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Do mixed-ranked Dens actually work?

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A good resource that people have mentioned to help plan mixed-ranked den meetings is https://cubscoutideas.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Cub-Scout-Connections-12-24-2017.pdf.  But just looking at that resource in any detail illustrates how there is actually very little overlap in requirements between adjacent ranks.  Some examples are how Bears have cooking requirements and building requirements and wolves don't.  Whereas wolves have fitness and navigation requirements and bears don't.  Even where things appear to overlap, if you look at the requirements closely, they don't.  Like on knots, wolves learn the square knot, bears learn two half hitches, and webelos learn the bowline.

The issue then becomes what to do at Den meetings?  Dens can started the year by working on the few requirements that can be combined (like hiking or skits).  However, once you get to the point where all that is left is to work on requirements where there is no overlap what do you do?  Splitting into groups at Den meetings, having each rank rank work on their own set of requirements, is one option.  But that plan often results in group sizes that can be as small as a single scout (which is why they were combined in the first place), it requires way more leaders (one leader for each group), and it negatively effects the feeling of unity within the Den.  Another option is to just have everyone in the Den do all the same activities.  The issue with that plan is that it greatly hurts advancement, since only scouts at one rank will be completing requirements at each activity.  It can be depressing to the scouts when they see the scouts in single-ranked Dens earning twice as many awards at pack meetings.  Also you run into cases where some activities are not age-appropriate for the younger part of the mixed den, like how tigers and wolves can't work on whiting chip.

Tonight at round table we had this discussion, specially in relationship to girl dens in coed packs.  Most packs have the problem that there are not enough girls to form single-ranked dens, so following BSA guidelines, they formed mixed-ranked Dens of the same gender.  However, pretty much everyone that tried the mixed-ranked sens came to the same conclusion that mixed-ranked dens don't work for the reasons that I mentioned above.  Essentially everyone's attitude was "to hell with BSA policy", next year we are having single-ranked coed Dens. 

Edited by Tatung42
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That’s essentially what we did for the exact reasons you listed.   Unity of the den was a big one.  In addition we were able to patch some areas where our Boy dens didn’t have great den leaders with parents of girls.   The final issue was that it made the girls look like this odd group we added to the pack.... as each boy den was a single grade (6 dens) plus a collection of multi aged girls.

All packs in my area who I have talked to and added girls have done the same.  Our council and district are aware as are all of our parents.  No concerns raised.



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