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ParkMan

balancing pack vs. den activities

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I'm working on our pack's plan for the fall. I'm thinking about how many pack activities to plan for so that you have enough pack activities, but also leave time for the dens to do things on their own.

 

Too many pack activities and you either don't leave time for dens to plan activities - you can also lead to burnout of parents & leaders.

Too few pack activities and you end up with the opposite.

 

What have people found that works well?

 

 

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What kind of activities are you thinking about?

 

I think if you schedule to many activities, then you kind of brand yourself as the one who plans everything, and then den leaders don't take the initiative on their own to plan activities because they know you'll take care of it.

 

As CM, I plan pack meetings, create the themes for campouts and encourage the dens to make their own plans. I can give them ideas for things to do, and point them in the direction of resources.

 

Our district usually has lots of events available. I will send information out about the event to the pack. If the members want to take advantage of the opportunity, that's their choice. I will encourage participation at some of the events, Cuboree, and special ones.

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I typically leave three months during the school year without a pack activity scheduled. A date is selected for "Den Activities" on the schedule, althou7gh den leaders can change the date of their activity if they wish.

 

That has worked out well.

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We do pack activities at pack meetings, at pack campouts and during times when the oppertunity presents itself.

 

Everything else is up to the Den Leaders.

 

As CM, I do encourage DL's and offer tips and share any events or activities that I see happening through tv, radio, newspaper, online, etc....

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We generally try for one Pack activity (other than the Pack meeting) each month. These will usually be on a weekend (whereas the Pack meeting is usually a school night).

 

We don't always manage one per month. A lot depends on how everyone's schedule ends up as the year progresses.

 

We include Pack events at our CO (Pack Haunted House), area events (festivals, shows), council/district activities ("Cub Fun" days, Scouting For Food), and sports events (we are lucky to have a number of 1st, and 2nd, tier professional teams in the area).

 

Den activities/outings are on their own. I know that many of the dens try for 1 den outing per month too. Sometimes the den outing IS the Pack outing for that month.

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We have calendar planning and keep in mind things boys need for each rank and assign a den leader to plan the things we decide to do that works best for their den. Since the den leaders are looking at their year, we often find big overlapping things that work for a lot of ranks--like fire station visit (tigers go see it, webelos the firemen go over first aid for readyman, fire station next to a police station, bears get their fingerprints done), state capitol building (webelos work on citizen, others get the visit an important place in their community etc).

 

But overall our pack activities are fun things we'd want to do anyway--campout, raingutter regatta, derby, hike, halloween party, christmas parade, etc. We encourage our den leaders to let us know at the monthly leader meeting what they are doing in the next 2 months, so if they are going bowling and can fit in another den who also wants to go bowling, the dens can share the costs and the planning.

 

So we look at the big picture how to benefit everyone, and dens leaders wroking together and turning one of our pack outings into THEIR den outing, or turning their den outing into a pack activity where it works.

 

Now if you are consistently scheduling a pack meeting AND a pack outing every month, and that steps on the toes of the den leaders to not be able to get their own specific rank outings done, then you need to step back and re-evaluate.

 

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Thanks all for the suggestions!

 

I'm heading into annual planning now - this is all very helpful.

 

My goal was to perhaps find the sweat spot - enough activities that we've got some excitement and energy going. Yet, not so much that it impacts the den's own activities or wears out families.

 

 

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Keep in mind that just because the Pack schedules an activity, does not mean that everyone is REQUIRED to attend.

 

If the den is holding their own outing at the same time as the Pack, and the den folks prefer to attend one (does not matter which) over the other, so be it.

 

People attend what they want to attend.

 

Having all pertinent calendars available when putting together the Pack calendar of activities for the coming year helps tremendously.

 

It also helps the den leaders plan their program when they have the Pack calendar well in advance so that they know what to plan around.

 

All of that aside - You should all (pack and den leaders) be planning the coming year TOGETHER. Doing it TOGETHER eliminates the possibility of overlapping activities.

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I see your points.

 

Yep - I agree - pack activities are not mandatory. I'm thinking there is a balance somewhere between having a small number of activities that you try to get everyone to attend and having a large number of activities that fewer people attend. I think we've been more of the first one - a fewer number of activities and then working to get high attendance. As I look to the next year, I was thinking it would be good to add a few more activities to give folks a broader choice of activities.

 

I also agree that planning is a joint activity. We'll have a planning meeting over the summer where we'll work a lot of this out. As CM, I was just doing a bit of advance planning so that we'd have a framework to discuss. I'm also trying to get a good feel for how much advance planning to do vs. how much just comes naturally from discussion in the planning meeting.

 

 

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ParkMan,

 

It is a balance, but I've found that the more flexibility I give the Den Leaders and their Den schedules, the better our overall Pack program functions. The only thing the Den Leaders need to be aware of are scheduled Pack Meetings and Pack outings/campouts. If a Den has a scheduled outing that conflicts with a Pack event, I never tell a Den that they must cancel their Den event, especially if it's an outing that will enhance their Cub scouting experience.

 

To minimize any schedule conflicts, I (the CM), the CC and pack committee, try to distribute our basic Pack calendar to the Den Leaders by the before September. We usually have a leader/committee meeting in July or August to finalize the calendar for the new program year that begins Sept. 1st.

 

I've always believed that the Dens are the "engines" that make the Pack go. The boys are more likely to stay in the Pack if they are happy with their Den programs because that's where their "buddies" are and where relationships are forged.

 

To answer your question from your OP, our Pack generally has one Pack meeting per month, a Fall campout and Spring campout, Pinewood Derby, and a end-of-school year Picnic in May. Other events could be added later if they fit in an make sense to do. Also, watch out for those Holidays and build in some time-off during the program year to give yourself and other leaders needed breaks.

 

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My current thinking is that we will have the first week of each month set aside for Pack Activities (Might be a traditional pack Meeting, might be Pinewood Derby, Might be a Beltloop Night...

 

The other 3-4 weeks of the month, we will have those set aside for Den meetings.

 

We are considering saying no Den Meetings the thursdays before Camping Trips, but that is not 100% definate.

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Our Pack has 1 Pack Meeting a Month usually reserved for passing out awards and Achievements..

 

If Pack has an Activity it takes place of the regular Pack Meeting. Such as participating in the City Veteran's Day Parade, The City's Christmas Parade, A night at the museum. We do not schedule to many Pack Activities. We do have a Lock in at our sponsoring Church, we have a Camp out at a Local Camp with Cabins which is great because no need for a lot of camping items..as there are bunk beds..Two adults and 8 kids per cabin..A Large Mess Hall where more adults can sleep around a huge Fireplace.

 

 

Den Meeting are traditionally where we take the day trips to meet advancement requirements such a trip to fire station, radio station. It depends on if the venue is large enough to host all of the scouts at one time mainly

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Not counting popcorn sales events (yech), we do two Pack events a month. During the school year, one of those is a Friday evening Pack meeting. Becuase we set out calendar in early August, we expect Dens not to book events on the same day as a Pack event.

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We have a fairly small pack so we have 2 things scheduled for each month. The first is a pack meeting where we present awards and inform parents of what's coming up for the next month. The second is an activity for the entire pack - whether it's hiking, camping or any other activity. There are a number of times that we do schedule other things as they come up so it will end up being 3 or 4 things during the month rather than just 2..

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