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erksh

I, Emily, promise to do my best...

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to do my duty to God and the 20 little boys currently in one wolf den under me...

 

Hey folks!

 

I am a new DL of an obviously swollen Wolf den with exceedingly hesitant (lazy?!) parent participation.

 

We are plugging along (two den meetings under our belt already!), working on the issue with my UC and CC, so we shall see how much longer I have to herd rather than lead.

 

I am very interested in hanging around and absorbing info from other sources, especially that which may prevent my early burn-out!

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Welcome aboard!!

 

Wow, 20 boys. That is simply too many to do any of them justice. I started Tiger Cubs with 10 boys and have slowly progressed (added some, lost some) to 6 boys. That is a wonderful den size!!!

 

Its no wonder parents don't want to volunteer for anything - they have to deal with 20 boys and another 20+ parents/siblings at any den activity!!

 

My advice is to hold a drawing at the next den meeting - last names out of a hat. The first 9 names (assuming your boy is one of the 20) are in your den. The others will have to identify a den leader and an assistant den leader THAT NIGHT, and, if willing, you are available to coach the new den leaders.

 

Boys/parents who were selected to go into your den, but want to be in the "new" den can opt out. In that case pull another name out of the hat to replace them.

 

If a family isn't present and their name was not drawn, call their house and let them know what happened and who to contact (if no den leader stepped forward, give them the list of nine other people in their den to call).

 

Make it fast, make it clean, make it fair. Scouting isn't a government organization. It is run by volunteers who are mostly parents. You don't owe them a Scouting experience - that, unfortunately for some, is in the hands of their parents.

 

Also, don't forget to identify an assistant den leader for your den. It will make a big difference for you.

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Agreeing with Kenk, the first key to avoiding burnout is splitting that den. Before using Ken's approach, I would try one thing. Ask every family to have a parent present at next week's den meeting. Tell them it's an important planning session and you need 100% participation. If their child can't be at the den meeting, encourage a parent to come anyway. Line up someone (maybe your spouse) to handle the kids for about 30 minutes away from you. Tell them the situation and that the den has to split. You'd like to make it as painless as possible, so the first option is to find someone to step up and be a den leader. Then split the den along logical lines (friends go with friends, maybe there is a different preference for meeting nights, etc.). If that approach doesn't work, then you need to do the lottery approach.

 

Also, offer to partner with the other den leader to develop a year-long schedule together. You can leverage each other for meeting ideas, activities and campouts. This reduces the overall planning burden on both den leaders. We've done this successfully several times in our pack.

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Go to the forum on Cub Scouts & check out the thread on "Large Den Management" (http://www.scouter.com/Forums/viewThread.asp?threadID=102682).

 

Your Den is WAAAYYY too big and should be divided into THREE dens; 6 - 8 boys per Den is about right. In my experience, Dens this large typically lose a large percentage (~50%) of the boys because they're not having any fun, as well as quickly burn out the Den Leader.

 

I agree 110% with Kenk & Eagle. Be tough, draw names if you have to, but you've got to split the Den. Anything less is grossly unfair to you, and also unfair to the boys because there's no way you can deliver a quality program to a Den that large.

 

mark

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I know -- 20 is a classroom, not a den.

 

We had roughly a dozen (give or take an undecided) back from Tigers.

 

Then Round-up brought us eight new sign ups, several stragglers ponied up dues, etc. and BOOM -- 20 kids.

 

I am fairly irritated, actually.

 

The problem with this particular group of parents is that they started of on the wrong foot in Tigers.

 

We came to the den in JAnuary of last year as Tigers and the "guest DL" was still handling meetings alone with no parent participation.

 

No push has been made to make these parent perform -- they were handed a "freebie" last year and now expect the same this year. The CC had several "visits" and meetings but no one ever said "in order for the program to continue for your boys, you have to find a way to lead your boys."

 

We have a parent meeting scheduled into our den meetings (during snack, den chiefs handle the boys -- thank HEAVEN for Eagle Scouts!) and I brought up the fact that we need to be THREE dens. Well, you would have thought I suggested killing off 2/3 of the little buggers! The eye-rolling and the "not-this-again" sighs.

 

Everyone is pushing me to DELEGATE, DELEGATE -- which is a WONDERFUL idea. I NEED to delegate at least half of these boys to another parent, lol! They refuse to hear it.

