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Scouts without Awards at Blue and Gold Banquet

Jessica sent in this question:

I am a Committee Chair & a Den Leader and my husband is Cubmaster. We are a month away from our Blue and Gold Banquet. We have already planned into the ceremony for each rank of scouts to earn their rank badge. We do not have anyone earning arrow of light or crossing over because we have no Webelos II. We were really hoping all the scouts would earn their rank badge at the B&G so that March could be devoted to Scouting for Food and Electives, and April and May to outdoor events and service projects. Out of our dens, there are 6 out of 8 tigers who will definitely meet the requirements. Wolves, 12 out of 14, and of Bears 2 out of 4, and of Webelos I they will l all earn it. I am not sure what to do. I do not want these families to feel pressured, i want them to enjoy this whole experience of doing the at home activities with their son. The ones i am concerned about are pretty far behind, but not impossibly so. In addition to behind on home requirements, most of these families also missed at least one field trip, so they would have to do that on their own as well. My Den leaders are really trying to motivate the parents, but i told them to back off because we can also award these scouts their rank badge in March or April. However, my tiger leader raised a very good point that she would feel “like crap as a parent” if she were the parent of a child that did not get a badge when everyone else does. How do we avoid alienating these families? Should we as leaders call the parents and encourage them to find the time to do these activities and challenge their scout, or should we tell them don’t worry about it you have till April or May and we will award it individually but then they will feel awkward at the banquet?

This question comes up a lot. In many pack traditions, the Blue and Gold banquet is not just a celebration of Cub Scouting, but also a sort of awards banquet.  But this can be a problem since it falls in February while there are still several months left in the program year. Inevitability, some of the Cub Scouts will not have completed their rank requirements in time for the banquet.

Hopefully the parents were warned well in advance that most of the Cub Scouts would be getting their rank emblems at B&G and were aware of their responsibilities in helping their sons finish up in time. Reassure these parents that their sons will be awarded their badges as soon as they complete the requirements. If they feel pressured to finish up within a shorter time frame, they might just get frustrated and give up.

I encourage you to have an appropriate recognition ceremony at the next pack meeting after they finish up.  If a Cub Scout finishes his requirements in late February, he shouldn’t have to wait until April to have his badge presented to him in front of the pack. Awards and recognition are usually a part of every pack meeting.  Make it special with a ceremony rather than just handing him the badge. BSA has a great set of pack meeting plans, and most include some sort of advancement ceremony.

Readers, what do you think? Add your ideas to the comments below.

20 Responses to Scouts without Awards at Blue and Gold Banquet

  1. Damon Edmondson February 2, 2015 at 1:49 PM #

    This happens almost exclusively in packs which don’t have a regular meeting in Feb but instead combine the Blue and Gold, because its “easier”. Easier for whom? the adults.

    A better solution: have a monthly Feb pack meeting. NO scout awards at Blue and Gold (cross webelos over when they’re ready, not just Feb).. Instead, Blue and Gold is all about a celebration of being a cub scout. Awards for cake design, maybe some den level awards (national Den Award anyone?
    hand out those much earned Journey to Excellence Patches for everyone in the unit. Celebrate the history of the unit and of cubbing. This also serves, mid school year, to reinforce to the families the WHY of scouting.

    • Liz February 3, 2015 at 12:00 PM #

      Actually, our pack has ended up combining the two because we’re a small pack without much extra money and (1) not many families could attend an extra event and (2) it saves us money.

      Our Webelos know very well that the expectation is the end of February, and that is when the troops are prepared and most of the boys in all the units cross over. Anyone who isn’t ready is more than welcome to stay with us.

      We have also combined the B&G with the Pinewood. We may do it again, but that’s a decision for next year.

      • Becky May 19, 2015 at 9:24 PM #

        We too are a small pack, and combine our PWD with B&G. This started when our PWD event was snowed out 4 years ago and it HAD to be rescheduled the same night. It really makes for a WONDERFUL night.

        The B&G is the night we do our AoL ceremony and crossover. (it coincides with our recharter nicely too – memberships are through Feb 28th) We do not do any other awards for other Dens at this event. Only our Webelos IIs. It makes that part of the evening special for them. And having the PWD that night, makes it fun and exciting for EVERYONE!

        Trust me…it isn’t “easier” to pull all of this off at the same time…definitely NOT from a planning standpoint. But it works well for us.

