In high school it’s called “senioritis.” Some Webelos Scouts feel similar final-year doldrums as they eagerly await the transition into Scouting.
This can be avoided. How do effective Cub Scout leaders maintain momentum with their Webelos Scouts? Keep it exciting.
First Ingredient: Fun
“An action-packed Webelos program is the best way to encourage Webelos-to-Scout transition,” says Webelos I leader Kathi Robertson.
After observing her bored boys, she realized that much of each meeting involved sitting.
Robertson started including the Webelos Scouts in planning dynamic activities for every den meeting as well as an outdoor field trip. “Soon, the boys were eager to come to meetings, and when it was time to transition to a troop, they were excited because they knew that Scouting would include activities they wanted.”
James and Beth Worthen, parents and leaders in Pack 535 of Casper, Wyo., say camping is another key to maintaining Webelos momentum. “There is a fundamental shift between Cubs and Scouts in the emphasis on overnight camping, and the Webelos years can help make that transition.”
Patrick Stanley, Troop 84 Scoutmaster in Sulphur, La., agrees. “Get your Scouts to a Webelos resident camp the summer between fourth and fifth grades. Most of the Scouts lost in transition do not stop attending because the crossover ceremony wasn’t meaningful; it’s often because a month or two later they are overwhelmed by a weeklong summer camp with the troop.”
A den chief or Scout could join the Webelos Scouts on their campout and give tips on how the troop handles events like flag ceremony, waiter duty or campsite inspection.
Help is on the Way
The Cub Scout program has camping experiences for boys and girls from Wolf Cubs through Webelos Scouts that are specifically designed to prepare the them for the Scouting transition.
“During those first three to four months of the Scout experience, many troops are going to summer camp, so we’re trying to make sure the new Scout is prepared for that,” Scott explains.
Troops Play a Role
Finally, once boys and girls cross over, good relationships are key to maintaining momentum in the Scouting program.
“It’s really incumbent on the Scout leaders to be positive receivers and to work together with the pack,” says Scott.
“Adult leaders can foster a culture that promotes retention efforts handled by the Scouts themselves,” James Worthen says. “Patrol leaders and Scouts can mentor, invite and make assignments so that new Scouts feel they are a valuable part of the troop.”