Webelos To Scout

Webelos to Scout BSA Basic Timeline

Below is a sample overview of the timeline of transitioning Cub Scouts to Scouts BSA.  For full detail please reference the guides for troops or packs above.

November – December

List of eligible Scouts distributed to Scoutmasters at Roundtable or via email


Confirm Dates of Open Houses with Scouts BSA troops for March/April

Troops can confirm their Open House information by using this form


Webelos/Arrow of Light personally invited to attend Open House (if scheduled for March)


Visit schools and distribute fliers to interested boys and girls inviting them to attend Troop Open House in March

Scouts BSA Troop Open Houses conducted

Webelos (4th grade) personally invited to attend Open House (if scheduled for April)


Visit schools and distribute fliers to interested boys and girls inviting them to attend Troop Open House in April

Scouts BSA Troop Open Houses conducted


Webelos that have not joined a troop yet are contacted


New Scouts attend Summer Camp

Encourage Webelos to attend Summer Camp


4th & 5th Grade Webelos Den Leaders invited to conduct all (or most) den meetings in conjunction with Troop meeting

  • Like a patrol meets during troop meetings
  • Den still attends monthly pack meetings
  • 4th & 5th grade Webelos can start planning to attend summer camp earlier (and maybe participate in fund raisers with the troop)
What’s the difference between Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA?

This goes way beyond blue vs. khaki. The difference between Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA encompasses critical categories like unit structure, leadership, parental involvement, advancement and camping.

Both programs are built on Scouting’s time-tested values found in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Beyond that, though, you’ll find more differences than similarities — for good reason. You wouldn’t teach a third-grader the same way you’d teach a ninth-grader. That same logic tells us your approach to Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA shouldn’t be the same.

So, gathered from several Scout leaders in the know, here’s a rundown of the ways in which Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA differ.

Unit structure

Cub Scouts: Scouts are in dens, which are part of a pack. Their den is made up of other Scouts of the same Cub Scout rank. Dens usually meet weekly or biweekly; packs meet monthly.

Scouts BSA: Scouts are in patrols, which are part of a troop. Some troops prefer mixed-age patrols (in which an 11-year-old and a 17-year-old could be in the same patrol), while others prefer to keep Scouts of similar ages together. Troops meet weekly. Patrol meetings are part of the weekly troop meeting, typically, though patrols are welcome to meet on their own.


It’s pretty simple: Cub Scouting is led by adults; Scouts BSA is led by the Scouts themselves.

Cub Scouts: Adults plan and conduct the meetings and promote advancement, teamwork, fun and character-building.

Scouts BSA: The Scouts plan and conduct meetings and outings. Adults step in when asked for help and model good behavior. “We’re striving for youth-led,” in Scouts BSA, says Illinois Scoutmaster Dale Machacek. It’s “not always as organized or successful as if adults were running things, but kids learn from their mistakes.”

Leadership roles: This Scouter’s unofficial blog shows Cub Scouting positions and the equivalent position in Scouts BSA in this handy chart:

Cub ScoutsScouts BSA
Den LeaderPatrol Leader
CubmasterSenior Patrol Leader
Unit Committee (planning functions)Patrol Leaders Council
Unit Committee (administrative functions)Unit Committee

As you can see, adults hold all of the Cub Scout positions, while Scouts occupy most of the Scouts BSA roles.

Why is there no Cub Scout equivalent to Scoutmaster? Because Scoutmasters, unlike Cubmasters, are mentors who sit on the sidelines. “The way to think of Scoutmaster is as ‘chief adult guide’ and the assistant scoutmasters as ‘adult guides,’” the author explains.

In this letter to parents, New York Scoutmaster Richard Buzzard explains that things might get hectic in Scouts BSA, but that’s the point.

“When you see Scouts struggling a bit, or not doing a job as well as you know that YOU could do it, resist the temptation to do it for them. A little help is always welcome. But let the successes be theirs as much as possible, as well as the learning which comes from those temporary setbacks.”

Parental involvement

Parents are a critical part of both Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA.

Cub Scouts: The parents are expected to assist the pack with planning or helping with at least one activity or event annually. They may also take a leadership role in the pack or den. Parents are usually required to accompany their Cub Scouts on overnight outings.

Scouts BSA: The parents are expected to continuously assist the troop by supporting the Scouts and participating in those tasks that the Scouts can not do. This may include: transportation to an activity, shopping for a trip or chaperoning a trip. It also may include assisting with fundraisers (finances and organization) and coordinating special events. It is expected that each family take an active role in the troop. Unlike Cub Scouts, parents aren’t required to camp with their Scouts. They’re encouraged to do so, however.


Cub Scouts progress through the ranks to earn the Arrow of Light. Scouts in Scouts BSA progress through the ranks to earn the Eagle Scout Award. Here are some extra details:

Cub Scouts: Cub Scouts rely on their den leaders, den chiefs and parents to plan and assist with all advancement activities. Achievements/books are signed by either the den leader or parent. Ranks are based only on age or grade. Even if a Cub Scouts did not earn the rank for his/her age, he/she moves to the next one as the den moves. The levels are: Tiger, Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, Webelos and Arrow of Light.

Scouts BSA: Parents can guide, but advancement is planned and assisted by patrol leaders and adults. Unlike in Cub Scouts, advancement is individual, not by patrol. A Scout works at his/her own pace, meaning a 13-year-old in the Dragon Patrol might be a Life Scout while a 15-year-old in the Dragon Patrol is still a Star Scout. A Scout cannot advance to the next level until all activities are completed in the lower rank. The ranks are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. (Eagle Palms may also be earned after Eagle.)


Cub Scouts: Limited to Scout and parent weekend or day trips. May have some camping in tents or cabins. Summer camp is limited to two or three nights, usually. Camp outs usually have a very structured schedule.

Scouts BSA: Monthly or bimonthly camping trips as well as additional outdoor day activities. Much of the program involves activities that can only be done in the outdoors (nature, ecology, pioneering, orienteering, conservation etc.) Also available to the Scout is at least a week of camping each summer. Not every minute of the camp out is scheduled. Free time is important. Scouts normally get a couple of hours of free time to hang with friends, walk in the woods, work on advancement, sleep, play sports, or do nothing at all. This can be one of the hardest concepts for Cub parents to grasp.

Chain of command

Where do Scouts go with a problem or question?

Cub Scouts: They’ll ask their parent, den leader or Cubmaster.

Scouts BSA: They’ll follow the “chain of command.” Scouts are taught to go to their patrol leader, then their senior patrol leader and finally the adults. Where safety or health is an issue, though, Scouts may go straight to the adult.