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A Caution About Advancement Charts September 10, 2009

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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Hello fellow Scouters,

Hopefully you are using a den advancement chart in your den meetings. They are a great way to show the progress of the boys towards their rank, and show off how many electives the boys earn. I used them in my two dens to chart progress. At every meeting I would display it in a prominent place.


But den advancement charts should come with a warning. In all reality, the parents usually drive the advancement of the Scout at the Cub level. When you have a boy that has achieved his rank quickly, and worked on a lot of electives, you will find a parent that is working with the boy. This is a key part of the Cub Scout program – parents working with their boys. What I noticed with the two dens I led was when a boy didn’t achieve his ranks or get a lot done, the issue wasn’t the boy. Often it was a parent that didn’t work with the boy outside of the den meeting. And when I talked to the Scout I could tell they wanted to do more Scouting requirements. It made me sad that they couldn’t get all they wanted out of the program. And often these are the boys that drop out of Cub Scouts. And this can show in the den advancement chart.

Now we want to be careful not to judge any parents, as we don’t always know the back story. Maybe they are really involved in sports, and have little time for Scouting. Maybe a parent travels a lot for work. Maybe they have a parent that is out of the area. I live near a Marine base, and we have had parents that get deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Or maybe they are a family that just isn’t that into Scouting (something I just don’t understand). So it’s important not to look down on a parent when we see a boy that is behind the others. We just need to take the time to work with that boy and make sure that he gets the important rank requirements completed, so he can get that sense of achievement that comes from advancement in the Cub Scout program.

As I mentioned, I used den advancement charts. I feel they are important to the program, and I would recommend that all den leaders use them. But when I used them, I learned to be sensitive to the fact that to some of the boys, the den advancement chart was a point of discouragement, as it was a visual reminder that they wanted to do more in Scouts, but didn’t get the support at home. But the den advancement chart is a good tool for the leader, as it points out the boy that needs more help and special attention. By stepping in and working with him, we can help him get more out of the Scouting program and keep him in the program longer.

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Webelos Colors – Supersized December 4, 2008

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Hello fellow Scouters,

A fun way to track the Webelos activity pins (badges) you complete is on a giant Webelos webeloscolorcolor. The one in the photo is what my den uses to track what pins we complete, and it’s part of our flag base. It stands about 4.5′ tall. We don’t always work on every requirement of a pin in a den meeting, so the boys and parents know that if they see the activity pin on this display, and they haven’t completed all the requirements, then they need to finish it at home. When we are done working on a particular pin, part of our closing ceremony is to bring over the giant pin and put it on the colors, showing we have finished that pin.

To make it requires a lot of time at the copy store! An actual Webelos color and Webelos activity pins are taken to a copy machine and blown up 800% (this is a two-step process – you blow it up 400% then that copy is blown up 200%). Here are the specifics, if you want to build one yourself:

The Top Emblem – I took an actual Webelos color emblem to the copy center and blew the top part webeloscolortopup 800%. This one didn’t fit on regular-sized paper, so I had to use large paper. I made a couple of copies to use as templates. I cut out the outline and used as a template over some 1/2″ wood from the craft store. I cut the wood, rounded the edges, then sanded it. I purchased two kinds of paint – a dark blue and a really cool gold paint (which has so many uses). These paints are from the home improvement store, not those cheap craft paints from the craft store – I wanted this to look good! A second template was used to outline the letters. The entire top was painted blue, then the edges, the back, and lettering were painted with the gold paint.

The Activity Pins – I was fortunate to have my older son complete all 20 pins, so I had all webeloscolorbadge1of them to choose from. You can use pictures from the internet if you don’t have the actual pins available. I took the pins to the copy store and copied the actual pin on a color copier – blowing it up 800%. I glued the pin to a thick cardstock backing, to keep it’s shape. Then I cut it out and went back to the copy store where I ran it through the laminator, so it would not get damaged over time. I took a couple of pin-and-butterfly clips and glued them to the back, so it could be attached to the cloth.

The Colored Cloth– The colors are felt. The red and green were from Walmart. The gold webeloscolorbottomwas harder to find –  I was able to find gold felt at a local fabric store, after some hunting. The width of the felt is to scale, but the length is the one area I didn’t keep the scale. They are much longer than an actual Webelos color would be. I wanted to be able to put as many pins on the front color as I could, plus I wanted it to look good on the flag base.

The Connections– this was actually the most difficult step. I ended up using a large 1″ webeloscolormountforstner drill bit to hollow out a small section of 1″x2″ pine. Then I drilled almost all the way through a section of 2″x2″ pine, but stopped before going through, so the post would hang from it. Then these two sections were glued together, to create a shaft to hang on a pole. The front was screwed onto the 2″x2″ section, and the bolt heads were painted blue to cover them on the face of the top emblem. (And they were drilled between the lettering). The shaft is nothing more than a section of 1″ PVC sprinkler pipe.

This took a while to complete, but is a fun way to track your Webelos pins. If you would like to build one, and have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. I have a true friend Chris with the Scripps-Mesa district’s training team to thank for this, as I got the idea when I saw this at training a few years ago (they have an absolutely outstanding training team).

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><