Scouters share their thoughts on when to hold Webelos Scout ceremonies

Cubmaster C.S. expresses frustration with parents who want Arrow of Light and crossover ceremonies done by December. He asks for tips on getting them to be patient until the blue and gold banquet. What Would You Do? Webelos Ceremonies

It’s great that folks want to get into Boy Scouts, but it’s not about what the parents want. It’s all about the boys. So relax and let them enjoy the last few months of Cub Scouting. The den leader will need additional time to work on activity pins and teach them some of the skills they will need as a Boy Scout.
Pack Committee Chairman C.J.

Unless you’re pushing very hard and not following basic guidelines, Arrow of Light is generally finished around blue and gold. Remember that a Webelos II must be active for six months. You should look at pacing the program. The parents really need to understand that Scouting is a journey. It’s not a race to Eagle.
Cubmaster A.C.

In Pack 323, we dedicate half of our January pack show—no one likes meetings—to Arrow of Light. All the boys look forward to the new twist we will put on the presentation. We have blue and gold for our February pack show and make a big deal about the senior Webelos and any Super Achievers. Then we have crossover at a big campout the first weekend of March. We invite all the troops that boys will cross into—some even camp with us that weekend—and celebrate the Webelos becoming Boy Scouts. By clearly separating the events and integrating them with already planned activities, we have great participation and anticipation for each unique step to that eventual crossing of the bridge.
Cubmaster B.G.

Our Webelos II den bridges in December at our pack meeting. At that time, we also do the Arrow of Light ceremony. This gives them time to acclimate to the troop before going to camp in the summer. It works well for us that they get both at the same time.
Assistant District Comm. H.C.

You might ask the parents what the rush is. It might be they simply want the boys to bridge earlier to have more time to become comfortable with the troop before they go to summer camp for the first time. It could be the Scouts are bored with the Cub Scout program, and Scouting will lose them. Address this by improving your program and encouraging proactive feedback. If this is a case of the parents pushing their sons to advance as rapidly as possible, explain that Scouting is more about having fun and becoming a strong, independent young man than about collecting patches.
Cubmaster A.S.

Remind your Webelos II leaders and parents about the importance of the blue and gold ceremony for your other Scouts and the need for those Webelos to demonstrate leadership to the younger Scouts. You need that Arrow of Light/crossover ceremony to give the remaining Scouts in your pack something to look forward to.
Cubmaster T.T.

Webelos lasts 18 months max, not until blue and gold or anything else special. You need—no, you should be required—to get those kids out of your pack and into the troop of their choice as soon as they are 10½ years old. Don’t make them wait for arbitrary things like the blue and gold banquet. This is when they need to be moving away from everybody-at-the-same-time Cub Scouting to you’re-on-your-own-to-advance-at-your-speed Boy Scouting.

We used to do the Arrow of Light and crossover ceremonies at the blue and gold, but it made a long event even longer and the younger boys got stir crazy. This year, we decided to do two ceremonies. The pack meeting before the blue and gold was devoted to the Arrow of Light, and the leader who planned the ceremony had younger boys get involved so they were participants instead of just observers. The crossover ceremony was still just as good as ever, and my son is looking forward to doing it next year.
Pack Committee Chairman R.W.

If the parents and leadership decide to do the crossover before blue and gold, the pack can still invite these boys back to recognize their hard work in the Cub Scout program.
District Commissioner J.M.

Most boys in our pack earn Arrow of Light between December and early February, so they don’t have to wait long before the blue and gold. We hold the Arrow of Light ceremony right before we eat lunch, and the crossover ceremony begins after the meal. We do not hold any other rank ceremonies during our blue and gold. This day honors Webelos Scouts only. We have a separate graduation toward the end of May for other dens.
Cubmaster M.C.

Why hold back the Super Achievers? When we have a group of boys who have achieved Arrow of Light way before the blue and gold date (most likely because they are very active and have gone to summer camp, day camp, and most meetings), we hold their ceremony in the fall. We then have them focus on achieving their 20 pins and other awards, such as the Nova and World Conservation awards.
Cubmaster S.N.

