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"BW - this . . . "Den size has nothing to do with the adults ability to manage it and everything to do about how kids are wired to be able to function as a social group." . . . is TOO black and white. I hope this isn't what we're teaching our Scouters at any level of Training because it lacks scientific (eduacation research) and experiential validation or truth."


JohnDaigler, to paraphrase a famous line..."Get thee to a training course". This is what the Den, Patrol and crew methods are about john. it is explained in the first training course you take.


The BSA did the research they have the sociology and psychology research to back it up.


Education is the key to good leadership. This Scouting thing is a methodology. It is based on real knowledge and requires that you learn its methods to be able to do it well.





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Wouldn't it be easier to support one Unit with more Dens than two separate Units - which certainly requires more administrative work and more Leadership manhours - more meeting places, more Pack equipment, etc.


Up to a point. The recommended size for a pack is about 60 boys. When you are our size we can spend an entire pack meeting handing out awards, which is really boring except for the three minutes while you're getting your badge. Our Pinewood Derby takes 8 hours to run and is essentially a single-elimination race. We look like an army division going camping -- try feeding 150 people while cooking over a campfire.


What I meant about relying on the goodwill of the existing pack is that even if the district doesn't do the hard work of recruiting new packs in our area, they know we will won't turn boys away, even if our unit is painfully big. maybe if we cap our membership and start turning boys away maybe the district will get serious about new units. But how bad does that stink? Had we done that this year, we would have turned away probably 15 boys. Heck, that's a decent pack right there.


Do we have the leadership to start a second pack? In theory, yes. But splitting existing units -- if that's what you are suggesting -- is a really lousy way of starting a new one. Been there done that. That route has a very high potential for becoming political and devisive. On the other hand I would be more that happy to go to Scout night roundup and help a new unit recruit boys and leaders and even sit on some of their leaders' meeting to help them get started. If certain leaders and families and leaders decide to transfer, that's their decision to make.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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I'm still working on the District Leadership thing!!

I don't think it is the unit commissioners job to sit down and explain the joys of Den Leadership to parents. If he or she is worth their salt he or she would have explained the "Selection Of Quality Leadership" to the pack Committee. He or she might have been kind enough to download the information from the web.

Did the Cubmaster and the Pack Committee not know that they had a problem? I think that they did.

The District Commissioner has the job of looking after the Commissioner Staff. If he/she is doing the job of being District Commissioner, he has selected a fine team of Commissioners. If things are going well all the Commissioners have no more then two units, three at the most. Every three Unit Commissioners report to the Assistant District Commissioner for that program area. In real life there are very often holes in this. People move or quit and others take on extra duties. The Assistant District Commissioners end up "filling in" and working as Unit Commissioners, while the District Commissioner is working at "Selecting Quality Commissioners".

The District Membership Chairman, in most districts does seem to be more concerned about bringing new youth members into the program and under his watch trying to start new units. New Units tend to struggle for a while and need more help from the Commissioner Staff, new units also bring the problem of needing more Unit Commissioners. So someone fills the hole while the District Commissioner selects Quality Commissioners.

As District Chairman, I could send a member of the Membership Committee to meet with the Pack Leaders. Still it is very lightly that the Membership person who does see the need for new Leaders does not know the people who the Pack Nominating Committee would want to select. So he would explain the process.

Of course if the unit commissioner had done something sooner maybe this could have been avoided. But at the end of the day the pack leaders can and could have done whatever they opted to do.

If the District Leadership had a crowd of people who wanted to be leaders we more than lightly would try and get these people trained and working with them try and find a chartering organization that they would fit into and start a new unit. That would of course mean that there would be a need for new commissioners. Maybe they could be new commissioners?

All the material from National is available, but the District Leadership can only point out where it is. We can't make people use it or follow it.

Redirect is a very strong term.

We as District Leaders work for the Council in providing Training (Training is a Council responsibility) We offer the training but can't make people attend. We try our best to pass on the latest and newest ideas and ways of doing things or the methods that have over time proved to work. We try and keep up to date with the resources that are available and show where they can be obtained.

Sad to say for some reason people choose to do their own thing. Sometimes their own thing works!! At least in some areas.

If these people worked for me and I was their boss I could fire them and bring new people on that would follow the procedures that are in place. If they worked for me I could issue warnings that would or could result in their termination. If this was a game show I could say "Your Fired." Again sad to say the people that could say or do these things don't. Most COR's and Executive Officers are not doing this.

