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bizzybbb

managing boys

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I am a den leader of 5 Wolves. We meet in the afternoon from 3:30-4:30 at the Pack's church. This is my first time being den leader and I need help in motivating the boys to stay on task and pay attention without running around the room, playing with each other, hiding under tables, etc. We have had two meetings, both of which I would say were successful, but the boys were a bit "wound up" and had trouble listening if they were not totally absorbed in the craft or the subject being discussed. We completed the Bobcat requirements and started working on the Wolf achievements. I want to keep the meeting fun and interesting, and not feel like I have to constantly remind them or harp on them to stay with me.

 

 

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Welcome to the forum, Busybbb!

 

Most of the tips I'm about to give you are covered in Cub Scout leader training, but I'll give them here as well. I encourage you to go to training as soon as possible -- there's a lot of good stuff.

 

One of the best tools to manage boys in a den meeting setting is a Good Conduct Candle. We'll get to the candle in a second . . .

 

At your next meeting (if you haven't done this already) tell the boys that they as a den need to come up with rules for the den meetings. Get them to give you what they think the rules should be and write the ones you agree with on a chalk board. The boys will usually come up with good ones -- that they learn in school. You can add to the list if they miss something.

 

Now we come to the candle. You'll need a candle about 3-4 inches in diameter. Score the candle in one-inch increments. Show the candle to the boys and tell them that this is their special den meeting candle. One of them will get to light it at the beginning of each den meeting. When the candle burns down to a mark, the den will do something special -- like have pizza, go bowling, etc. Make it something the boys will really look forward to.

 

Explain that you will make a poster with the den rules and put it up at every den meeting. If someone breaks a rule during the den meeting -- that boy will have to blow out the candle and it will be longer before we go bowling. The candle is lit only one time each meeting.

 

If a kid breaks a rule and has to blow out the candle, guess who the bad guy is for the rest of the evening. I'll give you a hint -- it isn't you.

 

For your part, get your hands on a copy of Program Helps. These are den meeting agendas that are time-tested and created for you. Den meetings should be comprised of several short and different segments. You really can't blame 8 year olds for getting fidgety during a solid hour of any activity or craft. Program helps also save you a lot of work. Most of the Wolf Badge stuff should be done with the parent at home and the den meeting should help facilitate that.

 

You're not alone in diving into the badge requirements as the substance of the den meeting. I think many new Den Leaders do that and a big part of it is because they don't know about the Program Helps and otehr resources available.

 

Program Helps will come to you (if you're a registered Den Leader) two months at a time in your Scouting Magazine. They'll be the pages on newsprint rather than 4 color. They're available for purchase in your Scout Shop for about $4.00 if you want the whole year at a time.

 

Best of luck. Excellent choice in turning to these forums for help.

 

DS

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Welcome aboard!!! I remember feeling quite frazzled after my first few den meetings. My boys acted just like your's and I suspect we're not alone. :)

 

I've been a leader for almost 2 years. I eventually figured out the recipe for my den meetings & the key ingredient is to keep the boys busy, busy, busy, busy! Boys are very active & so they will find anything to keep themselves occupied whether it's the planned activity or off in search of something else, like playing chase. Moving the den meeting from our school cafeteria (where they just felt the need to run! Argh!) to my house was one of the best ideas for my boys' behavior.

 

Use the den meeting planning sheet as your guide. Plan some sort of a busy activity for the boys to do as they arrive. (See Program Helps, rank handbook, belt loops for ideas.) This is a great opportunity for the denner & assistant denner to help, not to mention a Den Chief. After about 10-15 mins., get everyone outside or in a gym and give the boys an opportunity to burn some energy: relays or my favorite Wolf Achievement 1K: jog in place for 5 mins. There are umpteen different types of relays posted on the Internet if you want some fresh ideas. Get everyone back in the meeting room for the Pledge, recite the CS Promise or Law, BRIEFLY do the announcements (if you chat too long, they'll tune out), show the Cubs the updated chart of whose's earned what so they can see how they're coming along on their badge, & then dive into the primary meeting activity. We do our snacks at the end of the meeting . . . kinda like the carrot before the mule tactic.

 

Don't hesitate to recruit parents to help, especially with discipline and offering the extra hands-on assistance that activities may require.

 

I'm fortunate to have most of my parents also attend the meetings, therefore if their son is too disruptive, then I send him to Mom/Dad. If the parent isn't available, then the Cub sits beside me and if that just doesn't seem to work, then the plan is to send him to another parent. I say "plan" because I haven't needed to go that far yet . . . except where my son is concerned. Hmmm, I think a good Pow Wow training class would be how to deal with the "SOTDL" (son-of-the-den-leader).

 

It shouldn't take but a few den meetings for the boys to get the routine down.

 

I think the candle is a good idea, as well as a marble jar (drop 'em in or take them out depending on the conduct). I didn't adopt those methods because it seemed like one more thing for me to manage and I was already stressed out. If you have an assistant den leader, then they can tend to the conduct candle/jar.

 

I have a piece of good news for you: the boys will mature and you'll notice, like I did, that at the end of the school year they aren't acting like 1st Graders anymore. The boys and the activities just get better and better as they progress along!

 

 

 

 

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I remember those days well... On the nights where the program/craft is just not hitting the spot and the den is sliding in to chaos, just remember these magic words - "who wants to play a game?" No mater what they are doing to destroy the meeting place, all of that will stop and you will be presented with eight sets of eager eyes looking at you intently. Check your scout shop for a book called "cub scout leader how to book". lots of games. I always had a game in my back pocket just in case the kids got bored.