Parents can be involved in planning, developing, and organizing these events to create a sense of uniqueness. Reward patience by allowing families to be part of the Arrow of Light and/or crossover ceremonies, and make them incredible events for the boys.
Idaho Falls, Idaho


Answer the next question and your advice could appear in an upcoming issue.

Plus, you can share your own questions for consideration, here. If your question is selected for our print edition, you will receive $50.


  1. I have a view from the Boy Scout side. Is the bridging scout expecting to stay with the Pack for a little while, move to the troop, or take a break from scouting?

    Is the receiving troop ready for new scouts in December? If not, then the bridging scout may have problems in the transition and not succeed. We once had three scouts bridge in December because of unhappiness (primarily parental) with the Pack. One scout is a great asset to the troop, one was not happy with our troop and transferred to another troop, and the third dropped out of scouting altogether.

    For example, we have had scouts bridging over from four or more Packs. We have a schedule transition process that assumes the new scouts will start with the troop in March.

    For one thing, we have two new parent meetings to teach the parents about the differences between Troop & Pack in general & our troop in particular. These meetings also allow the new scout parents to get to know each other. The new scouts meet with the SPL & troop guide during these meetings.

    We also form the new patrol(s) based on keeping scouts from the same pack together. If the new scouts straggle in over two or three months, the patrols may become unbalanced or we have to split friends.

    We schedule troop campouts in January & February that may not be suitable for new scouts. We go on outings that may have minimum ages or require gear that new scouts may not have. We try to minimize buying gear so close to the holidays.

    I would recommend talking to the receiving troop(s) before having a early bridging

    • I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said here. There are so many aspects to crossing over, and the ramifications can be huge. February really does make the most sense for most packs and troops. Individual (and I mean, primarily for the troop and pack) should be addressed, but there’s a reason most have the timing they do. Heading into the holidays and winter is generally NOT a good time to start Boy Scouts.

    • I am the SPL of a Troop and I was the den cheif and Troop Guide for a Year. What bothered me the most was when webelos would cross over with the arrow of light and know nothing about scouting. I had to teach 15 scouts who recieved the Arrow of Light the scout handshake, law, oath, and sign. When i was the Den Cheif for the bears, I was given control of 2 meeting both meeting where focoused on being prepared for Webelos and scouting. Now that Cub scouts have the same oath and law as Scouts it is one thing the Troop guide can take off his plate.

  2. I think it all depends on the boys involved. In my pack, we currently have about 15 Webelo 1s, but only 7 of them would be considered Super Achievers, these 7 will complete all 20 achievements I’m sure, and will be ready to Bridge in December of 2014, but the others (and any new boys that join this year or next) probably won’t. We also like to get the AoL and bridging completed first, we have about 60 boys in our Pack so we like to dedicate the March, April and May pack meetings to Advancement for the other Ranks so we hold our AoL and bridging no later than Feb pack meeting (our B&G is separate from the Pack meeting).

  3. I wish our Pack crossed over in March or April, they do not cross until May! I think this is unfair to the receiving Troops and to our boys that are entering the Troop a lot later than other local packs’ boys.

    • Ask the Boy Scout troop your son wants to bridge to if he can get started early. The troop my son plans to join has said they always do a “bridging into” ceremony for new boys (because some were never Cubs). So for my son, they’ll bridge him into the troop before he participates in the formal AoL ceremony the Pack holds in March. We’ll be done with everything in February (he’s actually done now, but the rest of his den is not), so he can get started in February and he’ll go back to the Pack for the AoL ceremony.

      There’s some leeway in there, and you are not at the mercy of the Pack to determine when your boy moves on. You just have to follow the BSA rules.

    • The previous response is absolutely spot on! If your son has met the age requirements the emphasis should be on finding him a Troop, not standing on tradition.

  4. I’ve been doing this for a while and seen it go both ways. First thing is first… what does the boy want? Second, what is the value added by the decision for the boy? Third, what is the wishes of the Parents? Fourth, how many people put on their resume … I’m an Arrow of Light? Fifth, what does the Troop want?

