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Webelos-to-Scout Transition

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Hello everyone...I am searching for tips, stories, opinions or whatever is out there for Webelos-to-Scout transition. I've found a number of online resources so far.


To put this in a context, just over a year ago I started thinking about my oldest son's transition with his den, and I started by contacting the local DE in order to get contact information for the troops in town.


Eventually, that experience led to a successful transition of all the Webelos in this pack, and a request for me to join a new membership committee for the district. And that eventually led to me volunteering to host a segment at next month's roundtable on Webelos-to-Scout transition. I hope for my segment to be short -- I would like to hand out a basic outline of how to approach the transition and some links of web resources. Then I hope it digresses into a dialog of unit leaders sharing ideas.


As a side note, I attended the council's University of Scouting this last spring and sat in on two Webelos-to-Scout transition sessions. It was interesting because the first hour covered it from the Cub side, and the second hour covered it from the Scout side. Both sides have distinct views of the transition, and I hope to capture that in my roundtable notes.


So I would appreciate hearing any of your experiences, if you wouldn't mind sharing them with a district up in the northeast :-).




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I actually think that all this emphasis on the "Webelos to Scout Transition" is turning a mole hill into a mountain. Here in our Council they have started talking about it with such a frenzy, with so much rhetoric, so much paper and in so many meetings, that I believe people are beginning to get scared. It's almost as if they are rolling out a new, high level, very complex program.


From a Webelos Leaders perspective all you need to do is to continue doing a good job.....

Continue to hold regular meetings

Go Camping

Attend your Webeloree

Visit a few troops

Teach the boys the Boy Scout Oath and Law so that they'll be comfortable when moving to a troop.


I believe firmly that the most important part of this process has little to do with the Webelos Leader. The most important piece of this process resides with the Boys and Leaders in the Boy Scout Troops. Not so much during the 'Webelos Visit", but after they join the troop. If these young boys aren't treated properly, they will leave, regardless of any fancy "transition" program.

(This message has been edited by fotoscout)

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Thanks...in fact, fotoscout, I very much agree with you.


However...in my town, there seems to be distinct separations between packs and troops (even when they share the CO). Webelos den leaders aren't always trained, and are focused on "getting the badge(s)" so two overnights (one for Outdoorsman, one for AoL) and that's it. In our den last year, one mom asked why I was arranging visits to all troops in town and said "but I thought we're supposed to sign up with [troop that shares the school]". On the other side of the fence, troops were very laid-back about recruiting, except for one of them. They were nicely rewarded with 19 out of 20 Webelos crossovers (the one that didn't was my son -- his choice).


So I do see it as a 3-step process:

1. Webelos II den uses AoL to educate/build interest

2. troop puts best foot forward, and recruits

3. troop program retains


(in fact, at the University of Scouting session I attended, the presenter said "first meeting, first outing, first year", which I think is brilliant...get them to a well-planned meeting ASAP after crossover, get them on a fun weekend outing ASAP, and work on the first-year advancement -- BTW, not everybody believes in "first class in the first year", but that is a strategy)


I'll give an anecdote -- just this last week, at a meeting at my Tenderfoot's school, I see a kid from my son's W2 den who went to the other troop. I asked him "so how's the new troop?" and he's all excited, it's great. So I asked him if he went to summer camp, and his face fell a little and he said "no". I said that I was sorry because summer camp is one of the best parts. Meanwhile, mom starts to explain to me that she had him in a non-scout daycamp the whole summer and she wanted to keep him there. I didn't ask him about advancement at the risk of embarrassing him any more than I already had.


I don't want to speculate about the kid's retention, but my son went to summer camp, where it rained all week, and a tornado touched down about two miles away, and he loved it. I think he's hooked.

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We had an example of a Webelos leader's influence souring the boys to the extent that at crossover only 7 of the 14 boys crossed. He had them convinced that AOL was the high point of their scouting career and that was good enough. The boys of the troop tried everything they could think of to encourage the boys not coming into scouting but it was a lost cause. The game needs to be played out with a whole team of people from the WDL, WDC, Troop boys/officers and SM. Without everyone working together there are a lot of boys slipping through the cracks at every level.


