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Needing Advice & Another Den Leader

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  • Needing Advice & Another Den Leader

    Okay.. So I've had about 3 den meetings now as a new den leader for the Webelos. It's a group of 17 boys. If I don't get them to act more calm and listen to me more, I am going to "drown". The last Tuesday of September, the meeting went really really well. I left feeling great about it and felt that I could handle things. HOWEVER. This meeting that we just had Tuesday of this week left me feeling very overwhelmed. I don't know how to handle it. I'm still trying to adjust being a den leader and having to speak in front of people.. I don't want to make the kids hate coming or to hate me, but I also need respect and I need it to go better.

    I'm thinking about asking around and trying to split the Webelos group into a second group as others suggested to me in here before. I just don't know how to go about suggesting this without making them think that I'm incapable of doing the job. I think I'm just having an "off" day today because I have been more upbeat about all of this.. But ever since the last meeting, it has really taken a toll on me. It's exhausting just trying to keep them behaving right...

    Any tips? Suggestions? I think I just needed to vent a little. I want to be successful as a den leader but I'm feeling beat right now..

  • #2

    I'm thinking about asking around and trying to split the Webelos group into a second group as others suggested to me in here before. I just don't know how to go about suggesting this without making them think that I'm incapable of doing the job.
    You're not capable of doing it. No one is. That is simply too big for a Webelos den. It needs to be split into 2. Talk to your CM and enlist his help in recruiting another DL from the parents. If that doesn't work, then the CC and/or COR should help find one from outside the den. You absolutely need another leader involved here. You also mentioned a difficulty with public speaking. Enlist help to work on the various activity badges. Do you have any Engineers, doctors, paramedics, carpenters, etc. among your parents? If not, ask friends and acquaintances. Many of them are happy to come in for an evening and work with the boys on a badge. Don't try to do this alone.

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    • #3
      Seventeen Webelos-age boys are enough to exhaust anyone!

      ABSOLUTELY tell - don't ask - the CM and pack leadership that they need to find another den leader and split this group into a more manageable size.

      That's not to say that there won't be issues with a smaller den ... but at least they won't seem so overwhelming!

      In the meantime, enlist your parents as The Blancmange suggested - both to help with programs and make sure that their sons understand what's proper behavior. Don't be afraid to lay down the law if the kids are acting too rambunctious. Though their general nature at that age is that of small savages, they're also old enough to sit and listen respectfully for a few minutes.(This message has been edited by shortridge)

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      • #4
        Do you have a den chief? Personally, with a den that size I'd split them into three "Webelos Patrols" of 5-ish boys each. You need at least another den leader or at the very least a good assistant leader and a good den chief. One adult or den chief per patrol with the den chief rotating out with other leaders as necessary. Two dens is with two leaders is better though, especially if ts two dens and each leader has a den chief with them. Approach local Scoutmasters and let them know you are searching for a good den chief.

        Asking for help doesn't mean you're incapable, it means you are trying to do what's best for the boys.

        Our Webelos den swelled from 4 boys to 12 this year after recruiting. We still haven't found another den leader so we are running two patrols with the den chief doing stuff with one and the leader with the other. They rotate back forth between patrols. We only have one room to work in, but we separate the two groups of boys as much as possible while they are working. Not perfect, but it's better than leaving just the leader to sink or swim.

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        • #5
          Thanks everyone.. I currently have an assistant Den Leader, a Den Chief, denner, and an occasional parent helping at the meetings.

          I'm working on the situation but until I can get it figured out whether by splitting into two dens or by getting more help, I have got to figure out how to get these boys to calm down more.. But like I said.. I'm definitely going to say something though.. This is the first time I've ever done anything like this and I think that the Cub Master should have given me a tamer group to start out with such as the tigers and let her take over the Webelos since she's dealt with them and has had experience doing it for the past 3 years.

          Anyway.. The next meeting is of course next Tuesday and the cub master will be there. I'm planning on having a talk with her after the meeting ends...

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          • #6
            I'll try splitting them into two groups in the room and see how that goes over at least for now until I can get something else figured out.. Thank you for the great advice.

