Friday, January 24, 2014

Belt Loop Display

Are you familiar with Cub Scout belt loops?  For those who aren't, a brief explanation: a belt loop is an award earned by a boy for completing three basic requirements in one subject area. Think about it like an extremely simplified Boy Scout Merit Badge.  There are three different types of belt loops: gold for academic subjects (astronomy, nutrition, pet care, etc.); silver for sports (baseball, hiking, ice skating, etc.); and bronze for the two sports that can only be earned on approved BSA shooting ranges (archery and BB gun shooting).  The award is a 1-inch square piece of metal that slides onto the boy's belt.


When a boy earns his first few belt loops, all is well.  They slide onto his belt well and he can proudly show them off any time he's in uniform.  However, after he's earned more than a handful, it takes longer and longer to get into uniform and the belt gets heavier and heavier. Unless you have a Cub Scout of extreme girth, he'll run out of space on his belt early in his Cub Scout career.  Trevor has a tiny waist and was out of space after his first year as a Cub.

Half the fun of earning belt loops is showing them off, so I didn't want Trevor's belt loops to sit in a drawer somewhere where no one would see them and he wouldn't be motivated to earn more of them. So I asked my dad, Woodworker Extraordinaire, to design a belt loop display that he could help Trevor make.  He came up with a brilliant design, a T-shaped wood piece that supports six acrylic arms onto which the belt loops can slide.  It will hold up to 60 belt loops (there are currently 53 offered).  I took Trevor to my parents' house for a long weekend and this is what they built:  


Trevor did 95% of the work himself with my dad's close guidance.  Once we got home, we hung it on the wall and Trevor started sliding his belt loops into place.   


He's arranged and rearranged his belt loops, which is exactly what I'd hoped would happen.  I used a pushpin to temporarily put the "C" patch holding his pins above it.   


In the time since I drafted this post and put it in the queue, I found out that BSA has announced that the program that includes belt loops will be discontinued as of May 2015.  It's disappointing, as the Academic & Sports program is strong and highly motivating to the Cubs.  Trevor will continue to work on completing as many belt loops and pins as he can through his Wolf year and into his Bear year before the program ends.  In the meantime, he now has a really cool display that shows off all the hard work he's done so far.

18 comments:

  1. What a great thing they made to display these!!!! Looks AWESOME! Bummer they are getting rid of that program though :(

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  2. What a clever display!!! Cute model too ;)

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  3. Since I have 2 girls, I am not familiar with the Cub Scouts belt loops. (I was a girl scout and treasured my merit badges displayed on my sash!!) It was so fun to get to see them and to see how you designed a display for them, Cindy! You are such an awesome mom, and I agree with Amanda . . . your model is cute, too!!!!!

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  4. That display is so wonderful!!! Unique and beautiful, something he can be proud of!! :) That's terrible that they're discontinuing the program though.

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  5. I am going to forward this to all of our Pack parents and grandparents! Thanks for the tip Cindy!!

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  6. This is so unique ..never heard of such a thing!! Maybe because I have a little girl who is all girly!!

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  7. Look at him...so proud of his achievements! Hope he can get them all...

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  8. Where did you find those acrylic arms? I would love to make this for my boys....

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    1. They cut them down from scraps from a different project. Dad gets his plastics at TAP Plastics, but I'm pretty sure you can get sheets of acrylic (and have them cut to size) at most hardware stores, including Home Depot, Lowes, etc.

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  9. I have been looking for a belt loop display to make with my Webelos and this would work out great! Could I get the dimensions of the wooden T and acrylic strips? Thanks!

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    1. Sure! The acrylic arms are approximately 11 3/4" x 15/16". The top part of the T is 11 3/4" x 3/4" and the center part is about 10" x 3/4". The only dimension that really matters is the height of the acrylic arms so that the belt loops slide on and off easily. Let me know how your belt loop displays turn out!

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  10. I certainly will! Thank you for the great idea!

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  11. Slight correction- the BSA is discontinuing the Sports and Academics program. The new recognition devices look like slightly narrower belt loops. Your display will come in very handy as each scout will earn at least seven belt loops (plus any electives they choose to do) each year for each rank.

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    1. Good point. I'd heard that the new recognition pieces will be loops, but I hadn't heard about dimensions, nor am I sure if they're supposed to wear them as part of the uniform (as opposed to hanging them on the wall) since they are part of the rank. I'm planning to listen to the webcast on Saturday to learn what I can about this and whatever else.

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    2. This is such a great idea. Please share the type of wood they used ant how the two pieces were attached

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    3. I just looked at the back carefully and it appears that they cut a T from one piece of wood, which surprises me. I expected it to simply be two pieces glued and then tacked in place. That would certainly work and would be easier and generate less wasted wood than cutting a T from one piece. My dad uses the tiniest of scraps, so waste isn't an issue for him. I'm not sure what kind of wood it is, but it doesn't really matter what you use. Good luck!

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  12. This is great! I've been trying to figure out what to do for a number of years. Since different saws can do damage to the piece, can you tell me which saw was used to cut the acrylic strips? Thanks!

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    1. He used a band saw, but says you could sandwich acrylic between two pieces of wood and cut it on a table saw.

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