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I'm a new den leader.......

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My son is going to be in a Bear den this fall. He has been in Scouts since Tiger Cubs, so this will be his third year. I am taking over his den, for the simple reason that I've seen how a den should NOT be run. The boys have pretty much done the requirements for Tiger and Wolf on their own. Our pack leader is great, however, and he approved this change in leadership.


I'm really excited about this opportunity. I want to maximize my time and productivity. Any getting started tips?

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It depends on how much time do you have to spare! One hour a week? Great! First and foremost welcome to the Forum and you should be able to find alot of great scouting minds here (present company excluded)!


Secondly, get yourself trained! Fast Start, New Leaders Essential, Youth Protection Training, and Den Leader Specifics to start off. Once you get your feet wet, take Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO) so that you and your Den parents can take your Den camping. Toward February (University of Scouting) or your District training time frame take the Webelos Leader Specific and then Outdoor Webelos Leaders (OWL) in preparation for next year.


When I was a Bear Den Leader for my older son and now for my incoming 2nd Bear, I would sit down right around now and plan the whole year out. What you will need are the calendars for your Pack, school, District, sport, bands, etc. and the Bear handbook. Plan out each week of your activies based on the Bear hand book. Now do not go all requirements at den meetings and no fun. It should be close to 30% requirement and 70% fun stuffs (games, arts & crafts) etc. Below is a sample of what I give to my boys at each den meeting and the Denner would read and lead.


If you send me a private email, I will forward to you my whole bear year in a Zip file, including year planner, den meetings , etc.


Bear year is where I take the boys to camping ... more so than Wolf. We camped four times that year. Remember, someone in your Den has to be BALOO trained before you can go camping!


Remember to keep it fun, Bear year is the hardest year to retain boys. Also involve the parents. If they have fun, the boys will have fun!








Month Theme: Pocket

Denner: Trevor

Den Helper: Mr. Steve



Gathering (10 min.): - Penny Catch Trick Trevor


Opening (5 min.): - Present the Color (7:05 pm) Trevor

- Pledge of Allegiance All

- Cubscout Promise and Motto All


Business (7 min.): - Upcoming events Mr. Bob

1) Beach Clean up (9/16)


Activities (33 min.): - Sing "We're Den 1" Mr. Ed


- Leadership Mr. Bob

- Discuss about America Mr. Bob

- Accordion Spinner Mr. Steve

- Mosquitoes Cheer Mr. Ed


Closing (10 min.): - Recite Law of the Pack All

- Carpenter's Cheer


Reminders for Bears:

1) Work on your Achievement 1.

2) Learn your song for next Den Meeting

3) Next Den meeting is September 26 at 7:00 pm at Ellis Creek.

4) Get your friend to join (achievement 24a).


Note to Parents:

1) Please return the health form, talent form, parents' agreement, and Den Dues ($15).

2) We are planning to attend Duke Energy's Beach Clean Up on September 16.

3) Please work with your Cub on their Achievements at home by next Den meeting.




Carpenter: Pretend to be holding a hammer in one hand and a nail in the other. Start pounding the nail with the hammer while saying, "Bang, Bang, Ouch".



Song for Den Meeting # 1




(Tune: Im Popeye the Sailor Man)


Were den 1, the Cub Scout boys.

Were den 1, the Cub Scout boys.

Were strong to the finish,

Cause we eat our spinach.

Were den 1, the Cub Scout boys.


Were den 1, the Cub Scout boys.

Were den 1, the Cub Scout boys.

We are up to the test,

Cause we'll do our best.

Were den 1, the Cub Scout boys.



(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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Get trained.


Bear dens can NOT camp on their own. Your pack can camp if someone is BALOO trained.


Insist that all the parents help you in some way.


For Tigers, Wolves and Bears most of the advancement SHOULD be done at home. Cub Scouting is for family. Go through the book and find the activities that say "with your den", those are the ones you do in the den meetings.


Visit these websites:




Also, check out the Yahoo group called "Cub Scout Talk".


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Sctmom is correct ... bears can not go camping on their own. We, however, camped, not as a den, but as family camping and we followed all rules and regulation including filing tour permits. That's the clarification that I need to make.


Thanks for reminding me, sctmom.


