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Bad mix: Huge den, only one DL

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Hi to all,


I'm the CM and I have a dilemma that maybe you all have had yourselves and solved in years past.


Would you allow a non-Tiger Den to get started with a program even though it has the bad mix of huge numbers plus only one uniformed and trained leader?


We have 11 second-graders signed up and paid-up. Six of them are back from their Tiger year, and their DL is continuing.


We had our first Pack event Saturday, and at a split with the Wolf parents -- seven of the 11 families attended -- I had a chance to sit down and give my 'Speech 101,' which stresses the need for two-deep uniformed and trained leadership, but not a single 'ace up my sleeve' made a dent with them. Even my direct asks for additional DLs/ADLs produced no 'yeses.'


On top of it, the returning DL, a great but quiet, wallflower-ish kind of guy, told me and the other parents right then, 'I can try flying solo. I'm even willing to keep all 11 boys together. I can't guarantee it'll work, but I'll try.'


But I think I would surely be sending the DL to the gallows if I allowed him to try this.


I spoke with our Unit Commissioner about the situation, and his advice was: 'These boys need to get going. For right now, be satisfied in just recruiting adults to get uniformed. They can always be trained later. Let them see how good the 'restaurant' is, and they're sure to see the value in ordering 'dessert' (training) in due time. You won't get ANY adults to step up if you insist they get not only uniformed but also trained. But above all, get those boys going.'


Clearly, the best scenario would be if our five new second-graders became their own Den and I could recruit two adults to become uniformed and trained... plus one more to serve as an ADL for the great-guy DL I mentioned earlier. That'd make for three rabbits I'd try to pull out of my hat.


Not knowing whether this would succeed, I'm inclined to e-mail all the Wolf families and be the bad guy and say, 'Your son's program cannot be launched until we have the minimum number of uniformed and trained leaders as required by the BSA. All parents have a chance to give this program life by becoming U/T. The choice is yours.' Even if this would lead to kids being pulled out and parents demanding a refund.


How would you proceed if you were me?




Oakville Tim


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11 is too much. I had 13 it was too much.


Tell them their boy deserves a trained leader. The parents must step up.


Make the "old boys" one den. They should already be bobcats from last year. They should be meeting soon. What type of summer program did they have?


Make the 5 new boys a new den they are all starting out fresh. Have the Chartered Organization rep be the bad guy, the unit really belongs to his org. Have the COR get uniformed and tell the potential new den leader he must be uniformed. COR must walk the walk.


Best of luck.


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1. Make no threats and immediately stop making group recruiting announcements.


2. Start working the resources. Any leader material ANYWHERE in the pack? Any last year's Web DLs or other 'old' DLs that might come back? Any recommendations for people to ask? (your old Tiger leader should know which parents seemed vaguely interested and able). Any interested grandparents or uncles or old enough siblings? Anyone in the CO interested? Aim for 5-6 good candidates.


3. Figure out not only who to ask, but who should do the asking. Who is your best adult recruiter OR who is the best to speak to your specific top choices.


4. The 'asker' should contact each person and explain what the pack would like and why they specifically were chosen- how their skills or personality seems like a great fit. Also, be honest in what the job takes. Tell them you expect training and uniforms, but that the pack helps (with whatever parts the pack helps with) and it does not have to happen right now. By the way, this seems to go best on 'neutral' territory (restaraunt) or the 'victims' home.


5. Once asked, I strongly suggest at least a 24-48 hour cooling off period before getting a solid answer. Better a leader who talked themselves into it than one who was convinced then regreted it.


6. Once they say yes (and be sure to ask all candidates, use the others as ADLs, etc.), get then Fast Start Trained before the next meeting, help them get at least a minimal uniform, and make a HUGE deal out of it at the next meeting- introducing them (and the other leaders) and so on.


7. Be supportive and protective of your leaders. Make sure they are not spending too much of their own money, running into snags you can help with, have back-up plans for days they can't run a meeting and so forth. Don't embroil them in endless meetings, or tedious planning or training sessions. Get them to as many FUN district/council events as possible- like Pow-Wow. Make them REALLY, REALLY glad they volunteered and have you on their side. (This won't help right now, but it makes getting next year's group easier!)



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If you feel the DL will fail, then do not send him out alone. If you expect him to fail and he does fail, all the scouts that were let down (and their families) have you to blame. If the den does not start until someone steps up to help, then they only have themselves to blame.


I was the DL for 11 Bears and we had a great time. I had an assistant DL but I also had a schedule for the year and had each family sign up to organize the outing and den meeting for just one month. I provided them with planning helpers and the scout worked with his mom/dad to set things up.


