Earning the Bobcat badge is a required milestone for Cub Scouts at the start of their journey. Needing to be earned before a Cub can advance to the rank of Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, or Arrow of Light, the Bobcat badge will teach a Cub Scout the various ins and outs of Scouting values and traditions!
P.S. This article is a collaboration between Cole and Arrow of Light Scout Chandler M 🙂
Only Lions, who are the youngest rank in Cub Scouting, don’t need to earn the Bobcat badge before beginning their rank. However, the Bobcat badge requirements are quite easy, and should only take 1-2 meetings to complete! A Cub just needs to learn and explain important Scout sayings like the Scout Oath and Law.
The Scout Oath and Law are things that I can still easily recite, despite not having had to since I earned my Eagle Scout rank. These promises have been ingrained deep into my memory and still guide my actions to this day!
Not only are these Scouting symbols important for any Cub, but they’ll also be necessary if that Cub one day eventually becomes a BSA Scout. If a Cub completes both Cub Scouting and Scouting, they will be reciting and going back to these symbols for 12 years. That’s a long time! 😀
What Are The Bobcat Badge Requirements?
In order to receive the Bobcat badge, a Cub must complete the following requirements. At the same time, they’ll be learning the meaning of important Scouting values and demonstrating their knowledge to their Cubmaster:
- Learn and say the Scout Oath, with help if needed.
- Learn and say the Scout Law, with help if needed.
- Show the Cub Scout sign. Tell what it means.
- Show the Cub Scout handshake. Tell what it means.
- Say the Cub Scout motto. Tell what it means.
- Show the Cub Scout salute. Tell what it means.
- With your parent or guardian, complete the exercises in the pamphlet How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide
Also, note that a Cub must complete the Bobcat exercises in the How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse pamphlet, which is a requirement for every Cub Scout rank. While none of these requirements are especially difficult, they’re super important for building a strong foundation for Scouting. 🙂
In this guide, I’ll break down each of these requirements, go into their meanings, and help you earn your Bobcat badge! This is an essential badge for every Cub Scout to earn and will help you understand everything that Scouting stands for. So, get ready to learn a bunch of useful knowledge!
1) Learn and say the Scout Oath, with help if needed.
The Scout Oath, sometimes referred to as the Scout Promise, is something that Scouts are expected to recite at every meeting and live by — even outside of Scouting. This Oath is an essential pillar of Scouting, describing a code of ethics that outlines the character of an upstander.
Back when I was a Cub, Cub Scouts had a different Oath, Law, and Motto from Scouts. This is no longer case, but when I transitioned to Scouting from being a Cub, I had a hard time learning the Scout Oath and Law because I kept repeating the Cub versions. This switch is great news for any Cubs making the transition to Scouts BSA!
To earn your Bobcat badge, you must be able to recite the Scout Oath. You can also receive help if needed! In this section, I’ll be telling you the Scout Oath, and also explaining a bit of its meaning to help you better remember this important charge. The Scout Oath goes as follows:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
The Scout Oath sums up a lot of the responsibilities of being involved in the Cub Scout and Scouting programs. It outlines what people expect from you as a member of these programs. Plus, whenever you recite it you’re reminded of the behaviors you’ve agreed to demonstrate! 😀
Thankfully, the Scout Oath isn’t a super long passage to memorize. This passage is pretty straightforward and has only 40 words, but it’s packed with meaning. Don’t let yourself get intimidated! The best thing you can do is to continuously repeat it before you go to bed so it ingrains itself in your memory.
Meaning of the Scout Oath
The Scout Oath has three major parts that are of importance. Basically, the Oath is saying that you promise to follow three tenets. These are duty to God and country, duty to others, and finally, duty to yourself.
In order to complete this requirement, you’ll be expected to explain these three tenets and what they mean to you. In this section, I’ll break down each of these individual tenets and help you find how they’re important in your life!
Duty to God and Country
Scouting was founded on its duty to one’s religion and country. The program’s ties to its country are very important as Scouting is a government-chartered organization and has a close association with our nation’s armed forces.
Scouting exists to help foster a love and devotion for one’s country by serving it wherever you can. This is most commonly done by following the Scouting principles, abiding by the law, and participating in civic duties like voting and community service. The goal is to be a helpful and productive citizen!
Duty to God doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow a specific religion or be religious at all — it just means that you should serve your family and the people around you. Typical values of almost every religion apply here, such as kindness, integrity, service to the community, and so on. 🙂
Duty to Others
Duty to others is what Scouting is all about! During your time as a Cub and a Scout, you’ll participate in many service projects to support your community and the people in it. Many ranks will require you to complete service of some kind, and as a BSA Scout you’ll even have the chance to organize an Eagle Scout service project of your own!
