There are 53 Academic and Sports Beltloops (& Pins) that can be earned by any Cub Scout during their time within the Pack. This program is great since it helps the boys not only explore areas that they are interested in or sports that they play. These can be earned as a Den, Pack and with the family. Once earned, the Beltloop and/or Pin should be immediately present to the Cubscout at the next Pack meeting. Many of these beltloops can be actually earned by completing school projects such as Art Beltloop during Art time. Every school generally has an art class. During first grade several boys in the Den were in the school Chess club. So, they earned the Chess Beltloop just by being in that. Another easy one is Reading and Writing, the kids are in school to read and write, go the library and sometimes keep a journal. Hence earning that beltloop. For the sports side of beltloops, what kid does not know how to play Kickball? Just like “There’s an App for that”, there is a Beltloop for that. Oh, and there is an App! Reguardless of how athletic a Scout may or may not be, there are several sport beltloops that they can work towards. Not everyone is into Football or Baseball. They could be the next Dude in Bowling or a wicked Disc Golfer!
So, what’s the conundrum part? When a Bear becomes a Webelos I then II, the whole Beltloop process starts over. Beltloops in particular count again, but the pins do not. It does not mean that the Beltloops previously earned go away, or don’t count anymore. The Cubscout has earned them. They are his. Within Webelos, the Beltloops can be used to complete several Activity Badges. There is the conundrum. Actually two. The first is, many Webelos Den Leaders are NOT aware that the Beltloops can be used for the Activity Badges. They do. It should be explained to both the Webelos and their Parents. The more sticky part is really a Pack based policy. When a Webelos re-earns a Beltloop that they got as a Tiger, Wolf or Bear should a Pack re-buy the betloop and present it? In our Pack, it is a no. They already have a beltloop and has been given to them. There is no reason to have two. If the Webelos looses it, the parents should re-purchase it from the Scoutshop. If every Beltloop was earned, that would roughly be $80. No kid has a belt that large to wear them all. I would encourage the Webelos Scout to push further and earn the Pin and award the Pin with an explanation during the awarding that they re-earned it, got the pin and it counts towards whatever Activtity Badge it works for. I would get a policy in place about earning Beltloops a second time and explain it to the Webelos and Parents. That will stop hurt feelings before they happen.
So, what Activity Badge would work with a Beltloop. Let’s look at the Aquanaut Activity Badge. While it is in the Physical Class in Webelos, it is not a required Activity Badge as Fitness & Citizen for the Webelos Badge. It is also not required for the Arrow of Light Badge either. The Webelos Badge does not allow for two Physical Activity Badges, but it can be used for Arrow of Light. The Aquanaut is very attainable and is linked to the Swimming requirement in Boy Scouts. So, it’s well worth the time and effort to complete it as a Webelos. The Beltloop that goes along with it is…any guesses? Yes, Swimming. My son, Elliot, earned it and the Pin while in Maui in Feburary 2011. Ok, he actually finished it with going SNUBA off the beach and in the pool. SNUBA was the icing on the cake, since he worked up to it. It was the reward actually. Elliot is a fantastic swimmer and loves to snorkel in every pool he can find. Looking at the Aquanaut Badge under requirement 8, you can earn the Swimming Beltloop to complete one of the three other requirements. If you look at the requirements of Swimming, it’s like looking at the prerequisite for Aquanaut. There is also a Swimming Merit Badge and it’s required for the First Class rank in Boy Scouts.
By taking a look at the Beltloops and the Activity Badges, you will find that there is a purpose to them being offered. If you work with the program and incorporate all aspects the boys will get more involved in the Webelos program, get excited about earning Webelos Bling, and really be ready for the Boy Scout Troop and the requirements needed to get to Second & First Class and beyond.
Swimming is a vital skill in life. Most of us take it for granted, but it’s also a great source of fun! I should know, I almost drown in a neighbors pool when I was 8 or 9. I freaked out cause I was not a good swimmer back then after diving off the diving board. No one jumped in after me, but I spluttered to the side. All the adults just stood there screaming at me to swim. I figured that they might have just given me a drink since that was what I was trying to do.