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In his mangled way, our new friend Juris has nonetheless raised a point.


The Webelos to Scout transition is a "leaky pipeline".


We have discussed this within our troop, have developed some thoughts as to why and have come up with some action ideas. Nothing too revolutionary I am sure (and of course it all boils down to program), but we are determined to do a better job this coming year. I'd certainly like to hear from y'all what works for you and what doesn't.


How do we get more of those Webelos to join a troop, and how do we keep them active the first 6 months (until summer camp rolls around)?

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I had an earlier post about "District indecision" and was very concerned about this same topic.

As the Webelos II leader or my Pack, I was concerned that my current District was not providing enough resources to help me make this year, a good transition year.

Before anyone gets on their soap box about whose responsibility it is, feel free to read my other thread.

But bottomline, I offered my services to my District (volunteer basis) to coordinate a Webelos Transition Committee that helped coordinate Troops with Cub Packs so that names, numbers, and activity dates could be exchanged so the boys could get a feel of what Troop life was about and get excited. This makes a great deal of sense and while I will not take any credit for this fantastic idea, I think each District needs to look at this role.

It may not (nor ever) plug the leaky pipeline, but it sure will help solidify the pipe joints and start indicating the weak joints that time and effort need to be focused upon.

(Side-note:District STILL has not responded back to my offer-oh well-we do what we can)


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Have den chiefs. although I haven't actually tired this, based on the one sample I know it is very effective. I was in a pack which was large enough to have two dens per grade-level. My counterpart den had a den chief while my den did not. Only two people from my den joined boy scouts (the other one, not me, joined a different troop and quickly left it). The other den (the one with the den chief) almost everyone joined, and last I checked 4 of them stayed. I imagine that having the den chief had a huge effect on that happening.


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T -


You know what you are doing, but I'll share what we do...


Our troop and brother pack are pretty tight. The pack is big enough that we really don't look to recruit from other packs, unless they call us. The cubs start getting to know our boy scouts from the time they are Tigers, with many older boys helping out at cub events - B&G, PWD, Haunted House, CO's annual scout expo, day camp, Pack meetings, etc. You can see in the youngest cubs that they really do look up to the older boys and the more opportunties they get to interact with them the stronger the impression is made that they want to grow up to be like them. To that extent, we really do not focus on this as a webelos-boy scout 'transition' but rather a mere continuation and expansion of scouting as the boy grows older. The COR, CM, SM, CCs, DLs and other adults all hold and support this view that its not so much a 12-month transition period that we focus on, but rather modeling and providing opportunities for the youngest scouts to see and understand what scouting is about and that scouting is the thing to do for a very long time. To that extent, we don't see it as a small pipe that can develop leaks but rather a large tunnel that can capture all cubs from Tigers to Webelos in thinking that boy scouting is too cool to pass up. We still do all the normal stuff most troops do - SM/SPL visits to new Webelos I dens, hosting Webelos on a fun-filled, action packed camping trip, new scout/parent meetings, etc. but I tend to believe that these are essentially filler with the real work having been done over the previous years as the younger boys witnessed the older boys in action time and time again and having developed a tie that binds them. Our success rate is near perfect. In the past five years, I can think of only one Webelos that did not cross over to the troop and only one that choose not to continue during his first year as a boy scout.



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Great idea with the den chief - it could really make a huge impact depending on the boy...

I know I am stating the obvious - but the den chief must be a GOOD den chief and not just going through the motions -

I have had two bad experiences so far but I am looking at getting another den chief for this year - I won't give up...

We have 4 troops from our immediate area and unfortunately none of them are "brother" troops which I think would make a huge difference for the boys...but I'm working on it...

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From the Troop perspective, Den Chiefs help but they're only part of the puzzle. Our former SM is now the District Webelos-to-Scout transistion coordinator and he's tried various methods to increase the percentage of Webelos who join Boy Scouts (our district already had the highest percentage). Getting lists of Troops with SM name/phone number into the hands of Cubmasters/Webelos leaders is part of it along with the reverse - Pack contact information to the SMs. We've tried hosting "Show and Do" days where Webelos can come to one location and see/do some of the cool things the troops are doing but we've had mixed success with that.


For a Webelos leader - I suggest finding and visiting ALL local troops early on. Find out what campouts or other events they have coming up where you can come and see them "in action". Have a checklist in hand to help evaluate the troops - I've seen one here and I'm sure there are others, our Webelos-to-Scout coordinator has his own that he provides to the Webelos leaders. The second "year" of Webelos they should be focusing on Boy Scouts to earn their Arrow of Light, get them excited about the opportunities that will open up for them once they join Boy Scouts.

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Greatest priority for any 10-11 year old boy is to have fun.

Greatest priority for any leader is to offer exposure to those events that allow the family and boy to make the best informed decision.

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The Cubs greatest influence is his parents. And, I've had many a Cub who wanted to join our troop but the parents didn't want him to continue on with Scouting for fear that it had too much "involvement" for them.