  2. Melissa February 3, 2015 at 10:42 AM #

    We are in the same boat, only I AM the den leader for the Bears and have a few boys that are so far behind that I am concerned. 3 of my 7 boys have earned rank and will get them at B&G. It isn’t the fault of the scout, but the parents. I send numerous emails every month. I plan go see it events as well as service projects for the boys who are working on the World Conservation awards and others. We have the website with a newsletter that communicates everything because we submit dates and locations and other announcements to the PR chair at our committee meetings and she makes sure it all gets in there. Parents don’t read emails, check websites, or attend meetings so there is only so much a den leasdseer can do. I have taken boys with us without a parent to outings, with a waiver and two deep leadership, of course. I have let the parents know they have until the end of the program year. The rest is on them.

    • Victoria February 3, 2015 at 3:59 PM #

      I agree…the majority parents are just not interested in helping their scouts. This is my second year as a den leader. Last year, I took over the den of 7 Tigers, in January…all the boys earned rank. I have 11 wolves this year, only 3 are close to earning their rank. So many missed meetings, e-mails not read, so on and so on. It’s like pulling teeth to just get them to bring a specific craft supply…like a soup can. The local council had a membership drive, in October, (school started Aug 1st) and I had 4 new boys that needed to earn Bobcat rank…two still have not completed it. They had missed a field trip and recycling program. I am trying to go back and make up what I can, but, imho, it isn’t fair to re-do, when the majority of the boys have already done the activity. I don’t have any funds, so I asked for a kit fee for the wood project…less than 1/2 the parents paid it. It’s only early February and I’m burned out.

  3. Liz February 3, 2015 at 12:02 PM #

    Everyone who attends gets a patch. That’s one way to ensure no one walks away without something.

    Since rank awards are given out the month they are earned, we would never have a month when the majority of the boys in the majority of the dens were receiving rank at the same time, unless they were all finishing at the last meeting of the year.

  4. Jessica February 4, 2015 at 1:11 PM #

    Hello I am the original poster. Thank you to all who have replied so far. Please keep the replies coming – we will not make this mistake next year. Since our den leaders planned the den meetings and most parents did not want to do any requirement that was soon to be covered in an upcoming den meeting, we kind of doomed ourselves to all scouts finishing at the same time. Except those who missed meetings, or did not do the suggested home activites at the time they communicated. I think it is going to work out very well for our pack to have the new program. We will use the opportunity to communicate it better, focusing more on scouts doing more requirmements at home. That way we can award ranks as the scouts earn it. I now see that BSA knows best! It just does not feel right trying to get everyone caught up before the banquet. It is becoming stressful and that is not the message i want to communicate.

    • Steve June 8, 2015 at 4:36 PM #

      Jessica, I hear you about the stress part, but we (as Den/Pack leaders) can only do so much. The parents HAVE to eventually step up and make the conscious decision whether or not Scouting is right for them and their child. I have spent the last two years spoon feeding parents who commonly reply that they are “so busy”. You know as well as I do that the ones that are actually “too busy” are the ones leading the Den/Pack. While we need to do what we can to communicate with the parents, we can only do so much. Having a boy in tears during B&G or any other awards ceremony is tough, but it is the parents that are to blame. I try to make sure that every Scout gets something during awards ceremonies, but when you have that Scout that does not come to meetings, whose parents never update you on any achievements/electives, and who also misses most outings, you can’t make up the awards. The parents need to be involved. That’s what Cub Scouting is about.
      I have sent emails, made special checklists, posted updates and reminders on our Den website and followed up with phone calls, text messages and in person reminders. I have had parents who still refuse to participate and/or have their Scouts complete requirements. At that point, it is unfair to the boys/families that have completed them. I do not schedule make up outings or meetings just so one or two can make up the requirement. I give the parents all of the information and let them know I and there for any questions, but its got to be up to them at some point. Its very sad that they don’t mind seeing their son in tears but you can’t continue to coddle the parents.

  5. Cindy February 6, 2015 at 7:38 AM #

    We only have AOL/Crossover for advancements at the B&G. We still have a monthly pack night where achievements are presented. A couple of years ago we started awarding rank advancements later in the year, usually in April. It’s really hard for some ranks (like Bears) to be done by February. Even with doing it in April, a few boys, and sometimes a den, will not be quite done. We will award the badge if they are close with the understanding that they should finish by June 1.