 

I spent the summer planning our year, I really need very little help in planning anything more. I have a schedule of activies, materials nearly all prepared and pre-bagged in my basement. Den meetings are a matter of packing the Rubbermaid and typing up the night's agenda.

 

I have a parent who help with books who has said she will ADL when the dens get under 12 kids. I have a parent working of coordinating paperwork/communication.

We have two den chiefs. There IS another DL, but the office was pretty much forced upon him and he doen't function -- he will run whatever you push him at DURING a meeting, but cannot be counted on to plan, make calls, arrange supplies, etc. But he's a body in a uniform.

 

I put out a parent letter a month since July, informing them of their responsibilities for the summer, keeping them abreast of activities, arranging a den Yahoo group.

 

We have a list of two parent volunteers per meeting completed and I come to meetings with an outline of the night's events for them to follow. At our last meeting, our 2nd parent helper didn't show, my outline was tossed aside and every one else who stayed balled up in a knot chit chatting while boys needed hands on help.

 

I have begged these parents to sit down with their kids and help them focus (note that we have three special needs boys as well) and it is too much work for them -- den is social hour.

 

When you talk of splitting, the fingers start pointing. Apparently, everything would be okay if I would just "unclench." These folks don't want to hear that this number of children in one group is just NOT appropriate to the program and we HAVE to split.

 

They all want "jobs" from me when the only thing we need is either a den split (or three, lol) or for them to realize that this is NOT their time to chat and get down and focus on your child! With 20, I can't help everyone and I can run child-specific activity or pace anything to accomodate ANY need.

 

Plus, we have boys who are nearly done with their Wolf trail (went to camp, worked all summer, parents actually read the parent material provided, earning belt loops too) grouped with brand new boys who haven't even earned Bobcat and "old" recruits whose parents STILL haven't gotten the hang of the fact that they have to complete activities the book AND THEN turn it in. I am actually still getting blank books from last year's parent -- they don't even flip through them. They don't care!

 

What we NEED is for parents to cowboy up. They want to split the den into what amounts to Patrols, still meeting together.

 

I can't see that that will lead to anything but more chaos.

 

And I don't have the authority with these people to split the den. If it doesn't happen by December, however, I will just have to stop having meetings.

 

 

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Emily, welcome!

 

Why do you believe you don't have the authority to split a den? I'd ask you this: what commitment did you make in becoming a den leader? 20 is too many boys. It is not safe (not with one adult), will not be fun, will tire you out, and I see nothing good coming of it.

 

Where is your committee on this issue? Quite frankly, if the parents don't like that the den needs to split BUT are unwilling to help, then their opinions don't matter (yeah, I know, waaayy easier said than done). What does matter is providing a program, and you need support in this. AND, it is not your role to get new leaders, so support is particularly important.

 

Please keep us posted. Big dens are sometimes a problem, but this is the biggest I've heard of. As for patrols, they don't exist in Cubs, so the parents wanting patrols is out of line with Cub Scouting. No, there won't be patrols. There could be 3 dens that meet together for Go See Its or some types of activities, but again, that's a lot of kids at one time. That would be, IMO, an occassional thing rather than regular, particularly since the pack meeting is the big meeting time.

 

EDIT: another thought occurred to me. What would the response be if you remained leader to the Tigers who returned to Wolf, and the new boys were put into dens along with parent leaders from that group? It seems a natural break to make.(This message has been edited by bbng)

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"Everyone is pushing me to DELEGATE, DELEGATE -- which is a WONDERFUL idea. I NEED to delegate at least half of these boys to another parent, lol! They refuse to hear it."

 

Your den is doomed to failure if you attempt to keep this going.

 

It is the responsibility of the Cubmaster, with assistance from the Pack Committee Chair to select and recruit den leaders. My suggestion is to inform (not ask) the CM and CC that effective NEXT WEEK (not December) you will proceed with a den of 8 boys as recommended in the Cub Scout Leader book. Pick the 8 you want and send a letter to the other 12 that the CM is forming 2 new dens and to contact him for their new den assignment.

 

Harsh, but you can succeed with 8 or fail with 20.

 

Now that is settled, you need one assistant den leader and one den chief. Delegate to them. Request specific one-time assistance as needed from the parents of your 8 boys.

 

Have fun and don't feel guilty at all. If the families of the other 12 boys want Cub Scouting to happen, it will happen. But no way will you find success in a "den" of 20.

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"But no way will you find success in a "den" of 20."

