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  • How to split a den

    We have 14 tigers. We are splitting the den so we will have two wolf dens next fall. We are trying to decide how to do it. I though it should be something arbitrary like geography, alphabetically or by age. I thought this would be best because then it would be easy to add more scouts to this den or that den. But someone else (on another forum) thought we should divide them up according to who their friends are. But I'm afraid this will make it very hard to add new scouts. I'm probably wrong. They can "shop" for their den the way the can "shop" for their pack. Weekly meeting times might play a role as well. Has anyone else ever done this? What worked? What didn't?

  • #2
    Why make it arbitrary?
    Have the parents confidentially ask the boys if there was one boy he wanted in his den who would it be?
    Ask the parents if geography or meeting night matters and go from there.
    If there is a chance to make it better for everyone, I say take that chance.

    Splitting up arbitrarily with no rhyme or reason doesn't make sense if the boys have bonded and want to be with their friends. Its also OK for it to be a 8-6 split vs 7-7 if it makes for a more convenient and meaningful program.

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    • #3
      I agree with Koolaidman. I would go by personal preference with parents/scouts or something more 'personal' before I went the route of names/alphabet/other non-meaningful reasoning. Especially with boys that age. If they already have some bonds, go with that. Breaking them apart for the sake of name/absolute even amounts/etc. would cause more harm than good, I'd think. We thought we were gonna have to do this with our tiger den but it dwindled down so much by the end of the year that we are able to keep them altogether. But if things had been different, I'd have went with the little 'groups' I saw forming before some of the boys left. Made sure they all worked together but bonds form and I'd hate to tear that apart, especially in their early scouting years.

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      • #4
        One thing I would do would be to plan to have a common program across the dens. That would allow one person to design the program for the den for a week or more, and then for multiple den leaders to opre3sent more or less the same program to each den.

        In general, I think it takes more skill and experience to come up with a quality meeting or outing plan than it does to present a qual;ity plan to a den.

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        • #5
          Why make it arbitrary? I'm thinking that an arbitrary division would make it easier to add new scouts to the den. When I scout joins the pack, we ask him which grade he is in, and then introduce him to the correct den leader. If the dens were divided alphabetically, it would be super-easy to assign the new boy to the correct den.

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          • #6
            As CC, when forming Tiger dens and/or splitting dens in the fall just after recruitment, I place the scouts according to geography (adjacent neighborhoods), the scout parent's preferences to stay with a friend and the Den Leaders' suggestions. (I am sure I spend more time on it than I should.) I then email the tentative den roster to the scout parents/Den Leaders and ask for suggestions. After a couple of more requests for changes, we settle on the final roster. Somehow it seems to work out smoothly each year, but I see where it could get tricky.

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            • #7
              All factors apply (friends, neighborhood, day to meet), and the concept of "doing things together" when that makes sense or is fun (field trips, feats of skill day, special guests) -- or at least sharing notes between dens about how and when you're doing things -- are all great ideas.

              One other element that may or may not need some Cubmaster / Committee Chair guidance is whether the split den is starting out with a relatively equal amount of strong leadership . . . sometimes there needs to be a bit of encouragement to ensure that you don't split into one den with all of the uber-volunteers and one without.

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              • #8
                Make sure an enthusiastic Tiger Den Leader is ready to take on the new tiger den. Yes, I know that it's supposed to be shared leadership with the adult partners but it works best when you have strong Tiger Den Leader to coordinate the den and keep things moving along. If you have weak, uncommitted leader, the "new" den will be a disappointment for the boys and they will move back over to the "better" den and then you are right back where you started. Don't split up unless you have to. If the current TDL has strong assistant support from the Tiger Partners, you can make it work with 14 boys and keep the dynamics you are enjoying right now. I've seen over-sized Dens work quite well and I have experienced one first hand.

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                • #9
                  In my opinion, the transition from Tigers-Wolves is the toughest. We go from 1 Den Meeting and 1 Pack meeting a month, to 2 Den Meetings with 1 Pack meeting. That's a large hurdle, and causes quite some burnout. At 14, I wouldn't force a split. Maybe once it gets to 20, and the split will be into two "full" dens rather then two dens that will drift between 8 and 4 members, or less.

                  We started a year with 13 Tigers, so I split them into two dens of 8 and 5 (the 8 den were all younger brothers of the Bears, or went to the same school). At the end of that year, the den of 5 had only 3, and we lost the Den Leader over the summer. The den of 8 usually had only 6 show up, so it was fairly strong and steady. We merged them Wolf year, and the leaders switched off Den Leading, and usually had 10-12 attend at a time.

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                  • #10
                    My son's Tiger den started out at 14.
                    I wouldn't classify our leader then as weak for sure, but she wasn't strong either. Me and another dad pitched in and helped wherever we could. We made it work. Would have even been better had she understood the concept of letting a boy and Tiger Parent run each meeting. She did it all, even after I stepped into the ADL role..... She just couldn't let go I guess.
                    Most meetings were only around 10 boys just due to conflicts or whatever. We lost a couple from moves out of the area, and a couple to disinterest or whatever.... Wolf year was down to 10 active members. The DL was one of the move-aways, and the new DL has done very well keeping it fun..... maybe even more so.
                    So, my point.... like others have written, I wouldn't think you'd need to split it unless you just can't get any ADL's, but you're getting close I guess.

                    Interesting question though. Our pack has only one den per grade, so I'm interesting how even larger packs handle the new boy assignments into dens..... or splits....

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                    • #11
                      All great thoughts, and I like the various idea's. I can certainly see the pro's/con's to each. :

                      Just another idea Here, variations on earlier: Just figure out who the two strongest boys are... make them den 1 and den 2, then they pick their favorite Den Leader (Dad (or mom) A and Dad B).. and then have the boys choice one at a time to join each den. You have your first Denner (boy den leader) and the boys were able to pick based on their choices.
                      Will they all be happy? doubt it. Will they all be able to get along? Probably

                      Can you offer a re-adjustment in 3-4 months? Sure.. (sounds more like a BSA patrol really)

                      As mentioned, this hinges on so many factors. Who are the leaders, and how strong are they? Will the dens swap half-way through the year to work with both leaders? (perhaps one just isn't the outdoors guy, but he's great with the academics stuff) Will both programs be structured differently but closely tied together?

                      The biggest pro to this is forcing the boys to interact with other boys they may not be as inclined to work with. Yes that will take work... but it's do-able.
                      The trick is ensuring a balanced program from both Den Leaders, and working together, without being mirror copies.

                      The Pro: You gain a 'rival' den, who challenges you----but you gain a brother den to protect as well.

                      I'm actually jealous, because these kids could all end up finishing Eagle all close together, because you laid the ground work for it early... and they didn't want to leave their buddies behind..
                      (and that will be a curse on their future Scout Master as well)

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                      • #12
                        My son's den had that same challenge. We had two den leaders ready to take on dens, but the parents couldn't figure out a split, so we kept it as one large den. With a large den like that, several boys became unhappy with the chaos and decided to leave on their own. Add a little natural attrition to that and by the end of the year, it was 10. A year later, that same group was 8.

                        We ended up starting a second den in the Bear year and guided new boys to that new den instead.

                        My recommendation. Find two good leaders and split the den along some natural lines. i.e., who can make a particular day, where they go to school, etc. Then run the dens seperatly. After a year together the natural inclination of the group will be to stick together. You may need to nudge them to stay separate. Remember, the longer you wait to split the den, the harder it gets.

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