Cub Scout Advancement Trail
Cub Scouts advance through the following ranks before they move on to become Boy Scouts:
Each of the ranks and awards in Cub Scouting has its own requirements. As scouts advance through the ranks, the requirements get more challenging, to match the new skills and abilities learned as scouts get older.
The official Boy Scouts of America site details Cub Scout Advancement. You may need to login to set up a password and username to use this site. (This is the same site we use for Youth Protection Training.)
Cub Scout Handbooks for each rank also include helpful information. Den leaders, as well as a parent or guardian, approve each achievement by signing his book.
When all requirements are satisfied, the appropriate rank badge is presented to his parent or guardian at the next pack meeting in an impressive advancement ceremony, during which the parent or guardian in turn presents the badge to the boy.
A high level Cub Scout Ranks and Awards summary is provided in the sections below.
This is the first rank a Cub Scout earns. No matter what age or grade a boy joins Cub Scouting, he must earn his Bobcat badge before he can advance to the rank of Tiger Cub, Wolf, Bear, or Webelos.
Tiger Immediate Recognition Emblem
The Tiger Cub program is for boys ages 7 years old or in the 1st grade. To begin his path to the Tiger Cub rank, the Tiger Cub must learn the Cub Scout promise, the Cub Scout sign, and the Cub Scout salute. When he has accomplished these tasks, he will be awarded his Tiger Cub immediate recognition emblem.
Whenever he completes a Den, Family or Go See It activity from his handbook, he earns a bead to place on his totem.
The Tiger Cub Handbook also includes various electives that scouts can do outside of Den Meetings. After earning their Rank Badge, for every 10 electives completed, a Tiger Track disk can be earned.
Tiger Cub Rank
The Tiger Cub badge is presented to the adult partner at the next pack meeting. In an impressive ceremony, the adult partner in turn presents the badge to the boy.
The Wolf rank is for boys who have completed first grade (or who are 8 years old). To earn the Wolf badge, a boy must pass 12 achievements involving simple physical and mental skills.
After he has earned the Wolf badge, a boy is encouraged to work on the 22 Wolf electives until he completes second grade (or turns 9 years old). More than 100 elective projects are aimed at kindling his interest in new hobbies, as well as teaching him skills that will be useful during his Boy Scout years. When he completes 10 elective projects, he earns a Gold Arrow Point to wear under the Wolf badge. For each additional 10 elective projects completed, he earns a Silver Arrow Point.
Progress Toward Ranks Totem
As a Wolf or Bear, when a scout completes his first three achievements, his den leader presents the Progress Toward Ranks totem to him. For every three achievements completed by the scout as a Wolf, he will receive a gold bead. For every three achievements earned as a Bear, he will receive a red bead.
The Bear rank is for boys who have completed second grade (or are 9 years old). There are 24 Bear achievements in four categories; boys must complete 12 of these to earn the Bear badge. These requirements are more difficult and challenging than those for the Wolf badge. When the boy has earned his Bear badge, he may work on electives for credit toward Arrow Points to be worn under the Bear badge.
Webelos dens are for boys who have completed third grade (or reached age 10). The Webelos den program is different from the Cub Scout den program: Instead of being based on a monthly theme, the Webelos den program is based on one of 20 Webelos activities. Webelos Scouts work on requirements during their weekly den meetings. Once the boy learns the skill, he practices it at den meetings and at home on his own. The boy's family is encouraged to help him at home.
When a boy has completed the requirements for an activity badge, the Webelos den leader or activity badge counselor, rather than a parent, approves most of the activity badges.
Arrow of Light Award
The pinnacle of Cub Scouting is the Arrow of Light Award. The requirements for this badge include developing outdoor skills, gaining an understanding of the values of Scouting, and preparing to become a Boy Scout. This recognition is the only Cub Scout badge that can be worn on the uniform when a boy graduates into a Boy Scout troop.
Understanding Various Awards
Scouts may earn rank awards as well as many other awards. The Den Leaders Handbook is a good starting point for learning about Rank Insignia, Awards, Patches, Pin, Belt Loops, Beads and their requirements. A wealth of information is also available on the following websites:
Cub Scouts earn awards when they have fulfilled achievements listed in their rank handbooks. As they progress through the ranks they can also earn Beads, Arrow Points (for Wolf and Bear ranks), Compass Points (Weblos rank) for certain achievements they work towards. Special Honor patches may be awarded as well, such as the Conservation Award and Webelos Super Achiever award. See the back of the Scout Workbook for more details about these Activity Awards. You may also look at the official Boy Scout of American web site for more details.
The Sports and Academic Program is optional enrichment program that allows scouts to earn Belt Loops, Pins and Letters. Participation can take place individually or with the family, in the den or pack, or in the school or community. There are about 40 various Academic subjects and Sports activities which allow boys to learn new techniques, increase scholarship skills, develop sportsmanship, and have fun. Emphasis is on introducing a boy to a sport or academic subject, allowing him to participate in it, and encouraging him to do his best. Boys participating in the program will be recognized for enjoying teamwork, developing physical fitness, and discovering and building new talents.
Fun Patches: You may also choose to award your Scouts with fun patches. These patches are fun ways to commemorate various activities such as Camping, Bake Sales, etc. As fun patches are for FUN, they are not allowed to be worn on your uniform. The patches can be displayed on a Red Vest, Pillow, Blanket, etc. Fun Patches are not sold or recognized by BSA, and as such become the expense of the Den. The Pack does not stock fun patches or pay for fun patches.
Track Activities Regularly
Parents are responsible for telling the Den Leader about activities done outside the den. However, about every two months it is a good idea for the leader to write a note to the parents asking them to fill in the back of the handbook (e.g. Tiger Tracks, Wolf Paws, etc.) by a specific date. Then, leaders can take the books and keep a master record and determine what awards to order.
Award Tracking Tools
Simplify tracking with these or other tools:
As a Den Leader, you are responsible for ordering awards for your den.
Boys need frequent recognition soon after an accomplishment. Leaders can award patches or belt loops after the scout has completed a specific task like rock climbing, roller skating, bike riding, etc.
Pack meetings are a good way to present what the boys have done as a rank. Keep in mind that presentations need to be short so that boredom does not set in.
Timing wise, it's a good idea to honor the Scouts in your Den often. Patches and awards can be given to the boys during Den meetings and Pack meetings. You, as their leader, can decide how often or how little you would like to give awards.
Displaying Insignia & Awards
Only Official BSA patches (i.e. rank patches and Arrow Points) may be worn on the uniform. Members wear only the insignia that show their present status in the movement. Click here for the complete Insignia Guide.
Belt loops may be worn on the Cub Scout uniform belt. Webelos Scouts who have chosen to wear the khaki uniform may still wear the blue Cub Scout belt so as to display the belt loops they have earned.
Patches, pins, letters and previously earned badges and insignia—not representing present status—make a fine display on a BSA red patch vest, a trophy hide or blanket, exhibited in the home of the recipient, or at functions where such a display is invited.