There's a lot to this issue and I did my WB ticket on this subject back in 1993. Now maybe 15 years too late, they're just now waking up to the importance of a coordinated effort between the two programs.



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I talk from two points of view.


First as a former professional. Webelos to Scout transition is important for 2 reasons. 1) this is where we lose more scouts, and 2) if Troops are not getting new scouts, then the troop will die, something no professional wants.


Let's face it, we have some kids who are burnt out, bored, whatever and want out. We also got parents who are burnt out, tired, etc and don't realize that as Scouts the youth do things on the own more. So some folks see Webelos as the end of the trail, when it's really just begging. So that's one reason why councils are jumping on the band wagon.


The second is that if a troop is not getting an influx of new scouts every year, it will die. Pros look bad and it effects their performance evals if units die. I'll give you one example. Best pack in my district had a troop at the same CO. For whatever reason, the Pack leaders got connected with a troop at a different CO, and their boys started going there, instead of o the pack's CO's troop. Overtime that troop died becasue they could not get that new influx.


Second as a Scouter. My old unit did not have a feeder pack and while we did survive, we did have some lean years. Our program and organization were stellar, and most of our new scouts were transfers from other units. I was one such case. We did get the occasional Webelos den visiting however. Eventually we did get a feeder pack when we changed COs, and the membership soared until Katrina hit and they lost all but 7 scouts.


My thoughts on the Webelos-to-Scout Transition: Start early! One thing is to use den chiefs. Once we got a feeder pack, we had den chiefs working at all levels. They not only served as assistants for the leaders, but also were role models for the Cubs.


Second the troop leaders should meet with the pack leadership and work out the process. This meeting was usually in the early fall so that calendars and activities could be coordinated. That way the troop knew what the pack was doings, and vice versa. We normally had 1 or two campouts and a meeting coordinated so that the Webelos could attend.


Third we tried to have a "special" meeting night on the Webelos visited. By special, I mean one where an outside speaker was coming in. two of the really popular ones that both the Socuts and Webelos liked were the SWAT team visit and the search and rescue folks. We repeated those a couple of times. Another idea for a meeting we used was Pioneering. more on that next,


Fourth we had the Webelos attend at least one campout, and if possible two. When the district had their own camporee, or the council one was in the fall, we invited the Webelos to attend with us. We also had our own separate campout in which the Webelos were invited that took place in late January, early February ( not a bad time in Louisiana and Mississippi). Usually the campout had a pioneering and/or Wilderness Survival theme. We taught the Webelos how to do lashing, had them build shelters with the Scouts, and had pioneering contests. Dads usually used stayed in tents, or slept in cars. Boys loved this.


Finally we discussed summer camp. Let's face it studies show that if a new scout attends summercamp, he will more likely stay in the program. We tried to get them pumped up for camp as soon as possible so that they could start saving money for it. Heck I got some troops now who invite their Webelos to the OA camp promotion to get them ready.


Just a few ideas

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Thanks for the responses...I really appreciate them!


Another sort of anecdote...as we traveled to various troop meetings, troops kept talking about "the patrol method". The moms carting their W2 sons to these meetings kept asking "what's that all about?". It was probably a fault of the den leader that parents weren't properly prepared. But the den leader was of the "get them their AoL and then I'm done" (I feel pretty safe saying this here, because I doubt she reads this forum, but this den leader was the same mom that had her kid in non-scout daycamp all summer and didn't send him to scout camp for a week).


I was driving the decision to get these kids to visit all four troops in town, while the other moms had more of the mindset "they visited a troop meeting, that's all they need to do". (sorry if this appears sexist, but in fact I was the only dad on these trips, all other adults were moms)


I don't know if this will ruffle feathers or not, but I've heard it said that the entire purpose of the Webelos II year is to get a boy transitioned to a troop. I would guess that most Webelos den leaders I've met don't see it that way. They feel more inclined to "just get him his AoL badge".

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I would guess that most Webelos den leaders I've met don't see it that way.

