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Are Elective Arrows obsolete? How do we compete with Belt Loops/Pins?

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  • Are Elective Arrows obsolete? How do we compete with Belt Loops/Pins?

    When I was a boy, you earned your rank and 1 to 3 arrow heads that you proudly wore on your uniform. The book hasn't changed, but I never see them in the real world. I see belts full of loops, and Packs that meet more or less together and do more loops and less specific electives. I've also ssince a plastic "badge holder" holding everyone's rank badges in plastic instead of on the uniform.

    With my Tiger Den, I got everyone through 18 electives, my son got active at home and earned 4 beads, the rest earned 1 (and I learned for our Pack and how the Jewish Calendar affects us, we're going to give Tiger Beads as earned since we complete the rank too late in the year to have time to wear them). For my two Wolf Scouts that were at Day Camp for two weeks, we did 30 electives across them.

    I love the Loop/Pin Program, but I fear it's crowding out the Cub Scout Crafts that were the core of the program. I love that we encourage the boys to explore new things, but how can "10 Electives for 1 Arrow" compete with 45 minutes for a Belt Loop or 90 minutes for a Pin?

    With the Tigers, you need the parents in on it (they can barely read at the beginning of first grade), but I need my Wolf's to take interest and the Bears to take ownership (in preparation for Webelos)

  • #2
    Same problem here. Even if they earn arrows they are so hard to sew on that I rarely see them.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm contemplating giving the new Wolf Den, Arrow Heads for their Tiger Beads, to show it off, and then again with the wolf ones this year. It's technically not in the rules, but people have said that "back in the day" of Wolf/Bear/Lion, you had arrow heads for Lions... We wouldn't be technically in uniform, but it might make an impression on the incoming Scouts and get them to want them. I also got my son and I Red Vests to put all the "event" badges that we got on last year, in the hopes that it motivates more participation in our Unit.

      The Patch Glue solves the sewing issue, even if you glue on, then sew them in place.

      I remember all those Electives as a core part of cub scouting when I was a kid, I'm saddened to see them replaced with the Academic/Sports "bling" that seems to be over powering this part of the program. At Day Camp I spoke to one of the leaders in another pack whose kids I had. They "crossed over" their Tigers to Wolves as soon as they completed the Tiger program, and were almost done with the Wolf Trail before summer, they also did 10 Belt Loops that year. That's all well and good, but it means that any new Wolf Signups they have will need to be in a separate Den or do their Rank separately. My boys LOVED the crafts from doing the electives in Tiger, and the Wolf ones are a good mixture of activities (some overlapping with belt loops, some not) and crafts.

      I just fear that the program, as we've been running it, is morphing into a mediocre sports program and not a great scouting/Americana program.

      KDD, what's your thoughts?

      Comment


      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree with what are saying. We do not put an emphasis on the belt loops in the program at all and the pack does not pay for them. The only belt loop we did as a den was bowling. If a boy plays soccer or baseball or whatever we will award it, it is just not part of the program. I personally am not a fan of the patch vests because they cover up most of the uniform and just look sloppy to me. I prefer a patch blanket.

        My den only meets twice a month so it is hard to get through a lot of electives at meetings. I encourage parents to flip through the electives once a month to keep them fresh in mind. I would love to do more crafts, it just gets hard to source all the materials. We have done a couple of the Saturday clinics at the big box stores and I am going to assign each parent this year an activity or two.

        The academic belt loops I think are a great addition and did a lot of them with my old pack that meet 3 times a month. Weather, astronomy, science, good manners, reading, wildlife etc. are all good ones. The upside to the the sports ones is it gets the boys active, sitting in a room all the time gets a little old. I think it is just a balancing issue, do some but don't get nuts with it. If the boy wants to do it on his own great. My oldest skipped wolf year and still had a completely full belt at crossover with no duplicates.

        The video game belt loop is the stupidest thing I have ever seen in scouts.

        Trading in beads for arrows I can't go along with you on. Just emphasize the electives and explain the purpose behind some of them, like knowing the distance between your thumb and index finger.