From G2SS,


"Age Guidelines

The Boy Scouts of America has established the following guidelines for its members' participation in camping activities:



Cub Scouts (second- and third-graders) and Webelos Scouts (fourth- and fifth-graders) may participate in a resident overnight camping program covering at least two nights and operating under certified leadership in an established Scout camp operated by the council during the normal camping season.


A Webelos Scout may participate in overnight den camping when supervised by his mother or father. It is essential that each Webelos Scout be under the supervision of an adult. Joint Webelos den-troop campouts are encouraged for dens of fifth-grade Webelos Scouts with their parents to strengthen ties between the pack and troop. Den leaders, pack leaders, and parents are expected to accompany the boys on approved trips.


Family Camping


Family camping: an outdoor camping experience, other than resident camping that involves Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting or Venturing program elements in overnight settings with two or more family members including at least one BSA member of that family. Parents are responsible for the supervision of their children, and Youth Protection guidelines apply.


Recreational family camping


Recreational family camping: when Scouting families camp as a family unit outside of an organized program. It is a nonstructured camping experience, but is conducted within a Scouting framework on local council-owned or -managed property. Local councils may have family camping grounds available for rental at reasonable rates. Other resources may include equipment, information, and training.






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If you can't get to training right away, do get to the nearest BSA store.


There are some good BSA resources:

Cub Scout Leader Handbook

Cub Scout Academics & Sports Book (belt loops & pins)

Cub Scout Leader How-To Book (full of games & Crafts)

Guide to Safe Scouting


Oh, another website.


has lots of recipes, skits, ceremonies


Have fun! :)


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There are a lot of good resources mentioned so far, but no one has brought up my favorite. It's my theory that this wonderful tool is the most neglected tool in Cub Scouting and is the most useful to a Den Leader.


I'm referring to Program Helps. Program helps provide the agenda for every den meeting -- including the game to play, craft to make, pre-opening activity, etc. Even if you don't use them right "out of the book" (and nothing says you have to,) they can still save you a lot of work in your planning.


They are available as a single publication, or (if you're registered as a Den Leader) you'll automatically receive them a couple months at a time in your Scouting magazine. If you buy the complete publication, you'll pay about $4.00.


Hope it helps. Have fun with your new Den.



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Newbs, welcome and good luck.


Yes ! Family camping and they all happened to be wearing Orange tee shirts. I believe that the last name started with a T. It was great.


Actually the Cub Scout Leader book tells us not do achievements at den meetings, so your old den leader did get something right. I cant tell if you approved or disapproved of the boys doing all the achievements on their own. But I can tell you this, if you chose to do achievements at your den meetings there is a huge challenge in trying to make some of them FUN for the boys.


Everyone here had great suggestions for you, let me add mine Go to Roundtable and become a regular. Develop a dialog with other scouters in your area and youll be amazed at the volume of good local information that you can accumulate.




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Congratulations! I've just spent a year as a Wolf Den Leader, and it is one of the most rewarding (and also frustrating) jobs you can have.


The other posters have said many useful things, but I'll toss in a couple more for good measure.


1. Make the meetings fun. Boys who are having fun are easy to manage. Boys who are bored are just about the opposite.


2. The Program Helps and the "How-To" book are lifesavers, when you can't come up with a good idea.


3. Don't make advancement the primary focus of all your meetings. Many of the requirements really are best accomplished at home. A lot of the "talky" requirements do not work well in a Den meeting setting, mainly because they aren't all that much fun.


3. Get the parents involved. If you can get them to each host a meeting, they will have a much better understanding of what you are trying to accomplish.


4. Test ALL craft projects before trying them on the boys. If it's not simple for you to do well, it will be almost impossible for an 8-year-old to do well. (I learned this the hard way. There's nothing quite like trying to come up with 20+ minutes of activities on the fly when the craft doesn't work.)


5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. I had boys in my den that would miss a meeting if you didn't remind the parents about it the day before. Too many people are over-scheduled, and things can fall through the cracks.


Hope that helps,





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Personally, I think meeting ideas from the Bear Book are terrific. They are all age-appropriate and connect with the program's core values. Not all requirements are suitable for den programs but many are. And you don't have to complete every single element of a requirement to make a den meeting of it. The boys can finish it up at home. Of course you don't want to make "checking off the requirements" the focus or seem like a chore, but if the kids are having fun, who care!?!




