I signed my son up to be a Cub Scout, but I heard there are other age-appropriate programs. What are they?

Cub Scouting is for boys in the first through fifth grades or 7 to 10 years of age. The program content is designed to be age-appropriate. First-graders (or 7 years of age) are called TIGER CUBS. Second-graders (or 8 years of age) are called WOLF CUB SCOUTS. Third-graders (or 9 years of age) are called BEAR CUB SCOUTS. Fourth- and fifth-graders (or 9 to 10 years of age) are called WEBELOS SCOUTS. WEBELOS means "WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts," and this is the level just before going into the Boy Scouting program.

Boy Scouting is for boys 11 to 17 years of age. Boys also may become Boy Scouts if they have earned the Cub Scout Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old, or have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old.Venturing is a year-round program for young men and women who are 13 (and have completed the eighth grade) or 14 and not yet 21 years of age.

How often will my son meet with the other Scouts?

Cub Scouts meet in their dens once each week, and a pack meeting is held for all Cub Scouts and their families once a month. Beyond that, it depends on the den and pack. A den may hold a special activity, such as a service project or visit to a local museum, in place of one of the weekly meetings or in addition to the weekly meetings. Likewise, a pack may conduct a special event such as a blue and gold banquet as an additional event rather than a substitute for its monthly pack meeting.

What is my responsibility as a parent of a new Cub Scout?

Cub Scout den meetings are intended to be an activity for the individual boys. They are not a family activity, and the presence of parents can be a distraction. However, parental involvement is not forbidden, and all meetings should be open to your participation. If you would like to be present at a den meeting, ask the den leader in advance so the leader can plan a way for you to observe or participate. There are always ways for you to be involved, like reviewing the handbook with your son to help him earn his next achievement, helping the den leader set up for a meeting, or simply bringing refreshments for the boys. If you find that you enjoy working with the boys and want to be more involved, simply talk to your son’s den leader or Cubmaster about how to become a registered leader.

Tell me about the leaders and how they are selected.

All Scouting units are chartered to a local organization. The chartered organization serves as a sponsor of Scouting and is essentially the owner/operator of the Scouting unit. In this role, the head of the organization approves all adult volunteer leaders. All leaders are required to take our child safety course called “Youth Protection,” and specific training for their role in Scouting is available either online or in a classroom setting. To help the organization maintain a quality program, there is a person assigned to be a liaison between the unit and the chartered organization. In addition, every unit has a committee (typically made up of Scouting parents) that oversees proper operation and ensures a safe and fun program.

What supplies and equipment are needed?

The single most important piece of equipment for every boy is his handbook. Handbooks are different for each age/grade level, so be sure to get the correct one. A local Scout shop is the best place to buy a handbook, and the staff there can guide you to get exactly what you need. Find your local Scout Shop.

The uniform is also very important as it plays an important role in creating a sense of belonging, and it’s where a Scout gets to display his awards and rank achievements. Check out the fun, interactive uniform builder at www.bsauniforms.org. When you’re ready, you can order online, or get the address of your local Scout shop and then head on over and shop in person.

Additional supplies and equipment may be needed for certain activities such as camping trips or field days. What equipment is needed, as well as whether it will be provided by the unit, will vary. Unit leaders will provide parents with information about any supplies that will be required at the beginning of each program year. It is important to note that the annual registration fee to be a member of any BSA program is only $15. However, most units will require additional fees to cover the cost of certain activities and program supplies. Your son’s leader can explain all the details about the unit’s annual fee and exactly what it includes. We are confident you will find the value of the program exceeds the typical fees charged, and your son can pay his own way for all of his Scouting activities and equipment by actively participating in the unit’s local fund-raiser.

Is Scouting safe?

Yes, the BSA knows that a safe environment and program for every boy is the most important thing to every parent, and that is why we have designed our programs to follow a strict set of rules and policies that can be found in our Guide to Safe Scouting. We also require every registered adult in Scouting to complete our Youth Protection training course and a criminal background check. If you would like to know more about Scouting’s Youth Protection program, click here.

Who do I call for help?

Contacting your son’s den leader or other pack leader should be your first step. Ask for their daytime and evening phone numbers as well as an email address, and be willing to share yours as well. If you have questions that cannot be answered by the unit leaders (volunteers), you are encouraged to contact your local council. If you’re not sure who to ask for, simply ask for the district executive (paid staff) who works in the community where your son is involved in Scouting. If you have questions about handbooks and uniforms, the staff at your local Scout shop is ready to help as well.

What’s next?

If you have not already received a calendar of activities with scheduled meeting dates and times, contact your son’s den leader. If you’re still hungry for more information, click here to browse our full website, which is loaded with great tools and resources.