Scouting Forums

Rethinking the Cub Scout Program

I would propose a major change to the Cub Scout electives program. I would like to see feedback on it.

With an ever shrinking program seeing smaller and smaller dens is the norm. Restructuring the program so it can serve multiple ages working together as much as possible seems ever more important.This is meant to create a program to support smaller units better with less unique costs for each age to help budgets.

This would be through a three tier program model.

–Tier 1. Every year required activities for all ages–

the most important requirements that defines Scouting should do should be the required activities. Don’t think required adventure, think of actual single activities.

The most obvious one is The Hike Every Scout age through Webelos has a hike of varying length as an advancement requirement. Some include nature aspects, some don’t.
This allows a family with a Wolf and Lion to stick together for a mile or if the family has a Lion only they can hike a tenth of a mile and turn back.

Have a list pack-wide activities to complete each year and each den does the age appropriate requirements for it.
Duty to God would roll into this area.

–Tier 2. Single year required activities–

Think of the whittling chip for Bear or Scouting Adventure for AoL. Something you do as that year.
This would be a subset of the current program of what is truely only appropriate for that age.

The idea is the further you get into the program the more Tier 2 activities you complete and less in Tier 3.

–Tier 3. Electives for All–

Electives should be appropriate for all ages from Lion on up to where multiple dens can work together. Copy the Outdoor Activity award model and increase the amount of work needed to complete an activity as a Scout advances in the program

ex. Lions do requirements 1-2, Tigers 1-3, Wolves 1-4, Webelos 1-6. The idea is each requirement you go deeper into the topic. All Scouts start with the basics but not all Scouts move onto the advanced parts

Have electives count only for your current grade, you need to earn new electives each year in a new topic.

I would expand out the electives to 100-120 options so a Scout has plenty of activities to complete and a family can pick from a wider list for more interests each year. Rotate in and out new ones more often.

Most of today’s activities could shift into this program.

–Award style–

Then retire the belt loops and webelos pins as is. They’re $1.50-$2.00 each and they’re all unique to a specific age and activity. My Scouts complete about 9 on average each year and I easily end up with extras. There’s a lot of money in producing all the millions of loops and pins too.

I would like to see it switch to a new pin program.

Have an age-based single patch (think a Lion face or Webelos logo) for each year with a pocket loop much like the old Webelos compass patch. Hand out a pin that attaches to it for each activity completed.

Area 1 pins could be like a person hiking but the same pin for all ages. If 14 kids hike I buy 14 of the same pin.

Area 2 required pins could be age specific, but a lot less of them as there would be less required items.

For Area 3 electives hand out a common elective pin. Different colors by age can be skipped, that’s what the patch is for.

Then put in place an award like the old 20er where if a Scout completes so many activities in the year, again copying the Outdoor Activity Award model, they receive a special pin that goes on the patch right in the middle.

–What does this enable?–

The idea is I can create a different program plan each year. In 2020 I may do the fishing badge for all ages, in 2021 I do an outdoor carnival and in 2022 I do rocket launching. It keeps the program fresh for a smaller pack where I have one activity for all ages each month and do more combined meetings.


I’m sure this isn’t the best space to get national to listen to issues, but its a good place to brainstorm some different directions.

One thing I kind of wonder about is if it might make sense to break cub scouts into 2 age groups of K-2 and 3-5. The 3-5 aged kids sometime seem a bit held back by what happens in the k-2 aged dens. Webelos can camp semi-independently, learn knife skills, fire starting, cooking, etc, whereas the k-2 aged kids are better suited for the arts and crafts type program emphasis. Looking at what a lot of other countries do, they break their elementary aged kids up like this.

I do wonder if the 6 years of cub scouts is leading to some burnout of youth and leaders, especially because cub scouts has a higher adult lead expectation.

Again, this is kinda big picture, who knows thinking, but its something to consider.


Yes, kids and adults are getting burned out.

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Agree on mixed ages or more flexibility… How about integrating males and females into one den where possible (e.g., mixed gender Den & Assistant Den leaders)?


I would love to see mixed dens as allowed. This is a major barrier to integrating girls into our dens. Currently we have a 2 official leader requirement per YPT, but as soon as you add even 1 girl you jump to a 4 leader requirement for that age group, with at least 1 female. I’m also personally bothered by the requirement to have at least 1 female leader for a unit with girls, but there is no similar requirement of at least 1 male leader for a boys unit. Note I’m not opposed to the requirement of a female leader, I’m opposed to the lack of the equivalent requirement for a male leader given the existence of the rule for girls/females.