I suppose that the District Leadership could start working with the COR's and Executive Officers and say to them that "If I were you I would get rid of that person." In real life while this has ans does happen it is very rare.

In real life most times, the District Leadership can raise their eyebrows, shake their heads and at times ask "What program is that?"

We always seem to come back to the question "Did they know what they were doing wasn't right?" If when we look at the answer and find that they didn't. We are to blame. We the District Leadership have not done our job.

If we have not offered the training and not provided the place where the Pack Leadership could find the material or resources that are available we have not done our job.

The pack leadership that is in place today was selected by the Chartered Organization. Each year the Chartering Organization approves the Leadership. All we can do is support the people that they have selected.


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I'm not sure you're understanding my point, or even if you are responding to my point. I'm having a little trouble following that last post.


Having too many boys in one den is a pack problem, pure and simple. No one is -- at least not me -- is suggesting that the district has any responsible for organizing dens or recruiting additional den leaders.


Having too many boys in one pack is a district problem. If I'm the leader of a unit which has maxxed out -- either because of space limitatins or due to having reached a practical size limit (which I believe my pack has) -- I have only one way to limit the size of the unit: turn boys away. Aside from the obvious down side, turning boys away can't help the district make it's numbers.


Recruiting new units is a district responsibility. And obviously the district will put a unit at any CO willing to accept one. But in the crush to meet unit recruitment goals, they go after whatever unit they can get, not the ones they need. As a result we end up with Venture crews registered with troops where there is no real intent to run a true crew and packs registered at little country churches who can hardly scrape together five boys for the charter. More difficult is doing the research to determine where units are needed and seeking out a CO in that area.

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Eamonn, I don't know if your points were completely directed at me, but you quoted "redirect" and I think that was mine. My point was not to suggest that it was the District's responsibility, or that District staff had the POWER to "redirect" Unit action, but rather that when a Unit is troubled and seemingly making organizationally undesired choices, then where would they turn, other than to District staff for info, ideas, and experience? Perhaps, I could have been clearer with my term "redirect" - I meant redirect their thinking, not their actions. You gave "redirect" more authority than I did.


BW - I'm getting training, and I'll be getting more, but that doesn't change the fact. You won't be able to justify your original comment with research based data. A similar concept, relating the size of the group to the success of the endeavor would have been fine. Your comment, unsurprisingly, was too finely drawn. Group-size studies have been done for years. You won't find a single reliable study or research project to clinically justify the value of "8" or the "wiring of children" in complete negation of group leaderhip. There are myriad researchers whose work explains the interdynamics of groups and the role of leadership in social and learning settings. And that doesn't even bring into account the variation in ages -- 6 and 7 year olds are clinically different than 10 and 11 year olds. I'm curious how you, here, or a trainer in a course will validate your comment. Evidence, please.



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Yes John I was directing my remarks in answer to your posting.

The bottom line comes down too the "Did they know what they were doing wasn't right?"

I think that the ideal size for a den is well known.

Would the Unit Commissioner saying "Hey guys!! Theses Dens are just too big." Have made any difference? I very much doubt it.

The correct way to go about selecting Leaders is out there. It does take a little time and does involve a bit more then standing up and asking for help. It is not a secret. The pack leadership has decided not to use what I see as a very useful tool.

I don't know when Dens of more then eight are born? I do know that once they come into being splitting them into manageable, workable units seems to be something that is hard. The reason given is that there are no leaders. The tool is there for them to use.

Isn't this the horse to water thing?

Please take my word for it I do wish at times that I had something like the National Guard, made up of leaders who would at a drop of a hat leap into action. But I don't. Even if I did how would I know that they share the same values as the chartering organization. If I were one of this army of leaders I wouldn't want to serve a unit that was chartered by certain groups and I feel sure that once they heard my feelings they sure as heck would not want me!! Sad but true.

There are packs in the District that I serve that have Cubmasters that have their own quirks, sending in a stranger just would not work. Leader selection has got to come from the unit.


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Depending on the program the optimum size is 6 to 10, and I did not do the studies, the BSA did, and you do not have the evidence to disprove them do you?


Think of the number of friends you hung around with as a boy about 11 was it over 10?


There are other factions. Tiger cubs have an adult partner. If you had ten tigers in your son's den could you effectively have a meeting of 20 people in one room in your home? Could most people?


