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:

lionDur­ing the 2016–2017 school year, the fol­low­ing was imple­ment­ed:

  • 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, 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: 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:

Lion ArtEar­ly 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:

Running LionsWe 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! 

Lion Veggie Derby OptionOption 2 — Veg­gie Car Der­by.  It is designed to be a fun activ­i­ty to inte­grate with your Pack or unit, and is kid-test­ed and kid-approved! 

A fly­er explain­ing the Veg­gie Car Der­by con­cept will be avail­able online at  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 merchandise:

Lion Adult T-ShirtsNew Lion mer­chan­dise was request­ed (like adult size t-shirts) and is now avail­able.  See for the fly­er.  Feel free to share this with your units.

Lion transition:

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.Lions with BoxThe 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.

Annaleis Smith
Is a “stay at home” mom of 5 (3 boys). She has been a Cub Scout leader (Cubmaster, Den Leader, Roundtable Staff & more) for over 13 years. She is currently a Cubmaster (2nd time), a Unit Commissioner and a member of the Executive Board for the Utah National Parks Council.

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