‘Cub Scouting’ is program made for elementary schoolers, typically kids ages 5-11. Being a Cub Scout is just like being a junior BSA Scout. ‘Packs’ of Cub Scouts complete ranks, go on campouts, and participate in age-appropriate activities. There’s a lot more opportunities for parentals to get involved too!
Cub Scouts was introduced early on in Scouting’s history, with the first Cub Scout Packs being registered in 1930 to appeal to a younger audience and ease them into Scouts BSA. The ranks and organization of Cub Scouts are based on Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. This is where all of the animal namings come from!
Having been a Cub Scout (and Eagle Scout) myself, I can tell you that being a Cub Scout is the perfect start for anyone who wishes to one day become an Eagle Scout. Joining a Cub Scout ‘pack’ is akin to joining a BSA Scout ‘troop’, and gently introduces both kids and parents to the Scouting program.
PS. This article was written by Eagle Scout & AOL, Chandler M, and edited by Cole 🙂
Before we dive into the ranks of Cub Scouting, I’d highly recommend watching the short video (3:42) below if you’re completely new to the Cub Scout program. In it, you’ll learn about the activities, aims, costs, and participants of Cub Scouting. This info is great for getting up to speed so that our article helps you out even more!
Do you now know the basics of Cub Scouts? Great! In this article, I’ll be breaking down each Cub Scout rank so that you (or your child) are prepared to progress and have the best Cub Scouting experience possible. First, we’ll dive into what Cub Scout ranks there are, but feel free to skip to your section if you’re already at a specific rank.
What Are The Cub Scout Ranks?
Below are the ranks of Cub Scouting and a brief description of each one (also linked are my guides to completing the adventures and earning each rank 😀 ):
- Lion: The first rank in Cub Scouts for youth in kindergarten, typically under 6 years old. Lion rank Cub Scouts are typically always accompanied by an adult.
- Bobcat: The first badge earned by all new Cub Scouts, teaching basic Scouting ideals
- Tiger: For first-grade Cub Scouts ages 6-7. Focuses on building confidence, learning family values, and joining in on activities.
- Wolf: For second-grade Cub Scouts ages 7-8. Emphasizes outdoor skills, character, and teamwork.
- Bear: For third-grade Cub Scouts ages 8-9. Focuses on hobbies, physical fitness, and learning about one’s community.
- Webelos: For fourth and fifth-grade Cub Scouts ages 9-11. Emphasizes outdoor skills, leadership, and preparing to be a BSA Scout.
- Arrow Of Light (AOL): The highest rank in Cub Scouts, for Webelos preparing to cross over to Scouts BSA.
You can click each heading to jump to that section of the article if one of these ranks interests you more than the others. However, if you’re just starting out or are thinking of joining Cub Scouts, I’d highly suggest reading this whole article so that you’ll be prepared for the epic Cub Scouting journey to come!
To help you out even more, below is a handy chart created by the BSA that outlines the Cub Scout ranks and ‘adventures’ that’ll need to be completed in order to advance. Trust me, printing this out and keeping it as a reference will help you out a ton if you’re just joining Cub Scouts!
If you’re completely new to Cub Scouting, these ranks won’t mean too much to you. However, that’ll all change once we dive into this article! Below, I’ll give you an outline of what each Cub Scout ranks entails, as well as some tips to get the most out of the Cub program. I had a lot of fun as a Cub and I know your child will too!
Also, to clarify a common question, if a youth were to join in second grade, they wouldn’t be Lion rank, even though it’s the first rank of Cub Scouting. Instead, they’d be Wolf rank and join a Wolf den. The same is true for a youth joining Cub Scouts, at any age. In general, they’d be assigned to the rank according to their grade.
Lion Cub (Kindergarten, Ages 6-7)
If your child is interested in Cub Scouts but isn’t old enough to be a Tiger yet, being a Lion Cub is where they’ll fit in perfectly! The Lion Cub rank is a newer addition to Cub Scouts but gets youngsters involved in Scouting earlier than 1st grade or before the age of six.
In order to complete the Lion Cub rank and move on to Tiger at 1st grade, Lions must complete the five required adventures as well as go over the How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide with a parent or guardian. Adventures are like requirements, where Cub Scouts will need to investigate, do, or demonstrate things to learn helpful skills.
