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What makes a good Webelos Program?

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I started to post this yesterday and our power went out when I was almost done. Anyway, I anticipate being the Webelos leader for our pack, if not on paper at least in fact. We will have about 6, maybe a few more, maybe a few less Webelos, depending on how many return and if we pick up any more with Fall roundup. I have not bought a Webelos book yet, nor have I looked at any training online yet. Since there are many experienced scouters here I thought I'd ask here first. What makes a good Webelos program? What should it look like?


I don't want to lose these guys, especially the returning scouts. I want to give them the best program possible, within reason and within my abilities. I am also hoping we don't end up with the situation we had at the end of this year, with the tigers and wolves being dumped in my lap along with the bears and webelos. I don't mean that to sound as bad as it does but that is what it seemed to me happened when the tigers and wolves were "done with the book." Luckily we are a small rural program so we only ended up without 10 boys altogether at the end but if it happens again in the coming year I WILL insist that their respective leaders come up with other activities for them instead of having them do whatever my group(s) do. Sorry for the gripe. Open to suggestions on this as well, but my main concern is what the webelos program should look like. As far as that goes, does it matter if it is not a traditional webelos program, as long as the boys have fun and they learn what they are supposed to learn?

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A good Webelos program should look less like Cub Scouts and more like Boy Scouts. Put the boys in charge of the program decision making and have the adults there to help them figure out how to get stuff done that they do not know how to do.


They do have to look at the book, assuming they are interested in getting Webelos and AOL, but they should look beyond the book. For instance, I started the Webelos year by asking who played baseball, who played basketball, who played soccer, karate, etc. Lots of hands went up. I then asked them how often they opened a book when they got together for these activities? No hands went up.


So why do we have this book, I asked them. Well, there are some things we need to learn, but scouting is not school. We are not going to sit here week after week and do badge work. And having just seen a den of pencil-whipped Webelos supposedly blow through 16 pins in 8 months :roll eyes:, I can tell you how a program should not be run.


With that as the backdrop, we brainstorm stuff that sounds interesting to them--hiking, camping, backpacking, snow tubing. We don't limit it, so things come up that we can't do--kayaking, mountain climbing--but that's ok, we are just discussing. Then we do look at the book and see how things might tie in.


I have parents look at me skeptically when I talk about this. But I point out to them that if they go to any playground at any school during recess, they will see boys getting together and deciding how to get stuff done. The playground monitors do not hand them a manual and say "I know you'd rather do kickball, but today we need to do chalk art instead." No--the boys agree on what they want to do, form teams, even make rules.


They CAN do this stuff--with guidance, of course, to keep them within the program parameters.


So in my opinion, a good Webelos program looks like a Boy Scout program, just with the leaders more engaged in the group rather than sitting on the side doing paperwork. :)(This message has been edited by 83eagle)

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I did not run a traditional Webelos program when I was in as WDL. I was an ASM in a troop assigned to advancement. For Wood Badge, I went back and picked up 6 Webelos I boys because there were no Webelos II that year. My WB ticket called for work with the Webelos to Scouts transition.


I planned out all the badges picking the indoor ones for winter and outdoor ones for summer to work on. I took the boys on a lot of outings. If we were doing something most often it was outdoors even if it was an indoor activity. I worked through all the pins except Family Member which I had them do on their own with the family. I ran the program once a week for an hour which is far more often than most CS dens do. Because of the extra time we went back and "redid" the pins again, much more in detail and with a lot more fun and games because it wasn't for advancement then, it was just for fun. For communicator, for example we went out and used flags to signal from one high point to another, had a lunch, hiked and had a great outing.