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Have a Webelos night in the late fall or early winter. Invite the Webelos in your area to attend a troop meeting. Have your scouts plan activities that the cub scouts can participate and will enjoy. Scout games, outdoor cooking (desert), a square knot tying race, skits, or whatever your boys think is fun and the Webelos can do. Try to coordinate with the AOL requirements.


While this is going on have one or two scouters take the adults aside and tell them about Boy Scouts and your troop. What activities do you participate in every year? What are your fund raisers? Explain the differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, explain what boy led means and what the adult leaders do.


I think one of the reasons that Cub Scouts dont crossover is that they think scouting is for kids. When they associate with older boys and know what Boy Scouts is about they want to join. This seems to happen at age 10 or 11. The BSA understands boys!


Good luck. Have plenty of applications available.


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In my opinion you have to have a strong connection to a troop. This may work better in small towns where there is only one or two troops, I don't know for sure. My husband is going to start up a new troop in Feb. because the only other troop in our little town is LDS. We know of at least one current Boy Scout who is going to come over to the new troop because he kind of feels like an outsider by not belonging to the church itself. None of our current Webs II are LDS either. We have no strong connection with the current troop because we are not LDS sponsered.


I believe you need to have troops run as they should, by the boys, and that the Webelos should observe every aspect from troop meetings to camping and that if they are doing things like the BSA wants them to then the Webelos would naturally want in on the fun. What boy wants to go to troop meeting and have an adult 'lead' them the entire time?


Thank you and good night.

Hey does anyone have a step ladder? I don't remember this soap box being so tall!!



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I personally think that most of the W2BS (Webelos to Boy Scout- I may patent that abbreviation!) failure starts in the Bear year.


Cub Scouts has a few programming weaknesses that I think contribute to the burn-out rate:


1.) The 'bird house problem'. The is what happens when the Tiger Den Leader has the den make a bird house or bird feeder- probably from a kit or mild carton. The Wolf DL has his/her den make bird feeders, figuring to knock off a couple of different requirements and maybe an elective or two. The Bear leader has her/his Cubs build a bird feeder- possibly from raw materials. Finally, in Webelos, the WDL has the Webs build... well- it is a fairly easy project, and has a lot of good tie-ins to several requirements!


Now- to the DLs, these were seperate projects- nothing alike at all! To the Cubs- it is another crafty thing gathering dust on some shelf at home. After all, no one ever explained how or wher to put it, what kind of bird it was going to attract, what to restock the feeder with, how to feed and water birds in the winter, etc.


2.) The 'Den Leader for life' issue- Not always by any means, but often, some poor parent volunteers to help early in her/his life and ends up being their child's den leader for most of the time they are in Scouting. The child, and most of his den mates are a bit tired of the same-old same-old that is amplified by the same faces and same ideas in leadership.


3.) The 'Everybody's Special' issue- in 'The Incredibles', the mom tells her super-fast son that 'everybody's special'. He replies, sullenly, 'that's just another way of saying no body is.' Too often, I think, we work too hard to make sure that everyone in the den or pack is treated exactly alike- everybody gets the same sized trophy for Pinewood, everyone gets most advancement at the about same time (usually with wildly different levels of participation), etc.


Personally, I believe that Cub Scouting should be a safe haven from crushing competition and destroyed egos... but I also think that the effort to keep EVERYONE a 'winner' becomes pretty obvious and almost demeaning by the time the Cubs hit Bear or early Webelos.


I think we need to get the 'do your best' spirit back in, and a Scout is a 'winner' to the extent they did indeed do their best.


4.) The 'Den Mother' mentality (as opposed to the 'Den LEADER' mentality!) The 'Den Mother' does lots of cutsey little crafts, serves little home-made snacks and lemonade, looks suspiciously like June Cleaver, and thinks the blue uniforms are just the CUTEST little things!


You sometimes see echos of the 'Den Mother' even in male Den Leaders and Cubmasters- and you can watch the Bears and Webelos especially wince at it.


Sometimes the difference between hokey, fun, meaningful, and pathetic is slim. In one of our old pack ceremonies, the CM dressed up as a chief- in a dollar store headress and everything. The younger Scouts thought it was pretty cool. The older guys rolled their eyes. Now- if we had put a bit more into the production values- better script, better costuming, a dash of lighting, etc. I think the older Scouts would have been on the edge of their seats, but we played it 'cute' and lost something with the older Scouts.


5.) Camping focus- this is an important point, I think. Cubs spend 4.5 years focusing on crafts, the community, and other such things. To expect that 100% of them will somehow magically decide to love the outdoors during Webelos or the transition is simply not realistic.


I know this point does not cover all losses, but I think it needs to be remembered that SOME of the boys just are not excited by the whole tan shirt lifestyle.

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Part II


Another thing I saw locally was a rather blase' attitude on the part of many Boy Scout leaders about recruitment- they generally took a pretty passive 'if we have a troop, they will come' attitude. They rarely spoke to us Cub leaders at Roundtable, they rarely contacted us about visiting (in either direction), etc.- if any inter-unit thing happened, the packs usually initiated it.