    So for my first question: Ask the boy. What do you want son? Too often we overlook that fact in Scouting and assume we know what is best for the boy instead of asking the boy. If the boy is ready and qualified for the next adventure then let him have it if he so chooses to accept it.

    Second question: If moving the boy up in December adds value to his Scouting, his experience, and sets him up for success as a Boy Scout then move him up. But refer to Question #1 first and ask the boy why he wants to move up in December.

    Third question: If the parents want this…they kind of bring him to Scouting and you need their support for the success of the boy. Why don’t you ask them the real reason they want this. Most who jump ship early…have a reason. You might just be the reason they want to get away from the Pack. But for those of us with multiple kids in a Pack and a Troop that meet on different nights, this decision could simply be saving gas, time, nights out, etc. So ask them why the rush?

    Question four: Seriously, answer it. Why in the world does this have to be some overblown, over-the-top ceremony for the Parents. Let’s be honest, the kids do not care and in the grand scheme of life, what does it really matter? I’ve never put down on my resume I earned the Arrow of Light in 1984. Just do something simple, something modest, something appropriate, and a Boy Scout Troop to welcome them has made some of the best Scouts I’ve ever had in 30 years. This takes less than 10 minutes at a regular meeting. Bam.. they are Boy Scouts. If the troop is like mine, the kids can’t wait to get there to go rifle shooting, rappelling, SCUBA diving, backpacking, etc. They are frothing at the mouth to get in the game.

    Question five: Probably the second most overlooked question after asking the boy what he wants. Parents believe they are entitled to membership in any Troop they so choose. This is not true….hence the Application form, not the entitlement form. We have about 40 Boy Scouts and we are known for High Adventure…and when I say High Adventure I mean 30 mile backpacking weekends, whitewater trips, 50 milers by foot/float, international trips, Jambo Trips, High Adventure Base Trips, SCUBA, rappelling and climbing, shooting sports, survival training, and so…so very much more. We don’t recruit to our Troop the program does and we don’t just take any family into the Troop. You apply, we will review, we will talk to the boy and the Parents, and then we will make a decision. The Scoutmaster AND the SPL recommends, the Committee reviews, and the COR approves.

    • Our Cubs do have their pick of the Troops – but aside from that, yes to everything you just said. We – the Pack Leadership – are here to support the BOY in HIS journey. Our boys don’t crossover early without their AOL, but we can award that just as easily at his crossover ceremony as we can at B&G.

  5. Wow. I’d never heard of bridging in *Dec*; the coin-toss has always been Feb. I don’t see the rush, myself. Give them time to be the “Elder Statesmen” of the Pack.

    And we pretty much take the summers off (only one Pack outing a month); we don’t have our Welcome BackPack until the 3rd week in August. To meet that “6 months” requirement, we *CAN’T* bridge our Webs out until Feb.

  6. It just depends upon the youth. For example – my oldest’s den was predominantly youth whose birthdays were late in the summer and were young and immature. They waited until the March Blue and Gold Banquet. We have had other youth that are much older (i.e. early fall birthdays – which is the oldest in the grade) that are much more mature and ready to go. What we’ve found is that we lose these kids due to boredom between December and January. As for the troops – it’s our job to be ready when they are ready to cross over. Way back in the day – my dad’s den (late 80’s) crossed over when they were age/rank appropriate – even if that meant one at a time.

    Basically – it’s about the youth. It’s not about adults that are done with the pack. It’s about each individual youth and when they are ready.

    And, if the youth is ready but there is a real push to cross over in March – our troop invites the Webelos to join us for any activity that is appropriate. We keep OWL/BALOO/Web den leader trained folks in the troop so that we can accomadate a “soft” transition into the troop.

    Both sides of leadership and parents need to do what’s right by the youth – not what’s right by them.


    (a 39 year veteran of scouting)

  7. If Webelos 2’s are getting bored then the program is not being done correctly. Cub Scouting is age appropriate. The older boys need to have the freedom to chart their own course. As a Cubmaster I do want those boys involved until the Blue and Gold and getting used to additional responsibility. The big fish in the pond so to speak.