 

YIS

Scoutdad

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Hi, welcome to the campfire,

 

With a 15 yr. old Life Scout & a 5 yrs. old pre-Tiger it might be time for me to get retrained on Cub Sout topics buty I do remeber tryimg to keep it moving (busy, busy, busy.) But I also remember trying to make sure that its easy to join he gathering game / activity (or to end it!) We also used the format from program helps w/ a twist; whether we met in the afternoon or evening we progressed from Gathering to Openning ceremony, working on Cub advancement, Hands on activity, Snack, Clean up (Cubs do it -- not parents -- never do anything that a Scout can do for himself!) & Closing. It is easier to progress toward the arts & Crafts & then on to food than put away a new toy or project & review "requirements."

 

Also I work w/ several packs that "run their own program" (the saem program year after year.) That can work, but personally I really put the program helps to work at the Pack (cub) level -- we've a pretty experienced Troop & I haven't been able to convince the Patrol Leaders Council to try usinmg the program helps for a year. DS, any professional observastion on "troop programs & program helps?" They look good to me.

 

Bob

 

 

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Professional observations regarding Troop Program Features -- advice?

 

Yes.

 

Don't try to use the Troop Program Features like the Program Helps for the packs are designed. Make them available to the PLC to use as a tool, but the choices, unlike the monthly Cub Scout themes are really up to the PLC to pick.

 

I do recommend that they be followed as they are an excellent resource for good program, but it should be the boys steering the ship, not the adults.

 

DS

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As the others said -- busy, busy, busy.

 

Get a wall advancement chart from the Scout shop -- something like $1.35. Let the boys put sticky stars on the chart when they complete an achievement.

 

Do get Program Helps -- a wonderful thing.

 

Maybe it's just me, but I shudder everytime I hear the idea of the candle. The last thing I want in the room with a bunch of active boys is an open flame!!!

First safety.

Next boys are atracted to fire -- some will spend the whole meeting staring at it or trying to play with it.

 

The idea of den rules is also great -- you may have to suggest some of the rules, but usually they are very good at coming up with the rules.

 

Start each meeting the same. I always used the Pledge of Allegiance and Cub Scout Promise -- it triggers everyone's brain that it is Cub Scout time and get focused.

 

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Rule #1 for den meetings is that anything done for more that 10 or 15 minutes will degenerate into chaos. This is especially true with activities which require concentration, like academic subjects and crafts. Of course the time will vary from boy to boy and den to den. Some kids will start bouncing off the wall after 5 minutes, some will still be on-task after 20. You'll have to learn the median for your den.

 

One mistake I think many den leaders make is assuming you have to complete every project you start. Don't be afraid to stretch projects over several den meetings or to get the boys started on a craft and then send it home for completion. Nothing wrong with either approach.

 

Don't work against yourself by getting the boys all riled up and then trying to calm them down. For example, don't use a wild game of tag as a gathering activity and then expect the boys to settle down for a somber discussion of the Pledge of Allegiance. Start the meeting quietly (relatively speaking) and let it build. By the end of the meeting, you should have them whipped into a frenzy, give them a good dose of sugar and then send them home with mom and dad. :)

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Don't fear the candle, control the candle. Make a rule that the only ones to approach the candle are the den leader and the Cub Scout selected to light it (a rotating basis is best.) and/or the kid who has to blow the candle out. If someone goes near the flame -- they blow out the candle and the trip is put off another week.

 

Of course the rules of fire safety must be followed, but candles have had a place in Cub Scouting for a very long time and will continue to have that place in the forseable future.

 

Of course, some places, such as schools, may not allow the use of a candle -- the marbles are a good substitute. I like these tools as management tools because the boys handle their own discipline, not the den leader.

 

DS

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Thank you to all who replied to my request. You all had great suggestions, insight, and encouragement. I'm a pretty organized person when it comes to planning (I used to plan commercial office spaces for a living). Our last den meeting went like this:

- Joint flag/pledge with the other den

- snack

- Instruction about state flag (wolf achievement 2d)

- Instruction and demonstration on flag folding (wolf achievement 2e; boys practiced folding American flag with each other

- Activity: Boys made paper airplanes for "Soaring to new Heights" theme

- Cleanup

Went pretty smoothly, because there was no unstructured time.

 

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Could you attach some time durations to the agenda. It will help to see how you might tune up your meeting if needed.

Thanks

Bob(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Good Day All

 

Hello Bizzybbb, everyone's giving some great advice. I don't think you have an unusual group of scouts, you're just new and havn't quite got in the grove yet. You will, most Den leaders get good after about six meetings. I think twocubdad gives some really good advice and I would read his post a couple times. The candle works also, but Twocubdads advice deals with the maturity of the boys.

 

Your agenda looks good depending on the times, but I would move the snack until last. There is some leverage there if you know what I mean. I would also ask and seek a Den Cheif. A boy more their age can sometimes control a wound up group better than the adult and they know a lot of games and activities that can help make boring activities more fun. Also, he will allow you a break to sit down and just enjoy the boys in action. Very important

 

Don't be afraid to ask an experienced scouter to come and watch your meeting. They will have some good advice.

 

And learn from your meetings. As a CM, I alwasys watched the scouts at pack meetings and everytime we I noticed the scouts loosing interest, I either changed the way I did that activity or dropped it completely. Sometimes adults make the mistake of forcing a boring program on the scouts. Take what works and keep using it. Don't be afraid to change what doesn't work.

 

And, have fun. If you aren't having fun, then it will burn you out quick. And these guys really need you.

 

I think you are doing OK because you are asking the right questions. Let us know how thing progress so we can enjoy your experiences.

 

I love this scouting stuff.

 

Barry

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EagleDad,

I also thought the snack should come last but then remembered that the den meets at 3:30 in the afternoon. The boys are probably ready for a snack when they get to the meeting.

 

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