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Has anyone heard of this? (AOL arrow question)

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Our Pack did custom arrows (wife was CC) for each Scout earning AOL with "proper" markings - rank, arrow points, etc.


I've noticed many Packs combine the AOL ceremony with a cross over ceremony. Some parents don't quite get the fact that the Scouts cross over to Boy Scouts or they don't cross over at all. It is not a "graduation" ceremony.


We made each ceremony distinct so those who received AOL but were not continuing with Scouting could be recognized and not lump the two together.

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Wel, call us lazy or call us cheap, but we have about an entire 20 minutes worth of effort per career arrow.


We clear coat our arrows forst. Witha foam brush, it takes an entire 20 seconds to clear coat the arro. Then we stab the tip (which isn't clear coated) into a piece of styrofoam to hold it until dry. While it is drying, we are spending another entire 20 seconds clear coating the next arrow.


Usually, there are only around 8 to 12 boys who are crossing over, but sometimes as many as 20.

Usually, there are 2 or 3 of us working on them, so in a matter of 2 minutes, all arrows are clear coated and left alone to dry.


We'd probablt even be faster if we didn't fall prey to jaw jacking and coffee tracking.


We give trhe arrows 24 hours to dry.


Next time we mess with the aroows, we rub them with steel wool to smooth out the clear coat. Maybe 30 seconds per arrow. Then we wipe them with a dry papertowl for ...I don't know...4 seconds?




Next, we tape the arrows off into 4 sections with only one section exposed at a time. The others are covered with newspaper. This takes around a minute and a half.


Then we spray paint the 1st section with the appropriate rank paint. 10 seconds ..possibly 15. Then stick it in styrofoam again to dry for an hour or so. Times are greatly reduced by warmer temperature and sunlight. Can possibly be dry in 10 minutes.


Now, keep in mind that with 2 or 3 of us doing it, One person uses steelwool and wipes it off, then hands it to the next guy who tapes it offand newspapers whichever section, and he hands it off to the guy who paints them. So we are working together on this which saves alot of time.


When that paint is dry, we tape off two sections (usually opposite ends) paint two colors and let them dry. This takes up an entire minute.


Next time around, only 1 section left.


WE uses gold and silver vinyl pinstriping to make arrowpoint lines and we use either and paint them purple for Religious, green for leave no trace, etc...


The srtiping takes about 4 or 5 minutes depending on the scout.


The mounting board is a 3/4" X 3 1/2" by 30" piece of pine wood. We take a 16' piece of board and run it through the chop saw. then hit it with a palm sander, blow the dust off and use a foam brush to smear stain on it. Looking at about 10 minutes to make 12 boards.


Again, this is with 3 people. The boards are done until we mount the arrows with hot glue gun which takes about 8 seconds each.



"But for real, where's the program basis for this? Which core value does all this effort support?"


The same value that having a crossover ceremony or AOL ceremony supporets. I mean, what core value do those ceremonies support? Nothing, but the ceremony is a recognition for being in, sticking with, and fufilling the values.


It's a history of what you did. It has the same value as clapping when a scout gets reconized at a pack meeting.



"And everyone, regardless of Arrow of Light or joining the troop, were given a shadow box for all their Cub Scout memorabilia."


Great idea! I really like it, but how does that support anything more than a carrer arrow?

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Just saying: While one scout may look at that shadow box and see it like a big ole trophy, another may think no more of it than mom saving every kindergarten drawing or every one of those bead and thimble Christmas ornaments we made in the 70's...ATROCIOUS! :)


A scout may not think a career arrow is the same as a 30" tall gold plated tiered trophy, but mosyt of them still think it's cool just for the arrow factor.


And the whoile arrows, Indian lore and such only get deeper and more frequent in boy scouts right? That's not even counting OA or dance teams.



I did forget to add in my ealier post, we tie a feather or two to the arrows with leather string too. Takes about a minute per arrow.

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The unworthy arrow? Running from that idea as fast as I can go... although there was a super-confident boy last year who would have loved that!



Thanks for the detailed plan. I can ask around and see if people want the completely plain arrows, one of the 'career arrows' or a boy-decorated arrow. I am hoping, obviously, that people will like one of the decorated arrow ideas, rather than the plain one.

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Our pack does the Career Arrow for the boys that have earned AoL. One of the things we do is have the parents stripe the arrows, and then at B/G, we present the arrow to the boy. This is usually the first time they see the arrow, and we make a big deal about the parents doing all the work on the arrow for their son. Kind of a symbolic gesture for the boys that have done all this work for 5 years, the parents are pretty proud on both fronts.