        The big time suck I had was trying to get each boy to lead an outdoor flag ceremony. It just took to much time to cycle all the boys through and the halyard on our pole was to high for them.
        Last edited by King Ding Dong; 08-01-2013, 05:27 PM.

      • Pack18Alex
        Pack18Alex commented
        Editing a comment
        We awarded a boy the Video Game Loop/Pin at the last pack meeting of the year. I commented that this was one I thought all the boys could earn, which got chuckles out of the parents.

        Most of the boys play a lot of video games. The Loop/Pin that focuses on limits, understanding appropriate games, etc., seems like a way to channel that in a good direction.

        I'm not committed on using Tiger "Arrows," but I was musing about it a few weeks back.

    • #4
      What people tend to forget is that there is a place for all the arts and crafty things in the lower ranks. I try to always explain it to the tiger and wolf parents that 1. schools nowadays are doing less and less glue, cut, color, crafty things and that 2. these types of things increase the boy's manual dexterity which will allow them to do more intricate things as adults. Of course so many adults don't have jobs or hobbies that involve cut, glue, make things anymore. But even if you are typing or cooking meals you need to be able to use small motor and large motor skills effectively. Used to be everyone had a kind of crafty hobby things somewhere in their life. I made sure my sons both know how to do leatherworking, crochet, sewing(still working on that one), woodworking from big to small, rockets, models, all sorts of things that help them to learn how the world works as well as develop all parts of body and brain.

      Comment


      • #5
        Don't tell that to my son. By the end of his Wolf year he had his rank badge, full belt of loops and 9 arrow points. He loves them and most of my den ended up the year with at least 4 arrow points, My wife just sews the arrow points on during the den meeting and everyone is happy. We don't do the instant recognition beads because they just fall off and they would rather wear the hanging patches on that pocket.

        And regarding patch vests, I like them because the boys love actually wearing all the patches we give them.

        Comment


        • Pack18Alex
          Pack18Alex commented
          Editing a comment
          Interesting. I wonder if that would work. Have the boys wear Activity Shirts to a meeting or two (or under their shirts) and get a volunteer to sew the arrow heads on. Thanks for a great idea!

          My thought on the patch vest was to get the boys to wear their patches, and get the boys not earning patches to want them more.

      • #6
        I started a little late in my planning phase but I tried to do at least an elective or two every meeting that I had and would try to do a sports belt loop at kind of an impromptu pack meeting. As a pack we played a game of flag football. The pins don't have to be a "gimme". The belts are enough of that, make em earn the pins.

        I also went thru the book with the boys (Wolves this past year) and asked them what sounded like a fun thing to do. Sometimes it was fun and other times not so much, but the boys got to tell me what they wanted to do and I just helped plan the meeting. My main calender was written out for the year (it changed every now and then) but my parents had an idea of what/when I was doing and could plan to help out the kids if they needed.

        Comment


        • #7
          Tigers (and Wolves/Bears) don't cross over to their new Cub levels until the END of the SCHOOL YEAR. When/if they finish their current rank award has nothing to do with it. That Day Camp Pack is very, very, wrong.

          My Tigers each year always complete enough electives to get a handful of beads. All of our ranks end up with a number of arrow points, along with belt loops, and other stuff.

          It is not an either/or situation for electives vs belt loops. Electives are great fun for filling in time in a den meeting! I generally did at least 1-3 per month.

          Comment


          • #8
            ScoutNut, I understand that that pack at Day Camp was wrong. I'll drop the very, very, because their boys were awesome Scouts, never complained, always did their best, and were super contributors. They also took over from Pack leadership that imploded in October and did their best with the program. I try to follow the program to the letter. I just noticed at our Council Camporee and District Cuboree, I didn't see ANY boys with Elective Arrows, so I can't really get ideas at Roundtable, so I came here.

            We had no planning last year and a late start, so I marched through the Tiger Trail, but we got stuck with a few achievements left that were hard to schedule, and I did electives, but the boys didn't "see" the progress. I'm pretty sure if I was handing out elective beads during the year, I'd have gotten them to do some at home. As we've made a big deal of a real pack meeting (we used to meet as a Pack then break into Dens, never a Pack Meeting), the boys are super excited to show off what they've earned.