All Scouts, Cubs included, are expected to “Do a Good Turn Daily,” help people who are in need, and be role models for their community. The goal isn’t to serve oneself, but to help everyone who may need it, even if they don’t ask for assistance, just because it’s the right thing to do.
The actions you take to do your duty to others can be as simple as picking up litter, or as complex as building a trail in a local park. What matters is that you’re heart is in the right place and you’re doing your best to serve others. Being an upstander who helps out is a lifetime commitment and something that every Scout should be proud of!
Duty to Self
Part of being a good Scout is taking care of oneself. This is extremely important as you are a member of society, your family, and your pack. If you aren’t at your best, you won’t be able to help others! There are three parts of this specific tenet that we’ll delve into.
- Keep myself physically strong
- This is done by taking care of your body. This can include eating nutritious foods, exercising, and taking mental health breaks.
- Mentally awake
- Staying mentally awake means being a lifetime learner. Even outside of school, you should stay curious, learn new things, and get enjoyment out of doing it. You can never stop learning!
- Morally straight
- Being “morally straight” just means following a good code of ethics, being a moral person, and staying away from anything that could get you in trouble. You are expected to be a role model when you’re a Scout!
By keeping with these tenets, you’ll be on the right path to becoming best person you can be! At the same time, you’ll lead by example and show others what it means to be a Scout. The Scout Oath is your roadmap to becoming a helpful, productive upstander in your community.
If you liked learning about this, be sure to check out my other article for more info on the history and meaning of the Scout Oath!
2) Learn and say the Scout Law, with help if needed.
The Scout Law may be the hardest one to memorize, but don’t be discouraged. Essentially, the Scout Law states what every Scout should be in their daily activities. The law is a list of values that you’ll need to remember, as they’ll guide you to make the right decisions throughout your life. This is how it goes:
- “A Scout is
- And reverent.”
Just like the Scout Oath, I recommend saying this before bed so it sticks in your mind. This is something that you’ll probably have to practice a few times so that you get the order down and don’t miss any of the words. Just keep at it, and try reciting it faster and faster once it begins to stick! 😀
You’ll also need to explain what the Scout Law means. I’ve got your back though! In the next section, we’ll go over each of the individual parts of the Scout Law and explain what they mean and how they should apply to you.
Meaning of Scout Law
Rather than make complete sections out of each of the points of the Scout Law, I’ll give you a quick overview with the main point that you should memorize. When you complete this badge, you will be asked to explain how this applies to you as well.
- If you make a promise, you should keep it. Scouts can be relied on to help out, complete tasks, and be overall dependable when needed.
- Being loyal is being faithful to one’s friends, family, community, and whatever else you may belong to. A Scout does not turn their back on those they care about.
- Going back to “duty to others,” Scouts should provide service to others, even when they don’t ask for it. It should be natural for a Scout to go out of their way to serve others.
- Scouts are always welcoming to others, whether they’re strangers or not. Being friendly is as simple as waving hello to others or sitting with new people at lunch.
- When doing anything, Scouts should always consider how it will affect others. Be mindful of other people around you and treat others as you want to be treated.
- This is pretty simple, but Scouts should always be nice to others! Whether they’re your best friend or a total stranger, you should always treat others with respect.
- Scouts thoughtfully do what they’re told, getting on with the task at hand as long as it’s reasonable. If you’re asked to do something, do it immediately and with purpose!
- A Scout isn’t a complainer or a negative person. You should make the best of every situation and do your best to cheer up others.
- Scouts should know how to stretch their resources so they can make the most of what they have. This means being careful with money and not being wasteful.
- Trying new experiences is what Scouting is all about. Be adventurous and explore new interests in and out of Scouting!
- This doesn’t just mean to be clean physically, but morally as well. Scouts should take care of themselves and conduct themselves in a “clean” manner, even when no one is watching.
- Even if you’re not religious, Scouts should always respect others’ beliefs, understand what others believe, and be mindful of others’ preferences.
Helpful Link: You can also check out my Scout Law article for a more complete run-through of the meanings behind the timeless Scout Law principles!
These are pretty easy to follow, but it’s important to keep every single one of these tenets in mind. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized even deeper meanings and wisdom behind each of the Scout Law’s points. You probably already do a lot of them though, so it’ll be easy to explain when it comes to your Bobcat meeting! 😉
3) Show the Cub Scout sign. Tell what it means.