Scout On,


PS: See http://www.boyscouttrail.com/cub-scouts/wolf-scout-schedule.asp for a schedule or http://www.scouting.org/forms/33826.pdf for a meeting planner.

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This kind of thing seemed to come up pretty regularly when we were in Cub Scouts. I worked these problems as a CC for a couple of years, so here's a couple of suggestions....


One, for recruiting purposes, general recruiting is fine to get the word out, but you really need to get to the parents one-on-one when you find potential leaders.


In the interim, help out the DL by asking the parents to step up informally and help out at each meeting. If the DL is a good organizer, this might mean just helping with the projects each week. If the DL is over his head, the parents might need to prepare the projects for each meeting with the help of the DL. Once they see it's not a horrendously big deal, you might be able to get one of them to step up.


You need at least one of the adult leaders in the den to be trained. Hopefully the DL is. Training is not a silver bullet by any means, but if you can get good training, at least the leaders will have some idea what's going on. Failing that, at least get the training materials and leaders guides for the leaders. At least they'll have something to work from.


I wouldn't force the issue of den size too much. If the parents can be convinced to help out, having a dozen kids can be done, while not easy by any means. I've always thought it's better to have one large den than 2 marginal sized dens. You need a "critical mass" of kids for them to have fun.


Lastly, regardless of how desparate you get, avoid the temptation to get "a body" to fill a leader spot. It takes a certain kind of person to take charge of a band of grade-schoolers, and while training can certainly help, an adult who's not comfortable with a group of kids isn't going to succeed.

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"Your son's program cannot be launched until we have the minimum number of uniformed and trained leaders as required by the BSA."


That would be only 1. There is no 2-deep requirement of any kind for Den meetings. The 2-deep requirement is for trips & outings only & then only 1 of the 2 needs to be a registered leader. There is NO requirement at all that the registered leader be either uniformed or trained.


If your DL wants to run with it then you should support him. A den of 11 2nd graders is large, but it can be managed. As has been suggested here, get the parents to sign up to help at meetings. I would say, with that big of a group, 2-3 parents per meeting would be good. Have your DL put together a sheet showing each meeting of the year & what he plans on working on at each meeting. Based on the number of boys & the number of meetings, he can tell the parents that they each need to sign up for X number of meetings with a MINIMUM of 2 parents each meeting. He can then send a copy of the sheet, along with contact info for everyone in the den, to all den families.


Do NOT pull the plug on this den. It CAN work. Communication will be key here. He will need to make sure each parent is reminded of their meeting dates & any specific things that they will be responsible for at their meeting.


Utilizing the Denner/Asst Denner system will help too. You might also look into getting a Den Chief from an area Boy Scout Troop.


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I have had 11 boys for the last 4 years (some have dropped off while others have dropped in)the program for 11 boys definitely can work, but I attribute this to "responsible" leadership (as I am sure others who posted to this thread will attest)

The most important part about this thread is the DL - does he WANT a large group???

If not, don't try and force it or he will burn out and you will be left with NO DL.

Sure it CAN work, but make sure the DL is up for it (not just going to try). Sounds like the CM is a "can do" person but they can not be a "do it all" person.

If he can't, let the new scout parents know that they will need to find another DL otherwise, they will not be able to continue. No threats..just practical reasoning...

Otherwise, if the DL is ready to make a go of the large group, the info from the other replies has worked for me. (including a Den Chief and a fantastic Asst DL and cooperative parent group)



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I was a DL for 2 years (Wolf and Bear) for a den of 15. WAY WAY TOO BIG. It was crazy and no one wanted to commit to being an ADL. How I managed was I delegated a number of duties and had the parents of the den share them. Snack was managed by one Mom who coordinated so that every family provided snacks on a different week. One Mom took over tracking advancement for me. She would check their books during the meeting so I could concentrate on whatever the planned activity was. I had several parents who would stay on a rotating basis to help out with discipline and such. And asked parents to come up with activity ideas that THEIR boys would enjoy, because if I planned everything based on whay my sone would like, not everyone might enjoy it. That worked well. We had one dad come in and build birdhouses with them, another Mom had her Brother in law who was a police officer come in and do a presentation for them. We had another family bring in an Eagel Scout that they knew to teach the boys knife safety. It can work with one DL, if the parents in the Den are willing to help out with small, specific tasks.


This really worked to my benefit when it was time to move up to Webelos and I was unable to continue as a WDL due to commitments with my job. I had 3 parents step up to take over the den. By this time our ranks had shrunk to 12 Webelos, but I was, first, happy that sharing duties over the time we were together convinced 3 people to come forward and, second, I was just a little bit proud of myself that it took 3 people to replace me ;) !!! (Just kidding, but I was proud that some of my efforts to make my job easier convinced others to be come registered, trained leaders.)



