By Annaleis Smith
Mar 26, 2019

How Cub Scouts can “Do their Best” to “Be Prepared” for 2020

What’s your plan for 2019?

Does your pack have a plan for 2019?  Do you have boys who want to continue being a Cub Scout in 2020? Did you know girls can join Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA right now? What about your dens – do they have a plan?

Unfortunately, there is NOT a “one size fits all” or even a “one size fits most” solution for the current Scout who’s unit (pack or troop) is chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Each and every individual boy needs an individual assessment of where they are at now, where they want to go, and where they need to be when they join a new pack or troop. Each boy needs his own personalized plan for 2019 to be ready to make the move into a “community/traditional” pack if they choose to. We want that transition to be as smooth as possible and to give the boy and family the type of Scouting experience they are looking for.

Currently, in our age-based Cub Scout program, a boy joins Cub Scouting when he turns 8 and he has until his next birthday to earn his current rank. Some boys will be right in line with where they need to be when they move into a new pack but others will not. Depending on when his birthday is, and which grade he will be in next year (for the 2019-20 school year) some boys may need to hurry up and earn their current rank, and some boys may need to slow down a little to earn it later with their new pack. This is why we need to know now who wants to continue on and who does not, so that we can plan accordingly for 2019.

Age-Based vs Grade-Based Cub Scouting

It took me a while to design this chart that shows some of the differences between the LDS Age-based system of moving boys in and out of dens vs the traditional BSA grade-based system of dens. It isn’t perfect but I hope it helps you understand what some of the potential conflicts may be.

If you look at the above chart you can see that the average kindergartner is 5 years old and turns 6 sometime during his kindergarten year. Any kindergarten age child could join Cub Scouts as a member of the Lion Den. And continuing on, the average Tiger is usually 6 turning 7 during the year. Of course, this is not always the case as some parents choose to hold their child back a year, especially if they have a  summer birthday or one very close to the school cut-off date. So, not all boys in a den will be the same age.

However, because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moves the boys in and out of dens based on their age, rather than their school grade, it might get a little tricky to figure out. And again, it won’t be the same for every boy.  It is very possible for an LDS 8yr old boy to have started Cub Scouting as a member of the Wolf den as a 3rd grader instead of a 2nd grader. And as a Bear as a 4th grader instead of 3rd. And so on…

The Webelos Difference

The Webelos year is a little tricky too because in the current church setting our boys work towards earning both the Webelos rank and the Arrow of Light rank in just one year. (The year they are 10) While in a traditional grade based program (which everyone else uses and past 2019 everyone will use) a Cub Scout work on the Webelos badge while in 4th grade and on the Arrow of Light rank in 5th grade.  So, for some LDS Webelos who are currently 10 and already in the 5th grade, they might move up to a troop with little problem.  But if a boy is only in the 4th grade you, he and his parents will need to decide if he is going to earn both ranks in his current pack and then move on to a troop (assuming he is old enough to join Scouts BSA) or will he move into another pack for his 5th-grade year to earn Arrow of Light with them?  His current Webelos den leader needs to know this now so the proper help can be given.

Once they are in a troop it doesn’t really matter what their age or grade are.  Then he will just move up through the ranks on his own timetable. However, for Cub Scouts, it does matter how old they are but it matters even more which grade they are in.  One other thing to note is that some LDS dens still run as “Who is moving up next and what does he need to complete?”  Where a community pack is much more likely to have an annual plan and if a boy joins in the middle of the program year (like if he doesn’t join until 2020) then he will most likely have missed much of what he needs to earn his rank.  In Cub Scouting, the whole den works toward the ranks together and they all move on to the next den at the end of the school year, together.

Be Prepared – Make a plan

So, take a look at each boy in your pack – individually.  How old is the boy?  Where is he with his current rank?  What grade is he in this year and what grade will he be in for the 2019-20 School year?  What do we need to do to make sure he is lined up right to move into a new pack?  For most boys, the best thing to do is to start looking now for a pack to join this summer. He can be dual registered in both his old and new pack but may want to focus most of his advancement in the new pack so that he is with the other boys in his den.  When he attends his ward’s pack he will be there mostly to have fun with his friends.  Or, in one case I know of a current 9 yr old 4th grader who is working on his Bear rank in is ward’s pack and on Webelos in his community pack.

And of course for those boys who have absolutely no intention of continuing their Scouting Journey after 2019 is over – our main goal should be fun!  We want them to look back on their time in Cub Scouting and have fond memories of doing fun things with their friends.  For some, this may include earning their current rank and for some, it may not.  That again is why you need to know what your boys need, want and make an individual plan for each and every boy.

Author Annaleis Smith is a “stay-at-home” mom of 5 (3 boys 2 girls).  She has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003.  She has also been involved with district roundtables since 2008 and various council committees (including Akela’s Council) since 2010. Annaleis currently serves as a Cubmaster, Assistant Roundtable Commissioner, president of the Commissioner College Cabinet.  She is also a Utah National Parks Council Executive Board member.


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