By Annaleis Smith
Oct 03, 2017

LDS Den Leader Training Part 4 – BSA vs LDS What’s the difference?

Welcome to the LDS Den Leader Training Part 4 – This series of post is designed for Wolf, Bear and Webelos den leaders who have been called to serve in Cub Scout packs chartered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We hope to give den leaders the basic information they need to conduct a successful Cub Scout program, as well as an understanding of the connection between the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the LDS Church.

  • Introduction – Help, I’m a new Den Leader!
  • Part 1 – What about Den Meetings?
  • Part 2  – The Planning Process
  • Part 3 – Why the LDS Church uses Scouting
  • Part 4 – BSA vs LDS What’s the difference?

LDS packs vs BSA packs

Maybe “vs” is the wrong word here, it’s not a competition just a comparison. Listed below are 10 differences in LDS vs BSA Cub Scouting.

The first thing that I want to point out is there are actually more similarities than there are differences.  There are a few things we do differently as LDS Cub Scouters but we run the same program and the boys learn the same things, do the same activities and earn the same ranks.  We have the same purposes and use the same methods.

So, assuming that you are reading through some of the literature or taking some of the training from the BSA what does the LDS den leader need to know about LDS Cub Scouting?

1 – The LDS Cub scouting program begins at age 8. If an LDS boy and parent wish to participate earlier than 8 yrs old they will need to find a community unit to join to get the full experience. As an LDS den leader you need to be aware of the option.

In a BSA traditional pack a boy may join at age 5. The full BSA Cub Scouting program includes Tigers and Lions (currently a pilot program) these dens are for younger boys and a parent or guardian joins and attends also as an adult partner.   In these first years of Cub Scouting they spend quality time together learning and doing all kinds of fun things. You may have a boy in your ward that would really benefit from these programs so it’s good to know they exist even if we don’t run them.

2 – LDS boys enter and leave dens on their birthdays and according to age: 8 yrs old = Wolf, 9 yrs old = Bear, 10 yrs old = Webelos. We help them through three years of Cub Scouting before they move up and into Boy Scouts. Having boys move dens on their birthdays does present some challenges but it is quite doable.  The boys will be in an LDS pack for up to 3 years.

In a traditional BSA pack den are most often based on their school grade: Lion = Kindergarten, Tiger = 1st Grade, Wolf = 2nd Grade, Bear = 3rd Grade, Webelos=  4th and 5th grades.  With this system there is a potential of participating in Cub Scouting for up to 5 years.

3 – The LDS Webelos program is a 1 year program – From a boy’s 10th birthday unit his 11th he will be a member of the Webelos den.  During that year he has the opportunity to earn both the Webelos and the Arrow of Light ranks.  It’s a busy year with lots to accomplish but LDS den leaders have been finding a way to get it all done for years.

In a traditional BSA pack the 4th grade boys are working on earning the Webelos rank and the 5th grade boys are working on earning the Arrow of Light rank. The two dens are often called Webelos 1 and Webelos 2 or Webelos and Arrow of Light dens.

4 – The LDS church does not sponsor Scouting for girls. But remember Cub Scouting is a family program.  Many of the requirements a boy must do can be done with the whole family at home.  Also parents and siblings (boys and girls) should be invited and considered when planning your monthly pack meeting activities.

In 2018 the BSA began to allow girls to join Cub Scouts. (For more information on this news you can read about it here) And in 2019 they will be allowed to join Boy Scouts.  In addition the BSA does have a 20 year old program, Venturing, that allows both boys and girls (ages 14-21) to join.

5 – LDS Cub Scouts don’t camp as den/pack.  LDS Church policy states “No Scout sponsored overnight camping should be planned for boys under age 11”. Now that does not mean that a Cub Scout age boy cannot go camping with the ward or his family and while camping pass off some of the outdoor related requirements with his parents.  In fact since Cub Scouting is a family program we encourage parents to work on advancement with their son.  Many of the requirements specifically say “with your den, pack or family”.  All adventures related to camping have alternate requirements that can be completed without camping.

In a traditional BSA pack Webelos often camp overnight as a den and the younger boys can attend pack overnighters with their families.  Camping is often a big reason boys are excited to join.

6 – The LDS Bishopric asks the leaders to serve. Men or women (they do not have to be members) are called to serve as Cub Scout leaders for Primary age boys.  All leaders should be set a part as part of the calling process. Parents are always welcome to volunteer on committees and with activities.

