Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA

Scouting Forums

Yet another Webelos uniform thread

Browsing through the recently released Guide To Advancement 2021 edition, I noticed this about the Webelos uniform:

“Webelos Scouts wear the tan uniform.”

I was puzzled as it didn’t mention the change planned for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, which would allow fourth grade Webelos to wear the blue uniform.

This policy change had been discussed earlier on this forum. I hopped over to the Cub Scout uniform page to verify the new policy…and it was missing!

Thanks to the Internet Archive, I confirmed that I had remembered it correctly. As late as February 2021, the uniforming page did indeed include this text:

“The Webelos uniform is going through a rolling change where fourth grade Webelos wear the blue uniform and fifth graders wear the tan uniform. This change will become official for the start of the 2021-22 program year.”

But now it seems BSA is going back to its old policy (established in 2018?) that all Webelos will wear tan.

I appreciated the new policy for several reasons.

  1. It would allow fourth graders time to actually wear the Bear emblem on their uniform. Having cubs who have been with me since they were tigers, it felt rewarding to see them wearing the full “diamond” of all four ranks – Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, and Bear.
  2. It would give scouts who joined as Wolfs or Bears the opportunity to get more use out of their uniform before having to switch. Asking parents of a scout who joined as a Bear to buy a new uniform the following year is an awkward conversation.
  3. Tan shirts for first year Webelos look starkly empty, as it has no rank patch at all (unless a new scout chooses to wear the Bobcat badge). Transitioning to the tan at the same time as earning the Webelos rank makes the most sense. I think the prime time for switching to tan is right before the Webelos advancement ceremony. They show up to the ceremony wearing their crisp new uniforms, and by the end of the ceremony they get their Webelos patch with which to adorn their new shirts!
  4. The tan uniform correlates better to AOL content, especially the Scouting Adventure. The updated GTA clarifies that AOL required adventures should begin after the Webelos rank has been earned. It is during the AOL year that scouts will learn and begin to practice the Scout Sign, Scout Salute, Scout Handshake, Scout Motto and Slogan, and the patrol method. They may even design a patrol-like den emblem to wear on the uniform! As AOL begin acting like Scouts BSA, it’s the time they should start looking like Scouts BSA.
  5. If we could get away with one more year of blue, we could buy a bigger-sized tan shirt in the 5th grade, which would last more years into Scouts BSA.

I understand many have a different opinion and prefer to switch as soon as scouts graduate third grade. And they have valid reasons, too, most notably that scouts sometimes outgrow their blues around that time.

The best policy would have been a compromise allowing dens to decide for themselves when to switch, based on den leader and parent preferences. In my den’s case, I explained to parents the merits and shortcomings of both options, and let them vote on what they wanted to do.

Fortunately for me, they voted to stay with the blue. We still gave the kids Webelos hats, neckerchiefs, slides, and the Webelos “Colors”. The look was awesome! It was a very classic look that perfectly represented their place in the pack. Instead of looking identical to “full-on” second year Webelos preparing to cross over, they had the distinct look wearing the diamond rank patches while sporting Webelos accessories. Honestly, I’m not sure why this option isn’t more popular.

Maybe this compromise will be included in the 2023 edition of the GTA. One can only hope!

First we have to determine what is a Webelos Scout. If they just joined Scouting, went into the Webelos den and have earned Bobcat, are they a Webelos Scout or a Bobcat Scout?

What about a recently awarded Bear rank Scout in the Webelos den. Are they a Bear Scout or Webelos?

I don’t believe you’ll get a consistent answer and if you do, it’ll certainly be challenged.

In my experience, most Packs generally allow a Bear crossing into a Webelos den to continue to wear the blue shirt/uniform if it fits. This is valuable for helping keep a growingly expensive program affordable to families. Certainly most kids in the Webelos program want to ‘move up’ to the Webelos uniform and having a uniform bank can assist this process. I have often seen cubs in a Webelos den in the blue shirt. If a packs families can easily afford to step up the uniform then do it. If your unit serves families where putting out $35 plus for a shirt and insignia is ‘painful’ then be flexable. National supply won’t go under if they have to wait an extra year to sell a shirt. We need to apply common sense to any and all situations.

4 Likes

My guess is this is outdated information as the GTA was likely sent to the editors way before Feb 2021. The GTA is not the authoritative document on uniform issues.

2 Likes

Amen! Regardless of dictates from the ivory tower, I’m going to continue to operate just as you described, which is more in keeping with the spirit of the program than the actual spelled out rules, which is “get boys into the program and keep them in the program”, aka “the prime directive”. IMHO National should consult with the trenches more often before coming up with rules that the inexperienced will apply wholeheartedly and deteriorate the efficacy of the program as a result. I have had parents attempt to force this uniform change as a whole den concept and have even thwarted those attempts. My consistent approach is always “when ready and when able (financially) on an individual basis”. I don’t care if the den is a rainbow of blue or khaki. In my own case, my first year Webelos at his summer resident camp had only 1 inch of material left in the blue shirt and thus could not tuck it in (which is a rule I DO endorse fully - it’s a shirt, not a blouse or sweater) to his official BSA pants and have it stay in more than 5 minutes. It was time to graduate into the (complete) tan uniform.
Although I’m a retired Marine, I’m not a uniform policeman. I set the example by wearing the full uniform and dress my own kids in full uniform. On a den kid’s birthday, if he doesn’t yet have the pants, I buy him a pair as a birthday gift AND get them tailored for him. After that I have an expectation that they be worn, “Where are those pants that I bought for you?”. I find that if you set the example and the expectation that the parents and boys will rise to the occasion. By Christmas with Scout Sunday around the corner everyone is expected to “dress their best” for that upcoming event where they will be receiving a religious program award at the altar in front of the entire church. For the most part it works! As Scoutmaster for the church’s Troop as well I am now starting to inherit outgrown Scouts BSA uniform items.