These adventures, once completed, will award your child with a belt loop that they can proudly display while in uniform. These are different from merit badges in Scouting but are a long-lasting way to remember your Cub Scout career (I still have all of my belt loops 🙂 ).
The five required adventures for Lion Cub rank are:
- Lion’s Honor
- Animal Kingdom
- Fun on the Run!
- King of the Jungle
- Mountain Lion
These requirements serve as an introduction to Cub Scouts such as explaining the salute, sign, and motto as well as introducing the Lion Cub to various teambuilding activities and games. These activities aren’t intended to be very strenuous and should be a ton of fun for your Lion.
At the end of their Kindergarten school year or before the start of 1st grade, Lion Cubs will participate in a cross-over ceremony to move onto the next rank, Tiger. They will have to complete the requirements first but will be sure to get plenty of help along the way.
The Bobcat Badge
Unless a youth is joining Cub Scouting as a Lion Cub, they’ll need to complete the Bobcat requirements before starting on any other badges or ranks. Luckily, the Bobcat Badge is pretty easy to complete, and can typically be done in just 1 or 2 meetings.
Earning the Bobcat badge shows that a Cub knows the basics of Scouting. In order to complete the Bobcat Badge, a Cub must understand and demonstrate the following requirements:
- 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
Cubs can get assistance when sharing information to complete the Bobcat Badge but should still try their best to memorize all of that points. The best thing a Cub can do is to practice with their Den and their parents. Once they learn all of these requirements, they’ll never forget them (I can still recite them in my sleep!).
Tiger Cub (First Grade)
After Lion rank comes Tiger. Most Cubs become Tiger rank once they’re in first grade or reach age six. For years, this was the first rank for Cub Scouts, until the lion rank was added in 2017. Tiger rank builds off of the learnings from Lion but isn’t overly challenging for most Cub Scouts.
Many of the requirements for Tiger Cubs will be completed with their Den so that no Cub is left behind. Requirements can be completed at regular meetings or at specific Den outings planned by the Den leader.
Tigers are also required to go over the How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide pamphlet just like they did in Lions, as well as the Protect Yourself Rules video for Tiger Cubs. These are extremely important when it comes to safety in Scouting.
The requirements for Tiger include:
- Games Tigers Play
- My Tiger Jungle
- Team Tiger
- Tiger Bites
- Tiger Circles: Duty to God
- Tigers in the Wild
- One Elective Adventure:
- Curiosity, Intrigue, and Magical Mysteries
- Floats and Boats
- Good Knights
- Rolling Tigers
- Sky is the Limit
- Stories in Shapes
- Tiger: Safe and Smart
- Tiger Tag
These adventures go over many of the same topics as the adventures in Lion Cubs. The difference is that these requirements are geared more toward first graders, require a little more effort, and encourage more self-directedness on the part of your child.
Tiger Cubs was my introduction into Scouting. I have really fond memories of doing obstacle courses with my friends, making “dirt in a cup” snacks, and just having a lot of fun. This was a great experience and helped me make new friends at my school.
Parents will also be required to participate in many of these adventures. This helps improve family cohesiveness and can be a lot of fun for everyone involved. Parental involvement will help Tigers when it comes to learning new topics, explaining things such as service to the community or faith, and helping bring Tigers together.
I was lucky to have some enthusiastic parents in my Den, which made my experience more enjoyable. I encourage you to do the same, and consider volunteering in your child’s Cub Scout program so that they enjoy the experience that much more!
At this point in the article, we’re halfway through reviewing each of the Cub Scout ranks! To provide you with more background info and answers to common FAQs, I’d recommend watching this quick and helpful video (3:09)! In it, you’ll learn useful Den terminology and tips. The section at the 1:50 mark is especially relevant! 🙂
Wolf Cub (Second Grade)
Once your Cub reaches second grade age seven, if they’ve completed every requirement for the Tiger rank, they will cross over to Wolf rank. The Wolf badge takes things up a notch, allowing your Cub to learn more traditional Scout skills and enjoy more outdoor adventures.
I remember Wolf being a big step in my Scouting career. I was finally able to feel like more of a Scout and less like a Cub. While at Wolf rank, campouts are more common, teamwork is heavily emphasized, and you’re closer to your den than ever before.
