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83Eagle

Den Chiefs

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I've heard lots of good things about getting Den Chiefs. They sound great. Been trying to get one for my son's Den for two years now, working with the SM and talking to the troop. No boy scout wants to put forth the effort to make this work. We have only one scout troop within 30 miles so options are limited.

 

Does anybody actually have any luck getting Den chiefs? How?

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Well there are a few, because we do Den Chief training for it..

 

But, it is hard to get them, unless you are around a troop that is very large and the boys need to utilize these POR's..

 

Reason is they are still expected to go to all their troop meetings, troop events and also to the Den meetings, Pack meetings and Pack events.. It is like doubling the time commitment to scouting.. Plus the parents have to agree to drive them to all this stuff.

 

Then there is also the fact that usually at the end of Webeloes II they looked so forward to getting out of the Pack into the Troop.. That is because they have gone through the Pinewood about 5 times, same summer camp 5 times etc.. So their last impression of Pack life is "boring".. And their impression of Troop life is that it is for the "older" kids.. The mentality is there that taking this job is sort of like a demotion..

 

My troop is trying to get a boy willing to be a den Chief, but no one wants to. The den may pull a den chief from a neighboring troop and that is like a death nail for the troop, as it is most likely they will choose to go to the other troop at time of crossover.. (or at least some of the boys.)(This message has been edited by moosetracker)

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In the realm of developing leadership, I push for DC's in my troop all the time. The offer is always on the table with any boy. Right now I have a TF, going to be 2C next COH, who has been a DC (trained) since last September. His DL has commented more than once how much he appreciates the Scout and how he has been a great asset to the den.

 

Okay, I probably broke a half dozen traditions/rules by putting a TF scout into a DL position (which he agreed to a full 12 months of DL to make sure he gets his National DC Award). Was he ready? Nope, but he got his chance when he asked. Things worked out. Next time it could be a total disaster, but that's the risk one takes with a boy-led program. The boy is going to have trouble making FC by the end of his first year. So what! His choice. The boy hasn't missed a den meeting or pack meeting since he started and has about 90-95% attendance in the troop. He has attended every outing offered and has taken on extra leadership projects for his patrol.

 

At this point, even though he's behind a bit, I have no problem seeing him Eagle before he's done. He has two older brothers in the troop, one's an Eagle the other is Life. Out of the three he has the strongest leadership aptitude.

 

I'm thinking its going to take a pry bar to get him out of the DC position. Once he gets the National Award and other see it, there's going to be a major flux of DC's for our three feeder packs.

 

My suggestion for any DL is find a troop that makes more opportunities than they do rules and get yourself a scout or two and smooth out the rough edges. You'll be glad you did.

 

Your mileage may vary,

 

Stosh

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DC can be worth their weight in platinum, no not gold but PLATINUM, or your worse nightmare if they act worse than the cubs.

 

Several keys to getting a DC IMHO are the following:

 

1) Willingness to work with the younger boys. Some scouts don't want to do this.

 

2) Have the time to commit. Again this can be hard with Scouts b/c they do have school, school extracurriculars, troop activities, and in some cases jobs. And sometimes conflicts do arise. Case in point; Scouting for Food and Scout Sunday with my soon to be ex-DC.

 

3) Have the KSAs to do the job. Also add maturity. Every scout and Venturer ( yes Venturers can be DCs) is different, and that has to evaluated.

 

4) Have leaders who know how to use them. This is a pet peeve of mine b/c When I was a DC back in the day during the old 3 year program, my first Dl and ADL basically treated me as another Cub, and wouldn't let me help. Second den I worked with was much better, but the WDLs really let me do a lot of work, esp. since they didn't have the outdoors skills I had.

 

5) Let the SMs know about the advantages of of having DCs. Some SMs just don't get it.

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Moose nailed it. It's a huge commitment AND the Scout should have an interest and aptitude for working with younger boys. A rare find.

 

The other option is the older sons of pack leaders, who get dragged to all the pack activities. But be careful with that and make sure the Scout wants to do it. I had a Scout like that who should have been one of the A+++ leaders in the troop, except that he was so burned out by being forced to be a Cub Scout for 10 years.

