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When is a Den too big?

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  • When is a Den too big?

    I have seen some questions similar to this, but I am on an opposite page - I like my Den bigger. I am a teacher and am used to a lot of children to teach, but the committee chair seems to think that he has the better plan. He moved children from my Den (at that point their were 9 boys), without even telling me. While one child was his son, I felt like I had at least the right to know, versus reading it in the leader's minutes (I couldn't make the meeting that night because my son was ill). I have a child that is in my son's class (along with another child from my Den) who signed up thinking he was going to be in the same Den with his friends and came to me very upset that he was in a Den with children from the other school. My understanding of moving the kids out of my Den was to keep the schools together, yet now this one child is with a group of kids he doesn't even know. So, any thoughts? Any Committee chairs out there want to share their wisdom on what exactly is the Committee chair's responsibilities in this? I will add that no parent, to my knowledge, has expressed any dissatisfaction in my work, and I hear many complements on the job I do. When I did speak to the Chair today, he said that he won't let any Den get above 7 boys, even if that means a boy gets put in a group of children from a different school (oh, I should add that we are a Pack of 4 schools, with about 60 boys in our pack). I feel that if everyone is happy, then let it be. If a parent wants to have their child in a specific Den, shouldn't that be their choice, as long as the leader is okay with it? Okay - help me out here. We have been involved in Cub Scouts for 3 years now (my older son is a Webelo 1 now), but this is the end of my first year as a leader (my younger son just became a Wolf from a Tiger). I am frustrated because I feel that the Leaders and the Chair should work as a team, not feel like we are his "employees".

  • #2
    My son's den currently has 10 boys. At the beginning of the year 10 was too many. They tend to get rambuncous and loud when they are all together. We finally realized stations of 3 or 4 worked great. We started out with just one leader then added an assistant and a den chief.
    I guess the CC ultimately can make the call to break up a den, but I can't believe he or she would do that without discussing with the DL or having major complaints to back such a quick change.


    • #3
      You all recognized that it was a problem (that it was too loud and rambuncous). There has not been a problem at this point (we meet 2x a month since September). I would have thought that if the leader and the parents don't have an issue, no one else should either. As the saying goes "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."


      • #4
        The answers to most of your questions are in the Cub Scout Leaders' Guide. The recommended ideal den size is 6-8. The Pack Committee (and CC) runs the business side of the Pack, while the CM and Den Leaders execute the program, supported by the committee. I once was CM of a Pack of 150 boys...12 dens plus 4 Webelos dens. At that point, we split the Pack and formed a new one. The idea being to form new dens and Packs, rather than keep feeding the dens to the point of Leader burnout. As a teacher, you may be trained and able to handle 30 boys, but most DLs are not. Sounds like the CC is just trying to follow the program, but maybe his communication could be improved.


        • #5
          It is not about dissatisfaction with you (this is not supposed to be "work"). It is about BSA policies.

          BSA states that dens should be between 6-8 boys. They feel that dens this size are big enough to be able to play a game, do a skit or work on a project, but still small enough to enable all of the boys to build a close relationship with each other and their leaders, and also have opportunities for leadership. It is supposed to be a small, intimate, fun group, not a classroom.

          As a Den leader, one of your responsibilities is to support the policies of the BSA.

          Yes, den leaders, the CM, the CC and the all of the rest of the Pack leadership are supposed to work together. Yes, some Packs do not mind if they have larger dens. However, one of the responsibilities of the Committee Chair is to recognize the need for more dens and to see that new dens are formed as needed.

          With a new Wolf den, in a large Pack which pulls from 4 schools, your CC is probably anticipating recruiting a bunch of new Wolves in the Fall. The Tiger and Wolf dens are usually the ones that receive the biggest portion of new recruits.

          Yes, it would have been nice if the CC would have given you a heads up about the decision that was reached at the Committee meeting you were unable to attend. However you were given a copy of the minutes so that you were not left in the dark. Also, you should have had your Assistant Den Leader, or one of the other den parents, attend the meeting in your stead to represent your den. That way you would have had someone to offer up your den's side of things.

          How does the other Wolf den leader feel about the grouping? Hopefully, more boys will register from the other school and the dens can get reshuffled closer to school lines in the Fall. Until then, don't show the boys that you are upset. Have a positive attitude and have fun with your den!


