(The Cub Scout program received a major overhaul and design changes released in 2015.)
This article is designed to “jump-start” your understanding of the top 6 changes to the Cub Scout program based on these modifications.
You can download/study/read all the details here. Some additional questions were answered in a FAQ here. The truth is it’s a 57-page document (the original version was 56 pages so it’s had some updates itself already). It can be a little difficult to get the whole picture just by scanning through the document. So, I sat down with highlighters in hand marking what’s been deleted, what’s been added and what else has been changed.
If you are a den leader, I would encourage you to look closely at the modifications for your den. Still, I am going to list a few things I perceive as the most important or major modifications that leaders, parents, and boys will need to know.
WHY are there modifications?
- Advancement numbers being low
- Den Leaders not being able to fit it all in
- Overnight camping issues
- Duty to God perceptions
You may or may not agree with these four issues. Some leaders have been able to schedule in everything, and some have been very overwhelmed. Some packs were great with advancement, and some were not. Overall, there must have been enough problems in each of these four areas that BSA put together a task force to look at the program and devise some modifications to address each of these issues. After looking at all the modifications, I think they have done a very good job addressing each of these concerns while still keeping the objectives and integrity of the new Cub Scout program intact.
WHAT are the modifications?
I can’t name or list every modification made – this is where your own study comes in. However, there are a few things I want to cover here to make sure everyone knows. Having a basic understanding of the types of modifications will speed up your own study of them.
- Most of the modifications or the majority (I’d say 80%) of the changes are a reduction in the number of activities required to complete an adventure. I’ll give just a couple of examples. For the Bear Elective Adventure – Roaring Laughter – the old requirements were that they had to complete all six of the listed activities. The new modification documents say to complete at least four of the six. In the Webelos Required Adventure First Responder, there are eight requirements. Previously, they needed to do all eight; now they are required to do only six. There are lots of other adventures with similar modifications. Now, den leaders have a little more flexibility on which activities they do. It may be time, money, weather, resources or just interest that determine which optional activities are completed as a den. Remember, you can always do more than required.
- Re-numbering or re-ordering of the activities within the adventure is another common modification. Sometimes, the new re-ordering helps clarify things, so the required activities are listed first and optional after (Wolf – Council Fire). Other times, it’s just a clearer way to number the activities (Wolf – Hometown Heros). You will find that some requirements have been combined (Wolf – Paws on the Path) and others split (Bear – Critter Care). However, I will admit that in some of the adventures the renumbering seems to me to be completely arbitrary (Wolf – Adventures in Coins) and random. For these, I have no explanation. I’m sure someone had a reason. If you don’t know to look for this, you may actually miss some which could make tracking very confusing.
- Bear Adventure – Grin and Bear has been switched from a required adventure to an elective adventure. Bear Adventure – Baloo the Builder has been switched from an elective adventure to a required adventure. This is the only change of required vs. elective adventures. If your pack (and bear den) has fully embraced the idea of a yearly carnival… what a fun tradition to continue. If your pack found it to be very time-consuming, resource heavy or just plain hard to accomplish, you no longer have to worry about needing to do that adventure every year. Baloo the Builder is a great adventure about tool safety and having fun creating different projects. (See “What if…?” below for more about this bear modification.)
- Webelos and Arrow of Light now require fewer adventures to be completed overall to earn each rank. I know many LDS Webelos leaders who will be very happy to hear that their boys only have to complete 11 adventures in 1 year instead of 14. If you still ask the boys to complete the 2 Duty to God adventures at home, that means the den needs to complete 9 in a program year. If you are one of those leaders who had no problem fitting in 12 or 14 before, keep on doing a great job. If completing both ranks was a real struggle – you can breathe a little easier now.
- Duty to God Adventures – the options for completing these adventures in ALL ranks have changed just a little. 1) Wolves now have the option of earning their religious emblem and counting it towards Duty to God Footsteps. 2) Bears and Webelos can no longer earn the religious emblem and count the whole adventure as complete – it is now only an optional part of their Duty to God adventures. Overall they changed the “attend” and organized religion aspects to more of a “what do YOU believe” type of requirements.
- Camping and Campfire Program participation has been modified. In the adventures where camping was required, there used to be the following statement, “If your chartered organization does not permit Cub Scout camping, you may substitute a family campout or a daylong outdoor activity with your den or pack.” LDS packs all understand that this includes them (along with some other charter organizations as well). However, some leaders and parents were still confused about exactly how to go about completing the requirements without camping. What qualifies as a “daylong outdoor activity”? Does Day Camp count? What/how do families do this on a family campout? So, in the modifications, that specific statement was removed and the requirements were reworded to make it easier to know how to complete those adventures. As far as the campfire program requirements go, Webelos are no longer required to plan it. Bears are no longer required to perform a song or skit at camp. While Wolf does still require a skit, it doesn’t have to be performed at a pack program. Most likely you will still be having the boys perform skits and songs and such at pack meetings anyway. It just opens up the possibilities for other performances at a pack campfire program should you still choose to do one. Oh, and the Arrow of Light – Camper Adventure has been renamed to Outdoorsman (a familiar name to experienced Webelos leaders) which is now written with Option A which requires camping and Option B which does not.