 

The lesson I learned was that I need to be a better advocate for a Scout who is being pushed into a position by his parents.

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I was part of the original thread that this was spun from. John suggesting placing a DC in the Bear year. As a former Den Leader, I fully agree. A lot of folks have made the point that this an extra commitment for the DC in addition to his troop activities, which is very hard for a lot of boys. Monday is "Scout Night" and the other nights of the week are filled with other extra curricular activities.

 

We have pursuaded 2 boys (out of a troop of 12) to fill this role and the Den Leaders have been very understanding when they can't be there every week.

 

Eagle 92 commented on one of my observations; the Den Leaders have to know how to use them, in order for the DC to have a good experience. As SM of our troop, it's important for me to follow-up with the Den & Pack to make sure it's a symbiotic relationship.

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I think if you work at it, you can get Den chiefs, and they'll make a huge difference to the kind of program you can have with your dens. But they are hard to come by, particularly with how busy these guys are with all the crazy activities available to them nowadays.

 

Something we've done to involve Boy Scouts in the Cub Scout program is have a team of the guys come to lead games and activities during the monthly Pack Event (not meeting any more!!). As Cubmaster, I give them a few ideas from that month's program helps, etc., but essentially leave it to them to take the 10 to 15 minutes they have to lead whatever games they come up with tied to that months Character Connection.

 

It has worked fabulously, since I am able to take a few minutes to communicate with the parents, get out information, etc. We've had 3 to 5 boys coming each month, making that one day commitment each month to help us out.

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Personal Experience as Den Leader and father of DC:

 

Once a camping trip mixed between Troop and Pack to go to FT Ticonderoga. Youngest boy scouts in troop attending. Pack is doing family camping to go to FT next day. Boy Scouts are acting nuts for the most part, one comes up to me and says,"Excuse me Mr UZ... Can you show me how to orient this map with the compass?"

Holy cow who is this kid, watched him the rest of the weekend...I WANT THIS KID AS THE DC.

 

1. Kid was only second class.

2. Kid had never been a Cub Scout.

As jblake says this may have ended it right there. This isn't physics where you can't bend the law of the universe.

 

DC was great, stayed with it for two years. We then got 3 cubs from that den (when they became second class) to be DC because of the job my DC did.

 

You MUST insure the DC has every opportunity to earn the red white and blue rope.(don't cheat the requirements)

 

You MUST be flexible on both sides. let the Scout miss some den functions and some troop functions equally if there is conflict.

 

You MUST see that his parents are on board, extra driving, and all else this entails.

 

You MUST have the DC talk about what the Troop and his Patrol are doing every Den Meeting.

 

Encourage the DC to go to Cub Camp with the Den.

 

You MUST communicate with the DC parents giving them ample prep and hashing out conflicts in the schedule.

 

You MUST give the DC a task or two every neeting. Let him teach something ALONE. You as the DL go on the other side of the room and staighten up your paperwork or look busy doing something else. LET THE DC LEAD!

 

You MUST have a planning meeting with the DC where you look a couple or 3 months in advance and plan activities that the DC can lead.

 

You MUST get the DC his own copy of the book the Cubs are using for their appropriate age. I once gave a Scout a Scoutmaster conference, he had been a DC for 6 months and could not tell me what year the cubs were that he was serving. How involved was this boy scout? (Not to worry his daddy made sure he made Eagle at 14 years old.)

 

Finally, NEVER have the Den Leader be the parent, the DC be one son and have another son be a cub in the Den. IT NEVER WORKS.

No doubt we will hear from some special folks out there who made it work but by and large there is too much family there.

 

I think the DC is a very important part of Scouting and I wish evey den had the same experience my son, my DC and I did. The benefits to the cubs, the DC, the Troop and the pack are long term and many. Pick the right kid and run with it.

 

The first one is the toughest.

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Good stuff, Uz.

 

I'll add that the Den Chief AND Den Leader should go through training together. Because our council typically holds DC training in January in conjunction with Pow Wow (half-way through the year) we do our own DC training in late August as a break-out from Troop Leader Training. We ask the Den Leaders to attend along with their new DC. It is critical that the DL understands the DC program and what the den chief should and should not be expected to do.

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