Cub Scout Advancement

On the Cub Scout advancement trail, a Scout progresses from rank to rank, learning new skills along the way. As Cub Scouts get older and advance through the ranks, the requirements become more challenging to match their new skills and abilities. Cub Scout advancement includes a wide range of group and individual activities youth enjoy. More importantly, the activities are carefully selected to encourage physical, intellectual and character development. At all grades after Kindergarten, new Cub Scouts get to earn a joining rank badge called “Bobcat”.

The rank levels and activities tied to the Cub Scout’s grade and age are as follows:

Kindergarten Cub Scouts work toward the Lion badge by doing adventures in the Lion Handbook – here’s our Lion Rank Advancement page linking to adventure resource pages with plans, videos and other ideas for each of the five “required” adventures and the seven “elective” adventures.
Bobcat is a Rank earned as a “joining” Rank – currently the official rule is that Bobcat is for all Cub Scouts joining after Kindergarten and for Kindergarten Scouts who have earned the “Lion” Rank (but a Scout is Kind, so if your Kindergarten Lion completes the Bobcat requirements, it is only fair to award the Badge).  While you can work and complete any adventures for your Grade-level rank while you do Bobcat, you have to earn Bobcat before completing the Rank.  See our Bobcat Rank Advancement page with Den and Family Activity Tips.
First Graders have the Tiger badge and Handbook – see our Tiger Rank Advancement page linking to adventure resource pages with plans, videos and other ideas for each of the six “required” adventures and the 9 “elective” adventures.
Second Graders have the Wolf badge and Handbook – here’s our Wolf Rank Advancement page linking to adventure resource pages with plans, videos and other ideas for each of the six “required” adventures and the 9 “elective” adventures.
Third Graders have the Bear badge and Handbook – check out our Bear Rank Advancement page linking to adventure resource pages with plans, videos and other ideas for each of the six “required” adventures and the 9 “elective” adventures.
Fourth Graders work on the Webelos badge and Handbook (“Webelos” stands for “WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts”) – here’s our Webelos Rank Advancement page linking to adventure resource pages with plans, videos and other ideas for each of the five “required” adventures and the 11 “elective” adventures.
Fifth Graders work on the Arrow of Light badge also found in the Webelos Handbook – see our Arrow of Light Rank Advancement page linking to adventure resource pages with plans, videos and other ideas for each of the four “required” adventures and the 11 “elective” adventures.  You do not need to complete the “Webelos” Rank to earn the Arrow of Light.

A Cub Scout will start at the rank and Handbook appropriate to the Cub Scout’s age (grade). To make rank advancement easier and more fun for leaders and parents we have the information linked in our Rank Advancement pages above (also to the right). Also to make advancement and Den and Pack activities easier and more fun, we have these resources:

  • Want to Coordinate Advancement Activities at Pack Campouts and other Pack Events? We have a page that links similar Adventures from different Handbooks. Doing a Hike? This shows you Adventures with Hiking. Nature? This connects Lion through Arrow of Light. And more!
  • Got Small Dens? (This is not uncommon). How Do We Do Den Rank Advancement? If you have a small group in a grade (five or fewer), it makes sense to start out by joining similar grades together in a “mixed” den – we have resources to help you with that.
  • Fun Adventures Not In Our Handbook? Can We Do Them? Sure! A Scout does the work, they earn the loop or pin. Think learning to fish – let the whole Pack do the Fishing Adventure even though it’s in the Bear book. Or riding a bike – do the Biking Adventure from the Tiger book. If it isn’t in their current year’s handbook, it’s just a loop or pin (doesn’t count for Rank advancement) – but it might be one that your Scouts really enjoy. More on this idea is found here.

Beyond The Ranks – Additional Awards and Recognition:

Cub Scout Recruiter

This award recognizes a Scout who recruits a friend into Scouting. Any Scout can recruit a friend and earn this badge.

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Religious Awards

Each of 34 major religions have organized an Emblem program that adherents can pursue to strengthen their faith. 

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Cyber Chip

Today’s youth are spending more time than ever using digital media for education, research, socializing, and fun. To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the Cub Scout program uses the Cyber Chip award to instruct and increase awareness – as an alternative, families can do the "Protect Yourself Rules" adventure.

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Cub Scout Outdoor Activity

This award recognizes the Scout for taking part in outdoor recreation and conservation projects. In many cases, you can earn this award while doing other Scouting activities.

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National Summertime Pack Award

This award recognizes Packs that are  active when school is out for the summer, by doing one activity per month in June, July, and August. 

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Cub Scout World Conservation

To encourage Scouts to “think globally” and “act locally” to preserve and improve our environment. This program is designed to make youth members aware that all nations are closely related through natural resources and that we are interdependent with our world environment.

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STEM/NOVA Awards

For their first Nova awards, Scouts in the 2nd Grade and older have the opportunity to earn the Nova award patch. For subsequent STEM Nova awards earned, Scouts receive a Pi device to add to their patch.  For more rigorous STEM activities, Scouts can then earn “Supernova” awards.

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Whittling Chip

To promote the safe use of pocket knives by Cub Scouts, Scouts (3rd Grade and above) can earn this award.  This lines up very well with the Third Grade Bear Handbook Adventure called “Bear Claws”.

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Messengers Of Peace

To recognize individuals who participate in a Messengers of Peace project (service project) – youth and adults. A global service project program carried out by Scouts throughout the world.

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Shooting Sports

To learn about shooting sports – slingshots, archery and BBs – Cub Scouts from 1st Grade and up can earn shooting sports awards, first covering safety, then covering shooting sports skills.

SCOUTStrong

The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) challenge is all about developing a healthy active lifestyle – this was part of a program called “SCOUTStrong”. 

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Uniforms

Check out where to put all your patches on your uniform.  See this insignia guide, or check out this video to help you!