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Liz

Have to find a new Pack... again. :(

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This week our pack's CO informed us that they would not be renewing our charter. 

I'm not sure why, but perhaps the fact that we only have 4 cubs, one of whom is just weeks away from earning her AOL, has a lot to do with it. 

I'm sure for the oldest girl she will just transition to the Troop a little earlier than planned. That leaves my 4th grader and one other, and one 3rd grader to find a new home. 

I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for here other than commiseration maybe. We switched to this pack less than a year ago after dealing with irreconcilable differences in our previous Pack leadership. 

We will need to weigh our options. We could merge with another small pack in the area. On the surface, that makes the most sense. But at the time when we moved to this pack on the other side of town (I have to allow 45 minutes to get to a pack meeting to allow for traffic) we didn't have any closer options that were accepting girls. Now we do, and I was planning on investigating a nearby Pack next year when my youngest is old enough to join Lions. So if we stick with one of the neighboring Packs, I'm probably looking at switching again a year from now and that feels overwhelming to me right now. On the other hand, I'd like to allow my daughter to finish Cubs with the other kid she's been working with for the last year or so, as that's important to her. So unless his parents want to start coming to my side of town for meetings, switching again next year might just be inevitable.

Anyway, I'm really just venting, but if anybody has any great advice, I'm all ears. 

We had been planning to take our kids to an out of council Webelos-only summer camp this coming summer, too. I wonder how that will work if we integrate into an existing Pack with its own plans, or if we end up in different packs. 

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I'm really sorry to hear that @Liz.  I'm sure you put your heart and soul into making that work.  It's really disappointing news.

I'd check out that other local pack that is accepting girls myself.  Further, I'd hope to find some like minded parents and get a pack program going which is either a) co-ed at the den level, or b) has a minimum number of girls to make viable dens.  4 girls is too small for a pack in the way the BSA is setup.  Bare minimum I'd want to see if 4 Scouts per den which would be 20-24 Scouts.  I'd prefer to see 6-8 Scouts per den.  

I saw this with my son.  He was in a den for two years of 12+ scouts.  It was awful.  Then he went to a den of 3.  It kinda worked, but not that well.  One kid would miss a meeting and it was then two.  We eventually got to 4, and it was OK.  6 would have been a lot more fun.

 

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At some point you have to consider that its not worth the effort. Scouting is supposed to be fun but if dont have enough scouts its not worth it. If your community has no interest in having a big enough girls pack or enough girls to form dens then sometimes its better to find an alternative.

Co-ed dens? Please just stop. No need to rehash this.

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41 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I saw this with my son.  He was in a den for two years of 12+ scouts.  It was awful.  Then he went to a den of 3.  It kinda worked, but not that well.  One kid would miss a meeting and it was then two.  We eventually got to 4, and it was OK.  6 would have been a lot more fun.

 

As always though....your mileage may vary.

My son was also in a den with over 12 scouts. It's a lot, but the boys were already friends since all were in the same grade in the same elementary school. The den hung together all the way through AoL. The den had a very strong Den Leader (Eagle scout) who had committed to stay with the boy for the 4-5 years it would take to get to AoL ---- and he did. He also had a good Den Chief and supportive parents to back him up.  12+ may not be ideal in most packs, but it worked great in this case.

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13 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

As always though....your mileage may vary.

My son was also in a den with over 12 scouts. It's a lot, but the boys were already friends since all were in the same grade in the same elementary school. The den hung together all the way through AoL. The den had a very strong Den Leader (Eagle scout) who had committed to stay with the boy for the 4-5 years it would take to get to AoL ---- and he did. He also had a good Den Chief and supportive parents to back him up.  12+ may not be ideal in most packs, but it worked great in this case.

I was the den leader of 16 Webelos. I didn't want it that way, but that was how it worked out. 13 or them aged out at 18 from two different troops. 11 of them earned Eagle. So, there are some success stories. But, a large group does require a different approach and I had experience as a Troop leader, so I took the challenge. We split the group up at each meeting, so I changed the typical one hour meetings three times a month to two 90 minutes meetings a month. Along with my two ADLs, I also required two parents each lead one activity badge at each meeting.  Worked very well.