In a traditional BSA pack leaders are recruited by the pack leadership and asked to fill a position. Traditional packs have true volunteers. Most packs expect at least one parent help out in some way.

7 – No DUES are collected. LDS packs are usually given a budget that they are expected to operate within. Ward budgets should be used to purchase Scouting awards and materials, as determined by local leaders. The green LDS Scouting Handbook gives general guidelines for what can and cannot be done with the budget.  (ie. Awards = Yes, Uniforms = No) Handbook 2 has additional budget allowance guidelines.

In a traditional BSA pack boys are assess dues/fees that are combined with the other’s to create the pack budget. The amount of those dues (paid monthly or other) and what it covers or does not cover is decided on by the pack committee. Cub Scout dues can vary widely depending on where you live.

8 – LDS pack may only do 1 fundraiser per year. If the budget does not have sufficient funds to pay for an annual day camp … leaders may ask participants to pay for part or all of it. If funds from participants are not sufficient, the bishop may authorize one group fund-raising activity annually.  If you do an annual fundraiser it would need to be approved first and follow church guidelines for fundraisers.

In a traditional BSA pack there are no limits on how many fundraisers a boy or pack may participate in infant they often depend on fundraisers for the boys to be able to pay their dues, buy their own uniforms, and other equipment. Only BSA approved fundraisers may be used.

9 –  Sunday and Monday events. The LDS Church does not approve of hiking, camping or other such Scouting activities on Sunday. And Scouting events are not to be held on Monday evening, the night designated for family home evening. Also, Scout uniforms should not be worn to regular Sunday meetings.

Traditional BSA packs may hike and camp whenever works best for their members.  They may also wear their uniforms to church especially on Scout Sunday – 2nd Sun. in February.  The only restrictions places on them are the ones they decide on themselves.

10 – No lit candles in the church buildings.  You will find many ideas  that use candles for advancement ceremonies, scout spirit candle, scout spirit candles etc… in BSA literature. However according to Handbook 2 (21.2.5)  “Open flames and lighted candles may not be used in Church buildings”. So by all means use candles in your ceremonies and teach how to build a fire, just don’t light them if you are indoors.

If you still have questions or want to read the official answers for yourself you can find more clarification in the “Green Handbook”  (Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States) and/or Handbook 2

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Author: Annaleis Smith is a Stay at home mom of 5 (3 boys 2 girls).  She has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003 (in the same ward).  She has been a cubmaster, den leader, pack trainer, Boy Scout Committee Chair and is now the cubmaster for the 2nd time.  She has been involved with roundtable at the district level since 2008 and involved in various council committees since 2010. She loves Cub Scouting and her favorite thing to do is to train other Cub Scout leaders.

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3 thoughts on “LDS Den Leader Training Part 4 – BSA vs LDS What’s the difference?

  1. AvatarMark Clemons

    I just found this site. I am the training chairman in the Chickasaw Council Memphis Tn and 10 N Miss Counties. Most of the LDS units here seem to be resistant to getting their leaders trained. I have about half with no trained leaders. I have been talking with several leaders for the past year, but unless we go o an event they are already having they don’t come to the district or council training programs. Any thoughts or ideas??

    1. Melany GardnerMelany Gardner

      Hey Mark,

      One suggestion that may help is working through the right channels. I would suggest approaching the C.O.R and Bishop of the local ward about the training and how helpful it will be to have them attend. The leaders are more likely to get trained if their church leaders invite them to do so to “magnify their calling.” You could also hand over a flyer about the district training, but suggest to them that they can also get trained online at If they want an LDS view of the training, they can read this very series of training on our blog to supplement what they learn online, or in our council’s case, under the discretion of the C.O.R. reading this series and speaking with the district training chair, they can get cleared as trained.

      Another way you could approach it is by having an LDS specific training day like on a Saturday. Ask one of the Stake Presidents (Stakes are over multiple wards) if they would be willing to host it and advertise to the other LDS stakes in the area. Have the trainers be other trained LDS Scouters and have your district training chair assist them in getting materials and help with teaching the training. This way you are working through church channels and when their stake presidents invite and promote them going to the training, they will more likely show up. If it is successful, ask the stake if they would be willing to make this a bi-yearly or quarterly thing, because there is a lot of turnover in Scouting leadership in the LDS Church.

  2. AvatarConnie

    Fundraising Question: our Boy Scouts sell popcorn and Cub Scouts Christmas wreaths along with a few extras. Do you have a list of ideas for better fundraising? Our Cub Scout Pack is very small and understaffed. Thank you, Connie


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