Blue Ridge Mountains Council


Arrow Of Light Rank

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The Arrow Of Light (AOL) program is a program for boys who have completed the fourth grade (or are not yet age 11) that encourages the development ethical decision making skills while motivating the Scout to achieve his full physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual potentials as an individual, as a responsible citizen, and as a member of his local, national, and international communities. The AOL program emphasizes leadership, learning about the community, and family understanding. The program also provides the Scout with an opportunity to try new things, provide service to others, build self-confidence, and reinforce ethical standards. This group of scouts are the oldest Cub Scouts in the Pack and as such carry the responsibility of being good role models to the younger Cub Scouts. It also falls upon these scouts to help explain what exciting activities await the younger scouts and to help them during Pack activities. Unlike the Tiger, Wolf, Bear and Webelos dens, an adult partner plays a new, more supportive, and less directive role in the group. The fifth set of steps along the Boy Scout Trail are provided here as each set of steps continues to build on the basic categories of adventures done in previous ranks.

The Arrow Of Light is the second milestone of the Webelos two-year transition aimed at preparing the AOL scout for his eventual graduation from the Cub Scout program into the Boy Scout program. The AOL scout learns that it is his responsibility to earn his adventure pins. The adventures that he must complete are somewhat more difficult and challenging than those for the Bear, Wolf, or Tiger rank. These age appropriate adventures emphasize character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. As the AOL scout completes the adventures found in the Webelos handbook, he will work on activity badges, attend meetings led by adults, and become familiar with the Boy Scout requirements; all leading to the AOL award. webelos_handbook

During the second year, the AOL scout works to complete four required adventures and three elective adventures. The AOL scout is helped by the AOL den leader, who will eventually pass the AOL scout on the requirements. At this stage, the AOL scout should become involved in program planning. He will learn simple leadership skills and should get involved with the other AOL scouts in setting a code of discipline for the den. In setting up the code of discipline, he will learn what it is like to set rules and live by them. Like our entire our Scouting program, the AOL program follows a school-year cycle where boys remain in the Webelos program until they complete fifth grade, at which time, they graduate into a Boy Scout Troop and will have the opportunity to participate in the many summer camps available to Boy Scouts.

Also during this second year, the AOL scout attends more functions with their host Troop or with a Troop that they wish to join upon graduation and continue to earn activity badges and other awards. They are still under the leadership of the AOL den leader. The highlight comes when the AOL scout becomes Boy Scout age and/or graduates from the Pack to a Troop. This is usually accomplished with a special graduation ceremony, called the Bridging Ceremony or the Cross-Over Ceremony. During this ceremony, the AOL scout will cross-over from Cub Scouting and enter into Boy Scouting. The AOL badge is the highest Cub Scout advancement rank and is one of the few Cub Scout awards that can transition to the Boy Scout, Varsity Scout or Venturing uniform. Adults wear the AOL square knot emblem which signifies they earned this advancement. Each boy joining the Cub Scout program for the first time must earn a Bobcat badge before he can proceed to earn any other badge.

aol_knot A well-run AOL den will transition from being an adult-run den to being a scout-run patrol ready to fit right into an adventurous Boy Scout troop. During this second year, the idea of den-wide completions of activity badges will give way to the notion that each scout, on his own schedule, is responsible for his advancement. The den conducts some projects that can be credited towards the ranks and activity badges that the boys earn, but not all of the requirements are addressed at den meetings. This is deliberate. The den will focus on having more patrol games, contests, and skill-building adventures or activities rather than activities directly related to earning a particular activity badge. Eventually, this will lead to the scout performing more of the activity badge requirements on his own and then notifying the den leader to sign off on the completion of his adventures or activities. The AOL scout learns that if he wishes to advance, then he is responsible for meeting the requirements outside den meeting times. These requirements are challenging, but very reachable by boys in this age group. These surmountable obstacles and steps to overcome help a boy grow in self-reliance and the ability to help others. This is patterned after the merit badge and advancement process in a Boy Scout Troop. The final stage of AOL scout is the bridging or crossing over into a Boy Scout troop selected individually by him to continue his Scouting experience.

Arrow Of Light Den
Fifth Grader or 11 years of age

Under the leadership of a AOL den leader, the AOL scout will spend his second year working on a series of seven adventures described in his Webelos handbook that advances him towards his Arrow Of Light award. By completing these seven adventures, the Arrow Of Light badge, the highest award in Cub Scouts is earned.

A knowledgeable, well-trained den leader is critical to the success of a den. All leaders have certain responsibilities to the boys in Cub Scouts. Each leader should respect boys’ rights as individuals and treat them as such; see that boys find the excitement, fun, and adventure that they expected when they joined the program; provide enthusiasm, encouragement, and praise for boys’ efforts and achievements; develop among the boys a feeling of togetherness and team spirit that gives them security and pride; and provide opportunities for boys to experience new dimensions in their world.

The den leader plans the program of activities for the scouting year, carries out that program, and makes that plan available to all den parents. The den leader should enjoy being outside and be comfortable exploring the environment in a safe manner. The den leader also makes advancement opportunities available to each scout and tracks his advancements. The AOL den leader can also recruit other adults to plan and organize individual adventure outings. One of the main roles of the AOL den leader is to be encouraging, organized, and supportive as he or she gives each scout opportunities to lead and make decisions, both individually and for the den.

The AOL den leader is a registered volunteer BSA position. Every AOL den is required to have a registered den leader whose responsibilities include, but are not limited to: working directly with other den and pack leaders to ensure that the den is an active and successful part of the pack; planning, preparing for, and conducting den meetings; attending Pack Committee meetings; leading the den at Pack meetings and activities; keeping accurate records, helping the den earn the National Den Award; and preparing the AOL scout for the future transition to Boy Scout at the end of the year.

The Cub Scout motto Do Your Best is a key part of the Cub Scouting program. There is no level of competence or skill required to complete adventures. Success is achieved by putting forth one’s best personal effort and having fun with fellow scouts.

George Evans Michael Herndon

Our Arrow Of Light den meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Scout Room. (The Scout Room is in the basement of the Literacy Volunteers Of America building across the street from the Dollar General Market in downtown Christiansburg at the corner of West Main and Dunkley Streets.)