 

...and it is just not fair to your son. He deserves the best Scouting experience he can have and it is up to you to ensure he gets it.

 

 

Though it may sound selfish, your first priority should be to provide a great Scouting experience for your son. Providing that experience to other boys is certainly icing on the cake.

 

Of course, if all else fails, the other option is to find another pack. Worse things have happened.

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I echo FScouter. Split the Den immediately. You don't have to feel guilty in the least. It is the responsibility of each family to make sure their son has a quality scouting experience.

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Oh, I love you guys! You're so empowering!

 

I agree, this is not good for my son. HE would be done with his Wolf badge right now if not for all of the attention I spread elsewhere.

 

To clarify, I was not their Tiger Leader last year. Our Unit commisioner was. I am brand spankin' new -- NLE and Cub specific next month as well at University of Scouting.

So I have yet to recieve the training that will inform me as to exactly how far I have been pushed, lol!

 

So far, our meetings have been very productive for the boys in that the kids who never get book credit are completing a lot of Achievements in den, but I know it isn't what it could or should be.

 

Keep telling me to put my foot down -- I like it!

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Welcome, Emily!

 

I understand your desire to keep all 20 of these boys in the pack, but it is so unfair to you and your son. I know- I felt this pressure last year. My son was a first year Webelos, and halfway thru the year, our dl stopped showing up. I had just had a baby in October, and had a 20 month old and a 9yo daughter as well. Since nobody else would step forward to help the den, I did. I ended up miserable from it- having to drag 3 daughters to every meeting, and then still having to call parents almost every week because they would drop their boys in the parkinglot, and I would be alone with them. More than once I had to cancel meetings because I couldn't get a second parent to stay. At our last pack meeting of the year, I made it very clear to all of them that September would be different. I told them in no uncertain terms, come September I was not going to be the denleader anymore. If it came to it, I would be my son's dl from home, and see him thru his AOL. The rest would be left in the cold, because as the year went on, I was having less and less fun, spending less time with my own kids, and feeling like I was letting all of the boys down. Since that is the exact opposite of how I wanted my son's Cub Scouting experience to be, I was making this choice. And you know what- within that same pack meeting, a woman stepped up to be the new dl, and another stood up to assist her. Hmmm... where were they when I needed help? I think it all came down to the fact that I wasn't making my needs known strongly enough.

 

People will not step forward if they think you have everything under control. If they hear you say you'll manage things the way they are until December, they figure they'll wait until then to see how much longer they can push you off. I think the best thing you can do for yourself, and also for these boys, is at your next meeting tell them that you will be cutting the den at least in half. Tell them that you will be drawing names from a hat, and those who don't get pulled will have to pick a dl from their pool of parents. Then tell them that if they choose not to, then sadly- their son's scouting years are now over. It is not fair to YOUR son for you to be stretched so thin. Do you remember what YOUR son did at your last denmeeting? Do you remember if he had a good time? When he needed help doing something, were you able to put your own time into it, or were you too busy with another boy? I would remind these 19 sets of parents that the ONLY reason you are involved with Cub Scouts is because you want to enjoy time with your son. If they want the same thing, they can give the same commitment. If not, you can give them directions to the nearest coffee shop, and tell them they can take their chit-chat down the road.

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I, too, will echo FScouter. Do it now. We all admire your enthusiasm and concern for putting on a quality program. Don't let this drag on. As indicated here already, you will get burned out and boys will be lost. Since you know the boys best, work with the CM to divide the boys up in the best manner.

 

Good luck!

Jerry

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It is not the parents' responsibilty to select den leaders. They may be the primary group from which selection is made, but it is the Cubmaster and pack committee that makes the selections and recruits the candidates. The chartered organization approves the selections. If your pack is having trouble getting den leaders, the CM and committee need to get on the stick.

 

There cannot be a pack without dens and there cannot be dens without den leaders. And 20 boys is not a den; its a mob of chaos. (This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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Ditto all the above. I still would take an approach similar to what I said earlier. But, given the additional facts I would make sure the Committee Chairman and CM knew about it and planned on being there. It sounds like you need to be prepared to say "Okay, then our den is comprised of my Johnnie, and his six friends Adam, Billy, Charlie, Davey, Eddie and Frankie. The rest of you are welcome to form dens on your own."

 

Sometimes you have to stand firm to make this stuff work out. You'll lose a few, maybe you'll end up with two dens of eight. But that's better than one chaotic mob of 20.

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