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WarrenW

My den is too big - what to do?

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Hi Everyone,

 

Last year I started as a Wolf den leader and we had two of these dens with about 8 kids each which was perfect. Sometimes we did things together as one whole den and it turned out the parents of the other den really liked the den activities i was doing. So they kept pushing to be together. Then the other den leader took advantage of it and I ended up doing both dens together.

 

Then this year started as Bears and the cubmaster wanted us all together cause it would make the parents and kids more happy. There are 17 kids in my den!! And I now have no assistants either. So I tend to get overwhelmed alot. Plus, I am the committee chairman for the pack now along with doing the web site, newsletters and more.

 

I don't want any conflict with my cubmaster and parents but this is just too many kids in one den. Don't you agree? None of the other parents will be a den leader. And last years den leader who is/was my assistant this year has too many issues to help. Its all on me and its too much for den meetings. Your supposed to have around 6-8 boys per den. Even if it was 10 or 11 that would be fine. But when everyone comes, it gets too hectic and out of control. I can't get everyone's attention at once on what we are doing.

 

Any suggestions??

 

Thanks

 

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First of all, let me point out that as committee chair, you "outrank" the cubmaster. I know you don't want to create hard feelings, but if you demand the dens be separated, it is in your power. Pulling rank is generally a bad idea, but it should give you some leverage in the negotiations of how to arrange these dens. The fact is, joining the dens should never have happened without your express approval as both DL and CC. The CM doesn't have the right to do that on his own. Another thing, as both DL and CC, it is easy to burn out and not do either job very well. Also something you may want to point out in the effort to re-separate the dens. Furthermore, if chaos reigns, nothing is getting done and that is not in the best interest of the boys. Another argument you need to make.

 

Now, that said, if you want to start out slow, pick two parents from your den and tell them you've noticed how well they interact with the boys and how you really want them to step up and be your assistant den leaders. If you can't talk them into it, pick two more until two of them accept. Then each week after consulting with your ADLs if possible, plan an activity, obtain the materials, and split the den into two groups. Have an ADL work with each group of boys on the same activity, or have two activities and the boys can switch mid-meeting. Split the group differently each week, if necessary, to maintain the feeling that they are still all together, even though at the moment they are working in two groups. However, expect that certain boys will gravitate towards each other. Watch for it and use those friendships to draw a line separating them into two dens. Get your ADLs trained and encourage them to do more and more planning on their own. Hopefully one or both of them will be prepared to take on the position of DL.

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"None of the other parents will be a den leader."

 

Hmmm. The other den leader quit because there was no need for a 2nd DL, given that you provided the program for both dens. It's not likely anyone will volunteer to write the newsletter or update the website or serve as committee chair either, since those jobs are covered as well.

 

I'd suggest you plan for a Bear den of 8 boys. Then advise the CC and CM they will need to select other adults to serve in the other 4 positions. BSA has a good booklet 13-500 to help you select leaders.

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17 Bears!! Wow!! That's awesome! And, I agree, too many for an effective den. If you don't have the leadership to create OFFICIAL separate dens, you can make "practical" dens. Y'all start off together for your opening, then split up into two (or three!) working groups. This is what we're doing with my son's Wolf den (13 boys, but some count double ;) )and it's making a HUGE difference. Stuff gets done now.

 

Draft parents to help--if they're unwilling to commit to long term leading, get them to take on a meeting. Parents are usually glad to help out if they're asked. We have a sign-up sheet to make sure we have enough parents--at least four per week. It's also easier to get them to help if you have the plan already--

 

"Hey, we're making kites next week; can you hang out for the meeting and help the boys get their sticks tied together?"

 

In my experience, asking an non-Scouting parent about a big job like "can you take on a den?" will get you a scared look and a "no." Starting with a small job will increase their confidence, and help them see they can indeed take on a "real" job!

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You got had. :( Ouch. The bad news is it's hard to make this a win/win.

 

The desirable solution is for you to have an ADL and a Den chief, and for a second den to peel off with its own DL, ADL, and den chief. That means recruiting 3 additional program adults and two Boy Scouts.

 

One option, which is more time intensive for you, is to create two dens in fact... one meets Day X of the week, the other meets Day Y. That way you're at least managing 8 Cubs at a time.

 

It's time to tell the parents, with some degree of tough love, that 2+ dens in one are going to cease pretty pronto.

 

Your Ace of trumps is "NO DEN LEADER", because you'll quit.

 

You have to be willing/ready to use this trump card though.

 

You get to determine what your other trumps are short of the Ace.

 

BTW, Scouting is a volunteer organization, so even if you weren't CC, you can tell CM: We split this den, or I will split it for you... by accepting only Johnny, Billy, Jack, Davey, Seth, Mike, and Robby to my meetings. You can also lay the trump card on him.

