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Getting Dens Started

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  • Getting Dens Started

    All right!

    You've had a recruiting night for your pack and you've signed up a number of new boys. What next?

    I suspect a lot of pack leaders haven't given a lot of thought as to how to answer that question. I see lots of packs who recruit new boys but fail to get new Tiger Cub and other dens started. Of course the new boys and families are disappointed and disappear.

    So what are your methods for developing new dens, new Den Leaders, and getting new boys and parents involved in your pack and it's program?

  • #2
    I guess we've been pretty lucky, in that, we had parents step up to lead the dens. I can tell you that we have over lapped established dens to get things rolling with new leaders. Only thing you have to be careful about is having new leaders think this is the way it will always be. It is easy to get the older boys and leaders to help with bobcat meetings. You just have to be clear that they will be on their own once they get moving. We also pass down the leader notebooks for each rank. Leader notebooks have information from previous leaders of that rank.

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    • #3
      All of the Packs that I am familiar with understand that when you sign up Tigers you need a Tiger den leader.

      It is not a big surprise, and they generally make sure to recruit what they need from the parents signing up their 1st graders.

      For my Pack -

      We utilize a "permanent" Tiger den leader, so we already have that covered.

      New Wolf/Bear/Webelos Scouts go into existing dens. If the numbers get to be to big/unmanageable, the Pack, and den, leaders will face that when it happens. If necessary they will start new dens using experienced parents from the den, or new, excited, parents as den leaders for the new dens.

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      • #4
        We've always had a parent or two step up for Tigers. Until they are on their feet and running, a council member (CC, AC, or secretary usually) helps get things rolling.

        We usually just add the new boys in with the old boys. Only if it grows too big, will we split them...and then it's lottery to see who goes in what den. Usually a parent or two steps up for this as well.

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        • #5
          I've seen packs that have dens that are way too big 15-18 boys sometimes. Usually that's because of an inability to find additional Den Leaders.

          I've had success by having one "Den Leader" who devises the program and then several "Assistant Den Leaders" who carry out the same or similar programs for dens of 5-8 boys.

          It takes more ability to devise a program than it does to present it, and it's generally a lot easier to find parents who will take charge of 5-8 boys and present a prepared program than finding several who can devise and then present a program on their own.

          Each den can have it's own name, flag and personality. Part of the den meeting program usually features a competition between the various dens, which the boys like a lot and which is usually easy program to devise and present.

          I also favor letting boys form their own den to the extent possible, in particular putting friends together in the same den.

          At present I have ten Tiger Cubs after our recruiting night last Wednesday, including three who joined in the spring. That will very likely continue to grow.

          Six are from English speaking families and four from Spanish speaking families. My inclination is to put the Tiger Cubs (and partners!) from the four Spanish speaking families together as a den. While the boys usually speak English well enough to get along, several of the parents would likely be left out and isolated in an English speaking den. My hope is that forming a Spanish speaking den will be accepted by all and will allow parents to participate in leadership of the den and activities.

          Comments on this last idea are solicited.

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          • #6
            Often large dens will not split, not because of a lack of additional volunteers, but because everyone wants to stay together.


            >>"It takes more ability to devise a program than it does to present it, and it's generally a lot easier to find parents who will take charge of 5-8 boys and present a prepared program than finding several who can devise and then present a program on their own."

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            • #7
              Hello Scout Nut,

              Large dens should split because people tend to be neglected until they drop out, which usually cuts the den down to size. That's a poor method in my opinion.


              Sorry, but my experience is that putting together a quality den meeting takes training, experience and time to do well.

              I've done our district Tiger Twilight Camp the past three years. I devise the plan of activities for the evenings and on the first night boys choose up the dens they want to be in and a parent is expected to step forward each evening to be the den leader, with a different parent getting that experience each day.

              Part of my aim is to prepare those parents for taking charge of their new Tiger Cub Den in the fall.

              Those new parents are handed a prepared program and they just need to lead the Scouts through the program. That includes making den flags and a den cheer the first evening. A competition between the new dens is fun for boys and sharpens den identity.

              Pointing people to a canned program is not a formula for a quality program in my experience.

              As I noted, my recruiting meeting was last Wednesday and the first den meeting is tomorrow. People need some guidance in how to make the program work, and a canned program in a book doesn't do that. Let people DO a quality den meeting and they can begin to understand.

