Cub Scout Advancement

Advancement is the process by which a boy progresses from badge to badge, learning new skills as he goes. The Cub Scout advancement program is designed to encourage the natural interests of a boy in a natural way. Each of the ranks and awards in Cub Scouting has its own requirements. As a boy advances through the ranks, requirements are progressively more challenging, matching the increased skills and abilities of a boy as he grows older.

Advancement is one of the methods used to achieve Scouting's aims—character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. Everything a Cub Scout does to advance is designed to achieve these aims and aid in his personal growth. These badges are a means to an end—not an end in themselves.


Regardless of what age or grade a boy joins Cub Scouting, he begins with the Bobcat rank. It involves learning about the values, signs, and symbols of the Boy Scouts of America and Cub Scouting. While he is working on Bobcat he may work simultaneously on the rank for his age or grade, but he must finish Bobcat before any other rank is awarded.

Note that Cub Scouts do not go back and work on ranks missed due to their age at the time of joining.

Tiger, Wolf and Bear

For Tiger, Wolf, and Bear ranks—which are earned by Cub Scouts who have completed kindergarten, first grade, and second grade respectively (or are age 7, 8, or 9, respectively)—the boy completes seven adventures. Six of those adventures are defined and one is chosen from the 13 electives available for each rank. “Adventures” are collections of themed, multidisciplinary activities representing approximately three den meetings of engaging content. Elective and required adventures may be undertaken at the same time. As the boys finish an adventure, they are awarded a belt loop that is worn on the official Cub Scout belt. Belt loops should be presented as soon as possible. When the requirements for each rank are fulfilled, the rank badge is presented at the next pack meeting. Note that although participation with an adult partner is required for all Tiger adventures, recognition items are for the Cub Scouts only.


Just as with the previous ranks, Cub Scouts enjoy seven adventures as they earn the Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks. For the Webelos rank (earned by boys who have completed the third grade or are 10 years old), seven adventures are required, of which five are defined and two are elective. For the Arrow of Light rank (earned by boys who have completed the fourth grade), seven adventures are required, of which four are defined and three are elective. There are a total of 18 electives available that are shared for these two ranks.

Arrow of Light is Cub Scouting’s final rank before Boy Scouts. Much of the experience gives the Cub Scouts the chance to practice skills that prepare them to become Boy Scouts. Once completed, the rank should be presented during an impressive ceremony involving Scouts from a local Scout troop. Their involvement may encourage the eventual “bridging” of recipients into the troop.

An adventure pin is awarded for each completed adventure. These may be worn on the Webelos colors or on the front of the Webelos cap. The boys are free to work on required and elective adventure pins at the same time. Adventure pins should be presented as soon as possible. When the requirements for the Webelos or Arrow of Light ranks are fulfilled, the rank badge is presented at the next pack meeting.

Physical Skills

  • Aquanaut
  • Athlete
  • Fitness
  • Sportsman

Mental Skills

  • Artist
  • Scholar
  • Showman
  • Traveler


  • Citizen
  • Communicator
  • Family Member
  • Readyman


  • Craftsman
  • Engineer
  • Handyman
  • Scientist

Outdoor Activity

  • Forester
  • Geologist
  • Naturalist
  • Outdoorsman

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. Boys bring to den meetings completed or partially completed projects done at home to show others, as well as to be approved by the Webelos den leader. This sharing encourages a boy to do his best and helps to build his confidence and self-esteem.

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.

In addition to earning individual activity pins, Webelos Scouts can earn the compass points emblem, which is awarded after earning seven activity badges. Metal compass points—east, west, north, and south—are awarded for each four additional activity badges earned.

Arrow of Light

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 Boy Scout uniform when a boy graduates into a troop. Adult leaders who earned the Arrow of Light as a youth may also wear the appropriate square knot on their adult uniform. Webelos Scouts who have earned the Arrow of Light Award have also completed all requirements for the Boy Scout badge.

Many adventure pins help Webelos and Arrow of Light Scouts develop interests in areas that may lead to hobbies or career choices. The Webelos and Arrow of Light den leaders and assistants, and the den chief, may handle portions of instruction during meetings. But some pins will have more meaning when a knowledgeable adventure pin “counselor” works with the boys on the requirements, providing resources, leading field trips, and giving other useful service. A parent or family member, pack leader, teacher, coach, or other adult with talents or skills related to the specific pin may serve in this capacity. A local Scoutmaster or the district advancement chair can help identify merit badge counselors who might also work with related adventure pins.