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I've seen this work. Get your new parents in a room. Remind them that the den was a workable size before all their kids joined. We need someone to step up to co-lead or assist with the den, or we'll spin these new guys off as a new den and they'll have to run the whole show by themselves. This sounds harsh, but it's the message they hear at soccer, band and every other activity. You won't be the first to tell them that.


Take your returning parents in a room. Remind them that they had a great time as Tigers (hopefully), and that it was successful because they shared the load. There den leader needs that continued help throughout cub scouts, or you'll lose him to burn-out. Ask someone to help or co-lead the den.


Hopefully, you'll get someone to step up (ideally at least one from each group). Then you can make the decision about den size.

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Alos don't forget about contacting a Boy Scout Troop and getting a Den Chief. For one thing it is a Position of Responsibility for the BS and is one of the required positions for rank advancement.

I would get a boy who is Star of above in rank.

No he can't be a ADL but he can be a great resource for help and one of their responsibilities is helping plan and run activities for the Den.

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I was a Wolf DL last year in a pack with 2 Wolf dens. When we had our Leaders' Meeting last week the other DL quit, leaving me with 11 returning Bears, and Scout Sign-up Night still to come! The CM hasn't officially told me I'll be handling all these kids, but the ADL for the other den won't take over.


I have a GREAT ADL and Den Chief. There were times last year when both dens met together and the three of us had to handle all those kids. It's a lot harder than the 5 I usually have, but it is doable with a lot of help from the parents. I made it clear that BSA doe NOT stand for BabySitters Club of America, and I expect at least two of them to stay per week. While they may not want to step up and lead a den, they all want to help where they can and they do.


Give the DL all the assistance you can... including a Den Chief! A good Den Chief is worth his weight in gold, from running gathering activities to teaching skills. I couldn't have gotten half the stuff done during a meeting without my DC.


Meanwhile, don't give up on recruiting more leaders, but make sure you have the right person doing the recruiting. Some people are better at it than others... I, for one, am NOT one of those people; that's why I'm a DL and not the CC or CM!



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Great ideas already. I will add this:


Work to separate the group. It doesn't sound like either you or your DL has much faith in him handling the group of 11.


Gather the five new parents together for their first Den meeting. Have another DL, the CC, or other registered leader run the meeting with the boys (because it IS important that they get started now) while you speak to the parents. There are three main reasons that parents don't want to step up and be leaders.


1. They don't care and see the BSA as Baby Sitters of America

2. They don't THINK they have the time.

3. They are unsure of the unchartered waters that is Cub Scout Leadership.


You can work on #3. Hesitant parents may have a difficult time turning the promise of "being trained" into "I can be a successful leader". And let's face it. Training is preached and pushed in these forums by many (including myself) but it falls short in many aspects.


In your meeting with the new parents, reassure them that they are not alone. Make them aware that the last thing you want is for them to fail. Tell these parents that you will essentially hold their hand for the first meeting if they wish so that they get off on the right foot.


You, as CM, should meet with all of your new leaders and explain to them how to plan/run a den meeting, advancement, dues collection, working with the committee, soliciting help from parents, etc. Do this as soon as you can before they begin to meet. Their chance of success as well as your Units will be greater.


Good luck.


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"And let's face it. Training is preached and pushed in these forums by many (including myself) but it falls short in many aspects."


One of the reasons training appears to fall short is that the trainee has expectations greater than what the training course is designed for. One training course does not turn a new parent into an overnight successful competent leader. Even taking Fast Start, NLE, YPT, Cub Specific, and BALOO does not a successful leader make.


One needs to investigate resources, read the books, attend Roundtable, and actually work in the position to be successful.


One does not take a journalism class at the community college and become transformed into a successful newspaper reporter. The class just gets you started.

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One of the reasons training appears to fall short is that the trainee has expectations greater than what the training course is designed for.


FScouter, I couldn't agree more. And I hope that my comments weren't taken to mean that I was knocking those training classes. They ARE very important. But in reading many of our comments in these boards, the answer of "get trained" is thrown around freely and gives the impression to many that it is the answer to many of our problems. And it's not. Additional help from those of us who know and doing those things you mention increase their chance of success.

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Training by itself does not guarantee a successful leader. But it is by far the single most important step a leader can take towards being a successful leader. So many, many issues, problems, and questions presented in these forums have answers rooted in the BSA training courses and publications. Perhaps that is why "get trained" is repeated so often as an answer.

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