WHEN do we make these modifications?
Whenever your den/pack needs to. Assuming you already have your year planned out, there may be no need to change those plans. Each month, as you plan for the next month’s adventure you may find you don’t do anything different than you did last year or you may find you can, if you want, make a few adjustments to your plan based on the modifications. You may actually decide you want to change some things around. In my pack, we were planning to do a carnival for our March Pack meeting to help our bears complete that required adventure before 2 of our boys move up into the Webelos den in April. However, now that it’s no longer a required adventure, we will most likely move it to June when the weather is better and we can be outside with more options. The same goes for our pack campfire program. We have done it in September for our first pack meeting of the new school year for the past 2 years (2015 & 2016). It has been such a huge success for our pack that I am sure we will continue that tradition. However, with the modifications in what the boys are required to do in relation to the campfire program, our options for what to include in that program have increased.
There is one specific question that the council office has already received a few calls about. What if a bear Cub Scout has already completed the Grin and Bear it Adventure (now elective, was required) but not the Baloo the Builder Adventure (now required, was elective) or vice versa? Because they have switched places as a required vs elective adventure, some leaders/parents are concerned that this may affect the boy’s advancement. This is a prime example of why we teach “Do what’s best for the boy”. If he has already done either one of those adventures, go ahead and count it towards his required adventure total. If he has done both of them – no problem, one elective, one required. If he hasn’t done either one yet but one or the other has already been planned for soon – just do it. Or switch to the other one if that would be easier. Again, we don’t want to make this harder than it has to be.
HOW do we communicate the modifications?
This I think may be the trickiest part of all this. How do we let parents know what the modifications are? I don’t want to make each parent read the whole document and figure it out themselves. I also don’t want to sit down with everyone and say… “Okay, and now what was requirement two is now number four and six is now eight.” It would be a crazy meeting! Because the handbooks and den leader guides are not changing anytime soon, the requirements listed in them will be incorrect for a while (at least until the current books run out). National did say that they will be releasing new “Paw Print” tracking pages for the boy’s handbooks “soon”. If you use Scoutbook, they have already updated the requirements there. However, until all this is straightened out, just know it may be a little confusing for a while. I would suggest that den leaders/parents don’t try to do it all now. Be sure everyone knows there are some changes but don’t worry so much about what they are specifically until you are ready to start the next adventure. Keep it Simple! Don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. ** I just found some ready to print pages (to tape/glue) into the den leader guides here. They may help. If you like paper trackers, you can find some updated versions at the Akela’s Council website here.
I know I wasn’t able to answer all your questions. So yes, you will probably still need to study the modification document yourself (or at least a part of it). Hopefully though, this has helped you know what to look for. And hopefully, I have helped you learn the basics so you are not so worried about it all. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same is true for these modifications – one adventure at a time and it’s not so overwhelming. I’ve explained what I see as the 6 biggest changes to the Cub Scout program with these new modifications.
Also – For a quick summary of the basic changes made to the duty to God adventures read the red text at the beginning of this article about the Religious Emblem & LDS Faith in God.
**New – Feb 2017 – I have found some additional resources from some Cub Scout leaders who have taken a lot of time to help us understand exactly what was changed. Wish I knew who to give credit to but I don’t – A big THANKS, Big hand, and round-of-applause too, to whoever created and shared the following documents:
- This pdf is a cub-scouts-modified-side-by-side of old vs new, color-coded noting each change.
- cub-scout-adventure-modifications-detailed document incorporates the old and new together, is color-coded and adds a summary of how the adventure has changed.
- Here you can download the new adventure requirements formatted to fit on 1/4 page so that it can be taped into the old books (Den leader guides and Webelos Handbooks)
Overall I think that the modifications will be a really good thing for many of us. The modifications have opened up some adventure possibilities for boys and increased flexibility for den leaders. That sounds like a win-win to me. What do you think about the modifications? Comment below.
Author: Annaleis Smith has been a Cub Scout leader (Cubmaster, Den Leader, Pack Trainer and Cubmaster again) Since 2003. She loves Cub Scouting and how it can help a boy grow into a fine young man. She currently serves as the Cubmaster in her ward/pack and as the Utah National Park’s Council’s Vice President of Membership.