Law Enforcement (7a&d)-- den outing to police dept. to do fingerprints.


The Past is Exciting (8a) -- someone with a Scout patch collection can talk about Scouting when they were a kid (and the patches create a great opportunity to talk about what lies ahead in Boy Scouts.)


Ride It Right (14) -- have a den Bike Rodeo. We have a local police officer who does a great job with this.


Games & Muscles (15 & 16) -- Every den meeting needs a game.


Shavings & Chips (19) -- earning the whitlin' chip is probably the highlight of the year. I've got a great program for teaching knife safety which covers two den meetings.


Sawdust (20) -- you can't have too many birdhouses and tool boxes.


Tying it up (22) -- knots make a great gathering activity, especially if you have a den chief who can teach them for you.


And that doesn't even cover the Electives.


My greatest administrative hint for any den leader is to get e-mail addresses for all the parents. Trying to contact 10 families by phone was the bane of my existance as a den leader.


The other thing is to make the boys responsible for tracking their own advancement. Either get one of the big wall charts from the scout shop, or do what I did and make an advancement notebook with one page for every boy. Because "extra" Bear requirements can be counted toward arrow points, tracking them is a bit of a chore. Plus, it's a good exercise to make the boys be sure both their handbook and the advancement notebook is up to date.

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"Actually the Cub Scout Leader book tells us not do achievements at den meetings, so your old den leader did get something right."


Sorry but that is incorrect.


Better check page 18-2 of the Cubmaster Leader book or attend the Wolf/Bear Leader Specific training.


You have some good tips here Newbs.

I would recommend...


>Get online and take Cub Fast Start for your position (takes about 10-minutes) and Youth Protection (about 40-minutes)


> Get the Program Helps agazine and the How-to Book They'll give you a tremendous ammout of help to get your meetings going.


> Attend New Leader Essentials (90-minutes to 2-hours) and Wolf/Bear Leader Specific training (just under three hours) ASAP


> Attend Roundtable


> Meet weekly for 60-minutes do hands on stuff


> Have Fun


Bob White



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This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources I found to be immensely useful while I was a Den leader:


*Program Helps


*New Leader/Den Leader Essentials Training (probably offered on a monthy basis within your District or Council, look into it.


*Youth Protection Training


*Safe Swim Defense Training


*BALOO's outdoor training


*Roundtables (attend them whenever and as often as you can!)


*Monthly Pack Leader/Parent meetings


*Monthly Pack Meetings


*Other Den Leaders, Pack Administration, District and Council Scouters


*Your Pack's Cub or Asst. Cub Master


*Boy's Life Magazine


*Scouter Magazine


*The Bear Handbook


*Some form of tracking advancements



Some helpful websites:












National BSA:






















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Excellent list, Joni. I especially liked #1. I do have to admit that you've given me some homework to do. I haven't really explored the net resources you've listed. I trust you. I'm just intrigued.



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Newbs, I just finished my tenure as a Bear den leader and here's a few personal experience suggestions.


1. Recruit an assistant den leader NOW, not next week, not when school lets out and certainly NOT next fall. While I had several parents who took turns with den meetings, I realize now that having a consistent partner would have been far superior.


2. Have den meetings and outings during the summer, at whatever frequency you feel would work. A den trip to Cub Scout Day Camp or a den outing on a really hot summer day/evening to the air conditioned bowling alley will help keep the den together and the boys enthusiastic.


3. Earn a CS Sports & Academics beltloop every month. Since it takes a while to earn their first red bead, this allows every boy to be recognized at every pack meeting.


4. Plan out your entire year, working with your assistant den leader (see #1 above). Then share it with all your families right away. Yes, plans change, but it really is best to be the first activity written on the family calendar.


5. Meet weekly at a consistent time. I have the luxury of a job that allows me to set my hours, so the den met right after school, every Monday. I had very good attendance as 9/10 boys would come straight from school to the den meeting. There were no conflicts with soccer, basketball, baseball, etc., because their practices were scheduled later in the day. I really got to know the boys. I still had my evenings for my family.


6. Remember to have fun. Do things that you like to do (hiking, crafts, whatever) and the boys will pick up on your enthusiasm.


Good luck to you and thanks for jumping in to serve these boys!

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