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Cub Scout Terms Cheat Sheet

Are you a new parent confused by the terminology in the cub scouting program?

Don't know the difference between a den meeting and a pack meeting?

You're not alone. Here is America Jane's handy, dandy cheat sheet to the cub scout terms you need to know the most.


Terms for People and Groups


Cub Scouts - the scouting program for boys ages 6 through 10.


Boy Scouts = the scouting program for boys ages 11 through 18. 


Tiger Scout - cub scouts in 1st grade (must be at least 6 years old) 

Note: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) does not participate in the Tiger Cub program.


Wolf Scout - 8-year-old cub scouts (LDS groups) or boys in 2nd grade (other scouting groups)


Bear Scout - 9-year-old cub scouts (LDS groups) or boys in 3rd grade (other scouting groups)


Webelos - 10-year-old cub scouts (LDS groups) or boys in 4th and 5th grade (other scouting groups).

Note: LDS groups only use the Webelos program for one year while some other scouting groups use Webelos 1 for 4th grade and Webelos 2 for 5th grade.


Pack - a specific group of cub scouts on the local level. For example, normally all the cub scout boys in an LDS ward (Wolf, Bear and Webelos) would comprise that ward’s Cub Scout Pack. 


Den - what we call the age-group of cub scouts on the local level. For example, all the Wolf scouts in an LDS ward are the Wolf Den.


Den leader - this is the adult leader in charge of a specific den. The Wolf Den Leader will organize and hold weekly den meetings, keep track of the boys’ progress, and get brownie points for heaven (in my opinion, all scout leaders get brownie points for heaven). There are also Assistant Den Leaders.


Akela - this word has two meanings. It means the scout’s Den leader and the scout’s parent. It usually comes into play when a boy has completed a requirement (see below) and needs Akela’s signature for approval.



Terms for Events


Den meeting - weekly meetings of the Den leaders and boys (i.e. all the ward or unit’s Bear scouts and their leaders), typically lasting around an hour and often taking place in the Den leader’s home (brave, brave souls!). The word “meetings” might be too stuffy a term. This is where boys get to do fun things like make a birdhouse, learn about first aid, play a game or start a scrapbook.


Pack meeting - monthly meetings of the Pack leaders, cub scouts and their families. Yep, these meetings are a family affair, so bring all the siblings to support your young scout. Pack meetings are a little more structured than den meetings, but still lots of fun. The meeting usually includes a flag ceremony performed by one of the dens, a simple skit by one of the dens, the presenting of awards (see below) earned by the scouts, a game or activity for all scouts and siblings, and refreshments.


Blue and Gold Banquet – This is what we call the pack meeting held in February, because that is when we celebrate the birthday of cub scouts (whose colors are Blue and Gold). Usually the theme and decorations for this pack meeting are a little more special to mark the occasion.


Day camp – Day camp is just what it sounds like (hooray!). This may be one day or several days depending on your area, but does not include overnights. Boys get to participate in a wide variety of activities, hopefully including certain activities which cub scouts are usually only allowed to do at day camps, such as archery.


Scout-o-Rama – a one-day event open to the public, consisting of booths and activities run by many different packs in a large region (say, the Phoenix-metropolitan area). Tickets may be bought at the gate or sold in advance by individual packs to raise money for their group.


Typically, for LDS scouters, a stake will be assigned a booth with different wards in charge of the booth during the day. That way a scout may spend an hour or so helping to run his ward’s booth, and the rest of the day with his family going to other booths and having fun with those activities. Booths range from simple to elaborate and can include anything from knot tying to navigating an obstacle course. Many activities will fulfill a requirement in one or more of the cub scouting books.



Terms for Things


Cub Scout books – Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelos all have their own scout books, which include the requirements for earning the rank associated with that den. The cub scout books are a must have.


Requirements or Achievements – Activities outlined in a cub scout book which a cub scout must complete to earn his rank (see below).


Ranks (or Badges) – The rank names are the same as the dens (Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos, plus a beginning rank called Bobcat - see below) but when used in this way it means a cub scout has completed certain requirements to earn the rank. For example, in the LDS wards when a boy turns eight he becomes a Wolf scout and is part of the Wolf den. He may then begin working on the requirements for his Wolf badge, which will take several months. Once he’s fulfilled all the requirements, he earns his Wolf badge (which is a patch) and may wear it on his uniform.


Bobcat rank – regardless of when a boy joins cub scouts, the very first rank to be earned is the Bobcat rank. This can be done relatively quickly, and includes learning the cub scout sign, motto, salute etc, and discussing (with a parent) a booklet on preventing child abuse. The booklet comes with each cub scout book (all dens) and the requirements for the Bobcat rank is listed near the beginning of each book. Bobcat does not have it’s own book. Once a boy has earned the Bobcat rank, he may begin working on the requirements for his den’s rank.


