Front Line Stuff
Edited by Robert Peterson
Keeping Webelos Scouts Active in Their Second Year
When committee member E.M.P. asked for ways to retain second-year Webelos Scouts, readers suggested more activities with Scout troops, unique service projects, and earning special awards.
The second year of Webelos Scouts is the time to get boys excited about Boy Scouting, so expose them to as much Scouting as possible.
Ask a Scoutmaster to recommend an older Scout, preferably an Eagle Scout or senior patrol leader, to visit a den meeting to talk about Boy Scouting. Invite an Order of the Arrow member or a Scout who has been to a national or world jamboree or Philmont Scout Ranch to talk about it.
Visit as many troops in your area as possible. Ask Scoutmasters if their troops are planning activities suitable for Webelos Scouts to join in. Plan your own camp-out or hike and invite Boy Scouts to come and teach outdoor skills. Plan a joint Webelos Scout-Boy Scout service project.
Troop Committee Member K.B.
By maintaining a close relationship with a local pack, our troop has been fairly successful in helping to retain Webelos Scouts and bridging them into the troop.
For better communication and planning, the pack and troop committees each have a liaison member on the other unit's committee.
Our special activities for the pack include running the pinewood derby and playing a major role in Arrow of Light ceremonies. We also host an annual Webelos Scout weekend, where Webelos Scouts camp for two nights and get a feeling of what Boy Scouting is like.
To keep boys interested in the program, we often throw too much at them too soon, leaving little to look forward to.
We should string out the experiences, give a small taste of what the future offers, and build toward the lure of Boy Scouting.
Plan activities that are more age- or rank-specific and just for the first- or second-year Webelos Scouts. Younger boys or siblings should not take part in these advanced activities but have to wait until "their turn."
Committee Chair D.W.B.,
We found one of the best ways to keep our Webelos Scouts involved was to give them a project to aid the packconstructing an artificial lighted campfire for indoor ceremonies. The boys planned and built it during den meetings.
Webelos Den Leader K.H.
For Webelos Scouts who haven't earned the Arrow of Light, hold up that award as the "Eagle of Cub Scouting." For those who have earned it, consider working on the Emergency Preparedness or Leave No Trace Awareness Awards. Or perhaps, with their families, work on a special project for the pack. Include lots of camping for second-year boys.
If a boy still wants to quit, see if he is eligible to immediately join a Scout troop. If he has earned the Arrow of Light, he probably is.
Here are some ways pack and troop leaders can insure that graduating Webelos Scouts will want to cross over into a troop:
Have first-year Webelos Scouts begin to look for a troop. Have second-year Webelos dens meet with a troop once each month starting near the beginning of the school year. They can operate as a patrol or be integrated into existing patrols.
At day camps and resident camps, the program for first-year Webelos Scouts should focus on activity badges while second-year boys work on developing outdoor skills.
Encourage Scoutmasters to recruit Boy Scouts who have been in a troop two years or more to be den chiefs.
Each troop should have an assistant Scoutmaster whose sole job is to act as liaison between troop and pack for second-year Webelos Scouts who visit the troop.
In five years as a Webelos den leader, I found that some Webelos Scouts were very aggressive about advancement and worked with their families on activity badges at home. Other boys never opened the book, and while the leaders would work with these boys at den meetings, the boys who worked on badges at home got bored.
My solution was to ask the parents to refrain from completing work on a badge with their sons, and at meetings I would pair up a boy who had already worked on the badge with one who hadn't started on it.
Our pack and troop have found three things essential in retaining boys:
Attendance at meetings and involved parents. Parents should encourage their sons to participate and make Scouting a priority.
Leadership. Leaders of second-year Webelos dens should plan meetings with many outdoor Boy Scout-related activitiesknots, lashings, fire building, etc.
Activities with troops. This is probably the most important. On their own turf, such as at a den meeting, Webelos Scouts can become friendly with a Boy Scout, who visits to teach them a skill. After that, Webelos Scouts can attend a few troop meetings and join in troop hikes, camp-outs, and other activities.
Our troop also holds an all-day event for Cub Scouts, where Boy Scouts teach knots, lashing, archery, first aid, map reading, compass, tent pitching, fire building, and Scout lore.
Pack and Troop Committee Chairman M.M.
Our pack has two Webelos Scout-only events each year. At forestry camp, first-year Webelos Scouts earn the Forester and Outdoorsman activity badges and second-year Webelos Scouts earn Naturalist.
We also have a winter weekend trip to a local military base combined with a caving experience. The program details are changed every other year so the Webelos Scouts have different experiences each year.
I save a few special events for the second-year Webelos Scoutsa factory tour, an observatory visit, indoor rock-climbing, and a den camp-out. We also join the local Boy Scout troop on troop events.
Webelos Den Leader R.R.
Keep the parents involved and have exciting activities so they want to stick around and work with their kids. We plan one meeting a month with different troops and one troop outdoor activity to look at Boy Scouts in action.
Our second-year den's other activities include skiing, fishing, hiking, and an Indianapolis Colts football game. As guides to planning, we use KISMIF (Keep It Simple, Make It Fun) and PPP (Proper Prior Planning).
Our pack has benefited from using former Webelos Scouts who have gone on to Boy Scouting as den chiefs.
It is important to get second-year Webelos Scouts involved with a Scout troop. Our council runs many events to foster relationships between packs and troops to encourage the transition to Boy Scouting.
Assistant Cubmaster J.W.
The key to keeping second-year Webelos Scouts is to get them outdoors, improve their outdoor skills, and prepare them for their transition to Boy Scouting. Make arrangements with local troops for more visits and joint activities. (Remember to keep them age appropriate and within BSA guidelines.)
First, make sure you have a good relationship with one or more troops and have Boy Scout den chiefs interacting with both first- and second-year Webelos Scouts.
Second, arrange for the Webelos Scouts to have lots of outdoor time with the troops.
Assistant Council Commissioner T.L.
We make the second year of Webelos Scouting the most exciting for our soon-to-be Boy Scoutsvisiting Scout troops, camping, and attending Scout shows and camporees before March, when our Webelos Scouts usually cross over into Boy Scouts.
As part of our blue and gold banquet, we stage an elaborate Arrow of Light Award ceremony, the highlight of the program year. Each recipient is given an arrow made by his den leader, and each boy's accomplishments are announced.
As the "senior class" of the pack, the second-year Webelos Scouts start developing leadership skills they will need in Boy Scouts. Let them plan and run a camp-out. They will show more interest if they are involved in decision-making.
Former Webelos Den Leader T.B.T.
Make the fall season for second-year Webelos Scouts the start of the boys' transition to Boy Scouting. Ask the Scoutmasters of one or more local troops to invite the Webelos Scouts to a troop camp-out. You could also have Boy Scouts teach basic Scouting skills at a den meeting.
Don't forget the Arrow of Light. If you spend the fall selling the program, you may be surprised by how enthused the boys and parents are.
Follow the national Webelos-to-Scout Transition plan (ask for No. 18-086 at your local Scout council service centers or find it on the Web at www.scouting.org/boyscouts/resources/18-086/index.html).
Every Webelos Scout should be introduced to a troop in January with a visit from the Scoutmaster. The relationship that starts with this introduction will keep the Webelos Scout and his parents interested in the Boy Scout program through the second year of Webelos.
Also, a Webelos den chief will strengthen ties between the den and troop.
Copyright © 2004 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.