Is it fair to expect a boy just learning to lead to be responsible for more than 9 other people. Patrols function best at 6 to eight scouts. It is a social size that a scout is comfortable in, it is a group size that can be lead by a youth member.


A patrol is small so that every person gets a position of responsibility. That way each has a purpose for being there and each is missed if absent. Small groups allow each scout to be a major factor in the teams performance helping to develop self-esteem as well as a sense of responsibility.


As you advance through training you would do well to keep an open mind to the methods that the BSA have been developed over nearly 100 years of research and practice.


You are correct that a cub age boy has different needs. That is why dens have an adult leader and a Patrol does not. That is why a den meeting is shorter than a troop meeting. That is Cub activities are different that a Boy Scout's. That is why the Cub advancement program is different than Boy Scout's. That is why Cub program methods are different than Boy Scouts.


The program methods and elements of the BSA change with the ages and stages of the youth being served.


So the evidence in the proven effectiveness of the scouting program...when it is followed.


Where is your evidence to the contrary?





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Let's not confuse dens and patrols. I'll agree with you that the key determinant of patrol size is the number of boys a 12- or 13-year-old is able to sucessfully lead. There may be good reasons to cap a den at 6 to 10 boys, but the ability of the adult den leader to lead that many boys isn't a big one.


Take school room sizes for example. The limit on public school class room size here is 22 for first and second graders and 28 for third through fifth grades. Of course that varies by state. You can certainly argue that class size is based on economic constraints and that schools and teachers are constantly clammering for smaller classes. But still, most classes make it through the day with 25 or so kid and one adult.


To rephrase the point I had tried to make earlier, there are more considerations in deciding den size than the BSA recommendation. As we've discussed at length, one is most certainly the availabilty of leaders. But in our over-sized den we have a trained DL and ADL plus another newly recruited ADL who is signed up for training in a couple weeks. The guy we just recruited would be a wonderful DL and would be more than willing to take over if necessary. But his son and the son of the current DL are best friends and wouldn't dream of splitting into different dens.


Bob alluded to the number of friends boys naturally have at a given age. Originally patrols and dens were built around these natural groups of friends. Even in my day our den was made up of the guys in the neighborhood Monday afternoons we all did Cub Scouts. Every other day of the week the same group of boys played ball or rode bikes. These friendships and the unit cohesion it brings is important. I really believe one of the greatest indicators of a boy's success in Scouting is being in Scouts with his friends.


In our situation with our big Bear den, after several long conversations we've decided we're better off keeping the boys together with their friends in one big den than we are by splitting them up to meet the recommendations for den size. We've discussed possible leadership arrangements and den rosters. But the parents and leaders of the den think the current arrangement is best.

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I don't agree with what you are doing. Still put that aside for a minute. With regard o the pack and the District. You post that you think that the district could help the unit that you serve by starting new units in your area.

What could the district do or have done to prevent your pack from having such large dens?

How would you feel if one of "Dem dare District fellas" came along and said NO have to go with the ideal den size?


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Eamonn, keep in mind we're talking about two similar problems with different solutionL: too many boy in a den and too many boys in a pack.


I felt like I addressed your question when I previously wrote, "Having too many boys in one den is a pack problem, pure and simple. No one is -- at least not me -- is suggesting that the district has any responsible for organizing dens or recruiting additional den leaders." And you are correct that we probably wouldn't be too appreciative of someone from the district meddling.


If there are insufficient units to serve the boys in an area do you not agree that is a problems for the district to solve?


The district doing their job of recruiting new units helps us with the overall problem of too dang many boys. So we take your advice and split the bear den into to dens of 6 and 7 boys. What happens when we get another ten boy sign up? A pack cannot indefinitely add dens and maintain the quality of their program.


(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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Actually a pack is capable of growing much larger than a troop and have fewer obstacles. I have been to several pack meetings of a pack that had 165 members (20 dens) and it operated just fine.


But The largest Troop that I have seen operate well was 65 members in 8 patrols.



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Eamonn, I'm not disagreeing. But, you seem to be assuming that the behavior of Unit Leadership cannot be affected by District. . . ."made any difference? I very much doubt it." . . .That's understandable and often enough true, I'm sure. I was just looking for hope and potential sources of improved thinking. Whether, the Unit has training, understands the training and methods, uses the training and methods, or needs more training, seems to be a moot point in this instance. Something's broken; who's around to help fix it? The Unit doesn't seem to be able to find the answers. Is there anywhere they can go for help OR is there anyone outside the Unit who is involved enough to see the issue and offer some alternative choices. I didn't think I had gone so far out on the limb, suggesting that District might fill that role.





