Webelos and eleven-year-old (EYO) Scout programs comprise the activity programs for the oldest boys in the Primary, ten- and eleven-year-old boys. For these two programs to work well, both the EYO Scout leader and the Webelos leader should be working together to plan and coordinate their programs at the touchpoints between the two programs. Regular meetings between the two leaders and sharing of the EYO Scouts annual plan form the basis for instituting the requisite coordination for the Webelos-to-Scout transition within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This transition is uniquely different from the transition done by non-LDS units.
The EYO Scout program needs to be able to support and accommodate some very specific Arrow of Light (AOL) rank requirements. The AOL Scouting Adventure is a required adventure necessary for a boy to achieve the AOL rank. This adventure prepares Webelos to become Scouts by learning basic Scout requirements. These basic requirements are nearly identical to the requirements of the Scout rank. As boys work on their AOL requirements, the AOL Webelos form into a patrol, a patrol leader is appointed, they come up with a patrol yell, a patrol flag, and create patrol spirit.
Requirement two of the Scouting Adventure has the patrol visiting the troop. The requirement states, “Visit a Boy Scout troop meeting with your den members, leaders, and parent or guardian.” Further, Scouting Adventure requirement four states, “With your Webelos den leader, parent, or guardian, participate in a Boy Scout troop’s campout or other outdoor activity.” These are two items each Webelos Scout must do to complete AOL requirements. As the EYO Scout leader, you need to be in a position to accommodate and facilitate Webelos advancement. Planning ahead will make a significant difference. Nothing is worse than being approached in the middle of the month by the Webelos leader stating that little Johnny needs to visit you on your EYO Scout patrol outing this week because he crosses over later this month. Prior planning can prevent last-minute adjustments in your program.
Webelos Scouts should visit the EYO Scout patrol to meet these advancement requirements and should not visit the deacons quorum’s Scout activities. Webelos Scouting is a Primary activity and a Primary program transition. This is not a transition to the deacons quorum. The Webelos Scouts should visit the unit that they will be joining as this visit prepares the boy and the unit leaders for the transition within the Primary. Although this is the ideal, local circumstances may require different arrangements, and local leaders should be guided by inspiration.
There is not an established forum for the EYO Scout leader and the Webelos leader to coordinate their program visits as they normally do not share a common committee meeting. The two leaders need to meet together and discuss how the EYO program will support visits by the Webelos Scouts. The Primary presidency should encourage and assist the two leaders in coordinating their programs. The EYO Scout leader should share the EYO Scout annual plan with the Webelos leader right after is it is developed, usually in August.
The EYO Scout leader needs to be aware of when Webelos boys will be turning eleven years old. Not only are there required visits that must be arranged, but also the EYO Scout patrol should be represented at any pack meetings where a Webelos Scout crosses over to Boy Scouting (a bridging ceremony should be conducted). Webelos Scouts look forward with excitement and anticipation to their bridging ceremony. Make this a part of the annual plan and work with the Cubmaster to help conduct a good, meaningful ceremony. This timeless mystique is a coming-of-age passage, signifying to the boy that he has come of age and earned the right to greater adventures along the Scouting trail.
In order to make this mystic rite of passage truly meaningful, the EYO leader needs to prepare the EYO Scout patrol to conduct the cross-over ceremony. Since the aim of a ceremony is to recognize, impress, and inspire, practice is essential to make sure the ceremony achieves its intended results.
I often see the adult leaders running these ceremonies and I believe the EYO patrol should run the whole ceremony. I let my EYO Scouts run the ceremony, including a formal introduction of the EYO Scout leader by the patrol leader as part of the ceremony. Thus, within the basic ceremony, you reinforce the concept that the EYO Scout patrol leader runs the patrol.
As a final transition step, take the time to orient new EYO Scouts and parents by reviewing with them the annual plan. They may have a lot of questions about how Boy Scouting works. This is a great time to get to know the parents and ascertain how much support they may be able to add, as well as to discuss any limitations and constraints. Finally, do not forget to give them an application and assure that it is turned in.
Transitioning between Webelos Scouting and Boy Scouting happens best when we follow the Scout Motto and “Be Prepared.” The EYO Scout leader has many things to do to run an effective and complete program and is challenged by Scouts entering and exiting the program all year round. Effectively dealing with these programmatic challenges takes effort and clear communications, but the effort is well rewarded by the gleeful faces of the boys who participate in a well-run and coordinated Scouting program.
Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake where he is an EYO Scout leader. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.