony”, or even “neckerchief ceremony”. So I think officially, bridging is not used in this context, and instead a more generic “moving up” or “forward” along the Scouting trail has been the preferred terminology.

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The use of “bridging” to mean moving from Webelos to Scouts BSA is sufficiently ubiquitous in our area that many units actually have a small “bridge” they use for the process (or conduct the event in a location that has an actual one). Our pack uses the same term (and bridge) for moving up to the next “rank-level” den in June.

I’ve seen crossover used synonymously with bridging to refer to the same events, even extending in some cases to what might be a ret-conned explanation that “crossing over” refers to “crossing over the bridge”.

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Thanks for the thoughts on bridging and crossover. I’ve had this question since joining in Sept last year.
I’m sometimes a bit pedantic, so knowing what each is supposed to mean is important to me.

From this topic so far, “bridging” should be removed and considered unit level jargon as it might mean cub scout transition or crossover.

Cub scout terms to disambiguate:
Transition ceremony
Neckerchief ceremony
Bridging ceremony
Crossover ceremony
Advancement ceremony

I’ve always known a crossover to either be over an actual bridge or a symbolic bridge. I don’t really care what the terms are, I just want them to be defined so that we can use them uniformly.

When I was a Cub Scout in the 1970s, we called the ceremony marking the transition from Webelos Scouts to Boy Scouts a pack graduation ceremony. The certificate I received recognized me as having graduated from the pack. We did walk across a bridge, but we did not call it a bridging ceremony. Now, as a Cubmaster, I call it a pack graduation ceremony in my pack, and we present the certificate that says so,

The GSUSA was already using the term bridging in the 1970s for transitions from Brownies ==> Juniors ==> Cadettes ==> Seniors. The older, more traditional term for those completing their time as Brownies and moving on to Intermediate Girl Scouts or Juniors was Flying Up, and one may sometimes hear this from old timers at multi-level bridging ceremonies as Brownies walk across the bridge.

Each level fo Girl Scouting offers a bridging award. To ean it, the girl must explore what lies ahead and leave something behind for younger girls. For instance, a Brownie working on the Bridge to Juniors Award needs to talk with a Junior about the things she will be doing. She also needs to talk with a group of Daisies about what they can expect when they become Brownies or teach them something she learned as a Brownie.

Te current bridging awards are arcs with different multi-colored patterns worn on the next level vest or sash. The Bridge to Juniors Award earned by Brownies is worn on the Junior uniform. Since the uniform for Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors is the same, a girl might have three bridging awards stacked on top of one another on her uniform.

For Ambassador Girl Scouts who are aging out, there is a Bridge to Adult Award that may be worn by adults.

Girls who complete Brownies are presented Brownie Wings. These are traditional and trace back to the Flying Up concept. Up until the 1940s, Brownie Wings were earned, and they came in different colors based on the girl’s accomplishments as a Brownie. However, after Brownie ranks were abolished, the Wings are presented to any girl who was registered as a Brownie and continues in the program. The Wings are worn on the Junior uniform and then removed and transferred to the Cadette/Senior/Ambassador uniform.

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Huh. I’ve been using those terms exactly in the opposite sense. Entirely for historical reasons because of how my previous pack used to use it. This actually makes more sense. I even took this training and somehow missed it!

An interesting note in the Language of Scouting webpage pertaining to style:


Don’t be afraid to use them, but don’t overdo it. Contractions reflect informal speech and writing. Contractions are acceptable in informal contexts where they reflect the way a phrase commonly appears in speech or writing and when they won’t cause confusion.

How local and informal are the terms referred to in this discussion?

In Cub Scouts the process of switching to the next program is of course automatic with the school year ending.

The school terminology is to Advance into the next grade.
“move forward in a purposeful way”

Relates to the verb Advanced, or “ahead in development or progress”

Thus the act of moving between each year’s program is to Advance. We can see this in Scouts BSA.

Scouts BSA of course uses merit based advancement where you don’t move onto Star until you finish First Class, no matter your age. The day you earn First Class you advance onto working on Star.

It’s just that in Cub Scouts the rank is likely done months before you move away from the specific program tied to the academic and maturity level of that grade. The timing is different, but both are the process of advancement.

You may hold a ceremony, you may not. But it doesn’t change that said ceremony is the process of advancement.

@KevinCarlyle However, scouts work on “advancement” which is attaining the next rank. Scoutbook uses the term “advance” in regards to dens as an administrative function moving a den from one rank to the next. This is one of the reason that the LoS is so important, and that it needs to be updated to include some of these terms.

Obligatory “clear language” comic…

Order of the Stick #12 “Up a Level, Down a Level”

People call our Cub Pack a Troop all the time.

Our council switched popcorn providers and the two use completely different terms for all sale types.

Cross languages and translation could have a better local term than a direct translation.

There’s no chance there will ever be a single term for all terms nationwide.

What is seems is needed is a Scouting thesaurus. At the very least it gives several options so people can consult and understand.

A “top 10” parents guide to Scouting terms is an idea I haven’t heard of recently, I’m going to make one.

Thins might be a good place to start…

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