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How do you utilize a Den Chief?

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  • How do you utilize a Den Chief?

    As an Assistant DL and Assistant CM, I've been trying to get a Den Chief position filled for a while now. Finally had an older brother of one of our Wolf cubs step up from a neighboring troop. He's the son of one of our 'old guard' Den Leaders.

    Our DL is on the way out (moving) so we haven't done a good job of bringing him into the fold yet, but the last meeting was the first I've seen him show up at.... he was not in uniform, wearing a leather jacket and shades, indoors and at night.....

    Another thread suggested sending problem boys from a troop to fill the DC position. Made me think of our issue.....
    so to my question. Those of you taht use Den Chiefs, how do you bring him into the fold? how to you utilize him?

    I want to work with our new DL to make this thing work for the den, the cub scouts, and for the Boy Scout.....
    I think this could be a good thing if we get it started in a good way. So far, we haven't.

  • #2
    My son is a den chief for the 4th grade Webelos den in his old pack.

    First of all, I recommend seeing if your district or council has den chief training. Most districts in our council do. Ours did a good job with it.

    My son sees his role as "activities coordinator." He works with the DL before the meeting to come up with a gathering activity that he runs while the DL is free to set up for the meeting. During the meeting he helps as needed. Because it is a 4th grade Webelos pack, he also helps with a lot of the "Boy Scout stuff"--knots and Oath and Law and all that stuff.

    He also helps at Pack meetings with the gathering activities, organizing ad-hoc games if some "crowd control" is needed, helping run events and derbies, etc.


    • #3
      The 'Den Chief Handbook' seemed to be a good resource for our boy. It had games and activities that he could lead.

      The little guys really looked up to the real live Boy Scout in uniform at their meetings. The DC enjoyed working with younguns, and it was a welcome respite for the adults to be able to have conversation while the DC took charge for a spell.


      • #4
        I've used den chiefs as a WDL, I've assigned den chiefs as a Scoutmaster, and I've had both of my sons serve as a den leader.

        Yes, training is needed for the Scout but also for the WDL and CM. My oldest son had a good experience (the Webelos Den has two DCs and that helped them). My second son's experience didn't work out so well. That den didn't really give him any assignments or duties.

        the expectations for the DC should be made very clear to the DC, his Scoutmaster and ideally to his SPL. Also, the CM should be involved in setting up expectationsand the WDL should be aware too.

        I've found that older brother serving as DC for younger brother when mom/dad is the den leader is a recipe for disaster.


        • #5
          >>The 'Den Chief Handbook' seemed to be a good resource for our boy. It had games and activities that he could lead.

          Also if the DC uses the handbook as a way to track progress for the Den Chief award, it helps identify the type of activities he should be doing and the level of involvement that is expected.


          • #6
            I did not have a Den Chief when I cub/webelos leader. But my son was a den chief for a year and from what he told me what he was doing and seeing him preparing at home I would say they used him very well.

            Each meeting he had to have a pre-meeting activity. Usually a game or a skill that boys could join in on as they arrived. This allowed the DL to talk to parents and get organized for the meeting.

            DL asked him to pick out 2 activity pins that he would teach. My son picked scientist and outdoorsman. He read through the book and planned out how he was going to teach them, what activities the boys would do, what supplies he needed, and then ran I think 4 meetings in order to complete those pins.

            He also helped the den plan a campout - menu, duty roster, packing list, etc, and he went with.

            He also was in charge of helping teach the boys the scout oath, law, etc needed for arrow of light and for scout rank.

            He was expected to be in uniform shirt, be at meeting 15 mins early, and to possibly stay 15 mins late. He also had to go through den chief training - although he said the only thing he got out of it was ideas for some pre-meeting games.

            Now as SM I have heard how other DL's basically just use their den chief's as goffers and I HATE that. And while I think it's very common that den chiefs happen to be older brothers I wish that wasn't the case especially if parent is also DL because there is not a lot I can do as SM when the DL says he did the jobs he was asked.

            Best thing a DL could do is print out the den chief award and let den chief know that you are expecting him to earn it as part of his duties and use that as a guide to how to use him and he knows what he had to do. After each meeting talk to den chief about what he did good that day, what he could work on, and what is expected at next few meetings.


            • #7
              great input so far. thank you!

              I'll look for the Den Chief book when i go to the scout strore this weekend. I never thought to look.

              I am planning on sitting through the online BSA Den Chief training myself ASAP, and encourgae our DC to do it as well.

              So I'll probably learn this in the online training, but what are the requirements exactly for the Den Chief award that some of you mentioned above? Is it one year of service? We are getting started with this now, halfway through the year, so do you think that's going to be a problem that i should be aware of moving forward?
              I understand that this will help him fill an office requirement for the Troop. What are the requirements there?