Needless to say all the boys received their AOL at the end of Webelos I. We began the program right after BG one year and finished up one year later. The Webelos II year we started doing some of the TF things to get ready for Boy Scouts. We did a lot of Dad/Lad camping, canoeing, hiking, cooking and having a blast. Webelos II lasted about 6 months and then they crossed over to Boy Scouts at the end of the summer. Within a month they were all TF and within 6-7 months they were all FC. Out of the 6 boys 5 of them Eagled and the other one moved out of the area, tied in with another troop, but soon quit. The SM kept telling me to hold them back so that BS won't be so boring~!??? It was interesting the scout meeting where the boys were going to be taught their knots. There was a big, hands on presentation all lined up with instruction, practice time and testing. The boys all filed in and sat down ready for the instruction. Just before the instruction was to start, one of the boys raised his hands and the SM called on him. He asked if we could start with the test. One by one they came forward, did all the knots for the SM and sat down. Then the boy raised his hand again and when the SM called on him, he asked if they could play a knot tying game now. :) Heck, these were the boys I went to Philmont with!


One of the boys gave me his mentor pin (I was still an ASM) and said that except for his Dad, I had spent more time with him than any other adult male helping him grow up.


What makes a good Webelos program? YOU. Get a book, get trained (no such thing as too much training), plan out a program for all the pins, make sure they are fun and then sit back and have a good time with the boys! It's going to be the best time of your life.


What did I do after I got done with my WB ticket? I went back and did another 2 years with Webelos!!!!! They are a great age to work with! The secret? Every time they ask something, your standard answer is "Sure, why not, sounds like fun!"


Your mileage may vary,



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I think a lot of great ideas here. I am not a fan of the 'get all 20 badges plan'. Too much like school.


We meet 2-3 times a month during the school year with about once a month in the summer.


I took the Webelos leader guide and picked 8 Webelos activity pins that fit the AOL and my resources in the parents and community. Planned the Web1 program around those selected 8 pins. I added in more games for fun. Most of the boys will pick up a few more pins with school work, home life, and in the few months before we bridge. We will have camped 7 times in the 18 months and had 6 hikes. Boys had increasing input into the program -- brainstorming, food planning, electing denner etc...


I was unable to find a den chief which I really wanted for the program.


Our focus in the fall will be connecting further with troops.


Good luck, have fun.

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I've never been a Webelos Den Leader, but I'll discuss how I imagine I would like to run that important program.


My aim would be to run it like an easy Boy Scout program. A good Scout troop does a camping trip per month. That might be somewhat too much for some boys that age ---- I'd like opinions on that point. If so, perhaps aim at having a camping trip every other month.


Conduct as many of the camping trips in conjunction with various Boy Scout troops as possible ---- treating the Webelos Den as an additional Patrol in the Scout Troop as much as possible.


Conduct as much of the Webelos Advancement requirements as possible on camping trips, using Boy Scout and Scout leaders as instructor/leaders as practical, and setting up exercises in the field so that boys are learning by doing and not by sitting on their behinds.


Attend our district Klondike Derby, and compete with other Weeblos Dens on the competitions. Ditto the District Camporee. Look for districts that have Webelorees and attend them when practical.


Make meetings about getting ready for the next camping trip, and schedule meetings as visits to Scout Troops fairly often if you don't have a camping trip coming up soon.


Let the boys pick the pack meetings and activities they would like to attend, and the ones they do not want to attend too.


Is it OK to complete the AOL requirements during the Webelo I year? If so, aim to do that.


Give the Webelos Den increasing responsibility for planning their trips including meals, and start shifting leadership responsibilities to the den when practical.


Find out which Troops boys are most interested in joining. As the Webelos I year and AOL requirements are completed, move the Webelos program into that Troop so that Webelos develop greater experience with the troop program and Boy Scouts. The actual transition into being Boy Scouts may then be almost seamless.



That's my Webelos program as I imagine it in my mind. How practical does that sound?



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I really don't like it when the webelos leaders pick 8 of the 20 webelos pins to work on to get arrow of light.


it's too much like telling boy scouts which exactly merit badges they'll have to do for Eagle, and leaving them no choice in the matter. There are required badges, and then there are some they get to choose and elective ones as well.


