Monday, May 5, 2014

What to do After the Blue and Gold

Today, Dr. Geoff Zoeller discusses what to do after the Blue and Gold dinner, when many units face the challenge of keeping Cub Scout families interested and engaged – particularly as the spring sporting season begins.  The pack and den focus has been on rank advancement up to that point, but once rank badges are earned and distributed, some leaders are at a loss as to what to do next. There are always going to be a few boys who still need to complete rank requirements after the Blue and Gold, but for those that are done, there are many options for keeping scouts and families engaged in meaningful activities that will lead to further recognitions and will also be fun.

A good tip is to begin some of these awards at the pack-level in the fall, but not to complete them until after the Blue and Gold.  Make sure families know all about your plans and in this way these award programs can provide the ‘hook’ that will keep scouts and parents involved throughout the spring and into the summer.  Since all of these programs are in addition to rank advancement, scheduling and delivery of program opportunities can be much more flexible – and in this way avoid conflicts with baseball and other spring sports.

Many councils and districts run events that help units to deliver these awards throughout the spring.  Bowl-a-thons, clean up days, belt loop midways, religious emblem workshops, cub family camporees, etc. are all programs likely to be offered.  Make it easy for units and individual families to participate by compiling all of these cub scout opportunities offered by the council and districts onto one spot on the council webpage and then be sure that all units know that a place for ‘one-stop-shopping’ for cub programing exists and is regularly updated.
Below are several of the most prominent Cub Scout award programs that can be pursued:
·         Electives (arrow points and yellow disks)
·         Academic and Sports Program (belt loops and pins)
·         Religious Emblems
·         Outdoor Activity Award
·         STEM/NOVA Awards
·         World Conservation Award
·         Conservation Good Turn Award
·         cyberChip Award
·         Emergency Preparedness Award
·         Fun with Family Awards
·         Interpreter Strip
·         Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award
·         National Summertime Pack Award
·         Recruiter Strip
·         SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge

 Electives (Wolf & Bear Arrow Points & Tiger ‘yellow disks’)

Many Packs use Tiger, Wolf, and Bear electives after the Blue and Gold to expand on their program, provide opportunities for experiential learning, and to help develop interests and teach skills, many of which are useful in Boy Scouting.  A Cub Scout may work on electives concurrently with achievements, but until after he earns his Tiger, Wolf, or Bear Badge, he may not receive recognition for his efforts.  For every ten electives he completes, the Tiger earns a yellow disk to be worn on his immediate recognition symbol, while the Wolf and Bear earns Arrow Points to be worn below the rank badge. The boy may earn as many yellow disks and Arrow Points as he wishes.

Academic and Sports Program (Belt Loops and Pins)

Academic and sport belt loops are awarded for trying out a number of academic, career-awareness, and sporting subjects.  For those Scouts with more serious participation, academic and sport pins can be earned.  These awards are available to all Scouts of all ranks.

Religious Emblems

The religious emblems program offers the scout an opportunity to study his faith in-depth.  Many faiths offer the emblems, with the activities overseen by the Scout’s religious leaders.  The religious emblems are awarded by the religious organization, and the Boy Scouts of America recognizes the achievement of these awards.

Outdoor Activity Award

The Outdoor Activity Award can be earned by all Cub Scouts and may be earned each year. This award recognizes the Scout’s participation in camping, outdoor recreation, and conservation projects.


The NOVA Awards program incorporates learning with cool activities and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for Cub Scouts. The belief is that the requirements and activities for earning these awards stimulates interest in STEM-related fields and shows how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics apply to everyday living and the world around them.

Ø  The Nova Awards

There are multiple Nova awards for Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers. Each award covers various aspects of STEM—science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Ø  The Supernova Awards

The Supernova awards have more rigorous requirements than the Nova awards. The requirements and activities were designed to motivate youth and recognize more in-depth, advanced achievement in STEM-related activities.


World Conservation Award

The Cub Scout World Conservation Award may be earned by any Wolf, Bear, or Webelos Scout.  The World Conservation Award provides an opportunity for individual Cub Scouts to “think globally” and “act locally” to preserve and improve our environment. This program is designed to make youth members aware that all nations are closely related through natural resources and that we are interdependent with our world environment.

Conservation Good Turn Award

The Conservation Good Turn Award is an opportunity for Scout units to join with conservation or environmental organizations (federal, state, local, or private) to carry out a conservation Good Turn in their home communities.  Working together in the local community, the unit and the agency plan the details and establish the date, time and location for carrying out the project.  It may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

The cyberCHIP Award

Today’s youth are spending more time than ever using digital media for education, research, socializing, and fun. To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the Boy Scouts of America teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create this fun and engaging program about being safe and about online ‘netiquette.’

The Emergency Preparedness Award

The Emergency Preparedness Award has different requirements for Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, Boy Scouts, Venturers, and adults tailored for the abilities of each.  The whole goal is to make Scouts better able to handle emergency situations while enhancing their first aid skills.

Fun With Family Awards

Offers activities to help strengthen all families—whether two-parent, single-parent, or nontraditional; this program helps families accomplish worthy goals while building and strengthening relationships among family members.

Interpreter Strip

Boys and adults may wear this strip if they show their knowledge of a foreign language or the sign language for the hearing impaired.  This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award

The Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award is designed introduce Cub-age boys to the principles of Leave No Trace.  The program is designed to enhance the Cub Scout’s awareness of the natural world while minimizing impact to the land. For Scouts who have a deep interest in the outdoors, nature, and the environment, Scouting’s outdoor ethics will give you an ever-deeper appreciation of the richness of the land and how we fit into it.  This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

National Summertime Pack Award

The National Summertime Award encourages packs to provide a year-round program by continuing to meet during the time periods when school is out of session for several weeks or months.  Cub Scouts earn this pin by participating in three summertime pack events (one each in June, July, and August).  This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

Recruiter Strip

The Recruiter Strip is awarded to Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and is worn below the right pocket on the uniform. This award may be earned by all registered Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.

The SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge

The motto for SCOUTStrong is, “Fit, Fuel, Fun,” emphasizing physical fitness, good nutrition, and having fun.  The Boy Scouts of America has made a formal commitment to do more to address the major health concerns facing today’s youth. This initiative is offered in partnership with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition.  This joint effort resulted in this Scout-specific Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) Challenge.  Scouts, parents, and volunteers can improve their fitness by earning the SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge award.


Cub Scout award programs that go beyond rank advancement exist to help units provide dynamic and engaging programs after the Blue and Gold dinner, throughout the spring, and into the summer months.  Units should take full advantage of council and district cub opportunities to ensure that quality programming and pursuit of meaningful awards keeps families participating and having fun with their cub scouts year round.