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Packaging awards/belt loops for easy distribution

We currently use snack-sized plastic bags to prep belt loops and other awards for distribution to Scouts during Pack meetings. We print the name and insert it with the loop/badge. While nice since they are see-through, they are super slippery and hard to handle. I also dislike that we are using so much throw-away plastic.

We’re planning to start using paper envelopes which would be easily stackable and handled, and are recyclable.

Before we headed down that path, I thought I’d ask how others do this to see if there might be an even better way to organize these items to hand out to Scouts in an efficient way during meetings?

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we use zip locks. I have seen wood/plastic containers with something like 4 inch boxes that are filled. So it is kind of a tray and each container having awards for one scout. I know a few packs that do this.

kind of like these - https://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Jewelry-Box-Container-Adjustable/dp/B07GBQ962G/ref=sr_1_40?keywords=tray+divider&qid=1578582568&sr=8-40

I like that tray idea, there’d be no waste at all that way. Since we already print out strips with the name and award to put in a baggie, we could do the same and put in the right section.

One drawback to the tray idea is that it doesn’t help the Scouts / parents keep the award items together until they get home. What about small brown paper lunch bags? Similar to the plastic baggie idea, but not plastic and not slippery.

My pack just attaches them to the pocket certificates.

Are you handing them out at pack or den meetings? We give loops and pins at den meetings. We save the bigger awards for pack meetings.

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We have been providing den level loops at most pack meetings. We can usually fit it in and it provides for broader recognition.

We were contemplating using paper envelopes instead of baggies, which solves the issue of getting them home. I had not seen the pocket certificates before, that’s something to consider. Do you have the den leader or advancement chair complete those?

My pack doesn’t have an advancement chair. We have awards shoppers. (But don’t tell them they are basically the advancement chair). The awards shoppers use the PDFs generated by the Scoutbook PO to print on pocket certificate sheets.

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I suggest you review the Guide to Advancement. Section 4.2 says (emphasis mine)

A Cub Scout who has completed advancement should be congratulated immediately and publicly. And though badges of rank should be reserved for the next pack meeting, it is best to present items such as belt loops and pins soon after they have been earned. If it is possible for the pack to report and purchase these awards quickly, they could be presented at a den meeting, rather than waiting for a pack meeting. If presented at den meetings, the accompanying pocket certificates can be used in a ceremony at a subsequent pack meeting—or vice versa with the pocket certificates at a den meeting. However this is done, it is important to note that advancement is an individual process, not dependent on the work or progress of others. Awards should not be withheld for group recognition. Likewise, a youth should not be presented with recognition that was not earned simply to avoid anyone “feeling left out.”

If we finished an adventure at a den meeting, I typically congratulated everyone who finished, and reminded everyone who hadn’t yet finished (e.g. missed meeting, etc) that they were really close to finishing. I’ll be honest, and say that none of my scouts ever complained that they received their pins/loops/beads and other awards at a pack meeting rather than immediately, whether it was at the Tiger or Webelos level. It was also a lot easier to ensure that I had enough of any given award once a month than it was to ensure I had enough to hand out at every den meeting.

Personally, I believe that the consistency of receiving the awards at the pack meeting, and the recognition in front of both their peers and the scouts in the adjacent dens, was better for the scouts than satisfying a recommendation (“could” vs “shall”) in the G2A. I get the idea that the BSA is after with the concept of immediate recognition items (i.e. belt loops and pins), but the ability to rattle off “Since our last pack meeting, Webelos Woody has earned adventures X, Y and Z and is down to just one more elective adventure before completing his Webelos rank,” seemed a lot more inspiring for the other scouts. Sometimes I got the feeling that some of the kids were competing to see who could generate the longest string of awards/advancements…

I read the “Awards should not be withheld for group recognition,” directive to prohibit (really recommend strongly against) the practice of awarding everyone with their rank badges (e.g.) on the same day for the sake of awarding everyone at once. I don’t see that as prohibiting presentation at a pack meeting, particularly in light of the wiggle room that was intentionally provided by the “if it is possible” and “could be” in the highlighted portion of the quote.

I think it’s a matter of practicality, which I expect is why the G2A left the wiggle room.


@CharleyHamilton I suppose it depends on how many times a month is reasonable to shop based on volunteer availability and proximity to a scout store. If once a month, it probably doesn’t matter whether they are awarded at a pack or den meeting. There is also recommendation to have the loops and pins on hand (especially for required adventures), but inevitably there are scouts who don’t complete it at the same time, and then someone has to hang onto it until they actually do earn it. It’s just easier to buy after they earn it, especially if you have awards shoppers and not advancement chairs.

My pack doesn’t award them at pack meetings because it makes the pack meetings way too long and boring. No one cares that Johnny earned adventures x, y, and z other than johnny’s parents. Doing it at the den meeting, it allows a little more time for scouts to ask questions about an adventure that another scout completed, and it may inspire them to work toward something immediately.

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Yeah. That could have played into things for our unit. Our closest scout shop is 35 miles +/- from where we meet.

