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Bear to Webelos Transition

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Hello all,


I have been a Cub Scout Leader now for three years. I started with my son in Tigers. Before this, I have no Scouting background whatsoever. Each year, the requirements get harder, and I feel less and less equipped. This year was our Bear year, and I had to go out and find subject matter experts to do the teaching for me several times. That's fine with me. I think it changes things up a bit for the boys. I don't really have an ego about where they get the information they need, as long as they get it.


I'm very nervous about Webelos. It looks as if the program changes drastically, and the requirements are going to get much harder. Theres a lot of talk on the web about Webelos to Scout transition, but not so much about Bear to Webelos.


Can any of the Den Leaders out there that have already made the jump, give me any advice? How do I explain the program changes in a way they'll understand? I had a really hard time getting them to understand this years requirements with one from God, three from Country, Four from Family and Self for a total of 12. They didn't understand why there were 24 possible choices then. It really threw them when I explained how unused requirements from achievements could be turned around and used towards arrow points.


They've all got it now, and we're only a couple of months away from finishing our year. Our last couple of months are almost free months. Is there any skill I should focus on to prepare them for Webelos?


Any advice, tips, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I just don't want to let the boys down. Every year I've tried hard to make it fun and interesting to keep them involved. I've tried to keep it fresh with field trips to new places. I'd hate to lose them now because I'm not quite up to the task. Thanks for your help.

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The best advise that I can give is to take the WEBELOS Den Leader specific training, and purchase a copy of the WEBELOS Den Leader Manual. Both will explain the differences in the two Ranks differences and how to put them on. You as the Den Leader are the sole person responsible for signing off in their handbooks. Also look on USSCOUTS web site, they have good information and links to other information.




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The single biggest change from Bear to Webelos is that the parents are no longer the ones to sign off on requirements. As the WDL you would be the person to do the signing off. However, with that being said, it does not mean that you can't get the family involved with specific tasks. The requirements for Family Member and Traveler are far more conducive to being done on the family level than strictly on the den level.


For achievement pins that are outside your comfort level for leading, try using parents or merit badge counselors....or Boy Scouts who have that merit badge. Make use of all your available resources.


Good luck and have fun




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As Wolf & Bear Scouts their parents (not their den leader) should have been doing most of the work on advancement with them at home. Parents signed off on all requirements, pretty much without question.


Webelos do most of their rank requirements in the den meeting/outing. The person responsible for signing off on completed requirements is no longer the parent. It is the den leader (or whoever the den leader appoints).


Do a den survey & find out what your parents skills & hobbies are. Use them to teach Webelos Activity Pins (similar to a merit badge counselor in Boy Scouts). Also take advantage of any Webelos activities your council might offer. Check out near-by museums, nature centers, etc. Many have programs specifically for Scouts that will help them to earn part or all of an activity pin. Contact your local fire station & see if their EMT's will do Readyman with the boys. Attend your District's monthly Roundtables. They should have resources available for Webelos & Cub leaders.


BTW - Remember that if a Bear achievement is used toward Rank requirement, unused parts of that Bear achievement may NOT be used as electives.

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I've actually found Webelos achievements (the activity badge/pins) less complicated than the Bears achievements and electives. In Bears, if you wanted to get the most electives possible, than it was to a boy's advantage to choose short achievements for the Bear rank and use the ach. with more requirements for electives. I personally don't like the way Bears is set up. Record keeping was tricky trying to determine if a completed achievement should be used for Bear rank, or saved for use as electives. My Bear parents never quite figured all that out, so it was up to me to determine how to record ach. and electives to the best advantage for each boy. Once they earned Bear, of course, it was easier, since all remaining achievements worked on had to be used as electives.


Another complication, was that the Bear book had changed by the time my younger son was a third grader. Parents who had older boys didn't understand why unused requirements of Ach. used for Bear rank could not be used as electives, when they were allowed when their older sons were Bears. I have an older son, so I could relate to their frustrations.


Showman is one Webelos activity badge that is a bit complicated to figure out. It's not hard to do, it's just a pain to have to figure out six requirements to do, while still getting 1 (that wasn't part of the original 6) from each of the three areas (puppetry, music, drama).


If you have a Troop that your Pack feeds into, by all means seek "experts" from there. If you are lucky enough to get a Den Chief, his boy scout experience should be a help to you. Also, if your Council offers Webelos camp, you could suggest that to your boys as they can earn activity badges at camp.


Another suggestion would be to look through the Webelos book and decide which activity badges you can do as a den. Then give the parents a list of the ones they will be responsible for.

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I just thought of something else. Some requirements will be fulfilled by activities that the boys do through their school. My son's 4th grade class took a field trip to some nearby caves as part of their geology studies. We were able to count this for one of the requirements for the Geologist activity badge. They also have a wonderful art teacher who has them do clay projects that are fired in a kiln, and several other projects that can count toward the Artist badge.


