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What is the usual den meeting length?

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  • What is the usual den meeting length?

    Just wondering. We've been doing an hour, but it is so hard when people show up late (our meetings start 10 minutes after), then we have to have time for the opening ceremony, then we have little time to get stuff done, while trying to keep boys on task. Now with all three ranks together, it's difficult to get much of anything completed! I'm trying to order by importance those things that must be done as a den, but I also know most boys don't do anything at home.

  • #2
    I always did an hour back then. However I always showed up early and made sure things were ready to go on time. I let parents know we would start on time and if their scout missed something then I would let them know what it was and if they needed to do it for rank or elective. To be honest the only time I have ever had scouts show up late after letting this be known was if a scout was in a sport and was coming right after a practice.

    When my husband was a den leader for wolves he had a den that was so big it should have been 2 dens. So he went for 2 hours but split the boys up into 2 groups and did a rotation every so often.

    There was one year where I was doing a den and also a girl scout troop. The boys meet for first hour and left and then my girls came in for their hour so I didn't have to do two days of scout meetings.

    I found that if I waited for everyone to show up they just kept showing up late. If meeting started at 7:00 then it started at 7:00. When I was doing both the boys and the girls back to back I let the boys parents know if they needed to talk to me about something to show up early and that for the girls they needed to stay after so that things would run smooth.

    Now I'm not sure if I had really good parents or if they just knew I stuck to it, but it worked. Even now as a scoutmaster I show up early and expect the SPL to show up early and get things set up. All the MBC know that I come early and so they can meet with a boy for merit badge work. Boys are almost always there at least 10 mins before the meeting and play games and then the SPL calls for patrol lines and starts flags right on time. And when asked I will stay late, but we close flags after an hour.


    • #3
      Tiger meetings sometimes run shorter than an hour. I have found having that Gathering Activity is very important. Usually just a coloring page or a US map peg puzzle. I agree, start the meeting on time, every time. Webelos meetings can run longer than an hour due to the nature of the badges. All three ranks together ? Ouch. You need a parent to run each rank. In my opinion if they are not willing to help out they didn't belong on scouts.


      • #4
        I cannot start the meeting on time because church rules state we must have 2 leaders. I am usually there early with my son. The first boy may show up on time, but the second is after that, then the third and so on. The second adult usually comes 10 minutes late.


        • eaglewolfdad
          eaglewolfdad commented
          Editing a comment
          Try moving your meeting start time to either 10 minutes after the hour or 10 minutes before. This should help you with the adult who is late on a regular basis. I would
          make every effort to keep them at an hour. Most of the boys start to lose interest and get restless if the meetings go longer

      • #5
        For our Tigers we were doing one hour meetings twice a month. We're gonna try to do that again this year as Wolves and see how it works. The scouts who stuck with it were always on time except for one (every meeting they were late by 5-15 minutes, depending.) Now that they'll most likely be dropped off with myself and the assistant den leader, hoping that will encourage everyone to be on time. We always show up 20-25 minutes early to have everything set up and ready before the rest of the scouts arrive since I have the time.


        • #6
          My problem was trying to schedule wolves, bears, and webelos in one. I think I'm stuck. Must try working this out some more. I can't get everything done, while working with all three and half the webelos having had 6 months to work on stuff before the others came in. I just can't do it all in 40 minutes. Perhaps we'll rotate and work on wolves one week, bears one week, and webelos on the other. Or maybe something will happen so I'm not responsible for all of them.


          • #7
            We tended to do 45 min for tigers, 1 hr for wolves, 1 hr 15 min or so for bears, and 1 hr and a half for webelos.

            Start your gathering activity on time. do it for no more than 15 minutes, that means if they show up 10 min late, they get to start the activity and have to take it home to finish it.

            We'd try to do a small elective thing as gathering activity. so for wolves it would be the pie pan washer toss for a bit, or practice playing catch for the achievement; sometimes it would be sit down stuff like make an emergency contact list to put next to the phone--I'd print out a worksheet for it, the'd glue to red construction paper and fill in what they know, fold in half write In emergency call 911 on the front. For bears we might do a sheet to learn the states on a map, or cut out grocery store ads and figure out what a meal would cost, or a food pyramid/plate activity; or do some 2 man games. or pick one thing in a badge in webelos to work on--like the meal planning worksheet, or practice tying knots.

            Be sure your flag ceremony starts with it as a main activity to show several ways of doing a flag ceremony and spend a bit of time on flag folding and running them up the flag pole. after that spend about 5 minutes on a quick indoor flag ceremony. then in a few months, repeat the longer flag main activity for any new scouts you've gotten and have the boys practice for doing it in a pack meeting.

            expect your main activity for younger boys to never last more tha 30 minutes of sitting down time. shorter than that is ideal.

            As for your 2nd leader showing up late, let them know it's imperative that they show up on time, or make one of the other parents stay until they arrive. 2 deep leadership for the whole meeting is really a foundation rule for your own safety. Let your church leaders know if you are struggling with getting another adult there on time if it continues. but talk to the other leader and see if meeting start time needs to move to accomodate them due to work or other scheduling issue.


            • #8
              You do not need to do the same opening or closing each den meeting. A full flag ceremony is not necessary each den meeting and does take a lot of time. I agree with a gathering activity. And I always tried to end with a "new game if we have time". Closings can differ also. I never had luck sending anything home to be completed.

              I had good results doing all the craftsman type things as a longer field trip (once to the Carpenter Union training hall.) I also started with short meetings and moved longer, but since you have this mixed group, I would use 90 minutes.

              Also can you ask the first parent to arrive to stay until your assistant arrives ten minutes late?