              It also helps to sort out those with the skills and ability to do the task from those who can't or wont do it.

              >


              Great advice! But how do you do it? For example, I called a family yesterday to get their correct e-mail address. But no one there spoke any English, and I don't speak Spanish.

              I've sent out an e-mail to Spanish speaking families asking someone who is bilingual to take charge of communicating with Spanish speaking families. I already made that appeal to one excellent person who wasn't able to fulfill that role at our recruiting night meeting last Wednesday.

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              • #8
                Perhaps in your Packs, and your dens, leaders tend to "neglect" folks. In my experience, large dens that stay together because they WANT to stay together do not neglect anyone.

                Everything takes work.

                However, putting together a district camp is a totally different thing than putting together a den meeting.


                >>"new parents are handed a prepared program and they just need to lead the Scouts through the program.">"Pointing people to a canned program is not a formula for a quality program in my experience."

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                • #9
                  >"Pointing people to a canned program is not a formula for a quality program in my experience."


                  On several occasions I've lost families who've joined the pack and whom I've NEVER been able to communicate with after that.

                  One of my aims this fall to avoid a repetition of that problem is to try to find someone who will take charge of communicating with those Spanish speaking families.

                  Another idea is that of collecting Spanish speaking families as a Tiger Cub Den as I've described. My hope is that those families can use whatever combination of Spanish and English they find convenient to participate in the Tiger Cub program and activities. I want to give those Tiger Cub Partners the role in the den and with their Tiger Cub that they are supposed to have, and which English speaking parents have as a matter of course.

                  Maybe that wont work, but I'm inclined to give it a try and see what happens.

                  We had several poor Spanish families join the pack at our recruiting night --- people who completed Spanish BSA applications and listed their occupation as "laborer" or "cleaner" self employed. I'll be damned if I want to see them put up scarce money for a program for their children and then leave them isolated by their language.

                  One of my MAIN AIMS this year is to find ways to make a primarily English speaking Cub Scout pack work for Spanish speaking Latino families. That's something I've been researching since October, 2010, and THIS is when I'm going to find out if I can make that work.

                  So far I've done reasonably well recruiting Latino families. Now the challenge is making the program work for those families. That is a substantial challenge.

                  I believe Basement Dweller has had experience with that.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    >>"So yes, my canned program is superior to that in a BSA book, because there is a LOT more THERE there."

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                    • #11
                      >>"Another idea is that of collecting Spanish speaking families as a Tiger Cub Den as I've described. My hope is that those families can use whatever combination of Spanish and English they find convenient to participate in the Tiger Cub program and activities. I want to give those Tiger Cub Partners the role in the den and with their Tiger Cub that they are supposed to have, and which English speaking parents have as a matter of course."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hello Scout Nut,

                        >


                        Thanks for describing your experience. Perhaps I'll try your methods tonight and see how it works. I have the Tiger Cub Den Handbook in Spanish and English and I'm expecting to hand that out to parents as I use it to describe some of the program I'm doing.

                        I minimize or avoid talking to parents during den meetings. I figure it's the boy's time, and talking to parents over the heads of the boys is boring for boys. Often I talk to boys in ways that the parents are encourage to hear, though.

                        So when I'm talking about the Bobcat award to boys, my aim will be to have parents following along in the Tiger Cub Handbook in English or Spanish.

                        How did the Shared Leadership concept work with Spanish speakers as leaders? I'm imagining it would be an interesting experience for English speaking boys and parents to have the den led in Spanish!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't talk "over the heads" of the boys. I talk to the the Tiger TEAMS, which is both adult, and youth.

                          In Tigers, it is not simply the "boys time". It is the TIGER TEAMS time. Tiger/Partner teams should be doing everything TOGETHER (including earning Bobcat).

                          The meeting's are not conducted in Spanish.

                          Typically the parents that don't speak a whole lot of English will organize the Go-See-It's.

                          If it is an in-den meeting, the Tiger Team will usually have the Tiger doing much of any talking that is needed, with his Partner chiming in when/how they can.

                          This is actually great for the Tiger as it gives him the experience of being "in charge", and helps bring out the shyer ones. Often Tiger Team meetings are taken over more by the Partner, with the Tiger being just one of the Scouts, instead of one of the "leaders" as they should be.

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