Interesting. My experience at pack meetings was pretty different from yours, in terms of scouts’ interest. There were generally the same scouts who were disinterested in the awards segment of the program every time, but (based on which scouts they were in my den anyway) they would have been disinterested if it happened at the den meeting, too. I can see where making the presentation at the den meeting might allow more time for questions, but I guess I never got a lot of questions about the adventures. I generally tended to explain on the front end, and we didn’t have a lot of scouts who went off and did electives on their own (at least not until AoL year).

Part of this is probably colored by having been in the transition zone for the change from the old to the new advancement program. Awarding arrow points for electives was pretty intermittent since it took multiple electives to get one arrow point. In our Webelos year, I followed the buy-it-when-you-need-it model. Sometimes that meant things were out of stock. The AoL year, I had them purchase all of the required adventures in advance. I ended up short a couple of times because we got new scouts who finished things before I got more stock from the Advancement Chair/storerunner (same person for us). I went back to only awarding at the troop meeting pretty quickly.

I tend to think that whatever works for your scouts, that doesn’t explicitly violate the specific rules, is probably the best way to go.

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Has anybody tried sliding belt loops on a rigid strip of cardboard or card stock? Other awards can be stapled or pinned to it, and the cardboard can be folded over and stapled. (I suspect there are ways to crimp the ends of the cardboard as well … to keep the loops from sliding off.) The scout’s name is then written on the back.


Immediate recognition

In reference to:

More from BSA

“Helpful hints for den leaders - Immediate recognition”,

… Adventure loops can also be awarded at the den level or at the pack level. Awarding an adventure loop at the pack level lets all the pack know of the Scout’s achievement during an advancement ceremony. Check with your Cubmaster and pack leadership for the practices your pack follows. No Cub Scout should be required to wait more than two weeks to receive an award.


  • Wolf Den Leader Guide, 37004, ISBN 978-0-8395-0115-2, ©2018 Boy Scouts of America, 2018 Printing, SKU 646722, p 30.
  • Webelos Den Leader Guide, SKU 646724, 37003, ISBN 978-0-8395-0117-6, ©2018 Boy Scouts of America, 2018 Printing (uploaded to scouting,org July 2019), p. 31
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My statement that no one cares was probably an overstatement. But it does take up a lot of time when there are 30+ unique awards earned in a given month. We do have a lot of scouts who work on electives on their own… and also a lot of scouts whose required adventures lag behind the rest of their den.

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These are all really good insights. I appreciate everyone weighing in even though we got a little beyond how to distribute awards! :wink: Handing them out in den meetings would make things a bit easier as the volume of awards and the overall chaos of the larger pack meetings wouldn’t be factors.

Handing out the awards at den meetings also doesn’t preclude recognition at pack meetings. There is a balance to be had, and I would at least at some point recognize all the awards a scout has earned. (Perhaps you could list belt loops earned when the scout receives his/her rank?)

We ordered 1000 small Ziploc style bags (like 2" x 3") off Amazon and load the loops / pins into a baggie for each scout. We store the loaded bags in a plastic hardware storage box labeled with the scout names. We have one box for each rank. I run a “cub scout recognition” report sorted by den and also put the appropriate den pages in each box with the baggies containing the awards.

The cubmaster just reads off the report and hands the baggie to the scout after they do the handshake. She can swap boxes while the next rank comes up to the front. I can reconcile what got awarded later by comparing the “needs awarding” report to what is left in each box and update Scoutbook accordingly.

It’s not perfect, but it beats the former method of dumping the scout shop bag on the table and attempting to sort them while the scouts “wait patiently” :joy:

If the goal is to avoid plastic, small paper envelopes like this would probably work. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JP3PGWF/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apa_i_7fvgEbBG6ZSDK

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It seems I may be the exception here. I am on a Cub Scout Volunteer page on Facebook which has a bunch of different ideas for presentation of loops and pins. Sometimes I will get the holiday decorative zip bags from the dollar store and print the scouts name on them. Other times I print various reward certificates from this page and pin or attach loops to cardstock printouts. Some ideas have been Snowmen, Hearts, belts (Cardstock in rank color stapled in a loop), Christmas trees, etc.
I get to the scout shop once a month, and since we have a larger pack, only rank and awards are recognized at Pack night, Den leaders are responsible for delivering advancements to their scouts.

Thats how we do Advancements for now! Yes paper is still being wasted- but theoretically it could be recycled IF the parent were so inclined to do so.

When I was the CM, what I did was put all loops in a zip lock bag and Adventure pins on a 3 x 5 card with the Scouts name on it. Zip lock bags would have the Scouts name on it which somewhat made it easier for the Den Leaders.
I know the award should be given as soon as the Scout finished all requirements, but my Webelos Den Leader who would tell his Den that since they didn’t have any awards to be presented, they could skip the Pack Meeting. He knew I would send a recap email for those thst couldn’t attend.
Interestingly, his Den bridged 7 and only 2 are still involved in Scouting.

You can do both immediate recognition and pack meeting recognition. Present the belt loops and pins at the den meeting and then the pocket certificates at the pack meeting. Each Scout will get “recognized” twice for the same award. And you’ll avoid having to package up loops and pins for the pack meeting. Only adventure pocket certificates, rank advancement awards/certificates, and the occasional special pack-wide award/patch need be given out at the pack meeting. A rubber band around those or an envelope would probably suffice for most situations.

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