Den Leader Getting Started Guide
First of all, Welcome! Thank you for volunteering to be a Den Leader.
Your son, nephew, or grandson may be one of the boys in your den. What fun! These are the "good old days" you will always remember. As he grows up, his friends may change. But some day if they work hard, they can be Eagle Scouts! The friends with him that day might very well be these buddies from your Cub Scout Den.
Here are the three most important things:
- Keep It Simple
- Make it Fun
- Keep them safe
You probably have a Den Meeting coming up, so let's get started!
Online training. Your online training is really good and you can have it done today.
- Take Fast Start Training first for information and examples for planning and conducting the first meeting.
- This Is Scouting comes next highlighting the values, aims, history, funding, and methods of Scouting.
- Youth Protection Training will help provide additional security.
Leader Specific Training. The last part of your New Leader Training is Leader Specific Training through your local council or district. A class should be coming up that will be designed specifically for your level: Tiger, Wolf & Bear, or Webelos. You will learn a lot.
OK, now to plan your first Den Meeting. Wouldn't it be great if the last den leader had left you a great set of notes?
Fast Tracks. Someone did! They are called Fast Tracks. Fast Tracks are great lesson plans and ideas for to help you with your first 16 den meetings each year. Note that new Cub Scouts always work on Bobcat first. You can cover Bobcat in two meetings using the Fast Tracks for Tiger Cub Scouts. If they have earned already earned Bobcat, they do not need to do it again.
Belt Loops. As you plan your meetings, keep the requirements and electives in mind. Often with just a little more work they can earn a Belt Loop at the same time. Here are the requirements and the tie-ins:
The Belt Loops are a part of the Cub Scout Academics and Sports Program and are fun! For each belt loop there is a Worksheet with whatever diagrams, charts, maps, and other resources you will need. The Academics Belt Loops tend to be indoor activities and the Sports Belt Loops outdoors. For instance, Cub Scout Collecting makes for a great Show & Tell night.
Other awards. Your primary focus each year is your rank but the belt loops are a lot of fun to mix in. There are also a list of other wonderful Cub Scout Awards you can work on including the Outdoor Activity Award, National Summertime Award, Leave No Trace Award, and many more.
Parents. Parents are the key. In Tiger Cub Scouts, the parents or an adult partner has to be with the Tiger at all times. At this age, every Tiger needs his own "handler!" But parents are just as important at every level. "Drive-by parents" or "Drop and Dash parents" will drain your resources. Sadly, these boys who probably need scouting the most, are often the one who drop out. It is hard to convince a boy that something is important if the parents show each week how unimportant it is.
Involve all of the families right from the start. Ask families to look at the list of meeting topics and divide up which boy will act as your host. If you need a trip to the fire station, does anyone have a contact at the fire department? Police department? Local park? If they families each have important jobs coming up, odds are very good that they will not drop out.
Denners. Next, involve the boys. Each night that the family is hosting, their boy gets to be the Denner! Being the Denner is the best! The Denner helps lead Pledge of Allegiance. The Denner gets to pick the treats he will bring that night (typically something easy and cheap like granola bars and juice boxes). The Denner and his adult partner help with setup and cleanup.
No boy will drop out if he knows he is going to get to be Denner! And you will not end having to do everything by yourself. See Denner for much more.
Assistant Den Leader. It is just as important to share the load with your Assistant Den Leader. Some Packs register the Assistant Den Leader as a Den Leader with all of the same training. This way you can both earn your Cub Scout Leader Awards. If you are sharing the responsibilities, your job is to help coordinate everything and you don't have to do it all.
Fun Nights. Have at least one Fun Night each year. Ask each family bring their favorite board games. Order pizza and you have a party. Fun Nights are also a chance to help boys who have missed meetings to catch up. Or consider doing a fun Belt Loop.
Belt Loop Day. Also consider having at least one Belt Loop Day each year. You can do it for your own den but it can be a lot more fun if other dens or the whole pack is involved. See the National Summertime Award for a list of great activity ideas. In one day, your Cubs could have a hike or bike ride, a picnic lunch, and earn a couple of great Belt Loops!
Take it one day at a time. You just need to be one meeting ahead in your handbook. Get every family and boy involved. Ask for help. Get trained. And never forget KISMIF: Keep It Simple! Make it FUN! (And always keep them safe.)
That is a lot of information! And this is just the beginning of the resources you will find at MeritBadge.Org. Here you will find great information on Day Camp, Resident Camp, [Pack Meeting]]s, Skits, Songs, Cheers, Pinewood Derby, Blue & Gold, and Roundups. And as you might guess from the name (MeritBadge.Org), there are just as many resources for Boy Scout Leaders. But let's leave that for another day.
Go have FUN! Did they tell you? "It Is Just an Hour A Week!" ☺
- Leader Awards: Cub Scout Den Leader Award (Tiger/Wolf/Bear/Webelos), Scouter's Training Award (basically all adult leaders but Den Leaders), Scouter's Key (Cubmaster)
- Nameplates - Official BSA Name plates for your uniforms.