How to Plan a Cub Scout Carnival (Grin and Bear It Rank Elective)

Want to learn how to plan a Cub Scout carnival? If so, or if you’re trying to complete the Grin and Bear It Elective Bear rank adventure, you’ve come to the right place! Cub Scout carnivals are exciting gatherings full of games, community, and prizes for the whole pack. That’s why they’re so important for any pack to plan regularly!

PS. This article is a guest post collaboration between Cub Scouting volunteer Jaci H and Cole 🙂

With the Bear Elective Adventure, Grin and Bear It, Cubs and their parents are tasked with planning a cub carnival to host! They organize a celebration, lead the games, help younger Scouts, reflect on the event, and develop a thank-you cheer. If all of that sounds like a lot of fun, that’s because it is!

The Bear requirements were different when my son was a Cub Scout. While he did not take part in planning a carnival, some boys who just crossed over to his BSA troop did. They shared their experiences, and I asked other den leaders for game ideas and tips as well. By the way, my son has now completed almost all of the ranks – and is now working on his Eagle Scout project!

In this article, I’ll give an overview of the Grin and Bear It Cub Scout elective, provide some planning tips, and then delve into each of the five tasks the Bears are to tackle. (Well, the Scouts actually only have to complete four tasks from that list.) You can decide which one to leave off. Or, maybe you’ll decide to do all of them just because you can!

Here’s a quick table of contents in case you want to skip to a certain section of this article:

What Is Grin and Bear It?

Cub Scouts have different elective adventures for each rank. Grin and Bear It is one of the nine electives from which to choose to complete the Bear rank. (Topics of the other electives include fishing, cooking, animals, forensics, marbles, water safety, science, and laughter!) The overall focus of this Cub Scout Bear elective is to plan and run a carnival for the entire pack to enjoy.

Planning A Cub Scout Carnival 

Planning for the Bear Carnival should not be overthought. This carnival is most often planned over a few weeks’ time. If you want it to take place at a pack meeting, discuss the idea with the pack committee as early as possible. If you’re lucky, your pack includes the carnival as an annual tradition and it’s already on the calendar! 

Sample Cub Carnival Time Frame

  • Step 1: Discuss with the Cub Scouts which games to use at the carnival. The best place to start is with a bunch of suggestions. Make papers with “game stats” (basic info; a photo if possible) and hand them out for the Cub Scouts to talk about.
  • Step 2: Have each Bear choose the game they want to run at the carnival. The Scouts can then make publicity posters for their games at the meeting.

Den leader Candice B. from Dallas, Ga., suggested giving the kids some parameters and letting them figure it out. “I paired them up and let them work it out. [They] designed their posters with their game name and took total ownership,” she said.

  • Step 3: Have each Bear take the poster home to discuss with their family. They should return to the next meeting ready to verbally share a detailed description of their game, including how it will be played, what the rules are, and any materials they need for it.

Den leader Sarah K. from Rock Hill, S.C., said about the planning process, “It was great to see just how much the Scouts could do on their own.” When asked for her advice about planning the Bear Carnival, she said, “Let the Scouts dream big and help them make those dreams real with guidance!”

  • Step 4: Verify all supplies needed for each game are gathered. Discuss what to use for prizes. I’ve seen a lot of different ideas for this part. One den leader had parts of a first aid kit given as the prizes for each station. Each player also had a carnival card to get stamped at each station. They turned in the completed carnival cards to receive a safety whistle, and by visiting all the games, the Scouts also had a mini first aid kit!

A Cub Scout group in Albuquerque, NM handed out candy for prizes, as did some Scouts in Rock Hill, SC, although they also gave old patches as prizes. I was most intrigued by the den leader in West Hartford, Conn., who said there were “no prizes other than fun and memories.” I honestly loved that response — you have to admit that children nowadays collect a lot of trinkets!

  • Step 5: Have each Cub Scout and their family be responsible for taking the publicity poster and all the supplies for the game she is going to run to the carnival on the day of the event. Dividing the work like this will make for an easy setup. Have everyone arrive about 30 minutes early.

