More keys to success for Webelos leaders

webelosUpdate: This article was written before the 2015 changes to the Webelos program took effect. The information is still valid; just substitute the current program elements for those mentioned below.

In my last post I mentioned several ideas that Webelos leaders can use now to get the most out of the program. Here are a few more.

First-year Webelos leaders:

  • Map out the next few months’ worth of den meetings. Get together with your assistant den leader or co-leader (and your Den Chief, if you have one yet). Make it a social event! Use the Webelos Den Meeting planning forms in the Cub Scout Leader book. Look in the Webelos Leader Guide (you do have a copy, right? If not, it’s available at your council’s Scout Shop or by mail/phone/web order) for a schedule of activity badges and den meetings for multiple scenarios, such as starting in June or September. Plan to work on the first two required badges, Fitness and Citizen, during the fall. (Citizen is a natural during the election season.)
  • As part of your program planning, set a goal of planning one outing a month. It can be a hike, den campout, field trip, or other go-see-it activity. Boys get bored in a “classroom” setting.
  • Then, have a meeting with your parents while your assistant leader is running through an activity with the boys. Explain the differences between Wolf/Bear and Webelos, that the boys won’t be doing as much toward advancement with the family but that parents are still needed to help. Give everyone a copy of your den plans and calendar through at least the end of the year. Include important pack dates as well.
  • While you’re meeting with the parents, enlist each parent to teach one of the activity badges. Use the Parent/Family Talent Survey form that’s found in the back of the Cub Scout Leader Book to help identify your parents’ skills and interests and how they can help the den.
  • Boys love to camp but not all parents do. Break it to them that den camping is in the offing. Find out who is an experienced camper (or who has a son in Boy Scouts) and keep them in mind for when you start camping.
  • Let them know as well that next summer there will be an opportunity for resident camping, lasting a few days, at a nearby Boy Scout camp. This will not only be fun for the boys but will introduce them to multi-day camping that they will experience in Boy Scouts. You’ll also need some adults to go along.
  • If you are not an experienced camper yourself, you can learn a lot by taking the Outdoor Webelos Leader Skills course. If you can’t take it right away, talk to the campers in your den, your Den Chief, or one of the Scoutmasters in your town. Do not let your lack of camping experience keep you from taking your den camping.
  • Plan on taking a more active role in pack meetings. Each Webelos den should have some time to show what they have been doing. Have a “Show & Tell” each month. Demonstrate First Aid if you did Readyman, or bring in the gizmos you built during Engineer or Scientist.
  • If you have been attending your district’s Roundtable every month, good for you! If not, what are you waiting for? It’s your chance to meet monthly with other den leaders, find out what’s available to help you, get pointers from fellow leaders and answers to your questions.

Second-year Webelos Leaders:

  • You really should be on a “first-name basis” with the Scoutmasters in your town by now. If not, call each one and introduce yourself, and ask them to describe their troop’s program. You will be attending some of their meetings and campouts and using their resources in the coming months. If you need an introduction, talk to your Cubmaster or Unit Commissioner.
  • Also talk with last year’s Webelos leaders from your pack, and find out their impressions of the troops. Ask if they have any advice for you going into the last few months.
  • Once the activity badges required for Arrow of Light are completed, ask the boys which of the rest they’d like to do. Letting the boys decide is a first step toward a youth-led program.
  • Give your boys more and more responsibility. See if they can get to where they are running parts of a den meeting themselves. Certainly, the open and close, and a game if you choose to do one, can be led by the Denner.
  • Keep in mind that once a Webelos scout actually earns Arrow of Light, he is eligible to join a troop right then and there, and start taking part in all the fun (and advancing). There’s no need to wait until after Blue & Gold or a later pack meeting. They can still come back and take part in a ceremony and other pack activities, such as a Pinewood Derby, if they want to.
  • Plan ahead for the crossover ceremony. Ask your Den Chief to get you the name and phone number of the chapter chief of your district’s Order of the Arrow chapter. The OA puts on some impressive ceremonies and they are eager to perform for the Cub Scouts.

If you have any ideas or questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

Cub Scouting is all about fun, and I’ve always felt that Webelos is where the fun shifts into higher gear. There are so many adventures you can take your scouts on. Good luck to you as you travel through Webelos and head into the home stretch of your climb to Boy Scouts!

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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