I remember one den meeting when I started to discuss something (I can't remember what, now) and a few of the boys asked, "Do we have to do this when we just did that at school?" After just a few questions from me, I realized they did know the stuff, so of course they did not have to repeat it at the den meeting.

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Webelos is a program which was designed to transition boys from Cub Scout, (family oriented, parents sign off, work at home) to Boy Scout, (specific people sign off, work and plan as a patrol, specialist taught) programs. My advice, along with taking Webelos Leader Specific and Outdoor Leaders Skills for Webelos Leaders training is to find a Boy Scout troop to work with. The Assistant Scoutmaster for the New Scout Patrol and the Troop Guide for the New Scout patrol or an Assistant Senior Patrol leader should be asked to assist you in having a talk with not only your perspective Webelos Scouts but their parents. The idea is to transition both boy and parents to the new program. The troop members will be able to explain what the goal is and how the parents and the troop can help the boys to achieve the transition. Along with the Family Resource sheet you should use the troop members as activity pin counselors. This is also the time to get a Den Chief if you dont already have one. Webelos to Scout Transition begins in the Bear den around April when the boys and parents meet the members of a Boy Scout troop and get acquainted with the difference between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Waiting till September of their Webelos II year to begin transition is the reason some boys dont make the change in attitude, give them the full 20 months to slowly come around to the Boy Scout concept, start now.



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I was active in the pack the whole time my son was in cubs (until last year when he crossed over) and the webelos program was actually my favorite because it offers so many opportunities to do neat things with the boys.


That said, yes it can be a little bit overwhelming at first! Like you, I didn't have any real experience with BSA before my son joined cubs.Funscout and others here gave you some good advice. Here are a couple of other things I found helpful, as well as a couple I wish I'd done but didn't think about until after my son joined boy scouts.


1. If your district has a roundtable night for cub leaders, try to attend. You'll get to know some other WDLs in your area and you can always pick their brains.


2. As much as possible, get the boys involved in planning den activities because this is one of the big changes they'll need to make when they join a troop. But with webelos I, as you say, they are just a step from being Bears and you may need to start small.

A nice place to start is for them to develop a den name and pick a den symbol (rather than a number). Then they can create a den yell, flag, cheer, etc. based on the above. (And by the way, this is one of the first requirements they'll do to earn their Scout badge in Boy Scouts too)


Another fairly easy way to get the boys used to making decisions as a group: provide them with a (short) list of activities that you can and are willing to do over the next few months and ask them to rank order them based on what they want to do. If any cost money, be sure to either explain how they'll be raising that money (which may require pack and district approval depending on what you come up with) or make sure their parents are ok w/ that first. (We asked boys to do a popcan drive to fund outings) Then go with the most popular few items on the list. Let them know that you'll be seeking input from them on future lists too.


3. There are 20 of those Webelos Activity Badges (pins). You do need to do more advanced planning with the Webelos program than with the others (anyway that was my experience). But don't feel as though you have to cover them all. A boy can earn his Webelos badge with just 3 and his Arrow of Light with just 8 of these badges. While there are some specific required badges, a lot of the webelos program can be driven by the boys' interests. So if they really aren't interested in one and it isn't required, don't force it.


(But I think doing the Aquanaut badge is a very good idea because a lot of the basic swimming skills come back again in Boy Scout rank requirements. Same with Forester and Naturalist.)


Also, they can work on some of the badges at home. I found the fitness badge (which is mainly about alcohol, drugs, and healthy diet and is required for the Webelos badge) to be one I'd rather have them do at home.


4. As for teaching them: don't forget to utilize your schools and any nature center or regional park staff in your area. Around here, for example, one of the state parks runs a Forester and a Naturalist session several times a year. We got together with some middle school teachers to work on the Science and Geology badges and the elem. school art teacher helped out with the Artist badge. Many museums run programs too but these do tend to be more expensive and fill quickly so a little advance planning is required here.


5. If you haven't done much camping, that's one thing that changes from Bears to Webelos. (For camping training you can go to BALOO and Outdoor Webelos Leader training - the name of this last one varies but your council should be able to help you identify it) Now I wasn't too confident in my ability to lead a group of boys on a campout - but the troops in your area can definitely help you here. Most will be happy to invite a webelos den along on a campout (though webelos only stay one night, or sometimes, just participate during the day and go home at night). We also did a den campout where a couple of boy scout leaders came along to help teach cooking and "scout skills". It worked great and took a lot of pressure off the WDL.


In fact I wish I'd done more of this kind of thing. After cross-over and as I've gotten to know our troop and the Boy Scout program, I've realized that I could've/should've/would've utilized the troop as a resource a lot more than I actually did, particularly for the outdoor badges.


6. Just like with the previous ranks, keep it fun. There are a couple of badges which require some imagination to make fun (Citizenship for example) but it can be done. The other thing I loved about webelos is that, because it is an 18 month program, there's time in there to do lots of non-rank activities. In fact some of our most successful activities had little to do with specific rank advancement.


