Boy Scouts are not “webelos 3”. There are significant differences between the two organizations. These differences reflect the differences between the target groups of youth served by the different organizations. They are there for good reasons. Cub scouts is a family program aimed primarily at 7-10 year old boys; it requires the adults to run it in detail, largely because boys of that age cannot be expected to run it. Boy Scouts is a youth-oriented program aimed primarily at 11-18 year old youth. It is run by the scouts, for the scouts, and the adults play a (considerable) role in supporting the program. Our parish scout ministry has another BSA program, Venturers, which is aimed at young adults (14 & 9th grade – 21), where the scouts plan and run activities, but where adult support is fairly minimal, primarily as a resource for activities and as a review of plans.
Whose Troop is it?
It is worth remembering the words of Baden-Powell, “The chief task of the scoutmaster is to help the scouts run their troop”. The central goal of all adult leadership (really adult mentoring and teaching) is to empower the scouts to take up the leadership of their unit. Every adult leader should always ask “does this action of mine enable the scout leadership, or does it interfere with their ability to run their troop?”
Equivalent Positions in Cub and Boy Scouts
|Cub Scouts||Boy Scouts|
|Den Leader||Patrol Leader|
|Cubmaster||Senior Patrol Leader|
|Unit Committee (planning functions)||Patrol Leaders Council|
|Unit committee (administrative functions)||Unit Committee|
Notice that most cub scout positions are filled by youth in the boy scouts. This reflects the central difference between the two organizations. The patrol leaders are elected by their patrols, and the senior patrol leader by the troop at large. Because it is run by the scouts, boy scout meetings and activities tend to be more chaotic than cub meetings and activities. This is healthy. The scouts need to have opportunities to make mistakes, one role of the adult mentoring is to prevent these mistakes from becoming catastrophes. Unlike cub scouts, rank advancement in the first ranks (tenderfoot through first class) is examined by senior scouts (technically the scoutmaster can now restrict who can examine them, but it does not bode well if a scout who is most of the way to eagle is not competent to teach basic knots to a tenderfoot scout or the oath and law to a scout scout), and checked by the scoutmaster and board of review. Ranks like star, life scout, and eagle require merit badges which are taught and examined by adults who are registered merit badge counselors. They still have scoutmaster conferences and boards of review.
But you have put none for the equivalence between Scoutmaster and Cub Scouts, What gives?
Baden-Powell was thinking of the turn of the last century English word “schoolmaster” when he coined the word “scoutmaster”. A schoolmaster is a mentor, friend and teacher to his students. BSA is one of the few scouting organizations that still uses the term scoutmaster. The way to think of scoutmaster is as “chief adult guide” and the assistant scoutmasters as “adult guides”. Unfortunately these don’t make as nifty patches as scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster.