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Den Chief system broken?

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My experience is the Scout needs at least a year of Troop experience before he is mature enough to work well with a Den. Seems like they need that much time to grow into more of being a boy scout mentor instead of one of the guys. It's tough in this day and age though, a lot of adults want their scouts taking on leadership responsibilities after six months. They don't understand that it's OK to just let them enjoy having fun. The program is designed to be there when they are ready. I rarely had trouble with 12 and 13 year old Den Chiefs.


Also training is important. We train our own and teach them how to control the scouts, get them to respect the scout sign, how to initiate helping the leader, running games, but letting the adult lead. It worked well for us.


Have a great scouting day.



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I was a den chief for a brief period of time. I had no confidence at that point. I even turned down the option of a second den that needed one (It took me years to build it up my confidence). I ended up as the most active scout in my patrol and I'm 21 now and am still very active. I'm actually registered with two troops and go camping with both.


I know some den chiefs. two are very active with the troop and not quite trained enough to be good with the dens. one is very active with the pack and not quite enough with the troop and needs the training too. I've known a few others over the years and they cross the boundries on needing training. the best den chiefs have a few years under their belt in boy scouts or are naturally a people-person. I've known scouts who'd be great den chiefs but weren't.


I feel that more focus on the den chief position would be great for the program. getting leaders learning about it would be great.


they need to train more leaders to train more scouts on these great jobs.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Timely topic for me, I'm following with my older son as he enters a Troop from Webelos, and picking up my younger sons Bear Den (soon to be Webelos). My wife is going back to school, and had the younger group with an assistant who recently relocated to another state. That leaves me as primary leader with rotating parent help for the Cub group. My big advantage is that of having just gone through the Webelos program.


A previous poster noted that Den Chiefs usually ended up being an older brother of a Cub or son of a den leader. That's been my experience as well for the most part.


When my older sons group were Bears, we requested a Den Chief and through an odd set of circumstances, ended up with a First Class Scout who had shown up early for his troop meeting (held in the same building) and just started interacting with the cubs. He met our requirement for enthusiasm so he stayed. His attendance was spotty (understandable as our meetings overlapped with troop meetings), but he never completed training and at times interfered with the program we were trying to promote. His term eventually expired, and when we started the den with Webelos activities, we just didn't ask him back.


I think the position is a good idea, even a great idea, but would like to see it filled by a slightly older boy (maybe a four year age difference or two full years with a Troop) with the proper training and a clear set of expectations on all sides.


I like the beret idea.

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My son, who gets his Life patch tonight, has completed the Den chief training. The feedback I get from the Den leader is they are thrilled to get a Den Chief. I had asked them if they wanted a Den Chief, my son wants to go into childhood education so it was a good way to find out if he could handle it.

I have watched the den meetings and I have to agree that the age difference is important, my son is 15.

The Den Chief program has been a win win issue for both the Den and my sons maturity and leadership skills.

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A couple of thoughts on postings.

One, Den Chief training to late in Nov., our council does it in Jan/Feb. it should be held in Sept and IMHO, with some of the youth staff from council JLTC.

Two, Ages and confidence, i strongly believe that the den chief be fully three grades removed from the boys he is to be den chief with.

three big Brother Den Chief, conventient for all, but many times not effective, as one brother will lose out.

Three, There should be a re-emphasis on this job, on the unit, district and council level, Hopefully "Scouting Mag" is paying attention here. I like the one posters thread about bringing up the level of importance of den chief, like OA, nice positive touch.

Information about how effective PL, who where/are den chiefs is data that has to get out to the units!

Four, As imperative as it is for a SM or ASM to sit, reflect, ask and then train a den chief, more work is needed with the DL or WL on how to use a Den Chief, and that is not to say that there will still inevitably be personality conflicts.

Five, Den Chief Training and using Den Chief should be part of Pow Wow's

Six, it would be nice to have some type of official BSA award for Den Chiefs who go to cub camp with their dens. They work harder than CIT's at every camp I have seen Den Chiefs at.

On my own experience, we, the troop SM and ASM, really think hard about who is a good candidate. for Cub Scouters, most troops are 1/2 to 1/4 the size of packs and in all fairness to boy scouts, their calendars are demanding, between increased school work, sporting, other scouting activities, etc. And with smaller youth in a unit, more jobs are handed around to the older boys, who many times just can't fit den chief into their schedule. So it is grossly unfair to paint all SM and Troops as uncaring, when you may not know the whole story. For example, our troop of 30, going through incredible leadership growing pains, (a natural progression in boy run troop) also has 4 active eagle project in the works, just finished up 2 eagle projects, has a fund raiser in the works, and will have 4 scouts participating with the venture crew at northern tier, so all that really stretches the kids thin and as an ASM, I might just laugh at a request at this time, but hopefully would explain all this to the prospective cubscouter.

One thing that I use as criteria, is the boy who is burning out on troop leadership and just wants to have fun. If he is trained right, and communication open, I have seen many den chiefs elevate their scouting spirit in the troop from the ego boost they get from working with the cubs.

Seven, Den Chiefs are the best recruitment tool, (And for more accolades, maybe somehting should be done for them at district camporees!)

On another note, my son is a board of review awayfrom star and many times asks me "do we have to wear uniforms tonight? to a troop meeting, but never has to be told to put one on for the cubs who he is den chief. As for accolades, he was made honorary staff at camp last year, given staff shirt and hat (I can't even get one of those) and the pride I have in his accomplishments can't be described.


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SM's perspective - I want my best/brightest to become my troop's PLs, Troop Guides, Instructors, JASMs, ASPL(s) and SPL. For boys who have "potential" and no internal troop position to fill, how about serving as a den chief?


Den Leaders perspective - I want your best/brightest most mature Scout for MY den.


Scouts perspective - Would I rather be a leader of the boys in my troop or of "little" cubs (AND have to attend more meetings and take instruction from a den leader again).


As a father, I have had my son act as den chief (he just earned his service award). As an SM, I've recommended three boys from the troop for den chief training (they all were trained). As a Webelos Den Leader, I've "employed" two den chiefs.


From my experience: Troops do not "owe" Packs a den chief. If a den is lucky enough to receive a den chief, use them properly. They are used to being boy led in the troop. They do not want to revert back to having a den leader telling them what to do. Give them responsibility and then stand back and let them try to accomplish their task(s). Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't. The hardest person for a den chief to interact with is his younger brother! The den chief experience, if paired with the proper den leader can be a wonderful experience for the Cubs and the DC. I highly recommend the program. I had my den chiefs accompany my boys on our summer camp (Webelos Woodlands, four nights, five days) and they thrived in their element.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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Acco-- you hit the nail on the head. That's exactly why I think the system is broken. Most Scouts see being a den chief as a really tough, lousy job (and I know we've heard from others here who don't) and SMs see sending a "good" scout to a pack as a net loss from the troop leadership pool.


I don't know how to accomplish this, but I'd like to see as sense of duty or obligation attached to den chief service, the way some churches view missionary service or some countries require mandatory military or community service. (No, I'm not suggesting that den chief service be mandatory -- if you don't want to be here, I don't want you to be here.)

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I don't like mandatory community service, draft, etc. I don't want to discuss those issues here.


Den Chiefs do get credit (leadership) for rank advancement. Maybe the BSA could also attribute some "service" hours (or maybe it is within the SM's power) to den chief responsibilities. Not necessarily a one for one but maybe something like an hour of service for "set" of three den meetings and one pack meeting. I know many feel that a den chief should be light years ahead ofthe cubs in age but one advantage of having a den chief only two years older or so is that they still enjoy many of the den activities. My 12 year old den chiefs still enjoyed some of the crafts, skits, etc. that we did in our den meetings. Having two den chiefs (my idea) gave them a peer to interact with during the meetings and made them much more receptive to the idea of becoming a den chief too.

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I have a large Wolf Den. On one occasion I used Boy Scouts to help teach and demonstrate flag etiquette. It worked out very well, but only because I had a well planned program that lent itself to the possibility of 10 or 11 year olds teaching 7-8 year olds. I was able to productively utilize the two Boy Scouts that came to work with the Wolfs. Unfortunately, I cant visualize just how I would use Den Chiefs on a regular basis. Much of the program simply doesnt lend itself to 10-11 year olds teaching 7-8 year olds.


A few months ago I incorporated Denners into my program and the kids love it! I dont need Den Chiefs to do what the Denners are doing. So would someone please tell me how I would productively utilize Den Chiefs on a regular basis. I think its a great idea to have the younger boys exposed to a Boy Scout on a regular basis, but I dont want to have the boy around just so he can look good for my Cub Scouts. That would not be in his best interest.


By the way I have plenty of parental help so I dont need an extra set of eyes to keep an eye on things.


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Here are some of my thoughts (which are not universally accepted to say the least). I think the younger the den, the OLDER the den chief should be. Twelve year old den chiefs (haveing completed at least a full year of Boy Scouts and obtained 1st Class) can work great with fourth or fifth grade Webelos Cub Scouts but tend to struggle with Tigers and Wolfs (Wolves?). It takes more maturity to work with first graders than it does to work with fifth graders. So, if I were assigning den chiefs, I would assign the most mature (usually the oldest) to the younger den and the least mature to the older dens.


Den chiefs can be a great asset for a pre-opening type environment. Regardless of when the den meetings start, one Cub Scout is always first to arrive and one is always last to arrive. What should occur in this 5 - 10 minute time frame? Let the den chief figure it out. Magic tricks, games, competitions, etc. can be very helpful and I always gave my DCs 100% responsibility for this. Idle hands are the devils workshop so keep the boys busy! I always let the DCs handle anything to do with knots, camping and first aid which permeate almost every Cub Scout rank. Let your den chief kow what you plan to accomplish during your den meeting, well in advance (1-2 days) and ask him to comment on how he can help out. Try to stay away from dual roles. Make sure the boys know when the den chief is in charge and when you (den leader) are in charge. If the activitiy is a craft, simply letting the den chief participate in the craft gives the younger boys something to emulate (his is usually the most creative and possibly the best constructed).


The Cub Scout leader handbook gives some great ideas on how to utilize DCs. Make sure you and your den chief have been recently trained!

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