          • #6
            A max of nine boys is allowed. If a tenth boy wants to join, then the den needs to be split in to two dens. Policy set by National.

            If you have multiple elementary schools, then ideally, you group them that way if possible - the kids will know one another better. But that is a matter of convenience, not a policy.

            Kids should not be yanked out of a den they had been in all year, unless that was a major problem between kids within the den that could not be resolved. The only other reason is the meeting time does not work for them in that den but the other den's schedule fits in better, but that is usually something you should hear from the parent before a change occurs.

            If there too to be in a single den that want to be together, have a joint den meeting or outing once a month to visit a museum, play scout games, build and fly kits, etc. This way they will see their friends at the pack meeting and at one mega-den meeting a month.


            • #7
              Vigil-Hiker - can you point me to the National policy that states that at 10 the den must be split?

              I have read in thousands of places that dens SHOULD be 6-8 boys but never have seen a MUST/SHALL about the 10 number.

              I just finished up my first year as a Tiger leader (without an Assistant) with 12 boys. These boys were all in one den and while it was loud at times I found that the boys respected my requests for attention and were pretty good 6-7 year olds.

              I have worried about what happens when we add more boys in the Fall... have had the conversations with the parents about splitting the den. No one wants to split.. they liked how the last year went. I have, however, gained an assistant for the upcoming year.

              Guess I am playing by ear on how big it gets.... probably will stay as one den up to 13.. and at 14 really have to consider a split with my new assistant taking the "new" den.


              • #8
                One of the reasons that the guideline is 6-8 boys (I've never heard of this as "must split at x # of boys" either - rather as a guideline) is that when you go much bigger, each boy gets less personal interaction. Sometimes group settings really are more convenient for the adults, but that's not how the program is designed and adult convenience should come second to what the boys get from the program.

                I will also add that as the boys get older, it actually becomes more difficult to have a very large den. As Tigers, adult participation is mandatory so if you have 15 kids, you also have 15 adults to lend a hand. As wolves, lots of parents continue to stick around. As bears, you actually want to begin the long process of peeling the parents off a bit, and by the time you hit webelos, the den leader - not the parents - is supposed to be the primary adult that the boys go to. Additionally with older boys, fewer parents are likely to stay at the den meetings even if they want to; they have other kids in younger dens who need them more, multiple kids to drive around, whatever, and it just doesn't happen as much that you have a support crew of adults in the room with you. I know a lot of den leaders who start with this idea that 10-15 works just great until they hit those older grades, but by then it is even harder to split the den because "they've been together since they were Tigers!"

                I'd agree with others that the CC might have communicated this better with you, but it does sound like he was just trying to follow the guidelines here. Go talk with him about it; you may both come away with a renewed appreciation for each other's positions.


                • #9
                  >>However you were given a copy of the minutes so that you were not left in the dark. Also, you should have had your Assistant Den Leader, or one of the other den parents, attend the meeting in your stead to represent your den. That way you would have had someone to offer up your den's side of things.


                  • #10
                    A max of nine boys is allowed. If a tenth boy wants to join, then the den needs to be split in to two dens. Policy set by National.

                    Please post the reference for that policy, Id like to read more about it.

                    I do agree with Barry. The committee chair blundered badly, however noble the intention. Wondering though where the two boys removed from the den of 9 went? If a second den had only 2 or 3 boys it makes sense to try to boost the size of that den. Moving boys around involves both den leaders, the Cubmaster, the parents, and the boys. The CC should be the facilitator, not the dictator. Training would help.


                    • #11
                      One comment:

                      In all my military leadership training, we discussed much about personal leadership at the first line level: 5-7 is right span. Above 9 you start seeing a new layer of leadership.

                      An Army squad is 11: Squad leader, two fire team leaders, and 4 folk in each fire team.

                      The ninth boy can be handled with Assistant Den Leaders and Den Chiefs, although they are designed to help keep the 8 manageable. The tenth boy is the point where you consider adding a den. That's my experience.