I always wanted to do a little speech at the BS roundtable, with a Bear or Webelos Cub Scout in blue beside me.


"About this time of year, all of you start looking for these guys to come through your doors and join your troops. My question to you is why?


"You see, I've been his Cubmaster or Den Leader now for four and a half years. I've grown up with this Cub. We've laughed together, sung together, and even bled together (dang birdhouses!)


"I know this Cub. He is a great boy with the potential to be a great man, and I want him to keep on this road of character development- but I also want him to have fun and learn new stuff.


"I know that statistically, there is only about a 50% chance he will stay in your troop for more than a year, and that saddens me deeply. I know it is not all your fault and some of it is even my fault, but I still want to see him overcome these odds.


"Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty. not only do you want this boy- you NEED him, and all of his den mates. You know as well as I do that you have almost no real chance of recruiting boys off the street, so Cub Scouts are your main source of new blood, new parents, and vitually life itself!


"How do you demostrate to me, to his den leader, to his parents, and even to HIM that you care about him at all? Have any of you visited the packs nearby you? Tried to host an interunit activity with a pack with no sister troop? Offered them den chiefs before they asked? Offered us a color guard for a special ceremony or some other way to get your Scouts and unit number seen in our meetings?


"For whatever reason, the expectation is that our already over-worked Webelos Den Leader will gather a list of local troops, meeting times, and contact people, THEN make the needed calls and other steps- it hardly seems like we are even meeting each other half-way- yet at this point, you need the graduating Webelos and we gain nothing specifically by placing him in a troop. Why then do we feel like we are doing all of the work?


"Troop visits you say? You know- I've seen troops do GREAT Webelos Visitation Days, then have weak programs. Other units put on terrible visiting days and have wonderful programs. I've heard tale of one troop where while the parents were out of the room watching a video, the visiting Webelos were being teased and even a little abused in an unfair game [note- true story!]. These visits are nice, but if you really loved this Cub Scout as much as I do, I think you could find a way to do a little more.


"Just as one example- a quick note to all nearby Webelos Dens offering help, inviting them to ANY meeting they wish (calender enclosed), etc. would cost you just a few bucks, but it is far and away more than what most of the units are doing. I promise you- this Cub Scout is worth at least much effort."



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Part III


These would have to happen on a National level, so I doubt it'll happen tomorrow!




To go from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, in a very real way you quit one program to join the other. It is not a leaky pipeline- it is a pipe pouring water into another across a small but real gap. Closing that gap would be one of my top priorities. It would probably involve something like a 'one time mebership to the BSA' application, with semi-annual information update forms. When you get to the new troop, you just update the info at National and in the troop's files without actually re-registering.


Also, I would tweak some of the requirements between the CS ranks to remove as much of the redundancy (or potential for redundancy) as possible. Maybe replace the electives with more of a CS merit badge type program. Maybe eliminate the 'all second graders earn Bear' bit and make it more merit based like it used to be.


I would strongly consider, even though it is almost a sacred cow, totally overhauling Webelos. It has never seemed to work quite right- being one of the most often tweaked of all Scouting programs.


(Oh, and I do know the history behind Webelos, the electives, the 'age-based rank' and so on. I even know that in the early Cub Scout program, the rank was called the 'bronze rank (Wolf, Bear, or Lion)' at first. When you earned the gold arrow point, it was the 'gold rank', and the silver elective made it the 'silver rank'. I also know that in a lot of Scouting, silver is higher than gold because at a key point in Scout history, silver WAS more valuable than gold! I say this so people will not point out the historic basis to many of these points I would change.)



OK, ok... I'm done.


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Bob White asked "What do you think is a Cub Scout's greatest priority in deciding to continue into Boy Scouts, and who is responsible for that element?"



I think the Cub is looking to have fun- hopefully, to continue having the same kind of fun he had in his pack but on a different level. Sure, he wants to meet new people, learn new things, and hopefully even go camping, but fun is his top interest.


I think there are two groups of people most responsible for this element- his pack leadership- in helping him to have good, solid, positive memories about Scouting; and the new troop's visible leadership in making him feel welcome and able to start having fun right away.


I was dismayed how in a troop I was with took new Scouts and tossed them in a New Scout Patrol, limited their interaction with the other Scouts, and set them right to what amounted to Tenderfoot classes. Things got better when we changed the way we did the NSP, but our initial attrition rate was pretty sad.


Besides the leadership mentioned, the parents also play a key role. They either support or do not support the decision to move on, and where to. While a Scout may really like one troop or another, the parents will often functionally force or persuade him to join one THEY like.


I know I did this. I really liked three troops nearby, and pretty much limited his access to other units. I also tried to get him in a troop other than the one he joined, which was my 2nd or 3rd choice. In hindsight, I am not proud of having done this. I can certainly claim that I was trying to be practical, but like many parents, I did not really give him free open choice.

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