Exactly! If they do, then you can count on the leader being an active part of the troop their son crosses into - find and latch onto those! This is an annual battle that I have come to really dread over the years. Being fall we all need to start playing the game again. We have a super-mom-and-dad-run troop in our area that is really hurting the remaining troops. Plus as was said, we're fighting an influencial DL's connection to a different Troop.


It's pretty tough to make a good conclusion about a troop with one, maybe even two visits. I would simply say find out if the troop is boy lead or not and how well does the adult leaders interact with the Scouts. Key on questions about their SPL & his PLC will tell you a lot. The tenor of adult interaction sets the tone for everything, from how much fun they have at meetings to how much your son will grow. IMHO a good litmus is how much laughing do you see between the boys and adults; or how many older Scouts are at a meeting? There may be reasonable answers to what you see, but I would guess if there arent any older guys there then there are very possibly underlying issues. It takes time to feel through this, and unfortunately, if you don't spend the time then you get what you get.

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Having been a webelos leader, now a troop committee member attempting to improve our troop's recruitment efforts, and also involved with district membership, I see all sorts of angles on this question. From the membership perspective, hands down, the biggest place we lose members is in the webelos-boy scout transition. And once lost it is nearly impossible to get kids of that age back into the program.


One thing I've seen from all three perspectives is that there is a fundamental disconnect over purposes and programs between WDLs and troop leaders. Often as not they do not know each other, do not share info easily or efficiently with each other, and do not understand each others' programs. Not surprising, then, that the transition process is haphazard for many units and many boys.


Things we've attempted to start that seem to work (somewhat):

1) We use a district-wide "disappearing packet" where we give every player in the transition a check-off list of things they should be doing/looking for/expecting from about April of the W I year through to cross-over. This helps coordinate among the various parties so they all expect roughly the same things to happen.


2) We do specific round table features where we attempt to bring all parties together.


3) We repeatedly provide pack leaders with local troop contact info, and troop leaders with updated WDL contact info. We ask troops to designate a specific individual for WDLs and parents to call. In larger troops this is often NOT the scoutmaster.


4) We attempt to get troops to share their upcoming webelos-friendly events with the district membership committee so we can help them get the word out to local webelos dens.


5) We (re)educate troop leaders regarding the requirements for a boy to earn their webelos and AoL ranks, and what sorts of activities, help, assistance webelos leaders are likely to ask for (you'd be amazed how many troop leaders either have no idea what the Webelos are all about, or who have very outdated ideas. This is a major source of misinformation for webelos leaders, I find.)


6) We stress to webelos leaders and parents that AoL is a step along the way and not an end point. We try to help them see what sorts of different program opportunities lie ahead for boys who stay with scouting.


Last year, doing all of the above, we had a pretty good percentage who crossed over. I'm hoping to see our percentage go up this year, in our second year of having an actual district plan.


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You had me until: "(I feel pretty safe saying this here, because I doubt she reads this forum, but this den leader was the same mom that had her kid in non-scout daycamp all summer and didn't send him to scout camp for a week)."


I'm sorry, but in case you never read the 12 points to Boy Scout Law (BSA) and I appologize if I misspell any but I am doing this at the keyboard, not from book, "Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Curteous, Kind, Obiedient, Cheerfull, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent" does NOT include "Backstabbing or gossip".


I think the person you refer to deserves an appology.



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As a Cubmaster with a son just moving into Webelos, the key is getting the boys exposed to Boy Scouts in any way possible as early as possible. It sets the stage for a successful bridging. Make sure that the Webelos den leaders are not just heads down in their books but planning for and thinking about bridging early is huge.


Some things that have helped:


- Our council has a Webelos Weekend in the summer at the council camp in the mountains, which is held on Friday/Saturday night as one group of troops are ready to head out and before the next week's troops come in. This year one of the troop we've historically fed into had 1 night left in camp before heading out. With camp director approval, they invited the Webelos and dads who attended the Webelos Weekend to cozy up closer to their troops' campsite instead of pitching tents with the other Webelos for the 1st night. Our Webelos paired off with a Scout on the way to the campfire, got to know some of the boys in the troop and in general were so excited to be part of the troop (sort-of). It really enhanced the weekend, which otherwise was completely experienced with the other Webelos.


