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What do Webelos really need to know for Boy Scouts?

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I'm looking for something much more simple. I really don't care if they can tie knots, cook or know which end of the needle points north. I'd like them to have a healthy love and appreciate of the outdoors (and not be afraid of it), and a healthy friendship with their fellow Webelos Scouts that they'll carry on into the troop. If they have those things, we'll help them get the rest. This is what I see missing in the kids that struggle.

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What Webelos really need to know is rather well defined in the requirements for the Arrow of Light award. The AoL award dovetails nicely with the Tenderfoot requirements. The new Boy Scouts will see just enough familiar material to make them comfortable, but enough new stuff to keep them interested.


PLEASE don't think you have to teach your Webelos every thing the'll need to know in the troop. That's what the first year program is about. Remember Ages and Stages? Orienteering is fine, but use the materials in the Map & Compass sports and academics program.


DO take your boys camping as a den. And make sure they all go to Webelos Resident Camp. Those experiences will do more to prepare them mentally and socially for Boy Scout camping and summer camp than anything else. Let them see that they really can get by without having mom or dad doing everything for them. Give them a taste of how much fun they can have in the woods with just the guys doing the things that Scouts do.

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My den is a Webelos II den. We went on our first Den campout the last weekend of March. One dad for each boy in the den. The campsite had running water and a stinky latrine (as if there are any other kind) but otherwise nothing but trees as far as one could see. No other people or distractions.


The den meeting prior to the campout we gave the boys two tasks, choose your menu and a patrol name in 15 minutes. The adults left the room and let them plan and plot. The designated boy leader came to the adults after 10 minutes and said no one was listening to him. The asst DL strolled in and asked them to cooperate and gave them 5 more minutes. They boys planned a very tasty balanced menu and chose a patrol name.


During the campout, we asked that they do all the work. Set up their own tents, sleep with boys not parents, prep, cook and clean the meals, start the fire, etc. They had a hand in what they were doing, not just having a campout handed to them. There was still a lot of encouraging by the adults but the boys did 75% of all tasks.


A month later I took my son as a vistor on a Boy Scout campout. The boys litterally did everything. The adults sat in folding chairs and drank coffee. 2/3's of the boys on the outing had crossed over just a month or two before. What I saw made me realize that the biggest difference was the boys were truely doing everything. The SPL gave them the basic marching orders of unpack the trailer and set up campsites. The boys took if from there. There was no adult tweaking or suggestions. If the tent was on a hill, so be it. Lessons were learned the old way, thru trial and error.


I am planning on making my Webelos II more involved in their activities. They all need to work together as a team better. I can see where they have the outdoors skills and enthuisasm but need a less apron strings and more chances to fail or succeed on their own to build confidence.


What I saw was not so much the outdoors or camping skills, but the willingness and practice of working as a team without constant adult supervison and urging to complete tasks.

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Well, Resqman, you've got the idea. The one of the basic concepts of Boy Scouting is to "teach responsibility by giving it away (in bite sized pieces)" Giving your Webelos skills of being able to work together and to be self responsible will take them a long way in life. The outdoor skills of knots and tent setting are the vehicle for boys teaching each other and learning to work things out.


Have you den do lots of games which require cooperation for success. Take them in the outdoors and as you walk with them ask questions, don't give answers. Give them a chance to make lots of decisions and some mistakes.


Your den is going to be fun and successful.


Berk Moss, Assistant District Commissioner, Pioneer District, Cascade Pacific Council.

Newberg Oregon


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I crossed my Webelos not too long ago (sniff, sniff!) so I can only offer up what I did with my Den that seemed to help them a lot in their new Troops. According to their new SM's they are doing very well and slid right in, so I guess that is the best gauge for effectiveness. SO... please excuse my wordiness, but this is what we did and it seems that it worked very well:


In their first year, we hammered out all the badges that were required for Arrow of Light. Most of the requirements for these Badges was handled through outings. As the year progressed, particularly by early Spring, I had been stepping back further and further into the background, and had the parents do the same. I put my Den Chief into the role of SPL, and encouraged the Scouts to ask him questions instead of asking me. Their confidence grew quickly.


By the 2nd year, the DC was acting very much like an SPL (which helped him a lot in his own leadership skills in Troop), and we no longer had Denners. Instead, we had Patrol Leaders, and an election was held monthly to ensure all had a turn at leadership. Each got a Patrol leader patch pinned to his sleeve (learned that in Wood Badge!), and they went through the PL Ceremony each month. I also handed each new PL a Patrol Leader's Handbook (I had two that I circulated monthly), which they took home and gobbled up cover to cover.The Patrols developed identities, had Patrol competitions, yells, totems, the whole thing. Most of this was guided by the Den Chief, with me quietly poking an idea his way here and there where needed.