In order to move forward, a Cub Scout must complete the following Wolf rank requirements:
- Call of the Wild
- Council Fire (Duty to Country)
- Duty to God Footsteps
- Howling at the Moon
- Paws on the Path
- Running With the Pack
- One Elective Adventure:
- Adventures in Coins
- Air of the Wolf
- Code of the Wolf
- Cubs Who Care
- Digging in the Past
- Finding Your Way
- Germs Alive!
- Paws of Skill
- Spirit of the Water
A Wolf Cub must also complete the Protect Yourself Rules Adventure and watch a new Protect Yourself video. As with Tiger, Wolf adventures all build off previous activities that your Cub has participated in.
Wolf was my last year in my first pack. I vividly remember learning about dinosaurs with my pack which was definitely a highlight for me (I wanted to be a paleontologist at that age). It was a lot of fun to learn new things and enjoy time with my fellow Cubs.
One of the biggest highlights of this rank is a flag ceremony! In order to complete Wolf, your Cub will have to participate in retiring a flag, one of the many duties that Scouts are able to do.
Wolves will also be required to camp out, learn about their family’s religious beliefs, perform a skit, go on a hike, and participate in some fun outdoor games. There is a lot of learning and fun that goes into being a Wolf Cub.
Your Cub can explore some of their own personal interests as well with the elective adventures. These adventures go over a variety of topics such as keeping yourself clean, staying hydrated, paleontology, geography, and coin collecting.
Bear Cub (Third Grade)
Once your Cub reaches enters third grade or is eight years old, they will cross over to Bear rank. At this point, they’re close to being a veteran in their pack and should begin acting as role models for the younger Cubs. Bear builds off of Wolf, allowing you Cub to learn more Scouting skills and gain more responsibility.
Bear rank is a lot of fun, and will likely be the first time your Cub will feel like an older Scout. This is a great time for them to gain new skills, responsibilities, and experiences within Scouting. As with each of the previous ranks, Bear rank will feel more like BSA Scouting than any of the ranks before it.
To move forward, your Cub will need to complete the following Bear rank requirements:
- Baloo the Builder
- Bear Claws
- Bear Necessities
- Fellowship and Duty to God
- Fur, Feathers, and Ferns
- Paws for Action (Duty to Country)
- One Elective Adventure
- A Bear Goes Fishing
- Bear Picnic Basket
- Critter Care
- Grin and Bear It
- Marble Madness
- Roaring Laughter
- Salmon Run
- Super Science
Again, your Bear will be required to complete a series of Protect Yourself Rules questions and also watch a new video. The exercises in both the pamphlet and video will be slightly more advanced and geared toward third graders.
During a Bear Cub’s adventures, they’ll learn some essential outdoor skills such as using tools, carrying a pocket knife, camping, nature, and animals. They’ll also participate in more activities that support their community.
The elective adventures for Bear rank also contain a ton of exciting outdoor activities to try out! For instance, the Bear Claws adventure will give your Cub the opportunity to earn their “Whittling Chip.” This is a prized possession among Cubs as it gives them the honor of being able to carry a pocket knife during Scouting events. 😀
Getting my Whittling Chip was definitely the highlight of being a Bear Cub for me. I made all sorts of things from sticks and bars of soap with my pocket knife. As a third grader, I got unusually good at whittling sticks into spears!
Bear rank is a lot of fun, and this is when I really started to get fully invested in the Scouting program! There are countless skills learned at Bear rank that will help prepare your Cub for their adventures as a Scout once they age out of Cub Scouting.
Webelos (Fourth and Fifth Grade)
For your Cub’s final two years of the Cub program, or when they’re 9 and ten, they will be a Webelos. This may sound like a strange name, but Webelos comes from the phrase “We’ll Be Loyal Scouts.” This is the final rank before your Cub can transition to Scouting and it mirrors Scouting activities pretty closely.
Fun Fact: While commonly pronounced as Webelo, the proper term is Webelos, even when you’re referring to a singular Cub Scout. This may seem confusing at first (it was to me), but the “s” at the end of Webelos stands for “Scouts” in the acronym for Webelos, “We’ll Be Loyal Scouts.”
While your Cub will be a Webelos for two years, I would highly recommend finishing the Webelos adventures within the first year. This is so that your Cub can have time to earn their prestigious Arrow of Light award, which we’ll go over in the next section.
