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Marginal DLs

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I am beginning my second season as CM of a relatively large (for our area) Pack.


A little background: Pack is one of the oldest in the area (over 60 years) but had dwindled down to 9 Scouts due to the 2 previous CMs ONLY wanting to push their son through and get out of it. I took over as CM (being honest with myself) because nobody else wanted it. I did it because my son loves Scouting and if it's important to him..well it's important to me. Fast forward to now: 45 Scouts, dens at every level, functioning committee, ACM on board, and happy Scouts!


All of this is great, but I have one BIG problem. I have 5 dens (one for each rank). I have one SUPERB DL, I have one really good DL who is however really busy and can't give it the time it deserves but tries, then I have 3 who are sort of "ehh" on the whole thing.


All three of them tell me they are engaged and ready to help and that it's important that we run a quality program...while at the same time, Den meetings have been sporatic and often on the SAME DAY as the Pack Meeting. I guess this is "ok" but "Hey, meet me an hour before the Pack Meeting for a Den meeting" isn't my interpretation of a "quality" program. I never hear from them and-although we're just getting started-very few of thier boys have earned a single beltloop outside of Pack activities. I just feel like it's all being put on ME to do PACK events to keep THIER boys interested. I plan meticulously for our Pack meetings and events. Very seldom to we just have a Pack Meeting...it's always an event. Sevice projects, Regatta, Displays, etc. Now, I don't expect for everybody to "live" the program like I try to do, but I'm worried that we will lose these Scouts if they are bored to tears in the den NO MATTER what I do on a Pack level. At our last leaders' meeting, I even went so far as to call one out (politely) and tell him that hey "may want to" think about doing X activity with his den becasue they could earn Y and use the skill at upcoming camp! I don't know if he did...but I doubt it. What in the world can I do to motivate these folks?!

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When our current group of leaders took over the pack, much the same thing was going on. It will kill your pack within a year if you can't get a handle on it. We're back and thriving, but we dropped down to just a few boys before we were able to recover.


No need to call anyone out, use program planning meetings and get the leaders a copy of the den resource guide for their rank. Also, try and hunt down some ADLs for each den, or at least a den chief. Schedule two mandatory planning meetings each year, at least. One right before the fall program year begins and one in Dec. or Jan. to plan for the next half of the year. We also have one in May to plan our summer program.


Leaders and CM map out their program for the next four or so months. With the new resource guide this is relatively painless for the DLs without time or imagination. The way we work it is the CM gets a copy and the DL gets a copy of their meeting plans, so that the CM and other leaders can work together to make sure everyone has all the supplies/people they need for each meeting. (Example: Den 1 is making catapults, Den 3 can offer some leftover catapult supplies they have on hand)


The other reason we do it this way is that our pack does not allow den meetings to be canceled, so whoever covers the meeting if a DL can't make it needs to know what was planned for the evening. We don't have enough volunteers yet for an ADL for each den, so we have two that work with whatever den needs an extra hand that night or cover when a DL can't make it.


Do you all meet at the CO, or at private homes? We meet at our CO, all on the same night, so we know if someone isn't pulling their weight and we can replace them post haste. Our den meetings are the first three Weds. of the month, with a pack meeting on the last Weds. These are not optional, this is when they are.


Monthly, We plan three den meetings (with one usually being a den field trip, but not always), 1 pack meeting, and at least 1 weekend pack activity from September through May. We have one den meeting and one pack activity from June through August.


Are your leaders trained? If not, get them trained ASAP. You're going to have to lay down the law. Work with your committee to get some DL expectations on paper. Let the DLs know if they cannot fulfill these they will need to step down. Line up a few potential replacements before doing so. With a full committee and 45 families, you should be able to find a few more DL volunteers.


Good luck!

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Those den meeting plans are available for free download on the internet. Really! They are at:




These were announced with great fanfare at our Roundtable. They couldn't be found with the instructions given to us. The URL in the glossy brochure that was handed out yielded a "file not found" error. I couldn't find them with the search engine.


But after I e-mailed the DE, I got this secret URL. So download them fast, before they hide them again! Isn't scouting.org a great website? :)


Actually, the whole book only costs about $10, and it would be easy to distribute the den plans to each den leader. In your situation, I think these canned meeting plans for an entire year could really come in handy.

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