7. Last thing: if you haven't already found it, I love the Virtual Cub Leader Handbook, which can be found at http://www.geocities.com/~pack215/


If you click on the "virtual requirements guide" and scroll down you'll find all the webelos stuff. There's a lot of other good, quick, clear info on this site too.


Good luck, have fun!



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One of the best suggestions I can give you is this...sign up for you or your spouse to attend a Webelos Overnight Camp with your son...in our Council it is called "Webelos Adventure Camp". My son attended last summer when he was transitioning from Bear to Webelos. It sooooooo took the pressure off all of us especially the leaders! Four other boys attended as well, and they walked away with 4 badges completed and well on the way to finnishing up another 2!!! They received the Webelos rank by November this year! My son now has 9 of the 20 badges offered. He is signed up to attend the camp this year as well, and will work on others that he wasn't able to work on last year. (The camp offered a chance to earn up to 11 differnt badges.) The opportunity to earn the harder badges at camp allowed time for the leaders to plan some of the "easier" ones to be earned throughout the year, and really gave the boys a chance to connect with each other as a den. All the boys are looking forward to returning to camp this year. With them well on the way to earning even more badges this year, it will really give the leaders a chance to help the boys research different troops and do the necessary requirements for the AOL. Good Luck!

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First of all thank you for your actions to make our Country a better place. Thank you for making a difference in the life of a boy.


Now would be a good time to register for Wood Badge this coming summer. One of the the biggest things you learn there is that you are not alone.

The world is full of people that can become resources for you to teach the WEEBS. EMT's, Engineers, Geologists,

music teachers you name it. Everybody likes to teach people about what they know. Imagine being a school teacher where every kid wants to hear what is being said. Holy cow they're in hog heaven! Look around, ask around see who you can get to help. The net is also full of resorces.


Don't forget about Wood Badge --as it says on the sneaker box, JUST DO IT!!!!



PS While they are still bears would you like to do the crystal radio??? I have a powerpoint that I could send you along with resources for parts. Introduce them to early electrical engineering and carry on a tradition that is as old as the Cub program. PM me if interested.

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Lot's of great advice above, so I'll try not to repeat anything -- I just want to point out that it IS great advice and worth following!!



Some random thoughts:


You won't have to pay too much atttention to the Pack's monthly themes, but you should be expected to give a short demonstration at each Pack Meeting focused on one of the activity pins you worked on that month.


Set the best example for the younger Cubs!


Check out YMCA for Aquanaut.


Read, then re-read your Webelos Scout Handbook -- If you know it well, you'll be better prepared to plan activities.


Starting with next year's school calendar, plan according to ALL the seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, School, Vacation, Hunting, BnG, Sports, Popcorn, Holiday, Travel, PWD, Standardized testing, etc.


Earn Forester, Naturalist, and Outdoorsman and you're only a sevice project away from the World Conservation Award.


Jiffy Lube, etc. for oil changes and auto service activities for Handyman.


IMHO, "purpose" is more fun, than "fun" is purposeful. Just about every activity you plan can be Requirement-oriented. The boys don't usually know the difference anyway. Choose games/fun that help earn "Sportsman" or "Artist", etc. Use Gathering Time before each meeting to investigate new belt loops that help meet pin requirements. You don't always have to be 'on-task', but if you plan it that way from the start you'll find more time as you go along that is less stressful and freed up for classic Scout games and just plain fun.


Don't plan to "Do" one activity pin at a time. Plan good, fun, interesting activities - these will mix requirements from several activity pins. The Outdoor-ish activity pins' requirements are no-brainers for campouts, and traditionally we throw in a little Citizenship, a few Sportsman games, and, hopefully, a tad of Showman, -- but you can add other fun/purposeful activities by planning the overnighter for a particular activity pin. No one says you can't go on an "artist" overnighter! Or, alternatively, just do one "Artist" activity on each of your several overnighters. Either way, the boys have purposeful fun and you see those Requirements tumble like dominos.


Get your boys to read the handbook -- particularly the activity pin section you're about to investigate. Believe me, Scientist is much more fun if the boy's have already seen/heard the names Bernoulli, Pascal and Newton. They don't need to be sciencegeeks, and they probably don't need extra homework . . . but if you can show them how "Being Prepared" leads to additional fun and more success, it's a life lesson that's worth the effort. AND, I'm sure, they're all supposed to read 20 minutes or so each night. Each activity pin section in the handbook is 10-20 pages and perfect for a night or two of reading once a month or so.


Make a comprehensive plan, if you plan month by month you'll force yourself into a "pin by pin" plan and you'll waste a lot of opportunities - thereby carrying your stress longer than you need to.


Plan with someone else - an ADL, or just someone who is willing to read the handbook then spend a morning or two with you and your materials and calendars spread all over the kitchen table.


Don't forget to schedule time and activities for the Webelos and AoL requirements that are additional to the activity pins.


Have fun! One of the great parts about this Scouting stuff is all the different things YOU'LL learn!! Show your boys that you welcome that challenge and expect them to do the same!






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