  6. Nicole February 7, 2015 at 10:12 PM #

    The B&G is a birthday celebration of scouting. It’s important to have it at this time for the Webelos IIs to cross over. Since its an expense for most packs, it make sense to have rank advancements at that time even if it is ceremonially. It’s hard to get it all done by Feb. So our pack gives Cubs til May to complete their requirements. It is all for the kids. If your scout hasn’t completed their rank by the end of May it would be a good time for a commitment discussion with the parents. With that said we make no exception for Arrow of Light, they must complete it before crossing over at the B&G. It is the one of the only awards that carries over to Boy Scouts. Hope this helps.

  7. Rhonda February 9, 2015 at 7:56 PM #

    I hate that not all kids will earn their badges and/or cross over. My husband and I raised 2 Eagle scouts and we know how scouting enriches a child’s life and provides skills that follow him into manhood. Our grandson is now in Webelos 1, Tonight he was, again, the only scout in his group that completed homework assignment. The assignment was not long nor tedious.

    Bottom line the PARENT must be held responsible. No den leader can drag someone else’s child through the entire program. If that parent feels “like crap” because their child didn’t get an award or advancement and everyone else within that den did . . . then maybe the parent needs to wake up and involve themselves with their child. Scouting is as meaningful an experience for the child as it can be for the parent.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh and uncaring. We’ve taken numerous children to events and had them over to our home trying to get them through different activities, sometimes we were successful and sometimes we werent. So in the end it rests with the parent.

  8. tammy February 14, 2015 at 11:55 AM #

    Does anyone have any thoughts on how the new program may affect those packs (like mine) that award at B&G? To me, it looks like the new program is designed for the year, ie 7 months if there are 3 den meetings a month. I’m thinking the new program is a great time for packs to reconsider awarding at B&G.

  9. Colby February 15, 2015 at 4:35 AM #

    I am with Tammy that the transition to the new program will allow leaders to change the way the programs run. Next year, I’m throwing a birthday party with games/activities, a pot luck, and some speakers (charter rep, FOS, etc). If we cross over the Web 2s AND give out other advancement awards, it will be 3-4 hrs.

  10. Chris February 17, 2015 at 12:08 PM #

    I’ve been a den leader for eight years now. On Sunday at our B&G ceremony I will be crossing over my second den, and transitioning into my new role as Scoutmaster for the Troop.

    The way our Pack has handled the awards, is to try and center the B&G around the Webelos. However in some years because of scheduling conflicts we have awarded other earned pins/belt loops/badges to the cubs. And yes we award a rank badge as soon as earned, it helps motivate the others in the den to work towards that badge.

    It is at our Spring Family Camp Out in May that we have a larger celebration for each den, advancing them up to the new den rank. This has been a hit, and really gotten a good turn out.

    As for parent involvement, I believe most every Pack / den has had this problem. As a den leader, I personally have taken extra involvement to do as much of the work as possible within the den meeting environment. For some of the things that have had to be done at home, if the parent isn’t communicating the progress. I’ve used time to talk to the scout himself, you may find that he has done many things in his day to day life that will achieve certain requirements. You will find this can also cause him to motivate parents to help get things done.

  11. AKK February 20, 2015 at 3:01 PM #

    I am the Pack Master. Out of 23 boys, only 5 have earned rank for our Blue & Gold. My plan was to award JUST those ranks. However, I have decided to CANCEL the B&G because I have had the Food & Drink/Volunteer sign up sheet out there for a month (sent multiple reminder emails) and still only 4 parents other than me have signed up to bring something. I planned, organized, and executed the entire Pinewood Derby by myself after no one signed up to help. And so help me god, I’m not doing the B&G by myself too! I’ll give out the advancement awards at the March meeting.

    • Victoria February 20, 2015 at 4:14 PM #

      I totally agree, you should not have to do it all by yourself.

  12. Camille February 23, 2015 at 10:48 AM #

    I’m the B&G chair for my Pack, and I can tell you that not all of our Scouts are ready to earn their rank. Our B*G is this Saturday, and we will hand out awards for a Scout/Akela Cake Bake (patches to all who participated and certificates to those the judges choose in certain categories), belt loops for those that have earned them, and rank for those who have achieved that. It is our Feb. Pack meeting so we don’t have to have two meetings.
    While some parents and leaders might feel bad that not all of their Scouts have achieved rank by this time, I wouldn’t stress on it. It is a time of celebration for all, so you don’t have to make a big deal about rank achievement. Yes, award those who have achieved it, but don’t do it in a way that would maybe make those who have not feel bad. Hope this helps!