At webelos level I'd like to see the den leader introduce most every webelos pin(often called a webelos badge) even the ones the boys have no interest in.


some boys will find geology very super easy for instance. some will HATE IT and refuse to do the last thing they need for the pin.


Some boys will crank out sportsman because they love to play sports, some will not get in the water for aquanaut, and some will really struggle with anything introduced in scholar.


A good Webelos leader, like a good scout leader, leads the boys to try out different merit badges, not just the things they are already good at, and not totally avoiding everything they think they hate.


The boys learn so much from trying something new and sometimes failing.


So when I've done webelos, I've introduced a new webelos pin about once a month. we go over quickly the requirements, and which we'll do in den meetings or outings. get ideas and suggestions for where they'd like to go, try to fit in an outing/field trip for each thing. We never do everything in the badge--we leave a thing or two for the boys who are interested in the stuff to finish on their own. and those who didn't really like the badge can just move on to the next one.


The boys who want to get all 20 badges, work harder--or their parents nag them to finish things. That varies by boy/family.


The "required badges" for AOL we may have to circle back around and try to complete everything in the badge--but do it differently than we did it the last time, do a different outing, use different examples/experiments/games/projects to meet the goals. so the boys who already completed the webelos pin don't realize they are doing something over again that they already did.


Always have busy meetings. plan a bunch of things. let the den chief plan things. let the denner lead things. play games. go outside every time you can. go on as many campouts/hikes/day trips/field trips as you can. if you can't go somewhere get a guest speaker. you can find all sorts by asking elementary teachers and parents.


have fun. if the boys have fun they'll continue in scouting.

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20 pins?


While it is not necessary to get all 20 pins, I didn't think it was a very good idea to not at least give the boys the opportunity to earn all 20. With that being said, it does not have to be all school-like in how one approaches the issue. If planned out correctly the boys will naturally acquire most of the pins without any classroom style teaching.


The most "embarrassing" event of my tenure as WDL was at a Blue-Gold, the CM asked one of the boys receiving his pin what he did to earn that. His reaction was the traditional deer-in-the-headlight" look. He was terrified! He honestly did not know. It was so engrained in all the fun that he didn't know specifically what he had done that pertained to that pin. Most of the "classroom" was done around a campfire on an outing, otherwise it was integrated into the rest of our activities. Aquanaut was earned while getting ready and doing the TF/BSA swim requirement for example. Otherwise it was while were hanging out at the local pool having fun.


Did the boys get all 20 pins? Nope. Some wanted to play in the pool and weren't interested in working on the "test". Some didn't show up for events that were planned, etc. But at least they were exposed to it. Yes, by the time they got into BSA, they were all ready for the swim test at camp whether they earned the aquanaut in Webelos or not.


Your mileage may vary,



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We have a small pack and don't have two distinct dens for 4th and 5th graders. Our pack has several summer activitities, but we do not have regular meetings over the summer. So at our last meeting a couple weeks ago, I sat down with all of the incoming and returning Webelos had a brainstorming session about what they want to do. We looked at the list of badges and discussed which ones had to be done for Webelos and AOL, as well as which ones interested them. They had some questions, like which one can they build rockets for (scientist, fyi). I have a list of local trails and campgrounds, and after a brief description of each, asked them where they wanted to go for hikes and campout. The last question was for any other ideas that we hadn't discussed, which exposed them to a brief introduction into how the G2SS won't let us do several things that most people consider appropriate for capable 4th or 5th graders. (Sorry, had to slip the rant in). The AWDL and I will take this list and make up a schedule. I think this process, giving them a voice and some options, is a good introduction to how things are done at the troop PLC level.

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My short answer is action and adventure. If my scouts were sitting, we were doing it wrong. Use the activity pins as themes for the activities, not goals for advancement. I did two activities under two different themes per meeting so if one activity was a little boring. And let the scouts finish each meeting with a game that keeps them moving. A basket ball goal or football are always popular with Webelos age boys. My dens did two weekend campouts and a summer camp each year and that was plenty for getting them ready for troop campouts. But we also did a lot of our den meetings at the local parks and school track for many of our activities. Think like a boy and you will do fine.