I don’t see where the 4 leader requirement comes from. You need two registered leaders for any activity. If there are any girls participating, one of those two leaders needs to be female. You don’t need to have two leaders for the boys and two other leaders for the girls…



It comes from the fact that they are required to be in a separate den. It’s not for participating in an activity, but for pack structure in general. If you have a bear den you have a den leader, an assistant den leader, and then if you add a girl to pack you need to add another den, another den leader, another assistant den leader, and one is required to be female.

What i don’t know is if the same den leaders can volunteer in a double capacity, and serve as den leader for both bear dens. Can both dens meet simultaneously? Maybe both dens are separate on paper, but function together in practice.

That’s not what the YPT requirements say, though. The requirement is that each unit serving female Scouts has at least one registered and YPT-trained female leader, and that any activities with female Scouts has a registered, YPT-trained female leader present (source). Dens are not units; Packs are units.

YPT also doesn’t require that each Den provide its own two leaders for an event; the requirement is at least two registered/trained leaders per event, regardless of the number of Scouts or the number of Dens participating. So you could have a Den event with two Dens participating, and have only two Den Leaders present. NOTE: The adults don’t even have to be registered to your Pack. They have to be registered with the BSA – it would cover this requirement if one of your Den parents happened to also be a merit badge counselor for the district.

So, tl;dr: No, four leaders is not a requirement anywhere I can see.


Forget about the events. That’s not the important part. Just to have girls you have to add additional dens. That necessitates double the leaders, unless the same leaders can serve as the den leaders for both; but then you’re asking for twice the time commitment, unless they can hold den meetings at the same time, at which point they are just a single den anyway, and we should just dispense with the pretense of of have separate boy and girl dens.

Do you see what the issue is now?

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@SteveCagigas your pretty wrong here -

" A registered female adult leader 21 years of age or over must be present for any activity involving female youth. Notwithstanding the minimum leader requirements, age- and program-appropriate supervision must always be provided."

It is Activity not Unit. Also some councils consider this to say it has to be a unit registration as opposed to a council registration (MBC, NOVA, etc.)

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You’re correct, it’s unit or activity.

My point is that requiring four leaders for a joint activity with a boys den and a girls den is mistaken. You need two leaders registered, trained leaders (minimum) for that activity, of which one (minimum) must be female.

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If you’re asking for opinions, I say thank you for your enthusiasm and love of Cub Scouting.

My opinion is nope. It’s not perfect, but I don’t see how this is better. .

Kindergarten through Fifth Grade is too broad of an age group to have activities appropriate for all ages. Experts in early childhood development are clear that youth grow best in smaller groups of other youth close to their age.

If the goal is to create a different program plan each year, you can already do that.


I don’t think the time is right for a major change to the Cub Scout program.

In the pack where I’m on the committee, we still have a box filed with left-over “gold” and “silver” arrow points, and Activity loops, from before the last major program overhaul. Give it 5 or 10 more years (without fee increases!), and there may be a reason to retire 2 or 3 loops per level, or switch which ones are required versus elective.

I note that this year’s program includes some "“preview” adventures, Yo-Yo and Protect Yourself Rules.

It absolutely is possible to have a smaller, whole-pack program, and just hang the required and a few elective adventures onto it as applicable. You just have to be familiar with all the ranks’ required adventures, and with your boys’ (or girls’) interests and limitations.

For example, I took a group of Wolves, Bears and Webelos on a 4-mile hike; I was able to check off each rank’s hike requirement (including “do a service project” as part of one), as well as a requirement from one of the rank’s “Duty to God” adventures (because we walked through a cemetery, a “place where people might show reverence”, on the Saturday before Memorial Day).

I agree with you wholeheartedly! When my son was a Tiger, he was in a den of 1 (the Wolf den had two boys), and the Webelos 1 den (a den of two) was making mobiles. I could not understand why this wasn’t something that the the entire pack was working on! . When I became CC (when my son was a Bear), my DE showed me about a program (which no longer exists) which allowed all the dens to work together on advancement and activities. We did it for the next three years and it was SUPER fun and our pack really bonded!