If you are interested in some pre-designed carnival tickets, invitations, and posters, check out this Cub Scout leader’s website. She really went all out sharing helpful resources for others to use! 😀

Choosing a Venue For Your Cub Carnival

Your carnival could take place at your pack meeting inside or outside. You could set up at a local park or someone’s backyard. One group used a school field for their Bear Carnival; another used a campout location! In other cases, packs combined the carnival with a Halloween event, holiday celebration, or Blue and Gold banquet. (For more info, check out my article on Blue and Gold banquets!)


Costs for the Bear Carnival should be minimal. Potential costs include poster board, game supplies, and prizes. If you choose to host the carnival at a regular pack meeting, the funds could come from the meeting budget or could be split amongst the families who are hosting if costs aren’t too high.

Some dens asked the parents for small donations or to sign up to purchase certain supplies. With that said, there are so many different game ideas that you can easily create games using limited supplies and things you already own!

My Favorite Cub Scout Carnival Game Ideas 

Have you heard of Minute To Win It games? They’ve become quite popular! They are easy and fast (thus the term “minute”). If you want some inspiration for those types of games, watch this video (15:37) with 10 popular versions of Minute To Win It:

Below, you’ll find 11 additional tried-and-true carnival game ideas. Be sure to choose a variety of games that use different skills to connect with Cub Scouts of all ages in your pack. That way everyone will have a ton of fun! 

  1. Cornhole. In this game, Scouts toss a small bean bag into a hole on a board. You can decorate the board to fit whatever theme you want. For a more challenging version, get a ladder and hang signs (with different points) from each rung. The higher the step, the more points. Then, ask players to land the bean bag on the step to earn points!
  1. Cake walk. Ask parents to donate a cake (or cupcakes) for this game. The game is similar to musical chairs, but instead of chairs the players stop on or next to a numbered item. You could use bright pieces of construction paper or even cones that are numbered. When the music stops, a number is called. Whoever is standing on that number wins the cake!

Former den leader Christina O. from Ismay, Mont. recalled when her brothers were in Cub Scouts and made cakes for this game! “Their cakes were decorated in a very intriguing way as they pretty much did it by themselves,” she said.

  1. Nerf gun shootout. This fun carnival game shouldn’t require any purchases (but perhaps some borrowing!). Set up a table with various targets for the players to knock down using Nerf guns.
  2. Bowling. If you don’t already own a kids’ bowling set, you can make bowling pins out of 2-liter bottles filled with a little bit of sand. Use a softball — or any ball of your choice — as the bowling ball.
  3. Ring toss. Another fun idea is to make this colorful ring toss game on your own. Another version you could create involves 1) drilling holes in a board or 2) using a piece of styrofoam. Put lollipops in the holes. For the rings, use plastic bracelets or mason jar rings. Winners keep the lollipop, of course!
  4. Fishing lake. Use a baby swimming pool filled with a small amount of water. Have your players fish for the magnetic fish with a magnetic pole. For a greater challenge, have several Cub Scouts play at once and see who can catch a fish first!
  5. Acorn toss. Toss an acorn, bean, or similar item into plastic cups. You can also use egg crates — ideally one made for 18 eggs or more. Randomly paint or color some of the holes. In order to win, the player must toss the item into one of the colored holes!
  6. Pull-back car race. Use a marker to make two car lanes on a plastic tablecloth and see whose pull-back car goes the farthest. Or, if you’re at a park, you could have two Cub Scouts let two model cars race down the slide!
  7. Kissing booth. I saw this game multiple times in my research. It’s not what you think! Put Hershey’s Kisses in a jar and have everyone guess the number inside. Guess what the closest guess wins? You got it, a jar of kisses. Simple, silly, and fun! 😛
  8. Obstacle course. Let the imagination go wild with this one. Use hula hoops, rubber tires, laundry baskets, balls, cones, tunnels, and frisbees. Actions could include jump, crawl, run, throw, and more!
  9. Can smash. Decorate some coffee cans and stack them (three on the bottom, two in the middle, and one on top). Then have the Cub Scouts throw a lightweight ball at the stack to see how many they can knock down!