Barry

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32 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I was the den leader of 16 Webelos. I didn't want it that way, but that was how it worked out. 13 or them aged out at 18 from two different troops. 11 of them earned Eagle. So, there are some success stories. But, a large group does require a different approach and I had experience as a Troop leader, so I took the challenge. We split the group up at each meeting, so I changed the typical one hour meetings three times a month to two 90 minutes meetings a month. Along with my two ADLs, I also required two parents each lead one activity badge at each meeting.  Worked very well.

Barry

Very true and I'm happy to acknowledge that.  I'm sure that right den leader can absolutely make a big den work.  

There were a number of problems with out big den.  One was the chaos that this big den led to.  Another is that due to the size, the den leader had more adults present.  This made the meeting feel more and more like a class.  But, the biggest issue I had with that den was that my son never felt he fit in.  He's very good with kids in a smaller setting, but not in a large group.  To compound things, our den was composed of several different elementary schools.  So, there were already some natural friend groups my son didn't fit into.

I mention this because I think one of the most important parts of the den (and patrol) concept is the friendships that develop.  I think 6-8 is a great size to foster that - though am very happy to agree that the right leader can make a bigger group work for this too.

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Just now, ParkMan said:

I mention this because I think one of the most important parts of the den (and patrol) concept is the friendships that develop.  I think 6-8 is a great size to foster that - though am very happy to agree that the right leader can make a bigger group work for this too.

Yes, likely the Webelos leader experience would have been different without my Troop experience. I wouldn't wish sixteen 9 year olds on anyone without some previous experience. After a few years as a troop leader, I had settled enough to understand that the satisfaction of the Webelos experience (any scout really) was more dependent on fun activities than awards. A good meeting is exhausted Webelos.

I think the Activities Pins are good for giving leaders a theme to plan fun activities, but they can easily sway a leaders focus to the awards. My older son's Webelos den leader focused on all his scouts earning all the Activity Pins and my son's last six months of Webelos was not fun. Only one of my sixteen scouts earned all the Activity Pins.

At his ECOH a few years later, one of the scouts in that den told me his Webelos experience was some of his fondest memories of scouting. He obviously wasn't in my troop. 😎

Barry

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I’m not crazy worried about how the Pack is set up in terms of separate dens as long as she isn’t excluded from hanging out with the boy den if it’s just her or maybe one other girl. The closest pack to our house only has one other girl in Webelos but right now it’s just her and one boy working on Webelos rank so whatever. If we do that, we probably won’t be able to stick with the other kids she is currently Scouting with because they all live on the other side of town. 

 

We can join a Pack on that side of town and all stay together, but that leaves us with switching packs again once she crosses over because I can’t keep up with one kid in a Troop and the other in a Pack that is soooo far away. 

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Sorry that this has to be such a major issue, but applaud you are thinking of what is best for your kids rather than just taking the easiest road of what is shortest commute for you.  I empathize with that.  Think beyond the next year though, what would be the landscape for your daughter once she is moving to the next level? Would it be likely she would be in a troop with this 1 girl that is in the pack near you (and would that be a troop that is near you)? 

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I hope you find the right answer for scouting.  I love the scouting program ... when it works.  But if you don't find the magic, it's okay to look for alternatives.  Your kids are only young once.  Find the right answer to give the experiences to develop friendships and grow as a person.  Scouting is a great program when it works.  But don'[t chase windmills.  There are other answers too.  