                      • #12
                        First, let me clarify. This was not a decision that was made through the committee - the CC made the "executive decision", as was told to me by other leaders that attending the meeting. Yes, I was offended, not because I felt that what he did was wrong - I think the boys should be kept with their friends - but that this was not communicated to me. It was just done. I have worked as a volunteer and as a teacher for most of my life, and I understand that volunteers need to be supported and felt like they are part of the process. This CC has continually caused hard feeling because we do feel like we are his subordinates. He does not have a CM because the CM has flaked - my understanding that he had too much personal business to deal with - and made it that each DL had to be take a turn being the CM. We have been told repeatedly that a CM is just a glorified MC, but has no authority. Only the CC has authority, and he can make decisions as he chooses. He even threatened to cancel our Pinewood derby because "If I don't like how it's going, I can cancel it anytime I want". This was despite the people who were working really hard behind the scenes.
                        Also, I do have an assistant DL, who is phenomenal. I "teach" and she keeps all the records. It works smoothly. Even she has said that we could easily take up to 10 boys because of how smoothly she and I work together. I did discuss this with the CC, who said that it is his decision at any time to move kids, and that while the other dens only had 5-6 boys, he could balance them out.
                        Again, I don't mind that he moved the boys with their school/friends, just wait until the year was over AND have the basic courtesy to let the DL know, rather than hearing it 2nd hand in the minutes. Basic, common courtesy here. Isn't that part of being a scout - respect? Right now, I have 2 boys that are friends of my son's who have joined, but are put with other schools. I talked to the CC about this yesterday, and was frustrated that now these parents might pull out because they don't know or trust the other leaders. I have a big Den because I have recruited myself. The kids at school know me as the "boy Scout Mom". Parents come and ask me questions, not even ones in my Den. I am the one out there promoting the positives of a program that is really not popular in this area. I have gone to my Leader training, as well as being a trained teacher. I am not going to have burn out - if that was the case, I would have burned out my own profession a long time ago. I think the other adults in the Pack are not unaware of what I do for a living either. The other large Den in my pack has 11 boys - WEBELOS - and the CC has said that they are so big, they don't get to do anything - IE; no flag ceremonies, no skits, no songs. Again, it's like we are being punished for being good at what we do and having parents know it. I am not "tooting my own horn" - I wouldn't stay a teacher if I didn't enjoy my job. It is the same with scouting - I love what it does for my boys, I love the values it is giving them and if I didn't love that, I wouldn't be here. The parents know that, and that is why I have crossed over all but one child in my original 12 - the one didn't cross over because he moved to another state. As my assistant DL stated - if she can request her son be on a specific baseball/soccer/basketball team because of the coach, shouldn't we have some control of that with Cub Scouts?


                        • #13
                          I'd have a long cup of coffee with the CC. Let him/her know how you feel ... and why.

                          After that, if you feel your time/talent/treasure is not put to best use in this Pack, thanks to other Scouters, you have the option to look for a new Pack to serve. If you choose that option, do the COR the courtesy of an exit interview.

                          We are volunteers, after all...

                          If you find out afterward, I would like to know what feedback your CC gives you...(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)


                          • #14
                            The idea of going to another Pack doesn't work here - you are with the pack that your child's school or church belong to, or you aren't in scouts. It's not like Boy Scouts where there are many Troops. There is a Mom and leader with this group that moved during the year and is being asked to move to the Pack where her son will be going to school, even though she is currently a Den Leader.
                            I am involved in other volunteer organizations here - I know there are egos and politics. I also know that I am ultimately in it for my sons. I just really hope this Pack doesn't crash and burn because of someone who doesn't realize the the work he is doing is not just his to do.
                            Oh, and our COR is just on paper. No one even knew who it was.


                            • #15
                              Hi. I am the CM for the pack my son is. I have never felt like a MC. Actuully the CC gives me a lot of responiblity but would never think of doing anything if I did not have the total backing fron the CC and comittee. The CC and committee are responsible to make sure the pack is running on the business side. The CM makes sure the dens are given the oppurnity to advance. My son is going to be a Webelos 1 in a couple of days and I noticed that the 12 bears was to much and with the complete backing from the cc and commitee I let the parents and the leaders know that we will be spliting the den into 2. For a few differnet reasons 1) it is to big; 2) the badges that we will be working on are more intense and we will be having to do more field trips. We have 2 schools feeding into our den but we did not split them by schools we split them by personaility. It was by who can work toghter. It is all about commuication.

                              another thing i have a boy that his parents came to me to ask if he could join but he lives in another city close by. I welcomed the whole family. It is not my decision who joins. If the boy wants to be in scouts i am not going to turn them away. If the parents want to drive more power to them, He has been with us for 3 months now and he has never missed a meeting or a field trip.

                              If my thoughts