Grin And Bear It – Bear Rank Requirement

In this section, we’ll take a quick review of the five requirements, four of which must be completed for the elective Grin and Bear It. I encouraged you earlier in the article to complete all five — ask your Bears which requirement they liked best and see what they say!

1) Play a challenge game or initiative game with the members of your Cub Scout den. Take part in a reflection after the game.

The human knot is a simple challenge game the dens could play. Everyone stands in a circle, crosses arms, and then grabs any hand not directly next to them. The goal is then for everyone to become untied without releasing hands. This activity is challenging and requires cooperation, skill, and communication! 

Here’s a quick video (1:58) explaining how to play:

The second part of this task is to reflect after the game. This process involves talking about what worked and what didn’t. Perhaps there was a lack of communication that made untying their hands more difficult, or maybe too many people were talking at once.

In this Scouts BSA video (just under 6:30), a Scout leader plays games with the Cub Scouts and then asks for feedback, which is an example of this task being completed! 

2) Working with the members of your den, organize a Cub Scout carnival and lead it at a special event.

You’ve just learned how to plan and organize the carnival in this article, so you’ve got this requirement in the bag! Isn’t that convenient? 😀 (By the way, check out another helpful ScoutSmarts article on Learning and completing the other Bear rank requirements!)

3) Help younger Cub Scouts take part in one of the events at the Cub Scout carnival.

For this requirement, the Bear Scout needs to assist any younger Scout, such as a Lion, Tiger, or Wolf rank Scout. The Bear Scout should help the child understand how to play the game and provide any other assistance needed. Fulfilling this task is a great way for the older and younger Scouts to connect in a positive way!

This (4:12) video shows some great examples of this task from Cub Scout Pack 168:

4) After the Cub Scout carnival, discuss with the members of your den and your den leader what went well, what could be done better, and how everyone worked together to make the event a success.

This step could be completed at the den meeting you have after the carnival. Ask the Scouts to respond to all of the prompts in the statement above. Encourage a free-flowing conversation so the Scouts can reflect on the most successful aspects of the carnival and learn from challenges.

Watch the first 30 seconds (or less) of this video, then jump to the 1-minute mark. A Cub Scout gives his personal evaluation, and it’s adorable as he demonstrates this process! 🙂

5) With your den, develop a thank-you cheer to recognize those who helped organize the Cub Scout carnival.

In researching this article, I didn’t uncover any dens that did a thank-you cheer. Most Cub Scouts instead showed appreciation through specially created artwork and certificates. However, you could certainly be creative and come up with a cheer to fulfill this task. It seems like it would be fairly easy and also fun! 😉

Below is a quick example cheer I came up with that might be a great way to show appreciation for everyone who helped to organize your Cub Scout Carnival. Use this as inspiration to flex your poetic muscles and come up with a thank-you cheer of your own!

Thank you, thank you, one and all,
who helped our Cub Scout carnival.

In our hearts we know it’s true
we couldn’t have done it without you!

From epic games to loads of laughs,
And even making cool new crafts.

Your help is valued, this is true,
Our carnival was special, thanks to you!


The Cub Scout Grin and Bear It elective carnival should be fun to participate in, and even plan! The Scouts will have a chance to be creative, cooperative, and helpful while fulfilling at least four of the required tasks for this elective. Overall, remember to keep the carnival and games simple and exciting for everyone involved!

Thanks for visiting ScoutSmarts to learn about planning and holding a Bear rank Carnival! I really hope you learned a lot of valuable information in this article and found inspiration to plan an easy Cub Scout carnival. If you enjoyed this, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of the following articles if they spark your interest:

That’s all for now! Hope this helps you to plan a fun and memorable carnival for your pack! Be sure to visit ScoutSmarts again soon and, until next time, I’m wishing you some thrilling adventures in Cub Scouts ahead! 😀

Jaci H

Jaci H is the proud mom of an Eagle Scout. She enjoyed volunteering with her son's Cub Scout pack and troop, most recently as the fundraising chair. She works as a freelance writer in Southern California.

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