BW -


"I did not do the studies, the BSA did, and you do not have the evidence to disprove them do you?" . . . Bob, you made the comment, it would be your role to validate it. I questioned how you could make it and asked for supporting evidence. Something I'm sure you've seen in other threads. The absence of contradiction is not proof of your comment.


At the end of your post you use "effctiveness of program" as evidence for the policy. Certainly, using the ends to justify the means is hardly something we teach our Scouts, is it?


Your age certainly is not a validation of your wisdom and truth. Please don't tell me BSA is nearly a 100 years old as if that's validation of its policies and actions.


I truly appreciated most of the rest of your post since it invalidates your initial comment anyway. If you're now going to tell me that physical environment, leadership capabilities, quantity of friends, group members' roles, and desired outcomes of the group's interaction all play an integral part in the choice of Den size, then I'm sure you can now see why I was troubled by your inital post which invalidated Leadership and all else except kids' "wiring" in the rationale for proper Den size. Let me remind you of your comment: "Den size has nothing to do with the adults ability to manage it and everything to do about how kids are wired to be able to function as a social group. "





"As you advance through training you would do well to keep an open mind to the methods that the BSA have been developed over nearly 100 years of research and practice. "


You have never seen anything but OPEN eyes and an OPEN MIND from my words. I have learned tons here and in training, BUT I am a professionally trained Learner with decades of experience helping others to become the same. My filters are simple. If you want to help me LEARN something, then:


you need to respect me -- which includes respecting the Learning I already have, and the world in which I will probably use your information


you need to validate your information -- there're a great number of people out there (proclaimed and self-proclaimed experts) spouting their Truths. As a "Learner", I am an aggressive evaluator of information and information givers


you need to show the value of your information in the real world, else it's difficult for me to USE your information. Philosophy and idealogy are fine for conversation. Application (at least potential) is necessary for your information to be valuable enough for me to bother wtih.


I have never argued against BSA policy. Those that I actually disagree with, I've kept silent on because they're fights that can't be won and they pale in the significance of the BSA that I admire. I'll always be here to disagree with blanket statements that leave no room for other understandings and others' Truths. I'm here to learn and help others learn -- questioning the status quo is a valuable tool in that process. "Open minds" work for everyone.










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One "solution" that we implemented in our Pack, was that the den leader had the authority of capping his den size.


Now, many parents want a good program for their sons but hesitate to step forward. I've seen packs with multiple dens at an age level (i.e. two Bear dens) and at the end of the year one is viewed as "better" by some and they want to vote with their feet and join the other den as Webelos the next year. It takes strong leadership, expert people skills, and the knowledge of how to recruit volunteers to stem these problems. I cringe every time I witness these "we need more adult volunteers" solicitations broadcast at pack and troop meetings. As it was pointed out, that is not the way to recruit good volunteer leaders.



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All very interesting, we could probably debate the merits of big den little den & big pack little pack until the cows come home. The success of either of those situations, depends solely on the leaders and their ability to deal with the situation that they have. Some leaders can handle the big numbers and some cannot!


As for us, we referred 4 boys to a neighboring pack, 2 bears, and 2 Webelos I. We were able to keep 2 new Bears and 4 new Wolves. We signed up nine new Tigers with what right now looks like 4 adult leaders for the Tigers. This will become two dens if I have any say in it. Our Tigers seen to stay at the end of the year and we always recruit a fair number of Wolves, so this arrangement will allow for growth next year. My only concern is the den of only 4 scouts. I personally dont believe that this is enough to gain a critical mass for any activity that they do. To me it sounds boring. Well have to keep an eye on it and if needed suggest that the two dens schedule some activities together.


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In every den of 13 boys, there are between 13-26 potential den leaders. That should be more than enough to work with.

This seems like a very naive observation. My observations are that in a den of 13 there are maybe 3 or 4 potential den leaders. Not everyone is cut out to be a Den Leader or even an assistant. After that you need to look at whether these potential people have the desire and time to do the job. BW, would have us think that its just a matter of selecting the individual and schmoozing him/her for a while. Unfortunately, it is just not that simple. (This message has been edited by fotoscout)

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