 

I wish we could have convinced you not to merge dens 8 months ago... to me, the angst you and others are now having was avoidable.

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Another option for the huge den is 2 DC's from the Boy Scout troop they will be going into. If the Pack isn't going to support you, possibly the Troop will.

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Thanks for everyone's input. I liked the idea of splitting them up and have two den meetings which I may still do. My only problem with that is my other son is joining next year as a Tiger and I want to be there for his den meetings. So that means I would have three nights of scouts to go to. Hmmm, my wife supports the scouts too but I may be pushing that to the limit! :)

 

I'm gonna have a talk with our cubmaster again. His excuse is that only 12 or 13 kids show up per meeting at times but even that many is alot. I liked having about 8 kids at the beginning as a Wolf den leader. I just want to prevent any conflict and keep harmony within the pack. And maybe I'll work on some parents to see if I can work them in some this year for the last few meetings and get them to take half of the kids at times next year.

 

I don't want to consider anything like pulling rank on anyone in the committee - I have always said that everyone has an equal say in everything. And we've never had to vote cause everything usually goes smooth.

 

I'll keep you posted!

 

 

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Having 4 leadership positions (den leader for 2 dens, 3 as of next year, and CC), along with web, newsletter, etc, etc, etc, it WAY to much.

 

It's not good for the Pack and the boy's programs will suffer because you are stretched way to thin. This is why BSA states that you should only be registered in one position.

 

 

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With 17 boys, there are AT LEAST seventeen parents available to draft--I mean, recruit--possibly 34. They are where you need to turn; speaking from my own experience, I didn't volunteer because the leaders looked like they had it all under control. When I was personally invited to help out, I was thrilled to have the chance.

 

Seriously, you don't have to do it all.

 

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I'm with Jblake get den chiefs I would not stop at two I would get 4 and let the parents know that the teenage scouts will be in 100% charge of their kids unless one of them steps up. Print up what you want the den chiefs to do a week ahead of time and round robin the boys 15 min each to each den chief. Make sure at least 15 min of physical activity is included. You may very well end up with the best den ever because the boys will make sure the cubs know their skills, knots, and will stretch them on activities.

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I would not subject a Den Chief to a den of 17 Cubs for the same reason we don't have patrols of 17 in a troop. It is too big of a group for a boy to manage. The program is designed for a den of 6-8 Cubs and adding multiple den chiefs doesn't fix the underlying problem of operating a "den" of 17 boys. The solution may be found in a den leader, assistant den leader, and a den chief serving a den of 8 Cubs.

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FScouter

 

They are not saying 1 DC for all 17 cubs. They are saying,, get at least 2 and split the boys. Or even better as suggested, get at least 3. Then each den will have an optimun of 6 boys.

 

I am running into some of these same problems. Next year I will be taking over as CM. I am currently serving as DL for 6 and 1 Wolf. I have been telling some of the parents, I will be asking for more help next year due to other commitments and family responsibilities. I think that if I can remind the parents that being a DL is not only that difficult, but it can be fun. And I think some of the parents are starting to see that.

 

Anyway, good luck and I hope everything works out.

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A Scout patrol is optimally 8 people, 2 DC's could assist very nicely, 3 would make life even that much easier. But, these DC's are not to replace the DL. Break the group down into smaller groups, and everyone works on the same project at the same time. Knots? same knot all groups, Readyman, same requirement all groups, etc. This way the den is broken down into a manageable size groupings. Every good DC should be able to work easily with 6-8 boys with DL supervision. Also the DC's could break off a few boys that have gotten behind the rest of the group and need extra 1 on 1 assistance without disrupting the rest of the den. Same for boys that lose focus and start acting up. Never underestimate a good DC, which I often found more helpful and involved than some ADLs.

 

Stosh

 

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I am not sure exactly what the story in your den is, but I know that when my son joined cub scouting as a wolf, I sort of expected that the people running the show knew what they were doing, that they were trained, and that they would probably have more experience/be better at being DL than I might be. It wasn't until close to the end of that first year that I understood that this was not the case, and that the DL was simply a parent who had agreed to be DL before we joined. And because the DL was a highly organized type of individual with lots of spare time to plan things, she made it look like she'd been doing this forever. During that first year I did not feel a need to step forward as a volunteer, as a result. I guess I figured if the pack needed leaders, they would find them elsewhere, rather than turning to us (untrained, inexperienced) parents.

 

So perhaps some education of your scouts' parents is in order. Perhaps they do not understand that you are simply one among many, with (no offense meant here now) the same basic skill set as anyone else. Some of them probably think the BSA chose you. Some of them may think the pack hired you. Some of them may think they aren't skilled enough to be a DL like you. Unless you've spent time talking to them about how you became DL/CC/etc, then there's a good bet they just don't know how leaders are chosen in a BSA unit. If this is the case, a good first step is to tell them how leaders are selected in your unit.

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