Now Recruiting Lions!
Something's Roaring in the Jungle
There is an exciting new Scouting program called “Lion” for kindergarten-aged boys. But it’s not a program that changes any of the current ranks and organization of other Scouting programs. It’s unique as it reaches out to a slightly younger group of boys.
Research shows that childhood development accelerates around ages 4 and 5, about the time youth begin formal education. That’s where Scouting comes in. Like many of the BSA’s programs which supplement the learning and growth boys experience at home and in an educational environment at that age, the Boy Scouts of America has developed this pilot program for 5-year-old kindergarten boys.
The Lion program weaves traditional Scouting concepts of character development, leadership skills, personal fitness, and citizenship into activities that are age-appropriate and fun for the boys and their parents. The activities introduce the family to Scouting activities and principles, and provide an exciting way for the little guys to explore the world around them. The program will fuel their imagination, creativity, and fun as they experience the growth Scouting can provide. At the end of the Lion year, they “graduate” to Tiger, and advance through Cub Scouting.
Read below to find out more about the program. If your unit is interested in starting the Lions program, contact your district executive to get started.
Information on the New Lion Program
1. So What is a “Lion” Anyway?
The Lion program, like all of Scouting’s programs, weaves the concepts of character development, leadership skills, personal fitness, and citizenship into activities that are age-appropriate and fun. “Adventures” (themed sets of activities and experiences) will assist Lion families in exploring the world around them.
2. What Will the Lion Experience Be Like?
As they complete the requirements for each adventure, Lions will earn an adventure sticker to be placed in their Lion Adventure Book. Lions earn stickers, but not adventure loops (belt loops), as they will do in Cub Scouting. Moreover, Lions will be led by parents filling the role of “Lion Guides” and will meet as dens of 6-8 kindergarten age boys. Lions will wear their own approved uniform, a Lion t-shirt to help them feel unique and special. Lions should not wear the Cub Scout uniform until they are old enough to officially transition into Cub Scouting as a Tiger.
3. Is there Any Involvement with Cub Scouts?
Of course, Lion dens may be invited to participate in a few pack meetings, but care should be taken to ensure that any meetings they attend are fun and engaging for boys of Lion age. Boys are restless by nature…younger boys even more so. Late nights, long meetings, lots of sitting and listening should be avoided for Cub Scouts and Lions alike. Instead, meaningful and fun activities should be planned for Lions in any meetings they attend.
4. When do Lions Become Cub Scouts?
At the end of the kindergarten year, Lions will “graduate” into Cub Scouting as a Tiger…where they will continue their grand adventure in Scouting, where future memories will be made and Cub Scout activities await.
Lions: Answers to your top questions
1. Why was the “Lion” name selected? I remember a Lion rank in Cub Scouting from years ago. Are you just bringing it back?
Congratulations to all the Scouting historians who caught that!! Yes. The Lion name has significance as a rank within Cub Scouting from the 1930’s-1960’s. As names were considered for this new, cutting-edge pilot program, honoring a name from our past made sense. It was a great way to give a nod to the organization’s rich history of delivering fun and exciting Scouting experiences to our nation’s youth. Indeed, it was a fun way to look back at our history…while moving forward in a new and exciting way!
2. Isn’t this just the Tiger program re-branded? Will boys be doing the same activities two years in a row?
No. The Lion pilot program is designed to be an introduction to Cub Scouting. It is filled with fun, age-appropriate activities that will appeal to kindergarten-age boys. Although they share a focus on the traditional Scouting concepts of character development, leadership skills, personal fitness, and citizenship, the activities are specific to the Lion program and are not duplicated within Cub Scouting. The activities will be fun and challenging in a way that is separate and apart from what boys will experience as they enter Tigers in first grade.
3. By adding a new rank to Cub Scouting, won’t boys and families “burn out” sooner and drop earlier than they normally would?
Chief Scout Executive, Mike Surbaugh, commented on this in a “Chief’s Corner” post on Scouting Wire. He wrote, the Lion pilot is, “designed to develop good, measurable data to determine program quality, parent involvement and its overall fit into the Scouting format.” The pilot will help determine whether a kindergarten program will benefit the development of five-year-old boys, and how it might effect their movement through BSA program areas long-term. As was written by many who posted and commented, though, fun and engaging program delivery may be more impactful on retention than a program’s overall length. This pilot will track that type of data and provide key learnings as we move forward.
4. How will Lions be structured? I’m thinking it might be hard to find volunteers to lead a group of boys that age.
Lions will be organized in dens of six to eight kindergarten-age boys. The dens will be mentored by Lion Guides (experienced Cub Scout adult leaders). Similar to the Tiger rank, each boy will be required to have an adult partner. With the guidance of the Lion Guide, each adult partner will take turns leading den meetings or activities. It is a shared leadership concept.
5. Will Lions be a part of the pack?
Yes. For units participating in the pilot, Lions are a part of the Cub Scout pack. It is important to note, however, that Lions will only be a part of the pack at an introductory level. The Lion program is designed to introduce five-year-old kindergarten-age boys to the fun and excitement of Scouting, but in ways that maintain appropriate expectations. Because of their age, development level, physical abilities, and stamina, it would be unrealistic to expect Lions to participate fully in pack activities. For example, Lion dens should not participate in pack fundraising, overnight camping, or activities such as shooting sports. Those experiences, and others, are more appropriate for older boys as they move through Tiger, Wolf, Bear and beyond. Instead, keep the Lion dens focused on their exciting (and age-appropriate) adventures. Invite them to attend just a few (two to three) pack meetings throughout the year. Be sure to include them in special activities, but only if appropriate for kindergarteners. Remember, the Lion program is an introduction to the world of Scouting. Deliver the curriculum as written and keep it fun!
6. What are some positive results/outcomes from councils that have already piloted Lions?
Pilot units have been extremely positive about their Lion program experience. A common theme emerging from those units has been their ability to identify engaged families for future leadership roles within the pack. Remember that the Lion program uses a shared leadership concept…introducing parents to the idea of leading just a few meetings or activities throughout the year. This gives the parents a chance to try their hand at leading activities, and gives units a way to interact with those parents. In addition, pilot units showed very strong Tiger recruitment the following year. There will be much more data learned as the pilot executes on a broader scale, but these have been early positive outcomes among initial units.