The Lion pilot is the largest pilot program in Boy Scouts of America history. This program, designed for Kindergarten-age boys and their families, has resulted in heartwarming reviews and stories from parents, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
**The following information was shared as a “Lion Update” email sent to the participating councils in April/May of 2017.
An online survey will soon be sent to all Lion parents and Lion Guides who have provided the BSA with an email address.
Facts about the pilot’s first year:
- 204 local councils were approved for the Lion Pilot program.
- 30,000+ youth registered as a Lion.
- Over 4,300 units include Lions.
- Lots of fun and excitement was experienced by kindergartners and their families.
Given the success of the initial pilot launch this year, and the expected official inclusion of Lions to the Cub Scouting program in the 2018–2019 program year, the BSA hopes every council will participate in the pilot program this coming fall.
Next steps for Councils:
- Existing approved Lion councils–For those councils currently participating, a simple email from the Scout executive, sent to Lion.Pilot@scouting.org, is all that’s needed. The email should contain the following language: “<insert council name> desires to continue participating in the approved Lion pilot under the same terms and conditions as in the MOU we signed in 2016.”
- Councils new to the Lion Pilot–If your council has not yet participated in the Lion Pilot, and would like to offer this program in the next school year, email your interest to: Lion.Pilot@scouting.org for an approval form and an outline of the approval process. The form will need Scout executive and Council President signatures, as well as the AD and Area President’s. We are glad to accept electronic signatures or approvals via email.
Next steps for units:
Early indicators suggest that as many as 72% of this year’s registered Lion families were new to Scouting, so we anticipate these new families may not understand the next steps in the process.
Please make sure all Lion families know we want them back next year to enjoy the benefits of Cub Scouting. Scouting is a lifelong process, not a one-time try like other activities. Units should help Lion families understand what’s next and why it’s important. We would encourage units to explain that Scouting builds character, and the longer a youth is involved in Scouting, the greater the benefit. Of course, it provides more time for fun, too!
In addition, plan for an easy transition to Tigers. Invite parents to follow these steps:
- Celebrate their boy’s success this year as a Lion.
- Get ready for Tigers. Know the Tiger Leader, when and where they will meet. Encourage parents to take a trip to the Scout Shop to deck out their young boy in his new Tiger gear. It’s a really fun tim; they should enjoy getting ready for their son’s next step.
- Start discussing what recruitment efforts the youth and family want to do to continue to include more new friends into their Den. Many people decide to use one of the summertime Scouting activities as a fun recruitment event. Whatever is decided, make sure they have fun, and congratulate them on a successful Lion Pilot year!
Changes for 2017–2018 school year:
We listened to you and have changed several elements to make the Lion Pilot better. Even with these changes, it is still considered a national pilot, and evaluation will continue throughout the next school year.
- Registration age wording change—to make sure the Lion pilot is more consistent with the joining wording of other Scouting program areas, and to clarify things, we have changed the joining requirements for the Lion Pilot to say: To join: A boy who is 5 years old or the year before first grade.
- Pinewood Derby (PWD)—appropriate alternatives — An area of interest to many units is Lion participation in Pinewood Derby (PWD). Previously, as stated in the Lion Pilot FAQs, we indicated Lions should not participate in PWD. The reasoning behind this was that the building of the car may not be not 5-year-old age appropriate. It also sets up the bad precedent of adults building cars with little to no participation by Lion youth. Many Packs and Districts have strict rules around their boys building the cars themselves. We know everyone loves PWD and wants the Lions to join in the fun, so the BSA is offering alternatives for you to consider.
New Pinewood Derby Options
Beginning in the 2017–2018 school year, we’d like to suggest two alternatives to the traditional PWD. One option is to include Lion youth in a traditional PWD but have youth use the wedge car available via the Scout Shop. Another option is to offer a Veggie Car Derby.
Option 1 — Wedge Car. This solution provides all the benefits: inclusion, fun, no pre-building necessary, and age appropriateness. The Lion youth just attaches the wheels and decorates. Now, they are good to race!
A flyer explaining the Veggie Car Derby concept will be available online at www.scouting.org/lion. A template with instructions on how to run a Veggie Car Derby will be posted soon. We hope this helps Lion youth and families feel more included and experience age-appropriate fun.
New Lion merchandise was requested (like adult size t-shirts) and is now available. See www.scouting.org/lion for the flyer. Feel free to share this with your units.
Remember the Lion program begins with the school year in August-September and goes through May. In May, Lion youth transition to Tigers and participate in their first Day Camp. So this year’s Lions will soon be Tigers and new Lions will be starting next fall.
Safety and other activities outside of the Lion program material:
By design, Lions are excluded from activities such as the shooting sports, climbing, camping, aquatics, and many of the activities that are considered appropriate for Cub Scouts in a Den or Pack environment. Please stick to the program guide for the boundaries of the Lion Pilot without putting participants at risk.
As always, please refer to the Guide to Safe Scouting for age appropriate activities. Lion youth are not included in the Guide to Safe Scouting at this time (it’s a pilot). If a Lion Scout is included in a family with other Cub Scout siblings, their participation in Pack Family camping with an older sibling and parents is not prohibited. As always, thoughtful selection of a Lion Guide who knows and follows the program as designed is a key to success.The BSA says thank you to the 204 Councils participating in the Lion Pilot this year. Your hard work and efforts made this happen!
Please encourage your professionals and volunteers to spread the word about participating in the upcoming Lion survey. We would appreciate feedback from those delivering the program this year.