We use the colored thread as well for the stripes. Instead of glue to secure the thread, we actually use the wicking method for ropes that the boys learn in Webelos and also for the Tenderfoot badge. We brought the parents in for the last couple of den meetings before B/G and had them work on the arrows while the DL would have the den either playing games or whatever to keep them occupied while the parents worked.


Here is a link we used for placement and striping color. We were able to print off the boys advancement records from our pack records to show the parents what the boy had done. By the end, those parents were old pros at wicking thread on an arrow.



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You really had me scared with the WICKING for a while -- thank you for correcting it, or I'd be googling away in vain.


That is a neat way of getting thread on -- one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" ideas. But I am wondering about a boy who had 20 Webelos pins -- that is a lot of thread whipping!


Having the parents involved is nice -- I wouldn't do it in our case, as some boys have a lot of achievements and some boys have very few. No need to over-emphasize that!

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That's why we scheduled multiple workshops for the parents. Some parents were able to knock out the arrow in 1 night, others needed more time. The running joke during these sessions was " Just remember, next year, there will be another group of parents sitting here doing the same thing or maybe even more!"


My son had 14 activity pins, 6 arrow points between Wolf and Bear, and countless other awards. Yes, it got tedious during the threading phase, but it was worth it when he saw it and realized how much stuff he had actually done during his Cub Scouting days.

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A good wrapping technique can be found here




Another technique I've used is the Whipping technique in the BSHB, and it's also in the Wolf HB.


As for the unworthy arrow, I don't know how it started but it's need around a very long time, at least 19 years. Again the key is the ceremony team needs to ASK THE PACK LEADERS if they want it done or not. i've found that it does a few things


1) Really scares the heck out of the parents, esp. your troublesome ones ;)


2) makes the Cubs realize that the award does mean something and that it is possible to not get it.


3) really impresses the cubs receiving the AOL.

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Oh. Dear. Lord.


It's the Arrow of Light. It's not a Nobel Prize.


Give the kid his patch and card and the parents Doo-dad. Make a tiny fuss over them, and move along.


Even for a youth joining Cub Scouts at the beginning of summer entering the transition year, it's not a difficult award to earn.


BTW, in practicing what I preach: This is how I got my AOL in 1967, and how my son got his AOL in 2001.

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I have started composing a post several times with out success


The Scout career specific career arrow is a great keepsake. just giving the boys a spray painted gold or blue and gold arrow is kinda stupid, what is the point.


The AOL ceremony I believe is important. Some of the boys enjoy it and get it......Others do not.


Where or when does it end?

We have scouters adding brass plates, wall plaques, animal skins, banners and uniform shirts to the presentation. We have troops giving books, free summer camps, uniform shirts and on and on.


How much does it all cost per scout? a quick look at some of the award sites. $100 for some of it?? that is more than I spend a week to feed my family.

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Where does it end? It ends where you say it ends. The arrows, the books, the plaques - all of it is optional. Just because something optional might be traditional in your unit, doesn't mean you have to keep up with the tradition. If Packs want to give out arrows to the lads, that is their choice. If they decide they can't do it anymore, that is their choice. Spending 4 hours per arrow or 5 minutes per arrow - that is their choice. Making the arrows by hand or buying them premade in bulk, that is their choice. Just because some packs do it, doesn't mean other packs have to do it too.


Heck, when it comes right down to it, even the Pinewood Derby is optional.


The only awards I would consider to be "required" are the actual awards that are listed in the various handbooks which are being earned by the Cub Scouts. Giving the lad their Wolf badge and certificate, or an arrow point, or their Arrow of Light badge should not be an option.


If you don't want to spend 4 hours on an arrow - if you don't want to spend your entire New Year's Day carving out weight pockets on 70 pinewood derby cars, then don't do it. Find someone else to do it, or just end the tradition.


Sometimes the most moribund units are the ones that are so tradition bound that they could never fathom that there might be a better, or at least different, way of doing things. And it's not just Boy Scout Troops that go to the same summer camp in the same campsite on the same week year after year after year. Watch a traditionalist fall apart when a Pack that is used to using a 2 track pinewood derby track borrows a 5 track pinewood derby track.

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What do the Cub Scouts that have EARNED AOL think about it? I know my son was proud when he received his handmade arrow that he earned. Would he have been less proud of it if all Cubs got one? I don't know but as a Scoutmaster I only award merit badges and award to those that have earned it. Isn't that one of the principles of Scouting. Just my .02

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Anyone who has little kids around the house has probably watched "The Incredibles" about a hundred times. And whenever the subject of Arrow Of Light ceremonies comes up, I always think of the following dialog from the movie:


Helen: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.

Bob: It's not a graduation. He is moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade.

Helen: It's a ceremony!

Bob: It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional...





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