Your Cub must complete the following requirements to earn their Webelos rank:
- Cast Iron Chef
- Duty to God and You
- First Responder
- Stronger, Faster, Higher
- Webelos Walkabout
- One Elective Adventure
- Art Explosion
- Build It
- Earth Rocks!
- Game Design
- Into the Wild
- Into the Woods
Your Webelos will also be required to do the Webelos sections of How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide and Protect Yourself Rules. This section on youth protection should be completed separately from the Arrow of Light version.
You may be wondering why Webelos have fewer requirements than other ranks. There are two big reasons for this. One of them is the Arrow of Light which has its own requirements and the other is a focus on elective adventures and Webelos campouts.
The goal of Webelos is to allow your Cub to pursue their interests, begin to make their transition to Scouting, and explore the outdoors. Webelos are treated more like Scouts than Cubs. They will even receive a tan Scout uniform rather than wear the blue Cub uniform! 😀
Webelos camp is another awesome part of being a Webelos. Just like a Scout summer camp, Webelos camp is often a week-long adventure in the wilderness where essential survival skills are taught, games are played, and comradery is built.
Being a Webelos was the first time I ever felt like a full-blown Scout. I finally had my tan uniform and was an older Cub in my pack. We had a lot of responsibilities compared to previous years, and I cherish some of the camping memories I made as a Webelos.
All of these activities, adventures, and other requirements should get your Cub prepared for their upcoming transition to Scouting. As a Webelos, your Cub will be treated like a full-blown Scout and are expected to be responsible like one.
Arrow of Light Award
Arrow of Light is the final “rank” that your Cub can earn during their tenure in the Cub Scouting program. However, like the Bobcat badge, the Arrow of Light is not so much a rank, as an addition to the Cub’s preexisting rank, and can be thought of as both a rank and an award.
The Arrow of Light can only be worked towards once your Cub has become a Webelos. My recommendation is to finish the Webelos requirements while your Cub is in the fourth grade and then work on Arrow of Light during fifth grade.
There are fewer requirements needed to complete the Arrow of Light than most Cub Scout ranks, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a walk in the park. To complete Arrow of Light requirements, your Cub must finish:
- Building a Better World
- Duty to God in Action
- Outdoor Adventurer
- Scouting Adventure
- One Elective Adventure:
- Art Explosion
- Build It
- Earth Rocks!
- Game Design
- Into the Wild
- Into the Woods
Again, Cubs working on their Arrow of Light must do the Arrow of Light version of the Protect Yourself Rules video. However, this is the last video you’ll need to watch, and youth protection is an extremely important skill for any Scouting participant to understand, so this will be time well spent.
The elective adventures for AOL are the same as the Webelos electives, so your Cub can pursue another adventure they’re interested in. The four required adventures are similar to Webelos as well, but they’re much more in-depth and explore the highest level of Cub Scouting.
Earning one’sArrow of Light is a great accomplishment that should be celebrated. In fact, it’s the final accomplishment before your Cub becomes a Scout, so I’d encourage Cubs to enjoy the adventure. What your Cub learns in Arrow of Light will be instrumental for their experience as a Scout!
My Arrow of Light ceremony was celebrated at an Italian restaurant named Buca di Beppo. Our pack leader and den mom had us walk blindfolded around the restaurant in order to show us trust in our fellow Cubs and reinforce listening to instructions. I still have my Arrow of Light award to this day!
I hope our article helped you out a ton! By understanding the different ranks and advancement paths for Cubs, you and your family will be able to embark on an epic adventure through Cub Scouting. Now you’re ready to get out there, help your child climb each Cub Scout rank, so that they can one day maybe even become an incredible Eagle Scout!
If you found this article at all helpful, you may also be interested in reading another one here:
- Cub Scouts vs. Boy (BSA) Scouts: What’s Different? What’s Similar?
- Cub Scouting Costs: Uniforms, Fees, Gear, And More
- 67 Epic Scouting Quotes To Keep Scouts Prepared And Inspired
- A Brief History and Timeline of Scouting
- The Value And Benefits of Scouting (58 Highlights From Scouts)
Good luck on your Cub Scouting journey! For more support and advice on your path through Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA, make sure to sign up for my newsletter and come back to ScoutSmarts. Until next time, I’m wishing you some safe and incredible adventures ahead! 🙂