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Broken Arrow Ceremony for Scouts Joining in Webelos

Reader Beth asked

Should I do a Broken Arrow Ceremony for boys who have just come into Scouting in Webelos 1? I did one when the other boys earned the Bear in the Spring, but now I have 3 new boys.

First of all, I’d like to explain that there are several different broken arrow ceremonies. This can refer to a ceremony performed in the Order of the Arrow which recognizes an Arrowman who has passed away. But Beth is referring to a Cub Scout ceremony. Sometimes a broken arrow ceremony is performed when Webelos earn their Arrow of Light or  Webelos cross over to Scouts BSA. In this case it a ceremony is being done when the Cub Scouts move from Bears to Webelos.

Here is a typical ceremony run down if you are not familiar with it. The leader holds together a bunch of arrows and talks about how he can’t break them as a group and they are strong together. But then he shows how it is easy to break one and says something about how they are stronger as a group than as individuals. Parent receive the head of the arrow as a symbol that they will guide the Scout. Scouts receive the tail as a symbol that they are starting on a new journey.

The purpose of ceremonies can be to have a shared experience and to emphasize a point. There is certainly no harm in doing the ceremony and if you think it would be meaningful to your new Webelos, I’d say go ahead.  If you are unsure,  ask the Scout’s parents what they think. Are the new Webelos expecting a broken arrow ceremony? Do the parents think it is important and will they attend? Also, ask you other pack leaders what they think.  But there is no “BSA rule” about it. Often things like this come down to tradition, and even traditions can change if you strongly believe the benefits to your Scouts outweigh the power of the tradition.


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