            I want to make the electives more of an emphasis. We're going to have 16 Den Meetings this year, because we have an active Pack schedule and we take a week off before/after major weekend activities to prevent burn out. That's enough time to maybe earn 10 Arrow Points along the way, 20 will be seriously pushing it. Extra problem for us, as a Jewish Pack, we are SERIOUSLY restricted in what we can do on Saturdays, which includes at Camp Outs. That makes it hard to rack up electives, hard is not an excuse to not try, but the boys really need to do it with their family.

            I agree it's not either/or, just looking for ways to make this more exciting for the boys and reinforce the idea that they are Scouts 24/7, not just in the meetings.

            Also, at the beginning of Tiger, the boys can't read that well. I'm going to ask my Wolves to bring their book every week, and we'll sign off achievements as we go. But I'm hoping for more ideas, which I'm getting, thank you Scouter.com!

            Comment


            • #9
              While the Tiger Cub might not read well, their Adult Partner can. The Adult Partner should be doing everything right alongside their Tiger. Also, there is not a lot of "reading" involved in the Tiger activities (achievements or electives), more simply doing fun stuff.

              Doing fun stuff is the same for many of the other electives in Wolf and Bear. Also, there are some electives that the boys are completing without ever realizing it. Include stuff done at school, after school, and with their family. It can add up.

              There are LOTS of FUN Wolf electives. Some are very easy to slip into a den meeting where an additional activity is needed.

              E-1 (Its a Secret) While 1-a might be better waiting until the boys are better at spelling/writing (although it can be great practice), 1-b making a note with "invisible" ink is quick, fun, and takes minimal equipment.

              E-2 (Be an Actor) Our Pack does a Vaudeville Night for the March or April Pack meeting where each den puts together a skit/song/etc and performs it in front of the Pack. This was always a great time to work on these type of electives, and achievements. However, your den can do a den skit during a regular Pack meeting too, or just for themselves, or their parents. Paper bag masks (2-e) are great fun for Halloween!

              E-3 (Make it Yourself) Great for making a gift for Christmas, Hanukkah, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, etc. This works well later in the school year (April/May) when you can allocate an entire meeting (or two) to it. 3-b can be done anywhere, at any time, as long as you have a ruler. You can even make it into a game to see who has the largest/smallest/longest/shortest hands.

              E-4 (Play a Game) can be done at least once a week at every den meeting!

              E-5 (Spare Time Fun) The boys LOVE making/flying kites! Combine this with E-18 (Outdoor Adventure) a (picnic). Have a great picnic den outing with kite making competitions, and game playing. Of course 5-g-h-i is aimed specifically at the various Cub Scout derbies, however, a paper airplane competition using templates off of the Web works too! I did that with my Tiger Teams and they had a blast!

              There are lots more fun things that you can have your Wolf Cubs do with the electives.

              My guys loved making Indian rain sticks (E-10-b) out of old paper towel tubes, and story sticks (E-10-f) with flat craft sticks and crayons. The story sticks are quick, and easy to fit into a dead spot in a meeting.

              Singing a grace before a meal (E-11-e) is a fun way to remind the boys about their "duty to God".

              Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count and complete E-13-a.

              Visit a local pet rescue, or shelter, and learn about E-14-b-d.

              Depending on your Charter Organization, E-15 might be the perfect way to do a service project and spruce up around your CO.

              E-17-b, a great way to help the boys learn to tie their shoes! Knot tying competitions are also lots of fun! The first one done might get a "special" (turks head) necker slide.

              Use the resources available, and have FUN!


              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by Pack18Alex View Post
                ScoutNut, I understand that that pack at Day Camp was wrong. I'll drop the very, very, because their boys were awesome Scouts, never complained, always did their best, and were super contributors.
                I never said that the BOYS were NOT "awesome Scouts". However, Cub Scouts is all about age appropriate activities. Having Tigers doing Wolf activities rather defeats that whole thing. Also, as you noticed, it kinds of mucks up the program for the following year.