Our troop is also small, and the problem in the troop is that 10-year-olds do not have the same interests and abilities as 17-year-olds (please don’t talk to me about patrols, you can’t have multiple patrols if you only have 7 boys in your troop!). The older boys don’t want to do the things that the younger boys want to do, and vice-versa. In Cub Scouts, 5th graders don’t have the same interests and abilities as 1st and 2nd graders (let alone kindergartners!). It is really hard for small units to do things together. My son proposed restructuring the entire program: Cub Scouts through grade 4, Webelos would be from Grace 5 through 8, then Boy Scouts for high school. I know his proposal would never happen, but such a change would really help small units, and help foster cohesion.

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We had two Webelos leave our (very small) pack because they said that Cub Scouts was for “little kids.” Having Kindergartners in the pack reinforces that idea and really turns off 5th graders.

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I appreciate the opportunity to brainstorm here and thank you for sharing your ideas. I figured I’d reply and give you our experience as we are also a small pack (20 boys in k-3, divided fairly evenly).

What has worked for us to to meet roughly every other week as a den (but all dens meet at the same location so we share start/end ceremonies and snack; it also helps families with boys of different levels). After the beginning, we divide up and work on our own loops. To try and create cohesion, we came up with a pack plan for the year and gave each month a theme and listed the belt loops that would fit with that theme (October was Hike, the suggested loop was the one for each level that relates to the hiking requirements). Den leaders can operate on their own schedule or choose to follow our guide - so far they are mostly following the guide and appreciate the feedback as new leaders can sometimes feel overwhelmed jumping into everything that is Cub Scouting.

In addition to our Den Meetings, we also have a Pack Meeting or Event for each month that is designed to bring all the boys (we only have boy dens) and their families together. The end of September was a Welcome to the Scout Year and Awards where new boys were awarded their Bobcat and other boys were recognized for their Summertime and other achievements. We had refreshments so that families would have a chance to mingle.

October was our Pack Hike. We were able to take a look at the similar requirements and do a copule stations with the boys and then divide up and do our hikes for the appropriate distances. Instead of having the awards every month we give the boys their loops as they earn them with their Den and do elective adventures and other awards at our award ceremonies which work out to be every other month or so. November is Food/Cooking so we are having an Awards Ceremony format again but this time with food that is prepared by our Bears (finger snacks from Tigers, skit by Wolves…)

By aligning our monthly loops we can find other ways to work together organically. When an opportunity came up for the Bears to visit a restaurant and make their own pizzas, we also invited the Wolves who focused on good hygiene before cooking or eating.

I’m not saying to scrap your train of thought, you could definitely continue to develop and refine it, but in the meantime you can run with a version of your idea and make it work for your Pack (taking into account the weather in your area as well).

If you would like any of the info that I created (a lot of new planning here as well, we broke ties with our old Chartering Org and started anew this year) or just want to toss around ideas for plans or best practices, feel free to send me a message.

ShaunaFox. I am a brand new Cub Master with a small pack and am very interested in the way you tied different den requirements together. There was information on the internet about doing just like you said but it pertained to the older program (prior to 2018 changes) and I have not been able to find any information on doing this with the new program nor am I familiar enough with all the rank requirements to do this myself. I agree having all ranks doing activities together is a GREAT idea because I do have multiple families with multiple aged children and when planning a den hike we are going to wind up with some tigers or even lions on the adventure anyway since they are going to hike as a family with the den.

This is all well and good for the small pack. We have a pack of 81 scouts. 30 webelos alone. No den smaller than 8. Keeping them separate for den meetings is imperative to keep them separate.


Under the current model grade 5 Webelos can “visit” with the scouts regularly and do joint activities (this is highly encouraged in my Council guide to best practices in scouting They want 6 joint Webelos/scout bsa meetings during 5th grade before crossover). It may be worth it to split your Troop into two mini patrols with the 6-8th graders as early lifescouts/tenderfoot patrol being the patrol the Webelos 2 visit and the Webelos can earn their arrow of light with mentor ship and encouragements of the scouts. Just an idea.

Matthew, I’m with you. My son’s Bear den is 18 with 1 den leader and 2 assistant den leaders plus me (I’m ACM - next year I’m CM). Our pack runs 65-70 annually and we haven’t opened to girls yet. We have families with attached older and younger kids at every Den meeting so den participation usually has 16 to 20 kids we try not to exclude the other kids unless it’s very much developmentally wrong - nobody is going to have the pre-K kiddos whittling with the bears, but if were doing an obstacle course or a hike or clean up join right in kiddos. We luckily have very large meeting rooms at the CO and local schools. We’re extremely lucky to have highly involved parents.