              • #8
                Requirements for the award are in the book, or online, such as at:

                Also, although there is online training for Den Chief, it is basically "fast start" training.

                In order to be considered fully trained, he needs to attend the in-person den chief training put on by your district. (Then he also gets to wear a "Trained" patch )

                It doesn't matter when he starts his service, and the award is only an additional thing. What's important is that he helps the den and serves well.

                The Den Chief position counts as a "position of responsibility" all the way through Eagle. It is, in my opinion, one of the more challenging and time consuming positions because of the meetings it requires in addition to the regular troop schedule.

                Despite the demands, my son truly enjoys this position and the den likes having him. The nice thing about having it is that it is not subject to the whims and popularity contests of troop elections. Basically, once your are a den chief, you can hold it as long as everyone is happy with what you do--it doesn't automatically change every 6 months as is customary for other PORs.(This message has been edited by brewmeister)


                • #9
                  [double post](This message has been edited by brewmeister)


                  • #10
                    here is a question for some of you more in the know... as I mentioned my son served 1 year as a den chief - he worked with a den that had 2 Webelos II and several Webelos I. So at the end of his year he got 2 boys to join a troop - the next year at least 2 boys from the Webelos I group joined his troop. During his year that was the 1 requirement that kept him from getting the den chief award - would the 2 boys joining the next year and acutally going his troop because of him count (that year they were Web II they did not have a den chief so he was their only den chief) It just says 3 boys - it doesn't say it has to be the same year.

                    In my sons opinion and my own - Den Chief done well is the hardest position there is. for that year he attended troop meetings weekly, den meetings twice a month, troop campouts once a month, and pack meetings once a month. I know the scouts that joined his troop still remember him fondly as being their den chief - and I know how hard he worked compared to some other den chiefs I'd like to see him credited with a symbol of his work rather than just the knowledge - though I know the memories will last longer.

                    thanks in advance.


                    • #11

                      As I read the requirement, it is to "assist" boys to join the troop. It doesn't say "recruit 3 boys to the troop."

                      So in the year he was den chief, did he also work in an "assist" capacity with other new scouts to join the troop, or did you only have 2 scouts join?

                      If not, I would say that only the boys assisted during your son's tenure as den chief would count. Otherwise, why not scouts that he assisted before or long after? The award is for activities performed during tenure.


                      • #12
                        Well this is interesting..... if part of his award requirement is to assist or recruit into the troop, our chief will be a long time going, since we are only half way through the Wolf year.


                        • #13
                          This is one of hose questions you should float at your next roundtable. What you really want is all boys to be awarded fairly. If everyone where you live thinks that "assist" actually means a registered transfer to a troop, then stick to that.

                          But that's a metric that's dependent on circumstances a den chief can't control. I suspect most of us would be very pleased with 100% of Webelos II crossing over. But even without playing the numbers game, what if the boy was assigned to a wolf den? Can he be credited with assisting those cubs even though they aren't moving up to Webelos next year?

                          Also could assist just mean helping in a crossover ceremony? Does it mean helping a boy push paper? Inviting the den(s) to your troop meeting/activity?


                          • #14
                            Assisting is just that assisting.

                            A Wolf DC could be helping the boy understand Boy Scouts long before he's eligible. He can also assist by having the Boy Scouts come to a den meeting and showing interest in the boys so that by the time they reach Webelos I they already have a strong connection with the older boys.

                            Assisting could also be construed as having his troop assist with a cub event where Boy Scouts are asked to help out. Maybe camp near them, interact with them, invite them to the evening campfire and sit with them, etc. All this could be organized by the DC and fall under the umbrella of assisting.

                            Simply showing up to help with the Tiger Cubs in full uniform would be an inspiration and subtly giving assistance to the young boys who aspire to be Boy Scouts some day.



                            • #15
                              Asking at the roundtable is fine but I'd be surprised if a lot of people were even real familiar with it.

                              But you should really start with the unit leaders who sign the award paperwork, as specified in the Den Chief handbook. How do THEY want the den chief to "assist" in those various roles? It's the same as having them work with the den chief to decide how they want him to assist at Den and Pack meetings.

                              There are 8 options for completing requirement 11 and the boy has to choose 4 of them. You'll note there are other "assist" options as well, including "assist in recruiting 3 new cub scouts."

                              So what does that mean? Does it mean independently bringing 3 cub scouts to the Pack? Does it mean helping with a roundup? Does it mean being available to answer questions of the new recruits?

                              It could be ANY of those things. It's up to the unit to decide how the den chief should assist. So start there and don't overcomplicate it.