                Not a good thing as you end up with bored Wolf Cubs.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Back to the original question, I think it varies by local culture, so to speak. We've had boys come over from packs that did not award a single belt loop, the parents and scout didn't even know the program existed. We've had others join that had a belt full of jingling bling. My pack trends to the middle. We look to belt loops when we are doing pack-wide activities because they are easy ideas to implement across all the ranks. Awards like LNT fit in the same way. When our den leaders need a quick, small project to fill out a den meeting, rank electives are the choice. Individual scouts tend to earn electives on their own when they see a cool idea in the book. Belt loops are earned as a way to learn more about an activity they are already involved with. To me, its all good.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    I'm not a fan of the belt loops. The elective programs have TONS of fun activities. Some of them are a little dated, but it would make more sense to me to update the boy books rather than add an extra program. Yes, I know the belt loops have been around awhile.

                    Then there are the economic issues. With electives, the boys do 10 activities and earn a $1.00 patch. Some activities are harder/more time consuming than others. With the belt loops, the boys do three (generally simple) activities and earn a $2.00 belt loop. With 40 boys in the pack, that would add up pretty quickly. Plus the belt loops can be earned more than once. How many times can you really learn the rules, identify the chess pieces and play a game? Recognition is important, but I don't know that we need to give the boys an award for every single thing they do in life.

                    Electives are also things that can be done by the boys at home. They don't all need to be done in den meetings.This flexibility is nice. When my own boys say they're bored, I tell them to go find their scout books and look at the electives. They can usually find a couple of things to do to keep us busy for most of an afternoon, sometimes 2 afternoons.

                    10-20 arrow points? Is 20 even possible? Are there 200 elective activities? I know some things can be done more than once and the Bears have the option of using some of the unused achievements, but 200 activities beyond the rank badge would take a ton of time. Earning just 5 or 6 arrow points takes quite a bit of work. I would emphasize having fun with the activities and not stress about how many arrow points.



                    Our pack does the belt loops required for Webelos advancement and we pay for the ones earned at district/council/day camp events, but otherwise we don't use the program. We had one family leave over this, but otherwise no one else has complained.

                    I think some of the parents are pleased by not having to buy the belts to put the loops on.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by daveywow View Post
                      I'm not a fan of the belt loops. The elective programs have TONS of fun activities. Some of them are a little dated, but it would make more sense to me to update the boy books rather than add an extra program. Yes, I know the belt loops have been around awhile.

                      Then there are the economic issues. With electives, the boys do 10 activities and earn a $1.00 patch. Some activities are harder/more time consuming than others. With the belt loops, the boys do three (generally simple) activities and earn a $2.00 belt loop. With 40 boys in the pack, that would add up pretty quickly. Plus the belt loops can be earned more than once. How many times can you really learn the rules, identify the chess pieces and play a game? Recognition is important, but I don't know that we need to give the boys an award for every single thing they do in life.

                      Electives are also things that can be done by the boys at home. They don't all need to be done in den meetings.This flexibility is nice. When my own boys say they're bored, I tell them to go find their scout books and look at the electives. They can usually find a couple of things to do to keep us busy for most of an afternoon, sometimes 2 afternoons.

                      10-20 arrow points? Is 20 even possible? Are there 200 elective activities? I know some things can be done more than once and the Bears have the option of using some of the unused achievements, but 200 activities beyond the rank badge would take a ton of time. Earning just 5 or 6 arrow points takes quite a bit of work. I would emphasize having fun with the activities and not stress about how many arrow points.



                      Our pack does the belt loops required for Webelos advancement and we pay for the ones earned at district/council/day camp events, but otherwise we don't use the program. We had one family leave over this, but otherwise no one else has complained.

                      I think some of the parents are pleased by not having to buy the belts to put the loops on.