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            • #7
              I am amazed at your bravery on facing 17 Webelos. I agree with the others about splitting up the group, but until then, maybe some of these suggestions can help.

              Make sure they have a gathering activity to keep them busy. Once they start running around in my experience they keep it up. Have activities that will keep them busy and are short in nature. Do one of the fun badges that will engage them. I know that my first Citizen meeting wasn't the greatest for the boys. So don't do that.

              You can always do the marble jar for good behavior. And/or use a talking stick to keep them from talking over each other. Have them make up a den conduct list.

              Keep your voice calm and not loud. Most teachers I know seem to do this. Kids have to stop to hear you. Use the den sign. Don't do what I did. Keep asking them to be quiet while using the sign. That just teaches them not to stop until you fuss at them. Just stand there quietly with the sign up.

              I think the best thing is to keep a routine. Do the gathering, opening, business, activity, and closing schedule. I think if they know what to expect it helps.

              Talk to the parents. They need to back you up. If the boys can't calm down for you, you might need to sit individuals out to make them realize ou mean business. Not in a mean way, but a firm way.

              I do know that sometimes the boys seem to have more "energy" than others. I am hoping that this was just a ripple in the pond and that they will calm down for you. But I really hope they can split the den up for you. Hope this helps in some way. I am sure the other more experienced members here can really give you good ideas.

              And good for you for doing something out of your comfort zone! I admire you.

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              • #8
                Wow. 17 is just far too many. So step one is to tell the parents (I would tell them separately, not at the Den meeting) that someone has to step up and lead Den 2, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

                Step 2 is to look at ways to make facilities changes to keep the boys more ordered. I say this because after dealing with many behavior problems and trying all the usual stuff--talking till I was blue in the face, asking boys to develop a code of conduct, talking to the parents, building in active activities to blow off steam--I'd still have many problems.

                Then I realized most of the problems occurred after the meeting during "snack time" when I was going over the newsletter with parents. And during the meeting, problems happened when they were at tables (which were round) right next to each other.

                Therefore, I swapped the order of the meeting so that we do the newsletter and upcoming events first, right after flags. That means after closing flags, get your snack and when you're done, leave.

                Second, I moved to a room that had long tables and made name tents, pairing up the boys in pairs that I believed would cause less "trouble" (you already know what combinations of boys will cause the most trouble, right?). So, during "table activities," they are sitting by a partner that is preassigned. Even better, I left an empty chair between pairs, with the idea that this is for the parents who are "strongly encouraged even though you don't have to" stay.

                Since I usually have about 95% of the parents stay (Bear den level), having the parents separated as well and by their boys, rather than in a big coffee klatch in the back making noise, is a big help!

                Good luck, we've all been there.

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                • #9
                  As a former Bear ADL, I can tell you that 17 is way too many. We had 24 boys. We had 5 ADLs, and it was still too much.

                  We always had to split them into 3 groups to even get things done. Matter of fact, records of achievemnts and advancement were a joke. Either incom-plete, behind or just missing,. My son waited forever for a few beltloops, yet was awarded his Bear badge 3 times.

                  We ( ADL's) wanted to split, but the DL and his wife (committe) kept getting bent out of shape about it and getting offended somehow.

                  When I stood up at the leaders meeting and said I planned on being a WEbelos den leader this year, she went nuts.

                  Well, that's another story for another time.

                  Poiint being, BSA reccommends only 8 to 9 boys per den. With Webelos, they reccommend 6 to 8 boys in a den.

                  this is only a RECCOMMENDATION--- not a rule.

                  So 3 dens wouldn't be out of the question, but two is great if you and trhe other DL can handle it and feel comfoprtable. Also, there is no limit to the number of assitant denleaders a den can have.
                  Incidentally, after I became CubMaster this year, I led and brought up to a vote among the leadership That no den "should" have over 14 boys or less that 4 boys.

                  If trhere are 14 or more boys in a den, the leaders shouls do everything possible to create another den. If there are less that 4 boys in a den, we should consider merging with another den.

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