Wolf Trail (or Bobcat Trail, or Bear Trail) – collectively, all the requirements needed to earn a rank. For example all the requirements need to earn the Wolf badge are called the Wolf Trail. Don’t ask me why.


Progress Toward Rank Emblem and Beads – Used in the Wolf and Bear programs. The emblem is a diamond-shaped plastic emblem hung from the button on the right pocket. Boys earn beads (which are hung on a plastic string attached to the emblem) as they progress along the Wolf or Bear trail to earn their rank. This is a way of acknowledging and encouraging their progress, because it often takes many months to earn the rank.


Arrow points – After earning either the Wolf or Bear badge, boys may earn arrow points by completing additional, elective activities outlined in their cub scout book. Arrow points are small patches in the shape of arrow points which are placed on the uniform beneath the corresponding badge. Arrow points are not part of the Tiger or Webelos program.


Arrow point trail – collectively, all the elective activities a Wolf or Bear cub scout may do are called the Arrow point trail. Boys do not need to complete the whole trail to earn arrow points. An arrow point is awarded for each 10 elective activities completed (but not until the rank is earned).


Badgessee Ranks.


Patches – There are several different kinds of patches a cub scout may earn to put on his uniform. These include their rank badges (such as the Wolf badge) and a wide variety of cub scout special awards that may be worn on the uniform as either a permanent or temporary patch (depending on the award). Technically, only one temporary patch may be worn on a uniform at a time, but this isn’t always strictly followed.


Belt loops and Pins (Academics and Sports) – This is sort of an add-on program which boys may work on throughout their cub scout years (Wolf through Webelos). There are 17 categories in the Academics section of the program (including Art, Collecting, Music and Science) and 23 categories in the Sports section of the program (from Marbles to Soccer). In each category, boys earn a belt loop by completing three requirements. After earning the belt loop, they can earn the pin by completing five to six more requirements out of a list of several requirement options. Work is not lost when a boy moves up in rank; if a boy completes two requirements for the Chess belt loop while a Wolf scout then advances to Bear scout, he still only needs to complete the third requirement to earn the belt loop.


Belt loops are worn on the blue cub scout belt made specifically for that purpose. Pins are not supposed to be worn on the uniform, but truthfully I see this done all the time. Technically, there is a patch in the form of a big letter “C” (the patch is simply bought, not earned) for the purpose of displaying the pins, but the patch is not supposed to go on the uniform. Some packs make blankets (or something similar) which each boy has to display their pins and collection of temporary patches.


The requirements for all the belt loops and pins are listed in the Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program Guide, a book put out by BSA, but it’s not uncommon for a parent never to see this book. It’s not a must-have like the cub scout books for the ranks, as boys can complete requirements without the book.


Activity Badges – this one gets the prize for the most confusing term of them all. Activity badges are part of the Webelos program only. Unlike the other cub scout programs, there is no Webelos “trail.” The Webelos book outlines 20 different activity badges, each with it’s own set of requirements. Activity badges have names like Citizen, Craftsman, Outdoorsman, Scholar and Aquanaut. Activity badges are not the same as the other badges listed above because 1.) earning an activity badge is not the same thing as earning the Webelos badge or rank, and 2.) the activity badges are not patches you sew onto the uniform but rather come in the form of pins. Not to be confused (if you can help it) with the Academic and Sports Pins listed above. (Though, to add to the opportunities for confusion, there is a Sportsman Activity Badge. Which, of course, is a pin.) Oy vey.


Webelos Colors – This is worn on the right sleeve of the uniform and consists of a metal plate with the word “WEBELOS” written on it, and three woven ribbons hanging down from that. The ribbons are gold, green and red, which are the Webelos colors. When boys earn their Activity Badges, they pin them on any one of the ribbons. (Boys who choose not to wear colors may also pin their activity badges on the front of their Webelos caps.)

Webelos Compass Points Emblem - This is an extra award, earned after a boy receives his Webelos badge. Among other things, a boy must earn three activity badges to earn the Webelos badge. When a boy earns four additional activity badges, he receives the compass points emblem, which is a patch that hangs from the button on the right pocket. For each additional four activity badges he earns, he receives a compass point, which is a small gold pin that you pin over one of the points of the compass points emblem. A boy can earn the compass points emblem and all three compass points by earning 19 activity badges, including the three he earned for his Webelos badge.


Arrow of Light – This is the highest award a cub scout can earn, sort of the cub scout’s Eagle Scout. It is one of only two patches which may be transferred from the cub scout uniform to the boy scout uniform when a boy advances. (The other patch is the Religious Square Knot.)


Awards – a catch-all term for all cub scout awards, badges, patches, belt loops and pins. Usually given to boys during a pack meeting. 




Is there anything else you think should be added to the cheat sheet? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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