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Need advice on BSA policies concerning den overflow

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I'm a Cubmaster with Pack 89, Korea District, Far East Council.


Our pack went from 56 boys last year to 111 boys this year. (All packs should be so blessed.) Our problem is that we have a lack of leadership for our Webelos patrols, and with two months down on our Scout year, we've exhausted our possibilities for leadership, and will have to turn boys away to other packs in the area, or turn them away completely.


Several parents of the Webelos have expressed their dissatisfaction at our decision to turn boys away (but of course quiet down immediately when it is suggested that they become leaders to remedy the problem...) I want to make sure that our pack is conducting this action in a fair and equitable way. I'm certain that BSA guidelines exist on this subject, but I sure can't find them online.


Common sense tells me that boys will be retained in the pack in this order: 1. if the boy has an active parent in the pack, committee or district. 2. if the boy was a scout in the pack last year. 3. if the boy was a scout in a different pack last year, and finally, if the boy is new to scouting and the pack.


If BSA guidelines or an SOP exists, I'd like to quote them when our action begins. It's a shame that we have to turn boys away due to a lack of den leadership in our small American community here in Seoul.


Advice anyone? Where can I turn for guidelines?


Ken Ferris, Cubmaster, Pack 89, Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, Korea


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I'd change the order.


If the boy was in your pack last year, he should be guaranteed a slot.


I know of a pack with a Webelos Den of 15 boys. It works because the Den Leader has three assistants. Nobody else wanted to be den leader but they don't mind helping. At times, they operate like two or three dens because five or six boys will want to something this weekend with one assistant and next weekend there be a different group of boys signed up for another actvity. Everyone stays active and no one feels left out.







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Bob and "Fat",


Thanks for the replies. I guess a little more description is in order....


Fat, right now, we have two Webelos I patrols - one with 17 boys and two leaders, and the other with 15 boys and two leaders. We realistically need to create two more patrols for Web I.


Doubling up leaders to take the slack off the leadership responsibilities is paramount here at Yongsan. While I'm a civilian here, a lot of people are military and go TDY (short trips with work) a lot. Having two leaders keeps the dens moving if one leader is out for a short period of time. Everyone, including me, goes TDY quite regularly.


Another problem: the military has a one-year cycle of rotation for soldiers here. This year, due to leaders leaving the pack, we started our pack of 111 registered boys with FIVE experienced leaders with a total of 9 years of experience between us. We have 14 dens in our pack, and so far, nearly all of our volunteer leadership has come from parents and or outside adults who have stepped forward. Only two of our newly attracted leaders have prior Scout leadership experience. Parents have stepped forward to help with the dens on an ad hoc basis, but again, the help is spotty due to travel and military exercise scenarios.


Bob, to answer your question - We have gone to all the pack parents for help. We have sent flyers to the PTO (our version of the PTA) and have canvassed command offices for help from single or unaccompanied soldiers. We have gone to churches, talked with NCO and VFW clubs, and have registered with the Army Community Center's volunteer program to attract volunteers. I have even spoken with the commander of the Army support command and with other youth groups here at Yongsan to try to attract help. Suffice to say that when I claim that we've exhausted our possibilities for attracting leadership, I mean it.


We normally don't have the usual family support structure here on post.... meaning that we can't contact grandparents, former scouts who are now adults, college volunteers, etc. We are a rather small, compact "town" of Americans here in the heart of Seoul. Scouting is also not the only youth activity here on post that requires a broad level of adult volunteer support. BSA gets intense competition for leadership from organized sports, church youth activities, PTO (98% parent support), Jr. ROTC, and other youth clubs such as Girl Scouts, 4H and the Army's School Age Service programs. Added to this is the fact that we do live on an Army base. Like it or not, the needs of the Army on everyone here comes first, meaning that everyone's job comes first. More than several den meetings have been cancelled due to a leader being called to the field or TDY on short notice.


The other packs in the area are LDS sponsored, and these packs tend to place some serious restrictions on scouts and leadership from "outside" influences who want to join them. A case in point is that this year, the LDS decided not to serve Tiger Cubs. The result? We got 14 Tigers from the LDS packs integrated into our pack. As you may guess, the LDS leaders - in deciding not to support Tigers in their packs - sent their boys to us, and have decided not to supported us either.


We received all of our current leaders over a month ago, and in the last 45 days have not been able to attract another leader, despite the searches through some pretty creative channels as illustrated above. Our pack has reached the point of critical mass here with Web I boys, and with nearly two months of the Scout year lost, if we continue with the numbers we have, the program will suffer. Our Web I leaders are inexperienced, and have drawn the line on the sheer number of boys.... and I can't blame them.


Now you know the story. So my question again: where does there exist a set of guidelines or an SOP that addresses what the BSA's rights are in turning boys away from a pack (hopefully to another pack). Parents have been appraised of what the pack's plans are going to be, with vigorous complaints from some parents who simply will not become leaders to support their son's program. Again, we have at least three parents who can't understand why the scouts with parents in leadership positions within the pack get first dibs to stay in the Web I program. Logic should tell them that if a boy with a parent who is involved in the pack is cast out in favor of a boy with a parent that will not become a leader, then we're back to square one with a lack of leadership. Some boys have to go if we can't find leadership. Some of the parents do believe that we're a babysitting organization.... plain and simple.


Anyone's help in finding guidelines would be apprciated.


Ken Ferris

Cubmaster, Pack 89

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Hello Misnwyo,


I might suggest one other source for leaders. Have you contacted any of the Boy Scout Troops in your area and asked them, on a one time-one year basis, to supply leaders? Best would be some adult leaders. If not permanent, at least close support for outdoor activities. Another great area of support would be Den Chiefs, as many as 2-3 per Den.


You also could even contact Venturing Crews in the area, if any, for Den Chiefs.


Part of what this would do is introduce more Scouting knowledge into the Dens and so enable inexperienced parents to be effective leaders. It might enable your Dens to be larger and still manageable.


When you tell the Troops in the area that you have 30-35 Webelos Scouts, they should be beating the door down to help you. Hopefully, they will.

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with 111 boys you can realistically have on average 30 adult leaders. You have made efforts to identify where leaders could come from, but Scouting has learned from almost 100 years of experience that you will not get the leaders you need that way.


have you leocal professional get you a few cpioes of "How to Select Unit Leaders" for Cub Scouting. In it you will find a system for recruitment that is extremeley effective. In a brief overview it looks like this.


1.Identify the specific job, its responsibilities and the time needed to do the job

2. Identify the characyer traits that a person would need to do the job

3.Identify the resources available to help the volunteer do the job successfully.

3.Form a small search comittee and identify persons who fit that description.

4.prioritize the list.

5. Personally contact the individual and have two people from the search committee meet with them at their home or on neutral ground (never at a scout meeting or committee meeting) and tell them A)Why the job is important to the boys, B) Why the committee feels this individual is the BEST person to do the job C) what the job entails, the time needed, and the resources that will be given to them to help them succeed, and most of all D) that the committee is selective about the kind of person they want to help lead their children toward adulthood and the committee wants YOU.

6) keep your word, don't give them more than they signed up for.


I have seen several packs follow this plan and none have ever failed to get the leadership they needed and wanted.


One other point. You are correct to make smaller Dens (not patrols) * boys should be the maximum. Rather than select a Den Leader and an Asst. den leader. Select two co-leaders for each den. It is much easier to recuit that way.


Forget flyers and group pleading. When you want to be effective in hitting the bullseye on a target use a rifle not a shotgun. Individual selection is the ONLY way to get sufficient quality leadership. Get the resource I mentioned and follow the steps it outlines and you will be successful.


Good Luck,

Bob White


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Ken, you may be a bit frustrated by now in that you have been asking for BSA policies and/or SOP for maximum den size and turning boys away due to lack of leadership and have been getting good advice about how to recruit leaders.


Speaking as a BSA professional with 15 years professional experience -- there are no BSA policies relating to maximum den size or how and when to turn boys away. As long as folks meet the joining requirements, we hope that they will join. There is no mechanisim in place to tell a pack they have to accept the boys -- it's up to the pack and the ability to secure leaders.


I think you're right to do everything you can to find the leadership to serve these boys.


As to the LDS deciding not to serve Tiger Cubs, as you've mentioned in your posts, it's a decision that has been made by the Church. The Church feels that up until the boy's eight birthday, his socialization should be at home and in the family.


Best of luck to you and let me know if I may be of service to you.


Dave Steele

Assistant Scout Executive

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I parrot the Steel Man and Bob White about how to select leaders. However, I would grant more leeway to the leaders/volunteers who step forward and have as my guidelines one simple rule:


The den leader may choose who and how many may be in his/her den.


This one simple rule is all that is needed. It also helps in the recruitment of volunteers. Good luck! Too many parents don't realize that Scouting (especially for Cub Scouts) is a FAMILY experience and that by signing up their son they are not guaranteed adult to service their son(s).

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The Man of Steele has given the answer regarding BSA National policy of unit size. There aren't any such policies.


May I make another suggestion. This works well particularly with regard to Webelos. When we, as a family were active in cubs, no single parent volunteer wanted to assume responsibility for the den. We had a meeting within the den and set a calendar whereby specific parents assumed responsibility for den meetings for specific months for specific activities. This worked well since it was easy to identify specific months with specific activitities for attaining the Webelos badge and the AOL. At the pack level, we agreed that there had to be a designated leader and that leader also agreed to attend all the pack committee meetings to provide coordination at that level. But sharing the burden within the den worked well for us. Needless to say, everyone had to understand YP requirements, etc.


Just a suggestion.

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Eagledad gave me some great advice for an oversized Webelos 1 den (I have 11) and it seems to be working. Here's how I would adapt his advice to your situation.



Each den retains its current registered WDL. They attend the leader meetings, roundtables, etc. They monitor scout advancement and schedule activities, field trips, etc. They open and close the den meetings. They do NOT teach any activity badges. That responsibility falls to the families of the scouts.


Next step, divide each oversized den into two or three subdens. All subdens meet together for the den meeting opening and closing (run by the WDL). They then separate and go off to separate activities which last 20-30 minutes (depending on the number of subdens). After the first session is done, they rotate to the next.


In this setup, the WDL functions much like a scoutmaster and the families function much like merit badge counsellors. The WDL needs to have a well-though out master plan and must actively recruit families as coordinators. Families that do not want to coordinate an activity badge can take on a support function (attend summer camp, handle paperwork, be an AWDL).



This month, while we work on Communicator, my den will have two den meetings and one field trip. A scout who attends all three will complete 5 requirements. The other 2 needed (7 total) are on his own. Miss a den meeting? Do 2 more on your own. All work done on his own must be brought in for me to review.


Just like recruiting pack leadership, I identified who would be the best family for this activity badge, spoke with them, explained exactly what I wanted them to do, and closed the deal in ten minutes. So far, it's working great - thanks Eagledad!

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Maybe I missed something, but in your list of everyone you contacted it sounds as though you are focusing on males. While that might be a great idea for men to Webelos leaders, it is not reality in many communities.


What about some of the moms of those Webelos?


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Eisley's advice is similar to what I was going to say, but I'll say it anyway.


Back when I was a Webelos den leader, there were 3 leaders and 2 dens (I was the solo). We 3 got together, pooled our strengths, reviewed our outside resources and came up with a plan that really worked. (Frequently we met as one group, but not always.) We taught our boys based on our combined strengths. I did organization/administrative stuff - I'm a detail person. Another was good at games/recreation - she taught the AOL stuff from that perspective. You get the idea. We discovered one parent who is an Eagle, and recruited him to help us with the outdoor stuff. We found other parents, as well as community leaders, with skills/abilities to help out with specific meetings and themes. We followed our plan for both years, and at cross-over all but one boy had earned his AOL, and some even earned all the activity badges. While we 3 were the responsible, designated leaders, we couldn't have offered such a fun and varied program without all the others' contributions. Essentially, we changed from leaders to facilitators - finding ways for our boys to experience scouting. We found that many are willing to help, but not lead - which is why I was a solo leader for my den. So we used their willingness to help, and boy, did they!


Personally, I dislike the idea of turning boys away from scouting. Had that experience myself, and it's discouraging when your friends in scouts are having fun without you. Could you and your Webelos leaders come up with a plan similar to eisley and I have done?

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