- Starting to think about bridging as Webelos I. No law against getting AOL stuff while finishing up the Webelos rank. My 2 Webelos I den leaders are totally on board with the bridging aspect already and I'd rather have them devote at least some time the 1st year with the transition instead of being just heads down in the activity pins. Could be as simple as getting a jump on joint Den/Troop activities or taking part in appropriate project or events with the Troops.


- getting troops to participate in Pack meetings, whether it's as simple as coming to announce an upcoming event with a skit or yell, or (as many do) of inviting the OA to participate in AOL/bridging ceremonies.


Pretty simple...the more contact with troops the better.


Our pack is based out of the kids' private school and draws boys from a 10-15 mile radius (and 2 different districts). Within those 10-15 miles there are 40+ troops to choose from, so opportunities to connect with troops are all over the place...it does make it alot easier then being a small town with fewer options.



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Recently all Scoutmasters should have received a DVD from National. On it was a message from Tico Perez, our new National Commissioner. His message covered this topic relating to the SM and suggestions to improve the process.


Our Pack and Troop have adopted a primary suggestion, to have the Webelos meet at the same time and location as the Troop. It allows for crossover of activities (where appropriate). It gives all the boys a greater opportunity for interaction. It allows the Webelos leaders to interact with Troop leaders. And if you have a Den Chief, he can cross over between activities and ask for help from fellow Scouts if he thinks it might be needed. It also removes the barriers previously described. Webelos leaders are made to feel they're a part of the Troop. The Webelos get to see and interact frequently with the Boy Scouts. By the time you get to crossover, everyone knows what to expect.


I also have applied the following for several years and firmly believe in it. The SM, ASM, or a combination of Troop leaders should always be available to assist in the Webelos den.

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My pack has 2 W2 dens... one den is going to the troop that shares a CO, our den is going to a troop that just this year formed in our town.


Troop 1 (same Co): We asked for a den chief as W1's, they told us none of the boys were interested. They are in town but very few kids in the troop are from town. They never once invited us to visit. They do not come to any town events, help out in town, are basically invisible. (and they actively avoided the 12 that crossed over last year)

Troop 2 (brand spankin new): is 90% last years W2's from our pack. In the 9 months they have been in existence they ahve helped at several town events, been present at Veterans', Memorial, and 9/11 services, and have invited us to several things, including a campout.


Troop 1 is unbelievably po'd that our 8 boys have essentially made up thier minds. (The other den has 4, 2 of whom don't plan to continue). they have pitched fits at council because this other troop moved in, they have only recently (like, August) even acnowledged us as scouts.


What do we, as Webelos parents and leaders, do about this? I'm afraid that there are so many hard feelings that this WILL negatively effect everyone involved. but how do we cross over and 'fix' this, when we are seen as part of the problem anyway?

i honestly don't want to point fingers, I think this bickering is rediculous anyway. It's SCOUTING, for Christ's sake, not a political campaign! but how do us lowely Webelos leaders get the rest of 'em to start acting like grown-ups??

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The boys in my patrols/troop believe that until the Webelos boy signs on the dotted line, he's fair game to recruit. One feeder pack said all their boys will be going to the other troop in town, but our boys are planning on visiting the den meeting and doing a program for them, inviting them to a swimming outing, troop meeting and a winter campout all before they cross over in mid-winter.


The boys know that the other troop tends to be adult-led and their Webelos leader has an older boy in that troop as well as being an ASM of the second troop. The boys are going to discuss with the Webelos boys the difference between adult-led and boy-led and give them the option to decide individually instead of as a den with a biased leader with personal reasons to recruit as an adult.


My boys feel confident because last year this same situation faced the boys and they went out and recruited and weren't happy until 100% of the Webelos crossovers from two different packs all came to our troop, even boys who had older brothers in the other troop signed up.


Peer-to-peer recruiting can take on even the best adult efforts! Turn your boys loose on the situation and let them lead.



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