2 Likes

This is the sensible and proper approach.

3 Likes

One should wear as much of the uniform as possible, as correctly as possible.

BSA’s National Council continues the ongoing saga of flip-flopping of a uniform for Webelos.

Let them. We are in the field, down in the dirt with the Scouts. We’ll follow the spirit of the rule while they continue to fail to provide leadership through well thought out guidance and policy - the letter of the policy.

Guide the youth into wearing what they have, as correctly as possible. If it’s Cub blue or Scouts BSA tan, who cares. Either (and both) serve as one of the methods to achieve the Aims of Scouting.

If someone at the National Council reads this then you now know you are failing us and vicariously, the Scouts we serve.

Your act: Get it together.

2 Likes

A comment related to:

It appears a Scout can start with just the neckerchief.

Neckerchief - Wearing with Non-Uniform Clothing

Local councils may prescribe that the specific official neckerchief be worn by Scouts and Scouters on a council or district basis. When engaged in Scouting activities, members may wear the neckerchief with appropriate nonuniform clothing to identify them as Scouts.

Reference

Guide to Awards and Insignia, section 1, Special Regulations , page 13 (upper right), 33066, ISBN 978-0-8395-3066-4, ©2018 Boy Scouts of America, 2018 Printing

1 Like

Christopher, I believe the answer can be found on page 16 of the Guide to Advancement:

Cub Scout dens are named for the rank, other than Bobcat and Arrow of Light, that their members are working to achieve. Cub Scouts are eligible to earn ranks as follows:

Lion. For youth who are kindergarten age.

Bobcat. Earned first by all Cub Scouts except Lions, no
matter when they join.

Tiger. For youth who have completed kindergarten or are
7 years old.

Wolf. For youth who have completed first grade or are 8
years old.

Bear. For youth who have completed second grade or
are 9 years old.

Webelos. For youth who have completed third grade or
are 10 years old.

Arrow of Light. For youth who have completed fourth
grade.

@jacobfetzer I’m not so sure. Earlier this year, the web page on Cub Scout uniforming used to have this text (you can check the Way Back Machine). Today, the text is gone! It seems the decision-makers have abandoned the plan to allow first-year Webelos to wear blue. If so, the new GTA would be accurate. I hope I’m wrong.

1 Like

I like the options for 4th grade. My son joined in 4th grade and if we had to buy a blue shirt and then turn around and buy a tan shirt the next year I would not have been happy. I think the transition to tan also helps instill the idea that Webelos is a multi year program that helps transition into Scouts BSA - more den activities, more scout responsibility, etc.

3 Likes

I’m also basing that on comments from Anthony Berger in one or more of the Cub Chat Live sessions on Facebook, but I don’t have a specific reference.

I am well aware of ages and dens.

My points are:

A new youth who’s joined a Webelos den and completes Bobcat is in the Webelos den but, their rank is Bobcat.

Likewise a youth who’s earned Bear, advanced to the Webelos den and is currently working on Webelos is technically a Bear Scout.

What’s a Webelos Scout, a youth in a Webelos den or a youth who’s earned Webelos rank?

Christopher, I call a scout in a Webelos den a Webelos scout. Their rank could be Bobcat, Bear, Webelos, or Arrow of Light. So, I refer to scouts by their den, not their rank.

A scout who finished a rank, say Wolf, advanced to the next den at the end of the program year, then did not complete that rank, Bear, then advanced at the end of the program year, is referred to as a Webelos scout.

2 Likes

With the rank of Wolf.

I don’t call a Second Class Scout First Class only because that’s the rank they are working on.

And yes, I do know the differences between the two programs.

1 Like

That’s a valid question, one I’ve asked myself. But I think the GTA provides an unambiguous answer:

Cub Scout dens are named for the rank, other than Bobcat and Arrow of Light, that their members are working to achieve.

So a Webelos Scout is a scout who is in a Webelos den, regardless of he or she earned the Webelos rank.

A Bear cub is a scout who is in a Bear den regardless if he or she earned the Bear rank.

There are no Bobcat cubs, as there is no den named Bobcat.

The takeaway is that scouts are named based on their current den, not their current rank.

The interesting one to me is how the GTA says there is no AOL den. Our pack has historically referred to second-year Webelos as AOLs. I will concede that our habit of calling them AOLs is not technically correct, but we’ll probably still continue out of tradition.

4 Likes

Our pack calls them the AOL den, but I refer them to them as Second Year Webelos. :slight_smile: A lot of this is more interesting when taken in historical context. Growing up my pack had something like 12 dens. We were never referred to by rank name, but number. We were Den 1 from Wolves to cross over. The other dens were the same. Our Pack doesn’t wear den numbers or use numbers at all.

1 Like

We have always, in every Pack I have been associated with, had Webelos I Scouts (4th Grade) in Blue and Webelos II Scouts (5th Grade) in Tan.

If a Scout’s blue uniform didn’t fit in 4th Grade, we had them upgrade to Tan, same thing if they were a new Scout as a Webelos I.

Scouts have always had the option to stay in Blue through Webelos II if they wanted to.

BSA already gets enough money from Families, Scouts don’t need to change uniforms early.

No, they haven’t. That is what this thread is about. That option was “removed” at one point. The debate is if it has come back.

I think it should be as you say, but that hasn’t been the program for a year or 3.

I call them Scouts, as in Good Night Scouts, Time to move on Scouts, Be Careful Scouts, Have a good day at School tomorrow Scouts. Let’s Call them Scouts and see what happens.

PS: AskAndy said the said same thing once a upon a time.