  13. Jessica March 2, 2015 at 3:17 AM #

    Hello I am the OP and i wanted to follow up on what we did. Since most scouts were on track to get their rank, me and the Den leaders really reached out and encouraged the stragglers. So everyone who attended did get their badge. I have learned my lesson however not to let this happen next year. I am hoping at least a handful of scouts will earn their rank “early” before the Blue and Gold, so not everyone will be earning their rank that night due to the fact that some were awarded previously. I now see the reason we need to foucs on immediate recognition with the exception of the Webelos corssing over into Boy Scouts which we will do at next year’s Blue and Gold. We did not have any Webleos 2 this scouting year due to some bad recruiting years, but we will next year so we will be better off if we do not have that many other rank awards at the Blue and Gold. I am going to use the new program as an impetus to change to a method of immediate recognition, especially rank badges and hopefully a few will attain their rank early to inspire the rest.

  14. Jessica March 2, 2015 at 3:21 AM #

    Thank you to all who commented. It was very helpful to read everyone’s take on this common problem. Thanks again!

  15. ScottyK April 21, 2015 at 9:47 AM #

    I’m a Cubmaster for a pack here in Moore, Oklahoma. I’ve been a Cubmaster for three years, and I’d like to share what we did for our last two B&G Banquets.

    Last year we had a problem with our Webelo 2’s wanting to take over the entire ceremony with their Arrow of Light Ceremony and Crossover. They didn’t want other dens involved at all. I had to sit those leaders down and remind them that the B&G was a celebration of ALL Cub Scouts, not just the Webelos 2’s. So they relented and “included” the other dens. The other den leaders were not happy with the Webelo 2’s, so they wanted to “load up” their portions of the ceremony. What happened was every kid got some sort of award, and it turned into a 2.5 hour ceremony. UGH.

    So this year we did things completely different. The first thing I wanted to do was get rid of the belief that rank awards can only be awarded at the B&G ceremony. In past years scouts would burn through the requirements, but have to sit for 3 months until they could get the rank award because leaders wanted everybody to get them at the same time. I didn’t like that! This year we had four scouts work hard during the summer and fall, and completed their rank requirements in November. At the November pack meeting I went ahead and presented the rank badges to those scouts, over the objects of the leaders who wanted everyone to get it at the same time. Once the scouts saw that they would get the rank badge once they earned it, it generated more interested in getting things finished. We had additional scouts finish in December & January, and I presented those rank badges at the respective pack meetings. The floodgates were now open, and we stressed the “immediate recognition” aspect of awards.

    Those boys who earned the rank badge early sewed it on, and it served as motivation for the other boys to finish up their requirements also.

    We use the website to track all advancement and awards, and to document the completing of tasks. What’s good about the program is other can view the progress being made, so it keeps parents “honest”!

    Our pack normally gives out awards during the weekly den meetings, and saves the big ones (rank, religious, etc) for pack meetings. In February we stopped awarding arrow points and held them back.

    At the B&G, we called each den up on stage, presented the rank awards left to be awarded. Then we presented the arrow points to boys who earned them. For the boys who didn’t get anything, I handed out the membership cards to the dens.

    So that took care of the problem of what to do with the kids who didn’t finish the requirements. The entire den got up on stage, and everybody got something in their hand, along with their name called out. Then it made the leaders who wanted everybody to get it at the same time happy because the entire den was on stage getting recognized.

    On the same token, I won’t chase after parents who refuse to do anything, nor will I “pencil whip” the requirements just so Little Johnny can have a rank badge too. I feel it cheapens the award for the boys who work hard to actually earn it. As a leader I provide the opportunities for the parents, but if they refuse to take advantage of it, I’m not going to lose sleep over it. We can’t save them all.

    The only exception I make for the “awarding rank badges early” is the Arrow of Light. That is a unique ceremony, and I do like to save it for the B&G.

    One more thing, at our B&G ceremony, we open it with the Tigers doing the opening flag ceremony, and close it out with the boys who just crossed over into Boy Scouts doing the retrieving of the Colors. It’s a great visual, our youngest boys start us off, and our oldest boys close us out. Plus it’s cute to see 4-5 Tigers struggling to carry the flag up on stage, the parents love it!

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