Arrow of Light changes

oldest_island_boyWrapping up our series on the upcoming changes to the Cub Scout program, this time we’ll discuss what is changing with the requirements for the Arrow of Light award.

Although these changes take effect on June 1 of this year, bear in mind that current Webelos Scouts can continue to use the current Arrow of Light requirements. Any boy joining Cub Scouts after June 1 must use the new requirements.

The most significant change is that the Arrow of Light no longer requires first earning the Webelos rank. This means that a boy who joins at the beginning of fifth grade can still cross over to Boy Scouts by March with the rest of his den-mates. This longstanding obstacle and glaring gap in our recruiting efforts has been eliminated by this revision. It’s no longer necessary for the new Scout to “cram” his requirements, or to wait until the end of fifth grade (or turn 11) to join a troop.

The time requirement is simple: Be an active member of your den for six months since completing the fourth grade or turning 10. Thus, if he joins at the end of his fourth-grade school year (and your den is active over the summer, right?) he’ll be eligible to cross over by year’s end.

He will still need to complete seven Adventures at a minimum, including the four required for Arrow of Light: Building a Better World, Camping, Duty to God in Action, and Scouting Adventure. He’ll also need three elective Adventures of either his den’s or his family’s choosing.

In brief:

  • Building a Better World is the replacement for the Citizen activity badge. It also covers energy conservation and recycling, world Scouting fellowship (including a mention of participating in Jamboree on the Air as a way to fulfill a requirement) and to demonstrate leadership by planning a den activity without the den leader’s help.
  • Camping is similar to the Outdoorsman activity badge with the added requirement to actually go camping overnight (unless the chartered organization doesn’t permit it). Some have lamented that it’s possible to get all the way through Cub Scouts without ever going camping, which leaves many boys unprepared for the Boy Scout outdoor program with its emphasis on camping. It also introduces the Outdoor Code, camping safety, the bowline hitch and geocaching.
  • Duty to God in Action is a new Adventure with no specific equivalent in the old program. It can be met by earning the religious emblem of faith or completing three activities exploring faith with his family or religious leader.
  • Scouting Adventure is the new name for the Boy Scout joining requirements: knowing the Scout Oath, Law, motto, slogan and handshake and the Outdoor Code, knowing the meaning of the First Class badge, visiting a troop and participating in a troop outdoor activity. It also introduces the patrol method, holding a “dry run” in the den by electing a patrol leader, choosing a patrol emblem and yell and planning participation in a troop activity as a patrol. Earning the Whittling Chip is also part of the requirements for this Adventure.

And as before, the parent and Scout complete the exercises in the pamphlet on preventing child abuse that’s bound into the Webelos handbook.

There’s too much to go into greater detail here; please see the BSA’s Program Updates pages for full details. And Ottawa District roundtable commissioner Candy Kniaz has put together a great summary of special planning tips to meet the new requirements.

One of the ten purposes of Cub Scouting is preparing our boys to become Boy Scouts. This goal has been rather elusive for some in the past, and the program tools we were given didn’t always clearly lead to that outcome. The new program is much more likely to acclimate a young man to the adventures that lie across the bridge and pique his interest in continuing in Boy Scouting.

Photo courtesy of Ann Ward. Used by permission.


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