Your comments and feedback on the Lion pilot program have been terrific! It’s great to see so much enthusiasm about the prospects of reaching kindergarten-age boys with the fun and excitement of Scouting. It’s also very helpful to see the questions you’ve raised. Through Scouting Wire, Facebook, Twitter and many other channels, we’ve compiled your top questions and answered them in the Q&A below. Continue reading to get the scoop.
Your Questions, Answered
Our council has run a kindergarten-age program for years. Why is this considered a “new” program now?
Although a few councils have run locally-developed programs in the past, the National Lion Pilot launching now is the only approved BSA program for five-year-old kindergarten-age boys. The curriculum was developed by a team of experts, including representation from the fields of childhood development, education, and child psychology. Locally-developed content was reviewed by that team, and the best pieces woven into the new curriculum. That team worked to ensure that the organization’s high standards were met in delivering effective (age-appropriate) character and leadership programs. A small number of councils have tested the new curriculum over the past two years, and it is now ready to expand as a national pilot.
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.
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 1st grade.
By adding a new rank to Cub Scouting, won’t boys and families “burn out” sooner and drop earlier then they normally would?
Chief Scout Executive, Mike Surbaugh, commented on this in this Chief’s Corner post in March. 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 of you in posts and comments, 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.
We’re so excited about this program, when will I know if our council is approved to participate? How will we be told?
Interested councils may apply through their Area Director to become a pilot site. Scout Executives are aware of the application and notification processes. If interested, please contact your council office to inquire. The excitement continues to build!
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.
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!
When will this roll out nationwide? If the Lion program has been run in a few councils, why continue to pilot it?
It is important to pilot new Scouting programs in order to gather critical feedback from parents, volunteers and youth. As such, the organization has outlined a process to ensure newly developed programs are tested and evaluated. They must meet BSA’s high standards in driving character and leadership outcomes. Piloting is a critical part of that process. The data and what we learn this fall will guide the next steps.
I can’t help but wonder if this is driven by low recruitment and a desire to get more fees. Is that the case?
Absolutely not! The development of a kindergarten program is driven by the desire to reach more of America’s youth with the purposeful outcomes only Scouting can provide. Oftentimes, families make “joining” decisions at about the kindergarten age. As they enter 1st Grade, schedules are often full and we’ve missed the opportunity. We know from the recent Tufts study that Scouting works! It has a tremendous impact on the lives of young people. The Lion program is a way to reach more of America’s families with the benefits of Scouting.
What are some positive results/outcomes you can share 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 this fall as the pilot executes on a broader scale, but these have been early positive outcomes among initial units.
Did We Miss Anything?
Do you have any questions not covered here? If so, share your Lion pilot program questions in the comments below. Thank you for your insightful questions and feedback thus far!