                      Do you guys sell popcorn? Because I know that we are usually struggling to figure out how to properly spend our commissions. Belt loops and patches never seem to be an issue for us.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        We sell popcorn. Sometimes I feel like we're the "Selling Stuff Scouts" instead of Cub Scouts. We make just enough to run the program. Thankfully, our Council is changing vendors, (from Trail's End to Camp Master). Rumor has it there will be more low end items, which would help our kids. Many of them live in low income areas and have a hard time selling $25-50 items. If there were extra money, I'm pretty sure we could find good ways to spend it , but it still probably wouldn't be on belt loops.

                        Comment


                        • sasha
                          sasha commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Our pack, like a lot of units, has a cap on how many belt loops we will buy each year to limit the cost to the pack. We also have a rule that the pack will buy each belt loop once but will recognize a scout each times he earns it. Belt loops and pins are not restricted items and parents are free to buy as many as they want. Pass all of the cost to the parents if that works better for your unit. Print off certificates if you need to hand out something. If a scout in my unit has the initiative to earn an award, I'm going to see that we recognize it in some way.

                        • ScoutNut
                          ScoutNut commented
                          Editing a comment
                          A few years back our council had some delivery issues with Trails End, and switched to Camp Masters. Gotta say I was really disappointed in the quality of their popcorn. So was our council. We switched back to Trails End after two years.

                          Per BSA, the Pack determines how to include the Academic and Sports program, into their Pack program. The Pack also determines how the program is funded.

                          There are many different ways to fund the program. Some Packs pay for everything but multiples of the same loop (our Pack). Some Packs will include a belt loop fee in their annual Scout dues. Some will pay for only the first loop with any multiples of the same loop being paid for by the Scout's family. Some will only pay for a specific number of loops per year, with anything over that amount paid for by the Scout's family. Some, like yours, pay for only those earned by Webelos, or those earned at council functions.

                        • Pack18Alex
                          Pack18Alex commented
                          Editing a comment
                          We don't do duplicates in our Pack. I mean, a parent could certainly go to the Scout Store and buy them, but as a rule, they don't. We award each Loop/Pin once and only once. If they are re-earned as Webelos Scouts to satisfy activity pin requirements, I don't foresee a second loop, just a requirement satisfaction... One that I might really gloss over if they had earned it as a younger Scout... I realize it has to be "earned" as a Webelos, but I'd probably be okay with a much more glossed over "earn" as opposed to a detailed earn.

                      • #15
                        I read all of this today with interest. Some of my thoughts:

                        - Belt Loops/Pins: Yes, they are very very easy to earn, but the purpose is to expose the scouts to something new. I'm not personally sure who would sign off a Belt Loop after only 45 min, as I know in my very recent former pack, it took over an hour to get most of the requirements. The Pin's normally took an additional 1-1.5 hours...after the Belt Loop. (and that was for the easy ones...several took longer)

                        - Arrow Points: My son's Wolf Den last year averaged 7-8 arrow points. They are relatively easy to earn....but like the Belt Loops, are just to expose the scouts to new things. I know the requirements changed just a few weeks back, to allow elective credit to be awarded for Wolf/Bear requirements, which weren't used towards the award of Wolf/Bear. For Wolf, this easily allows for a Gold Arrow point...and for Bear, even more.
                        For sewing on the arrow points, I usually bring my sewing machine a couple of times a year, and sew patches on. These sessions have known to take well over the 1 hour den meeting, but I warn the families, and they are normally more than happy to wait for the patches to be sewn on.

                        - Other Awards: I didn't see anyone mention them, but the NOVA awards are a recent addition to the program, and are a great way to expand a program and expose the youth to new things. My former pack managed to complete two of the NOVA over just a few short weeks. (3 per award) The scouts enjoyed the new information, and we were able to tie in other achievements.

                        - # of Arrow Points: I saw someone ask about the number of arrow points earned, and what needs to be remembered is the Cub Scouts can earn elective credit numerous times, for each elective. So...if you build 3 pine-wood derby cars in a year...you earn 3 elective credits. Play a board game as a family...another credit. It's very easy to earn a ton of electives over 12 months....

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