The Cub Scout sign is very similar to the Scout sign, but has one major difference. BSA Scouts hold up their middle three fingers, while Cubs hold up two (similar to a peace sign) with their right hand to do the Cub Scout sigh. If you’ve already attended den and pack meetings, you’ve probably already made this sign multiple times!
The Cub Scout sign is often used when a meeting is beginning and everyone needs to turn their attention to the front. You may hear something like “signs up” when it’s time to listen, quiet down, and pay attention. At this point, Cubs extend their arm fully upwards and hold their 2 fingers up in the Cub Scout sign.
Baden-Powell described the Cub Scout sign as representing a wolf’s two ears pointing upwards. This can be seen as a wolf listening attentively, which is often when the sign is used. While the meaning isn’t too complex, its use is really important — and common during most Cub Scouting events! 😀
4) Show the Cub Scout handshake. Tell what it means.
The Cub Scout handshake is pretty similar to the Cub Scout sign. When shaking another Cub’s hand, leave the two fingers you use for the sign extended. You’re pretty much just shaking each other’s hands while doing the Cub Scout sign.
This makes it almost like a secret handshake! Only you and other Cubs know the meaning of it, and by doing it you show that you’re a Cub. You can do the handshake with leaders, but not with people outside the program. Below is a quick video (1:05) demonstrating the Cub Scout handshake:
The meaning of the Cub Scout handshake is pretty simple. The purpose is to remind other Cubs to follow the Scout Oath and Law during their daily life! You can think of one finger representing the Scout Oath and the other representing the Law.
5) Say the Cub Scout motto. Tell what it means.
A motto is a saying that a person lives by and uses to express their values. For Cub Scouts, the main values of the program are encouraging young people to explore their interests, try new things, and always give their best effort. That’s why the Cub Scout motto is “Do your best!” 🙂
The Cub Scout motto should be applied to your life outside of Cub Scouting as well. Whenever you’re in school, playing a sport, and helping out around the house, you should be putting in your best effort. Even if you don’t always enjoy an activity, giving it your all will make you feel proud!
6) Show the Cub Scout salute. Tell what it means.
Just like the Cub Scout handshake, the Cub Scout salute is based on the Cub Scout sign. Can you guess what it is? Yup! Just like with the Cub sign and handshake, the Cub Scout salute features 2 fingers. Rather than giving a full-handed salute, Cubs extend two fingers to hold them to the brim of their hat.
Anytime you are saying the Scout Oath, Law, or the Pledge of Allegiance, you should be holding up your Cub Scout salute. If you’re not wearing your Cub Scout hat, then you should hold the salute to your eyebrow. Just like when you hold up the Cub Scout sign, you should be attentive when giving a salute, only speaking to recite the words.
7) With your parent or guardian, complete the exercises in the pamphlet entitled How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide.
You can find the Bobcat badge How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: Parent’s Guide resources on the Scouting.org website by clicking here. While child abuse may be a challenging topic to discuss with your Cub, it’s extremely important to make them aware of measures they should take to protect themselves.
It’s also important to note that instances of child abuse are incredibly rare in Scouting, as all volunteers have background checks, and all participants follow rules like 2-deep, where an adult can never be alone with a Cub/Scout. So, do your best and take your time to go over all of this information thoroughly, but know it most likely is just for preparedness and won’t need to be used!
You’re now prepared to embark on your exciting journey through Cub Scouting! With the foundational knowledge you gained through earning your Bobcat badge, you now understand the values and goals of being a Cub, and are ready to dive into a bunch of fun activities with your pack!
Great work making it this far, but your epic adventures are just beginning! To check out my helpful explainers for the next ranks, be sure to check out my article on Cub Scout Ranks And Advancement. Also, if you enjoyed reading this, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of the following articles:
- Supporting Your Child In Cub Scouting: A Parent’s Guide
- Cub Scouting Costs Explained: Uniforms, Fees, And More
- Cub Scout Pack Structure 101: Every Leadership Role Explained
- The Cub Scout Whittling Chip: Your Ultimate Guide
- Cub Scout Camping: Top Tips For Parents On Packing and Prep
I truly hope this article helped you out a ton! Be sure to share it with the other Cub Scout families who are also just starting out and trying to earn their Bobcat badge. Also, come back to ScoutSmarts soon for more Scouting support! Until next time, I’m wishing you and your family some fun and memorable times with your pack. 😀