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I like big dens. Our unit commissioner was a pain in my neck, constantly telling me to break my dens up into two smaller dens. I listened to what he had to say and understood his concerns, but for whatever reason, for both my sons, large dens worked extremely well. If a teacher can handle a class of 22 or more, there's no reason why a den of 12 or 14 won't work, especially if you have great ADLs and parents, which I was lucky enough to have. Frankly,  a lot of the requirements wouldn't have  been as much fun with a smaller group. Having larger groups meant that, with boys of very diverse interests, from the arts and STEM to sports and just hard core scouts, everybody seemed to find a pal. I always told them, you don't have to be close friends, but you are den brothers who look out for each other and you are friendly. It worked.

 

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There is a reason for dens to be the size of patrols. Using other adults to split up the larger group into manageable sizes is an acknowledgement that the group size is too large to begin with. In general no matter how large the group is, the fellows will only be able to "hang out" with 5 or 6 others at any given time. Which is the typical den or patrol size. So even with a large den, the reality is there are smaller dens already. These might  be more dynamic groupings from meeting to meeting, but they are smaller dens within the larger regardless. 

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Yup, that's some of the logic that the UC kept saying. I am not saying that big or small dens are good or bad. I am saying make what you have work with the kids and the parents you have and ignore the people that say, well, we always do it this way so you should too. And I disagree with your point. I never used parents to split groups apart. They were simply there for talent.
 

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9 hours ago, HashTagScouts said:

Sorry that this has to be such a major issue, but applaud you are thinking of what is best for your kids rather than just taking the easiest road of what is shortest commute for you.  I empathize with that.  Think beyond the next year though, what would be the landscape for your daughter once she is moving to the next level? Would it be likely she would be in a troop with this 1 girl that is in the pack near you (and would that be a troop that is near you)? 

There are only two troops for girls in our city, and the other one is "closed" to new members, so unless the one girl in this nearby Webelos den happens to be the daughter of the Chair of the "other" Troop (which would be unfortunate, but that's a long, other story) it's safe to say she'll be joining our Troop if she joins any Troop at all. 

We had our meeting tonight and I think I've pretty much made up my mind to go with our neighborhood Pack, for several reasons. As a bonus, our Troop Scoutmaster who was at the meeting pointed out that it would give us a good opportunity to make another connection between our Troop and another Family Pack in the area. My daughter is disappointed but I think the other kid that she is currently doing Webelos with and she can still get together and work on electives and stuff, and we may still go to camp together next summer. Once they move on to Troops they won't be able to be in the same unit anymore anyway, and this gives her at least a chance of working towards her AOL with a girl who she might end up in a patrol with later. The unit the other family is planning to go to, which is in their neighborhood, is registered as a Family Pack but I don't think it has any girls at that age level. 

It's not a done deal yet and I reserve the right to change my mind before it's all over, but I think this is a reasonable course. 

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8 hours ago, Liz said:

There are only two troops for girls in our city, and the other one is "closed" to new members, so unless the one girl in this nearby Webelos den happens to be the daughter of the Chair of the "other" Troop (which would be unfortunate, but that's a long, other story) it's safe to say she'll be joining our Troop if she joins any Troop at all. 

We had our meeting tonight and I think I've pretty much made up my mind to go with our neighborhood Pack, for several reasons. As a bonus, our Troop Scoutmaster who was at the meeting pointed out that it would give us a good opportunity to make another connection between our Troop and another Family Pack in the area. My daughter is disappointed but I think the other kid that she is currently doing Webelos with and she can still get together and work on electives and stuff, and we may still go to camp together next summer. Once they move on to Troops they won't be able to be in the same unit anymore anyway, and this gives her at least a chance of working towards her AOL with a girl who she might end up in a patrol with later. The unit the other family is planning to go to, which is in their neighborhood, is registered as a Family Pack but I don't think it has any girls at that age level. 

It's not a done deal yet and I reserve the right to change my mind before it's all over, but I think this is a reasonable course. 

Perhaps they can be a “bridge” of sorts. Not that they have to only work with other girls, but their DLs might find it advantageous to have the few girls from the two packs have some weekend events held jointly for just the girls to have their own time together. A few troops in my area are doing a mini camp ore of sorts this spring to let the girls learn from each other, share ideas on growth, lessons learned, etc.

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