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As a former WDL myself I wanted to add a couple of things. First, a Web den is much smaller than a troop so you need to focus in on what the boys interests really are and pursue those. As far as the activity pins are concerned quality over quantity should be the directive. Those who really want the AOL should realize it means a commitment and some hard work, not just handed to them on a silver platter. Get some good relations established with local troops with outstanding programs so the boys can be prepared for the next step in scouting and feel comfortable transitioning with those troops.


Web's are ready for more mature activities but they are not boy scouts yet so make sure you don't throw too many of the more advanced boy scout skills into your program, give them something to look forward to in boy scouts. AND MOST IMPORTANT, don't hold every den meeting inside get them outside as much as possible, parks and nature centers are good examples where they can see and experience firsthand what they are learning in the outdoor activity pins. For the Citizen pin my kids went to a city council meeting and were invited to do the opening flag ceremony. So find as many experiential opportunities as possible to bring the program alive for them. Good Luck.

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All good advice--83Eagle nailed it right out of the gate--less like cub scouts, more like boy scouts. Less arts/crafts/passive indoor events, more outdoors and adventure. The webs will be chomping at the bit to crossover and join boy scouts.

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Thanks for the wonderful replies. I've already learned a lot, and confirmed some of my suspicions. I expected the webelos program should be more outdoors and less indoors, more like boy scouts and less like cub scouts. For me, that part is easy. The artsy-craftsy part of Tigers/Wolves had me doubting whether my son even NEEDED to continue in scouting. I was expecting more of the outdoorsy stuff right out of the gate. Looking back, I can see why the scouting program is not set up that way, but to be honest, it almost turned me away. Luckily, my son decided he wanted to stick with it ... it was, after all, his decision to make, not mine. Which also makes the boy led program part perfect for me. I think the boys should have more input. Given that we are a more non-traditional, rural program, it may prove difficult at times (see my other thread under new to scouting called "Always learning something new" to see what I mean). However, as I see it I have 3 choices: 1) Quit, 2) Start my own pack through our church, or 3) Make the best of a less than ideal situation and give the boys the best experiences I possibly can. Obviously, I chose number three or I wouldn't be here. I realize going to another pack is a 4th option to the three above but in our area it is impractical.


Sorry to be rambling again. It's a recurring issue with me. Anyway thanks to those who have already posted on this thread and to anyone else who may post later on. I greatly appreciate all the input, especially from the voices of experience.

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Sometimes the Den has to succeed despite the Pack program.


Our Pack was an arts and crafts, low-buget program where pack meetings were BOOOOOORING. Our Den started as an outdoor program from day one, where our FIRST Tiger meeting was at a family event at a nature area where we went hiking and found snakes, pressed apple cider, and went on a wagon ride.


We were the first Den to ever attend district summer camps. We held Den fundraisers to get us more funds. We bought red vests and had them loaded with patches by the end of our second year. (Looking back, now that I know a little better, we did a few things outside the G2SS...)


Anyhoo, no surprise that our Den doubled in size after the first year and tripled after the second and is the largest in the Pack by far.


I always believed in putting the outing in scouting. Boys and the outdoors go together like PB&J. Kids sit in class all day working on books and crafts, why come to a meeting to do some more? As far as I'm concerned you can toss the Tiger book out the window and just hold all your "meetings" outside. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.


Do YOU like to learn the food pyramid (again and again) and make macaroni art? No? Then why would your boys? That's my theory.


As Webelos it's even better because now the boys can actually really DO stuff. Heck, with a pocket knife and a stack of carving wood they're busy for hours.


Case in point, last campout we cut wood "cookies" to do branding. Well, the boys took the cookies, carved up some sticks, and attached the two in order to make an arsenal of Tommy guns. I'm sure that violated some scout rule too but I thought it was pretty dang creative...

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