We had classes. they learned what it took to plan a meal at campout. How to plan a hike (they did a 7-mile round-trip with 1400-ft. el. gain), and then they got the opportunities to use these skills by using the Patrol method and planning outings. they all did the Scout Oath and Law at each meeting, looked like Patrols, acted like Patrols, and at Pack meetings they had to think hard to remember the Cub Sign and Cub Promise (my ball-drop there for letting that be forgotten!)


We did some beltloops as though they were Merit Badges. I pulled a few from the book and made copies of them, and distributed them to the Patrols for them to choose one. Both Patrols selected astronomy. I then turned to the parents and said, "The Scouts want to learn astronomy. We are in need of a Merit Badge Counselor." One parent had a keen interest in astronomy and a cousin with a high-powered telescope, so she arranged for an instructional activity for the Scouts for this badge and later checked off their progressions as they worked through it individually and by patrol. That one worked out particularly well because it got parents thinking about their potential roles as MB counselors when their boys move on to Troops.


I check up on them fairly often, through their parents and through their SM's, as they have gone to 4 different Troops. So far, they have all slid into their new Patrols very easily. No stumbles, no uncertainty, no real lack of confidence, and definitely no "Cub" behavior. They're all camping, hiking, and participating 100%.


So. That's just the way I persued it. I hope some of this will help you. :)



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It's hard to argue with success and I'm glad to hear your new Scouts are thriving, but there can be pitfalls to allowing Webelos to skip through to parts of the Boy Scout program.


While some Webelos may be ready for some of Boy Scout skills, I think the greatest problem is losing the wonderment of becoming a Boy Scout. Granted, some of what we're talking about is just semantics -- does it really matter if they're a Webelos denner or a Patrol Leader? Maybe, maybe not. But why show them everything behind the curtain in advance? Almost all the activities you described could be conducted as part of the Webelos program. What's the rush?


While your guys are doing well, it's not difficult to imagine a similar group of Scouts joining the troop with a collective "ho-hum, been there, done that, even got the patch!"


The best way to prepare Webelos for the Scout troop is to offer them a well-run Webelos program, including plenty of camping. Statistically, earning the Arrow of Light and attend Webelos Resident Camp are the two strongest indicators of future success in a Scout troop.


I'm not trying to be critical of you or your program, FB -- you certainly know your boys, your unit and the troop they are joining better than I. But for most folks reading a forum like this, just sticking with the program is the best way to go.



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You're definitely right, TCD, our particular program was most assuredly not a "one size fits all", and I felt my way through it, seeing how my guys responded. I would not take them farther than they were ready for, and in this case of my little Den, it did what I'd hoped.


There wasn't any culture shock when they hit Troop, instead they're all working along on their rank and enjoying all the outings that their Troops offer. Now this is seven Webelos disbursed to four different Troops. Each one of them gained enough confidence while in webelos that he felt he could go his own way and choose the Troop that best fit his needs. They didn't all cross to one Troop so that they could stick together, but chose very different units that met what each was hoping to get out of this next phase in Scouting.


I don't think I robbed them of the Webelos program. Their whole first year was spent in cub Scout Blues. It wasn't until the end of that first year that they began doing the Scout sign in place of the Cub Sign, and the steps toward Boy Scout functionality was done very gradually over a good long period of time, not tossed on them all at once. They didn't even realize it at first.


While I did strive to teach them how to function as Patrols as they would in a Troop, I don't think that took away from the "mystique" of boy scouts, but rather made it easier for them to get down to business once in a Troop. They didn't have to go through an adjustment phase of "how do I behave, who do I turn to", and were quite comfortable with the concept of boy-run. They're turning to their PL's with questions, as they should.


Being that the Webelos program is an 18-month program, I thought the latter half of it could better be utilized in preparing them mentally for what it would be like in their next step. It wasn't meant to be a rush, just easing the adjustment. As you pointed out, it wouldn't work with all boys. Each has a different level of maturity. I was blessed with a mob of gung-ho boys who were eager to learn. And in my instance, it worked. So far. :)

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What they do not need is skills, skills, skills. Let them learn the skills when it is appropriate to learn them as Boy Scouts. Don't forsake the Webelos program or AOL in lieu of preparations for the BS program. Work the Webelos program, do your Activity Pins and let the boys succeed as Webelos.


You want them to be comfortable at their very first Boy Scout Troop meeting. Concentrate on making that happen for them. Some of what they need for that to happen is in the AOL requirements. The rest is in what you teach them about the way a Troop operates as opposed to the way Cub Scouts operates. Spend some time with the Troop before your boys graduate. Of course this is very difficult if your boys will be going to multiple troops, but do your best to help the boys feel comfortable in the Troop environment (ie; with older boys around).


Good Luck.

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