New Scout FAQs

Welcome to Family Scouting! We offer Cub Scout programs for both boys and girls.  Families new to scouts often have a few questions.  Read on to see answers to the most often-asked questions. 

We are sure you will enjoy all the fun that scouting has to offer.  It may seem like there is a lot of information here, but mostly it’s because we’ve tried to be comprehensive and cover all the questions that families new to scouting usually have. Don’t worry, there isn’t a quiz.

Why Scouting?

Through various activities and achievements, scouting helps to foster strong values and life skills in youth. Children are bombarded continually with complex and mixed messages. Scouting strives to support and assist parents by reinforcing values taught in the home. There are very few places a parent can send a youth to have these values taught. Scouting has never left the values on which Scouting was founded.

Who Can Join?

Pack 16 is open to all youth in kindergarten through 5th grade. Youth are eligible to join as early as June 1st before the start of their kindergarten year. Although First United holds our Charter and is our primary meeting place, the Pack remains non-sectarian. We are fortunate to enjoy great diversity within the Pack and have scouts of many religious denominations and ethnic backgrounds.

What is a Pack? What is a Den?

All scouts from all grades together are called a Pack. A Den is made up of a group of youth from one grade. Sometimes there is one Den per grade, sometimes two or more depending upon registration.

Each Den will have a Den Leader (or co-den leaders) who are responsible for coordinating activities for that Den. The Cubmaster and Assistant Cubmaster lead the Pack, and together with the leadership Committee are responsible for planning Pack activities.

We are always looking for help coordinating events, so please let us know if you are interested in helping with leadership in any way. We can use your skills! Contact our Pack Committee Chair at for more information.

What is an Akela?

Within the pack, Akela is a symbol of wisdom, authority, and leadership. Akela is anyone who acts as a leader to the Scout.

Akela can be a Cubmaster, Den Leader, parent or teacher depending on where the guidance takes place. In den meetings, it is the Den Leader who is Akela. During pack meetings, it is the Cubmaster. At home, the parents fill this role. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, chose Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book as a source of symbolism and allegorical framework for the youngest members of the Scouting movement. Many references are made to this story in the Cub Scout section, including the “Council Rock” for discussions and planning, and the “Grand Howl” to express a sense of belonging and team spirit.

When are the meetings?

The Pack will have 1-2 activities per month, usually larger events (e.g. Camping trip, Pinewood Derby, Blue and Gold, Bowling). See the calendar of activities on the Pack website for upcoming activities.

Dens also have about 2‐3 activities per month. The schedule is determined by each Den and communicated by the Den Leader.

How do I sign up?

  • New scouts can register at any time during the year.
  • If you are joining at the beginning of the school year, you can pick up application forms at the first pack meeting of the year (usually end of August).

What is the cost? Do I need to sell stuff to raise money?

The following is our fee structure:

  • $225 for new and returning scouts

The above is due with your application. It covers one year of scouting activities from September through August. The registration fee includes the following:

  • Dues to Scout BSA national organization. This covers insurance, training for leaders, and a variety of other forms of support.
  • A 12-month subscription to Scout Life magazine
  • Your Scout Handbook

The remainder of the money from registration and from fundraising pays for the vast majority of scouting activities throughout the year. This includes campouts, Pinewood Derby cars, rocket kits, pack meeting activities, den activities, advancement ceremonies, badges, and scholarships. When compared to what you pay for other kids’ activities like sports that only last a matter of weeks, scouting is an outstanding value.

We hold at least one annual fundraiser per year. We sale mums in the fall, typically in September or October.  We have also participated in the annual scout popcorn fundraiser each fall that goes from the end of August through mid-October and bake sales at the Oak Park Farmers Market either at the end of May or early June.

We try to keep scouting as affordable as possible, with the philosophy that you’d rather pay one flat fee up front than pay for individual events throughout the year. Parents are only asked to contribute for a few more expensive optional events (e.g. a museum sleep-over) that our budget does not cover.

At one point during the year parents will also be asked for donations to Friends of Scouting. Friends of Scouting is a fundraiser that benefits our local council, the Pathway to Adventure Council (PTAC), which spans two states. The Pathway to Adventure Council does not receive any funding from the national Boy Scouts of America organization. We benefit from the Pathway to Adventure Council as they run many fun events that our scouts participate in every year such as summer day camp, winter blast, and Webelos adventure camp, as well as providing training opportunities for leadership.