    We do everything at the Blue and gold in early February. For us we feel December is too soon to transition and May would not allow for enough time to acclimate to a Troop for summer camp. We also do our pinewood derby in January a few weeks before they cross over. The boys don’t want to miss their last PWD.

    Take the extra time from December to blue and gold to prepare the boys for Boy Scouts. The more prepared they are the better their Scouting experience will be. Also, crossing over as a group creates solidarity and gives them familiar faces in the Troop.

  8. My Web2s want to bridge in December. I had the parents ask the boys then i asked them. So, we are doing what the BOYS want!

  9. This is not a time of year thing, it’s a time of journey thing. We generally cross over in March as a separate ceremony after Blue and Gold. But that doesn’t work for every boy. We’ve had boys cross over in September and in January. We’re open to crossing a boy over to a Troop when he and the Troop are ready for that transition. Because we go by grade level and not age, we have a variety of ages in each of our dens. Sometimes a single boy is just READY. I don’t mind telling a parent to hold off if they’re rushing things, but I’d never hold a boy back who was ready to move on.

  10. I have been a Cubmaster for 21 years and I can tell you, Dens vary. In Sept. I sit down with the Web. II Den Leader and ask what they want to do. If they feel it is in the Scout’s best interest to cross in Feb. we set up a special ceremony to do it. The others here that state it makes Blue and Gold too long are right. If they want to wait to give the boys more time, fine. We will wait until May if they wish but it usually is sooner. But bottom line, the Den leader knows the boys best and is your best judge of when to jump.

  11. I was the den leader for my son when he was a weblos. Our boys were ready to move up to a troop around November. However we waited until blue and gold to have the boys move up. We spent the 3 months in between doing fun activities, letting the boys finish up any activities or badges they wanted to do and getting them ready for boy scouts. Our Boy Scout leader came and talked to the boys, we went to some of the troop activites to see what was going on and help them learn the Promise and Law. When our boys moved up at blue and gold we also presented them with their arrow of light, along with many of the items they would need in Boy Scouts and our new troop came and welcomed them into the troop.
    The final result was something all our boys and parents will remember. We even did a slide show for our pack so the younger boys could see all the activities we had done and the fun stuff they could look forward to.
    I don’t really think it matters when you move them up (February for us). But more important that they are ready, the parents are ready and you focus on the positive. I’m sure our boys never realized how much work their parents did behind the scenes to make it something special for everyone.

  12. Scouts should receive all recognition as soon as it is earned. If a Scout completes the Arrow of Light in November or December, he should receive it, with appropriate ceremony at that time. A Scout should never have to wait for a Cubmasters big, multirank “traditional” ceremony to be recognized for his accomplishments.

    Its not a bad thing to have a Webelos Scout in the pack for a couple months with his Arrow of Light on his shirt. In fact, shouldn’t a Cub Scout be able to wear the highest rank in the progam *while* he’s a Cub Scout? Eagle Scouts get to do it, but we conflate Arrow of Light and pack graduation and troop crossover into one big final hoorah and push the Webelos Scouts out the door before they get a chance to shine!

    If your Webelos Scout parents are begging to cross over ‘early’, what does that say about your pack program? Does it mean the Webelos Scouts are bored? Does it mean that your Webelos program is not offering them enough adventure? It could be that the den is not camping enough, or doing other challenging activities that would fulfill the 10th purpose of Cub Scouting – to prepare them to be Boy Scouts.

  13. Gotta agree with Common Sense Scouter, what do the Cubs Crossing Over want to do? The past 2 years, my pack have been doing AOL and Crossover in December as the Cubs are chomping at the bit to become Boy Scouts. They are just marking time until they meet the first requirement: “Be active in your Webelos den for at least six months since completing the fourth grade (or for at least six months since becoming 10 years old),….”

    But I also know of Cubs who want to keep with tradition, waiting until Blue and Gold ( started around the mid to late 1990s) or even May ( for those packs 20+ years old and are tradition bound).

