New Cub Requirements for 2015-16

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If you are not aware, BSA has issued new requirements, handbooks, and leader guides for Cub Scouts. This is a major overhaul of the program.

This new set of requirements will affect everyone in scouting. The surprising part is how it affects Boy Scout Troops.

As we have linked before, BSA through Scouter magazine and Bryan on Scouting has given us some summaries of the changes. We, as leaders, need an overview that tells us more.

All of the ranks have shifted to a model of core requirements, called “Required Adventures” and elective requirements, called “Elective Adventures.” The emphasis on “adventures” underlines the new system’s emphasis on action and participation in scouting-like activities. To do a full analysis would require more effort than is appropriate for a blog post. But a simple example can be used, such as the Tiger Cub requirements. The overview requirements say simply,

  1. Complete each of the following Tiger required adventures with your den or family:
    1. Backyard Jungle
    2. Games Tigers Play
    3. My Family’s Duty to God
    4. Team Tiger
    5. Tiger Bites
    6. Tigers in the Wild
  2. Complete one Tiger elective adventure of your den or family’s choosing.
  3. With your parent or adult partner, complete the exercises in the pamphlet How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide, and earn the Cyber Chip award for your age.*

Tigers in the Wild includes the following requirements

1. With your adult partner, name and collect the Cub Scout Six Essentials you need for a hike. Tell your den leader what you would need to add to your list if it rains.

2. Go for a short hike with your den or family, and carry your own gear. Show you know how to get ready for this hike.

3. Do the following:

a. Listen while your leader reads the Outdoor Code. Talk about how you can be clean in your outdoor manners.

b. Listen while your leader reads the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids. Discuss why you should “Trash Your Trash.”

c. Apply the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace Principles for Kids on your Tiger den and pack outings. After one outing, share what you did to demonstrate the principles you discussed.

4. While on the hike, find three different kinds of plants, animals, or signs that animals have been on the trail. List what you saw in your Tiger Handbook.

5. Participate in an outdoor pack meeting or pack campout campfire. Sing a song and act out a skit with your Tiger den as part of the program.

6. Find two different trees and two different types of plants that grow in your area. Write their names in your Tiger Handbook.

7. Visit a nearby nature center, zoo, or another outside place with your family or den. Learn more about two animals, and write down two interesting things about them in your Tiger Handbook.

The new requirements mean that the Tiger (formerly Tiger Cubs) must participate in an outdoor pack meeting or campout campfire, visit a zoo or nature center, go on a hike, and use the Outdoor Code.

The old requirements for outdoor involvement were very simplistic:

5. Let’s Go Outdoors
Family – Go outside and watch the weather.
Den – With a crayon or colored pencil and a piece of paper, make a leaf rubbing.
Go See It – Take a hike with your den.
Character Connection: Faith

So we see that Tigers (formerly Tiger Cubs) moved from simply going outside, making a leaf rubbing and taking a den hike, to now meeting outdoors or having a campout campfire, finding plans, visiting zoos, etc. Tigers does not require a campout, but clearly allows for it. Tigers are starting their true “outings make scouting” experiences earlier.

This emphasis on outings and being outdoors continues through the ranks. Wolves now have to attend a Pack or Family Campout (where allowed by the Chartered Organization), prepare for weather changes while outdoors, prepare for a hike, use the buddy system, take a one-mile hike, etc. Bears have to attend a Pack Campout, make a checklist for the campout, prepare a campfire skit, cook a meal at the campout, help set up a tent, etc. Formerly there were no camping requirements or outdoor activity requirements that hinted at camping. In fact, picnics and camping were only electives for the boy to choose. (Wolf Handbook, pgs. 196 and 233.) Bears were required to go on a family campout and have a picnic (Bear Handbook, pgs. 106-111 (outdoor requirements, including camping), 276-278 (electives for camping).) Now there is a greater push to be involved with other scouts on campouts earlier and more often.

So far, nothing for Boy Scout Troops? Well, are you sure?

As a Cubmaster, I had many Cubs who were the first scouts in their family or for whom scouting had skipped a generation or two. The parents were not experienced campers or outdoorsmen (the funny thing is we broke the mold: I had several extremely experienced moms who left the dads in the dust — or at home). These parents needed experienced help. Our Webelos and Bears were not any better with experience. I recruited help from the neighboring Boy Scout Troop to help set up the camp. I would have loved to have had some Firecrafters build the fire or some Order of the Arrow performance of Indian dances. Scouts could have taught Dutch oven skills. We just set up tents.

Things get more involved in Webelos under the new recruitments, and the links to Boy Scouts become more apparent. Webelos Badge requirements include building and lighting a fire, cooking with a Dutch oven or other normal camp cooking method, and take a 3-mile hike. Arrow of Light requires a campout, a campfire program with skits, visit a boy scout troop meeting and discuss what the Webelos observed about the patrol method, practice in the den the patrol method for a month, and participate in a boy scout campout using the patrol method.

Boy Scout Troops are a necessary part of Webelos Arrow of Light requirements and a good source of experience to teach the skills need to do a Webelos cookout.

Ultimately, the new Cub Scout requirements create many more opportunities for the boy scouts to be of service to the Cub Scouts. This means the troops have a great opportunity to “help other people” within the Scouting Movement. So Packs should seek help from Troops. Packs should appoint someone (often the Arrow of Light Webelos Den Leader) to serve as the Webelos-to-Scouts coordinator. Troops should make sure Packs know who their Webelos-to-Scout Coordinator is.

The goal of these changes is to capture a young Cub’s imagination for camping and the outdoors early and to keep it focused on the ever-greater outdoor experiences to come.