By Annaleis Smith
Mar 07, 2017

Den Chief – How the Troop and Pack Can Help Each Other

The Troop Helps the Pack While the Pack Helps the Troop

Senior Patrol Leader. Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. Patrol Leader. Troop Guide.  Den Chief. Historian. OA Rep. Librarian. Quartermaster. Bugler. Scribe. Instructor. Chaplain Aide. Webmaster. Outdoor Ethics Guide. Junior Assistant Scoutmaster.

 According to page 420-421 of the current Boy Scout Handbook (13th Edition), these are all positions of responsibility a Boy Scout can count towards his rank advancement (Star, Life & Eagle).

I like the fact that den chief is listed before quartermaster, scribe, etc. A den chief is in a position that can be really meaningful and provide great service. In fact, the troop can provide service to a pack. In turn, the pack can provide meaningful opportunities for qualifying leadership positions for the troop. This is mutually beneficial to both units.

In other words, it’s a “win-win”!

What IS a Den Chief?

“The den chief serves as the activities assistant for a Cub Scout or Webelos Scout den.  He meets with the den leader to review den and pack meeting plans and helps out however he can.  He projects a positive image of Boy Scouting and, if serving as a Webelos den chief, helps prepare boys to join Boy Scouting.” – Boy Scout Handbook, pg 421.

He should strive to be “a helper, role model, and friend to the Wolf, Bear and Webelos Scouts” (Cub Scout Leader Book, 57).

Qualifications of a Den Chief:

These are the steps necessary to become a den chief:

“Be an experienced Boy Scout, ideally First Class rank or above Varsity Scout or Venturer.  Selected by the senior patrol leader and Scoutmaster, Varsity Scout Coach, or Venturing Advisor at the request of the Cubmaster.  Approved by the Cubmaster and pack committee for recommendation to the den leader. Registered as a youth member of a troop, team or crew.”  – Cub Scout Leader Book pg.57

Responsibilities of a Den Chief:

  •  Know and help Cub Scouts achieve the purposes of Cub Scouting.
  • Serve as the activities assistant at den meetings.
  • Set a good example through attitude and uniforming.
  • Help leader weekly den meetings and pack meetings.
  • Meet regularly with the den leader to review den and pack meeting plans.  Meet as needed with adult members of the den, pack, and troop.
  • Help den leaders as requested.
  • Receive training from the den leader (and cubmaster or assistant cubmaster) and attend Den Chief Training.

Sometimes we den leaders just don’t have the energy (or desire) to play that very active game or run that relay race with the Cub Scouts.  But, the boys really benefit from having someone show them how it’s done.  Sometimes, it’s nice to have the den chief running the gathering activity while you take roll, finish getting ready, or mark boys’ handbooks. There are lots of ways a den chief can help you out. 

How Leaders Can Help Den Chiefs

You”ll get better results if you give a boy something worthwhile to be in charge of, especially if it appeals to his interests. Don’t just ask your den chief “to come help”.  

He’s not there just to be another “warm body”. He needs specifics about what he can do to help. Let him help plan and pick activities he would like to lead.  

“Like most people, a den chief will rise – or fall – to the level of behavior you expect of him.  If you treat him like a colleague, he’ll probably become a trusted member fo the den leadership team.  If you treat him like the Bub Scouts, he’ll probably act like one of them.”  – pg 58.

Den Chief Service Award

The leadership role requirement for his rank advancement is only for a specific number of months. However, if he would like to serve for longer, going above and beyond the basics, he can aim for the Den Chief Service Award.

If a den chief plans to earn the Den Chief Service Award, he will have very specific requirements he needs to fulfill – as listed in the Den Chief Handbook.  You’ll need to be aware of those requirements, keep track of assignments, and to let him lead. In order to earn the Den Service Award, he needs to spend at least twelve months as a den chief. 


There are lots of ways a den chief can help a den–lead games, teach skills, sing songs, etc.  What you ask of your den chief may depend on the skills of the boy himself.  It may depend on the actual needs of your particular den.  Not every boy is suited to be a den chief but many are. Consider it!

 I can’t think of a better service a troop can give to a pack.  And just think, by helping the pack, you are actually helping your future troop members too.


Author: Annaleis Smith is a stay at home mother of 5 children.  She has been a Cub Scout leader for over 13 years and has been a cubmaster, den leader, pack trainer, committee chair, unit commissioner, Cub Scout roundtable commissioner and is currently a cubmaster again – her favorite position.


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