    Me personally, I am in favor of December Crossover for the following reasons.

    1) Gives them a chance to get to know the troop before summer camp.

    2) Give the new Scouts a chance to come up with a payment plan with the rest of the troop in paying for summer camp. I know that I was unable to go to summer camp after Crossing Over in May under the old 3 year program becasue it had to be in one lump sum plus late fees.

    3) Gives parents a chance to be comfortable with the leaders.

    4) Locally, all of my district’s units recharter in January. By crossing over in December, they can get registered with the troop without a transfer fee, plus they can pay the troop’s dues instead of the packs.

  14. I am a former den leader, Cubmaster, District Committee member, and a current professional Scouter working as a Quality Unit Executive for the Cradle of Liberty Council and specializing in Cub Scout program.

    The recommendation from the BSA has always been, and will likely always be, that a Scout should be awarded advancement as soon as possible after it is earned. This includes rank advancement, and therefore Arrow of Light and crossover.

    While I understand that Scouts do not necessarily earn their Arrow of Light simultaneously and it would be impractical to have crossovers every time that they do, I also acknowledge that some Scouts are more motivated and participate more than others and should not be held back arbitrarily.

    As Webelos, we are trying to teach these boys to be responsible and self-motivated. If a Scout can meet the AoL requirements without being prodded to do so (by his den leader or his parent), then he shouldn’t be held back.

    Arrow of Light, if done properly, takes at least a year to complete. I recommend using the LDS program from the Webelos Leader’s Guide as a template, but with the understanding that 12 months is extremely aggressive and all of the Scouts have 18 months to do so if they wish with NO pressure.

    That said, I would recommend curtailing your crossovers to only 2 per year. One at the end of September or October (for the Scouts who earned AoL in the first year), and one at the Blue and Gold.

    Anyone who dictates another date, if it’s not based upon the practical time it takes to earn AoL, it is simply being arbitrary. I don’t care how much experience they have as a Scouter, their recommendation simply isn’t based upon the needs of the Scout, but rather the parent, and that completely misses the point.

  15. Our cub master will not rank any boy until the Blue and Gold
    So if you have very very motivated boys and families like I do then you are stuck.

    Basically we have Scouts that can earn BOTH their Webelos and AOL come Blue and Gold 2014.

    How is this possible? Well for a Den that meeting 3 times (including multiple camp outs) a month and has been working through the program since this past March it is not an unreasonable goal that has been achieved.

    Remember that AOL does not require that you hold the rank of Webelos of 6 months rather that you are a Registered Webelos scout. So it is possible to make both ranks ALMOST simultaneously.

    1. Be active in your Webelos den for at least six months since completing the fourth grade
    2. Or for at least six months since becoming 10 years old
    3. AND earn the Webelos badge.

    Here is the Kicker the cub master will not award AOL in 2014 because they will receive Webelos in 2014.

    WHY? Because he stated that it will mess up his numbers for Journey to Excellence. So we will have boys in our Den who will be 10 1/2 in March and now have to wait and ENTIRE year before they are awarded AOL and “released” by the Pack…. These are boys that are not just ready to jump they are planning and excited for it but will be let down.

    So Point #1 listed by CommonSenseScouter is by far the most important one of all. If the boys are ready and have completed everything then let them go!!

    ALSWAYS Do what is in the best interest of the boy and make sure that you LISTEN to him!!!

    • Your Committee Chair and your Committee along with your parents should have a discussion with the Cubmaster as to his actual responsibilities to the Boys and the PAck and NOT his “numbers.”
      “Journey to Excellence” has little to nothing to do with Scouting. It is there to motivate the PAck leadership to do effective planning.

  16. Our Council timetable shows the Webelos having selected and met with a troop in early December with the assumption of bridging at Blue & Gold. Since this is typically one of the last AoL requirements completed it is almost assumed that the boys have earned AoL as soon as it had been done.

    Our Pack has an Arrow of Light ceremony at our November campout. This fell so early this year that we had some age issues. In reality if a Pack is planning an AoL ceremony that is not held in conjunction with bridging at the Blue and Gold then it should fall at least six months after the fourth grade graduation.

