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WarrenW

My den is too big - what to do?

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I had a Bear den of 13. After the first few meetings, which I had all planned myself, I noticed that the adults (predominantly female) sat in the back and caught up on their gossip, I made the following proclamations.

 

1) As a volunteer leader, I have the power to dictate what goes on in the den.

2) If a parent wants to attend a den meeting, they should be available to perform assigned tasks by the den leader. If not, do not attend - you are a distraction.

3) If I don't get as a minimum, at least two ADLs, I will make the den size 8 scouts and will choose those 8. Timetable - 2 weeks.

4) If you don't agree to #1, choose another den leader.

 

Was everything "kosher" in the above - absolutely not but you know what, the next meeting I had two mothers agree to be ADLs.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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I have had several boys as the "core" of the group since Tigers, we have since added several more boys to the den as they have progressed to webelos. I generally break the den meeting into 3 "subgroups" with each subgroup doing a different requirement, I have at least one but usually 2-3 parents running each subgroup. We cycle the boys through each subgroup thus each boy fulfills the evenings objectives. This system has worked well for me,the only difficult part was selecting the boys for the subgroups as I had to try and watch for any conflicts that may erupt. Having done this for a while I think that I might start the boys into "patrols" (the subgroups) and have them select their own "patrol leaders", or maybe not still pondering that one, there's another Webelos leader in the area that has done that and is real happy with the results.

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Elyria Leader,

 

That sounds like a good plan for a larger group, as long as you get the support you need from the parents.

 

Note that technically Webelos boys are *not* patrols and do not elect patrol leaders. You could, though, have them choose 3 den emblems (similar to patrol emblems) when they move from Bear-Webelos, and there is still the Denner position that could mimic the PL in some ways.

 

If you decide to go ahead with the PL and patrol business anyway (and yes I know some folks who do that too, some successfully and some not so successfully) my word of caution would be to set it up in a way that isn't radically different from those positions in a boy scout troop - you don't want to confuse them or misrepresent what a patrol in a troop is like, to the extent you can avoid it.

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Right Lisabob, I was going to have the Denner/asst denners as the PL's, and refer to them as such, the adult leaders would be refered to as scoutmasters, the den chief either as the SPL or JASM haven't worked that one out quite yet, although I'm thinking the denner would be SPL, and asst denners as PL's, thus making the DC the JASM, Don't know for sure, I'll talk to the other Webelo's leader at roundtable and see how he's got it broken down, he says that the boys have really taken to it on the campouts he's gone on with some local troops and that the boys have almost seamlessly blended into the duty rosters with the Boy Scouts, We'll see.

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What is the value or purpose in changing a Webelos den into a mini "troop" with patrols and patrol leaders?

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Mostly to get the boys used to the terminology/PL's giving instructions instead of adults, patrol structure, it allows us as leaders to give the boys the instruction list, then step back some so they can do it more on their own, more like Boy Scouts..less like Cubs..get them to start thinking less like they need parental/den leader help, I think it will make for a smoother transition for them later when they cross over...not quite so different...a little more familiar.(This message has been edited by ElyriaLeader)

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Elyria, While I understand what you are saying, I think you can achieve the same outcome without the added confusion of the boy scout lingo applied in ways that aren't quite kosher.

 

The main worry I would have is that the way the terminology gets used might not actually reflect what happens in a troop. If that were to happen it could be a dis-service to the boys. On one hand, by adopting the terminology without the full weight of responsibility behind it some boys and their families may conclude that boy scouting is simply cub scouting with different titles, view that as boring, and decide to quit. Others might be in for a rude shock upon cross-over, when they discover that the PL and SPL and the rest of the patrol and troop actually have a lot more responsibility and work to do than is the case in their psuedo-patrol/mini troop that they came from. Smoothing the transition is really important but I suspect this is one place where form might get in the way of substance.

 

I don't doubt that whatever you do, you'll do thoughtfully and well, based on your other posts. I hope you'll talk not only to the other Webelos leader you know who does this, but also and much more importantly, talk to the local SMs first though, because they're the ones who may have some re-education to do with these boys after they leave your den/patrol.

 

 

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I actually had the SM bring the SPL and PL's to a couple of our den meetings to explain the responsibilities that each person has in the troop and the selection/voting process that they use to select the S/PL's, so the boys are aware of the differences.

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Rather than try to retool the Den using a mass of den chiefs or "practical" dens, why not just get back in line with the BSA training and the recommended structure of a pack program?

 

As you know the den is way too big. It needs to be at least 2 dens. Each person in a pack can and should only hold one role. As you have found out, when you ignore the program structure then problems develop.

 

The pack leaders need to refresh their knowlegde of the program that can be found in the Cub Scout Leader Book and make the necesarry changes to get back in-line with the program or the problems will grow.

 

bw

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While your heart is in the right place, it could well be that many Scoutmasters find it better to teach new Boy Scouts after they join the troop. The transition takes place after Cubbing is left behind. Other Scoutmasters may have other comments, but Id much prefer that incoming Webelos had a good solid Cub Scout experience in the Cub Scout elements, and leave the Boy Scout elements to the troop, after they proudly walk across the bridge.

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I also have a large den.

 

I have one asst who is not very active except for dues and when I ask for something to be done. My parents are mostly willing to help but not to be official on paper or get trained.

 

I do not let my parents leave the building and each parent MUST sign up to run 1 den meeting each year, not including our mandatory pack night our den hosts. I have the boys sit at 2 seperate tables to keep the noise level tolerable. I plan one meeting but break it down into 2 dens. Next year I will be having 2 parents sign up for each activity so that 1 parent can be at each table. I also don't let parents help their own boy when doing activities, they must pair with another boy.

 

 

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