              • #9
                Our meetings run about 1.5 hours, sometimes 1 hour 45 minutes. For a wood project, we've had a few meetings run 2 hours. I always try to have an outdoor activity afterward to reward the boys for sitting and listening. That outdoor activity is included in those meeting times. If the boys are unruly and it takes longer to get through our scheduled activities because of it, I have had to cut out the outdoor activity.


                • #10
                  I agree, if your other leader can't make it on time there's a reason. Either you need to start the meeting later or you need a new ADL.
                  I'm the ADL for my son's den. I have a hard time making 6:30PM & I have made it clear to our DL's that I will be late when they plan for that time.

                  Our meetings have gone anywhere from around 30 minutes to maybe two hours. The 30 minute one was an end of the year wrap up party and we didn't have much of an activity planned. Seemed too short for sure.
                  For us an hour is a great target for a regular meeting, unless there's a super exciting activity. Otherwise the boys get burned out and the parents are ready to get home......


                  • #11
                    You need to have a good talk with your other (tardy) adult. Is this adult a leader, or just a parent? Do they at least help out during the meeting, or sit on the sidelines imitating a piece of furniture?

                    You need HELP!

                    If this other adult will not step up to the plate, and you can not get any parents to help, you need to contact your Bishop, and make it VERY clear to him that you can NOT do it all by yourself. He needs to call some help up for you - as soon as possible. The boys are not getting the most out of the program the way it is now.

                    BTW - for a combined meeting, with no ability (lack of adults) to split off into dens, I would increase the length of the meeting to 1.5 hours. This gives you time to do a quick flag ceremony to start the meeting (with whoever is there - START ON TIME- or CANCEL the meeting) then split into two groups. FORCE your other adult to pick one group - Wolf/Bear, or Webelos, and be responsible for them. You can do all of the pre-planning and simply hand her an instruction packet. But, she MUST be in charge of "her" group.

                    Don't back track for late Scouts. If they miss something, they can finish at home, or not at all. Their choice.


                    • #12
                      So, I wonder if we could have different meeting lengths for the different ranks? I could have 15 minutes to work with the bears and then another 15 to do webelos. The issue with the wolf leader is that she is never on time to anything. She is not a dependable person, which is why I am running all cub scouts myself. (I wonder if it would work to tell the boys a later time and not tell her?) I just need her (or a substitute) to show up. I think I will try sending a letter out to the parents, letting them know I need help to run the scout program. Not sure they'd care.


                      • christineka
                        christineka commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I also sent an email over the the scout master, asking if he had any scouts, who would be willing to come help. I am doubtful, but thought it was work asking about.

                    • #13
                      Mine were 1 hour. I never went beyond that unless parents were late arriving. For that length, parents are sometimes willing to stay and help out. When I was CM, the pack meetings were also supposed to be 1 hour. They mostly went beyond that because of snacks or people just hanging around to talk. But the official meeting was 1 hour. Exceptions, of course, were made for B&G and the derbies.


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by christineka View Post
                        My problem was trying to schedule wolves, bears, and webelos in one. I think I'm stuck. Must try working this out some more. I can't get everything done, while working with all three and half the webelos having had 6 months to work on stuff before the others came in. I just can't do it all in 40 minutes. Perhaps we'll rotate and work on wolves one week, bears one week, and webelos on the other. Or maybe something will happen so I'm not responsible for all of them.
                        I wanted to ask one thing about this, if you rotated them weekly like that and were one of the leaders to be at all these meetings, would this affect you personally as in burning out? Not sure how your pack meets go but that would have you doing something almost, if not, every single week. I'm a newbie to all this so this may be the norm for some. I just think having to do that on top of everything else that is added to our plates as den leaders would be very straining on you. Again, it all depends on where you are and who you're working with on how the work is distributed. But definitely consider yourself in this as well, before stretching yourself too thin. I do wish you the best of luck, that is quite a task to take on.


                        • christineka
                          christineka commented
                          Editing a comment
                          We have always had den meetings every week, except the week of pack meeting. I have been in charge of den meetings for 6 months. Yes, there has been burn out- especially when things are rather involved. Right now we're doing athlete, the physical fitness belt loop, and volleyboll belt loop. After that we're all going to pick up trash, then we need to do a soccer or basketball belt loop, a hike, and fire safety combined with cooking outdoor food (foil packets). When fall comes, I want to get to working on the bear rank with my one bear. I don't know how to do that without cheating the webelos, but I did do bears and wolves together for 7 months. It works out okay, unless I try to get the other leader to work on wolf stuff on the other side of the room. One week for bears and wolves and two for webelos sounds doable. (One achievement per month.) We could do field trips on any fifth weeks.

                        • Faith
                          Faith commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Yeah, you definitely have your ducks in order at least on this! Great job. My head was spinning just reading all that. Between just my job, two kids and the regular meetings I'm about beat. Those scouts are lucky to have you trying so hard to keep it fair and going for everyone. I really do hope more step up and lend a hand!

                      • #15
                        The dens in our pack only meet once a month (not counting monthly pack meetings). Sometimes we have to throw in an extra meeting or two throughout the year to get everything done, but I can tell you that it is possible to achieve rank with once a month den meetings. Since you are swamped with doing everything yourself, have you considered just meeting with each den separately once a month, then having one den meeting where they all come? When you think about it, trying to juggle all the dens at one meeting, is kind of cheating them out of doing things that are more age-appropriate and fun for them. Reducing their den meetings to twice a month may be cheating them out of doing some fun electives and belt loops, but they would probably have more fun at those den meetings, and you wouldn't be so overwhelmed.