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Webelos to Scout Transition Part 5 March 5, 2009

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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Hello fellow Scouters,

This is part 5 in a series I’ve written on Webelos to Scout transition. This time I’m going to look at the players involved. I’ve seen a lot of talk on the various discussion groups over who is ultimately in charge of getting Webelos to join Boy Scout troops. For me, the short answer is: everyone!

Here is a look at the players involved in this process.

The Webelos Den Leader – In my opinion, the Webelos Den flagLeader is the most important individual in this process. He/she has a vested interest in each boy’s success in the Scouting program. The Webelos leader is the one that knows every boy and parents and can directly ask the families if they are planning to go into Boy Scouts. The Webelos Den Leader can and should be the greatest recruiter for Boy Scouts.

The Scoutmaster – A Scoutmater should be recruiting – incoming recruits are the lifeblood of a Scouting program. They should be recruiting either to grow the troop or to replace attrition. They should need to be actively working with packs to get Webelos to come to events and meetings, even having someone in the troop specifically assigned to this. (I asked for this when I asked to be an Assistant Scoutmaster at my son’s new troop). And a Scoutmaster should sit down and explain to the Webelos parents during the Arrow of Light conference process why their boy should join Boy Scouts. I sat down in a Scoutmaster meeting with my parents, and the Assistant Scoutmaster explained everything about their particular troop to us parents. But they never told us what our sons will get out of Boy Scouts. They gave us good information about their troop but missed a great recruiting opportunity to tell us why our sons should continue in Boy Scouts.

The Cubmaster – The Cubmaster should have contact with several local troops, to help coordinate information exchange between the pack and the troop. There should be one person in a pack that all leaders can go to find Boy Scout troops, and per the official BSA job description, the Cubmaster is the one in the pack for this. And the Cubmaster’s connection with local troops can help get Den Chiefs from those troops to serve in the pack.

Den Chiefs – Den Chiefs are a great recruiting tool for Boy Scouts. The Webelos look up to a Den Chief. They get to see a Boy Scout in action, and that does more than any words we could say. I was so glad to have a Den Chief in my first Webelos den. He helped me and worked so well with the Webelos. He also really impressed the Webelos parents, as they saw a teenager with maturity and leadership skills. A Webelos leader, and even younger rank Cub Scout leaders, should try to get a Den Chief into their den.

The District Training Team – The district trainers should be informing all leaders that the Scout program does not end with the Arrow of Light – it ends when the boy turns 18 (or older in the Venturing program). The training team should also be “building up” the Boy Scout program to Cub Scout leaders. At Cub Scout training once, I actually heard a trainer say something along the lines of “all the fun stuff happens in Cub Scouts. We’ll let the Boy Scouts do all of the boring stuff”. Now I know this particular trainer believes in the Boy Scout program, and was trying to make the point that the Cub program is often about bringing fun and entertainment to Cubs. But the word choice was poor. We should remind those we train that if they think Cub Scouting is fun, wait until they see the fun of Boy Scouts!

The District Webelos to Scout Coordinator – Hopefully your district has someone that’s watching the graduating Webelos and making sure they get into a troop. It’s important to have this net to catch any that might slip under the radar when they leave the various packs.

The District and Council – Your district and council should be providing opportunities for Boy Scouts and Webelos to interact in the outdoors. It’s so much easier on the transition process if the Webelos have several opportunities to visit troop district or council-wide outdoor functions before graduation (such as Webelos Woods and Camporee campouts).

Parents – We can’t forget that none of this will happen if we don’t involve the parents. Every player in this process should be educating the parents about the Boy Scout program. As a former Webelos den leader (twice), I did my best to explain to the parents why they should join. I also asked them to commit for a year. And I let them know ahead of time what troop meetings can look like. It’s a boy-led program, and as a result doesn’t always function smoothly. Sometimes there’s a little chaos, and that’s not always bad. And as I mentioned previously, a Scoutmaster should talk to parents and tell them why their son should continue in Scouting.

Finally, the Bear Den Leader – the Bear Den Leader needs to understand that the Webelos program is a transition program, with the ultimate goal of getting boys to bridge to Boy Scouts. He/she should understand the patrol method and how to start teaching this to a Webelos den. Ideally the Bear Den Leader should understand this all before the first Webelos den meeting. So the players listed above should be talking to the Bear Den Leader and giving them the heads-up that the program is different, and they should get to training before the Bear year ends to find out how the Webelos program is a different program than the younger Cub Scout ranks.

Webelos to Scout transition is a group effort. Everyone involved in the process needs to have the mindset that we need to get the Webelos to join a Boy Scout troop. It’s possible to have good recruiting if all players are working together. But if any part of the process doesn’t work, we will loose boys.

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><

This is the fifth in a series I’ve written on Webelos to Scout Transition. Here are the first four entries:

Post #4 – Progressive Webelos Camping


Post #3 -Introducing the Patrol Method to Webelos


Post #2 – The Webelos Den Leader as a Recruiter for Boy Scouts


Post #1 – Making the Transition from a Cub Scout Den Format




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