    There is a very good reason that packs and troops should encourage bridging at the Blue and Gold. Boy Scouts ideally uses the patrol method. Having the Webelos bridge at the same time allows the formation of new scout patrols. Scouts coming in individually disrupt existing patrols and don’t provide the best experience for the scout. AoL qualified scouts should be well prepared for summer camp if they maintain contact with the troop following their Scoutmaster conference in December. Packs benefit by having the AoL Webelos remain to set an example for younger scouts.

    Recognize that some parents are eager for their sons to bridge simply because there is less parental involvement and some Webelos feel like they have finished Cub Scouts. Webelos Den Leaders should plan Webelos activities, especially joint activities with troops, for the time between the AoL ceremony and bridging. By focusing on Den outings trained Webelos leaders can take the den without parents and the boys will be more prepared for patrol camping. If there are meaningful, fun events scheduled for the Webelos before blue and gold parents and scouts will want to stay. If instead you’ve written off the end of December and January then why not bridge them?

  17. 1. Ranks and special honors should be awarded when they earned. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t hold a special ceremony as part of an overall pack schedule to honor a group of boys together.

    2. I do not understand why bridging a Cub Scout to a Troop is tied to earning the Arrow of Light. The two are unrelated events.

    3. I have met very few Cub Scouts that don’t want one more chance at the Pinewood Derby. For the December “bridgers”, do you hold your Pinewood Derby in September?

    • AOL is not “tied” to crossover, but it is one of the awards allowed to be worn on the BSA shirt. Therefore it must be earned before crossover.
      You are absolutely correct about Pinewood Derby. I already have Webelos II asking if they can come back as Boy Scouts and do the Derby!
      IMHO a full AOL ceremony should be at a different pack meeting and not at B&G. There are enough awards at all levels to fill up a reasonable B&G schedule.

  18. Summer camp shwummer flamp.

    The entire reason of letting the boys “get accustomed to the Troop before summer camp” is a bit of a red herring.
    a) A young and immature eleven year old will not benefit from an extra three months in a Troop he for which he is not ready.
    b) Unless you are running a TRULY twelve month program- ALL SUMMER LONG- the Webelos program probably will not be completed by December anyway. I have two out of thirteen who are “super achievers” and still have not earned their AOL as of New Years. Neither has visited ANY Troops.
    c) A gregarious, type-A, rambunctious, social butterfly of a kid (half of our Webelos IIs) is going to jump right into their chosen Troop no matter what month it is. My son, a bit ADD-HD, barely earned his Webelos patch after 20 months. Yet he looks like he has been in Boy Scouts for years at every Troop visit we have been on. He could cross over in May and show other Scouts how to summer camp in June!

    • The requirement is to visit a troop with your den. Any Webelos who had not visited a troop can squarely place the blame on his den leader for failing to provide that opportunity. Any visits to troops without the den don’t fulfill the requirement.

      The purpose of the visit and of the Februray bridge is not so much to get “accustomed” as you put it but to select merit badge classes and earn and pay fees. These tasks occur before summer. We encourage any Webelos who will not bridge in February to stay in close contact with their chosen troop to handle these items.

      • My reply reads a bit snarky. It wasn’t intended to be discourteous. Please chalk it up to PBP (posting before pancakes).

        I am dealing with some issues in my pack with “not mature enough for Boy Scouts”. Since Boy Scouts handles an eight year age range, and is the only option for boys who are 11. I’m not certain what this even means. In my experience it is a good thing to encourage this age boy to push outside his comfort zone a little bit. I strongly believe it goes directly to character development.

        When my oldest crossed last year the very first thing he did was vote on which summer camp to attend. In addition the district camporee is held in the spring. This provides a chance to work on “Trail to First Class” which in return opens options for summer camp.

        The real push for a uniform crossover date is that it makes things easier for everyone. The boys crossing over should be forming a new patrol, choosing a name and electing a leader. Delaying crossover robs the new Scout of experiencing these firsts.

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