If you want to join scouting but the fee is the only reason standing in the way, contact the Scoutmaster directly to discuss a payment plan or scholarship.

My child needs a uniform, right?

Yes, the Scouts BSA always WAS, IS and FOREVER WILL BE a Uniformed Body. There are many reasons for this policy. We expect that every Scout wears their full uniform at meetings and functions as designated. Keep in mind that when you wear the uniform you represent not only yourself but all Scouts that came before you and all Scouts that will come after you. Please make sure shirts are tucked, neckerchiefs are worn properly and that uniforms are kept neat and tidy. It is also important to make sure to update rank advancement patches on a timely basis and make sure all patches and pins are properly sewn and displayed.

What are the different levels in Cub Scouts?

There are six ranks in Cub Scouting. 

  • Bobcats – All new Cub Scouts regardless of when they join the program must earn the rank of Bobcat first. They must learn and be able to repeat by memory eight fundamentals of Cub Scouting including The Cub Scout Motto, Law of the Pack and Cub Scout Promise.
  • Lions – Kindergarten Cub Scouts. A less structured, beginning introduction to Cub Scouting.  All activities are conducted with an adult partner. Pack meets once a month.
  • Tigers – First Grade Cub Scouts – A less structured, beginning introduction to Cub Scouting.  All activities are conducted with an adult partner.
  • Wolves– Second Grade Cub Scouts.
  • Bears – Third Grade Cub Scouts.
  • Webelos – Fourth Grade Cub Scouts.
  • Arrow of Light (AOL) – Fifth grade Cub Scouts. The highest rank a Cub Scout can achieve. A high level of dedication is required to fulfill the requirements for this honor.

There are Scout Handbooks for each rank (Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelo/AOL). The handbooks contain information about the various achievements and activities for each rank.  Each Cub Scout should have their own handbook. Each parent is encouraged to familiarize themselves with the handbook. Parents are required to review the first section in each Cub Scout rank’s handbook that deals with Youth Protection.

How do scouts earn badges?

Each school year the scouts in each grade are working on achieving a rank, represented by a badge. For example, kindergartens are called Lions and work on earning the Lion badge. The achievements to do so are listed in the Lion handbook, and usually involve a variety of fun physical, social, and civic activities. They’re fun to do, and also give the youth a sense of accomplishment that they are working toward and achieving something. Achievements completed by Tigers, Wolves and Bears scouts earn a belt loop.  Achievements completed by Webelos and Arrow of Light scouts earn a pin.

New Scouts do not go need to go back and earn the prior rank. For example, a second-grade youth joining the Pack does not have to go back and earn the Tiger rank. This is true for all ranks of cub scouts.

However, all new youth do earn the Bobcat rank. Your Den leader will make this part of their meeting program.  The Bobcat requirements require a youth to demonstrate an understanding of Scouting’s core values.

Cub Scouts work on adventures that are specific to their grade. The number of required and elective adventures that are needed to meet the requirements to earn the badge vary per each grade level. There are required adventures and elective adventures and each has a recognition item. First-grade through third-grade electives have adventure loops that are worn on their belts.  Fourth and fifth-graders have adventure pins that are worn on their Webelos Colors. By earning adventure loops and pins scouts learn the qualities of character, citizenship, leadership, and physical fitness.

Your scout will also get segments and patches for participating in activities. The segments go on the back of a red vest called a Brag Vest, in a circle pattern. The patches can go anywhere on the vest. It looks pretty cool once they’ve accumulated a few!

How Much Time will parents have to commit?

We know that your time is valuable. More than ever, today’s families struggle to find time to spend together. Participating in Cub Scouts helps to support your family by providing ready-made opportunities for you and your child(ren) to do things together.

Parents attend meetings and assist with short-term projects in the den or pack. This might iclude helping your child during service projects, conservation projects, field trips or other outings, as well as helping out at the Blue and Gold celebration, a day camp, the Pinewood Derby, pack overnight camping, or field day events. Remember Scouting is fun with a purpose.   

Who can I contact with additional questions?

Anyone in Pack 16 leadership is happy to discuss scouting. For general questions, your best bet will be the Cubmaster, Asst. Cubmaster, or your Den Leader. You may also email