Keys to a Successful LDS Cub Scout Program – Part 2
Key 6 – Successful Den Meetings – Rules for Den Leaders
Rule 1 – Always have a den leader and an assistant (two adults) at the den meeting for adequate control, supervision, and assistance. This is known as “two-deep” leadership.
Rule 2 – Do not have older or younger children participate in the den meeting. Your own children or siblings of your boys need to be somewhere else. You need to be able to focus on the boys and the activities and eliminate other distractions. Pack meeting is the time to include siblings (see below).
Rule 3 – Establish a code of conduct or set of rules for the den meeting and the den meeting place. Have these posted at each den meeting and stick to them. If the boys help make the rules they are more likely to remember them. Write them in positive language (‘do’s, not ‘do not’s).
Rule 4 – Use Boy Leaders. You should assign a denner and assistant denner from the den to help run parts of the meetings. Give them specific assignments ahead of time. This may be their first leadership position. Rotate weekly or monthly so that all boys get the chance to lead. Consider requesting a den chief from the Boy Scout troop to help with games, skill instruction and supervision.
Rule 5 – Make it active and fun. The more the boys get to run and jump and play games (games with a purpose) the more they will enjoy den meetings. As you get to know your boys you will learn which types of activities they enjoy most. Repeat their favorites but throw in new ones too.
Rule 6 – Have a set agenda for meetings so that the boys know what to expect. The standard agenda is provided and followed by each den meeting plan found in the Den Leaders Guide. Be sure to include the Pledge of Allegiance, the Scout Oath, and Scout Law in each meeting. Also, be sure to open and close each den meeting with prayer.
Rule 7 – Leaders should practice or rehearse crafts, game, skills and ceremonies ahead of time so there aren’t any failures or surprises during the den meeting. This helps you make the most of the den meeting time. This also helps you teach it better and helps the boys be more successful. It’s never a bad idea to have a backup plan (Plan B) in case things really don’t turn out well.
Rule 8 – Generally, den meetings should only be an hour from the opening ceremony to closing ceremony. On weeks when you have an outing or field trip be sure to communicate with parents if you will be longer than the usual hour. Before and after games and activities can occupy additional time as needed or desired.
Rule 9 – Communicate with parents. Keep parents informed of the calendar/schedule. Send reminders of advancement that needs to be completed at home. Encourage parental participation in their son’s advancement. Parents should feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns.
Rule 10 – Keep accurate records. While the boys should be expected to bring their handbooks to each den meeting, you most likely will not have time to sign off requirements in each boys book each week nor check for those signed off by their parents. Find an easy way to keep track of advancement completed at den meetings and to have parents communicate what has been completed at home (I personally think the BSA program ScoutBook is a great option!).
Key 7 – Successful Pack Meetings – Rules for Cubmasters.
Rule 1 – Use the BSA pack meeting plans. Plans for each month can be found online at scouting.org There is a schedule that you can follow as is or you may choose to mix and match in an order that better fits your weather, school schedule or other factors. Be sure to cover each of the 12 points of the Scout Law during the year.
Rule 2 – Communicate and plan with den leaders each month. Know what the boys need to share or do in a pack setting for their adventure requirements. This can be done at the monthly pack leaders or pack committee meeting.
Rule 3 – Don’t do it all yourself. The Cubmaster is the “MC” of pack meeting and is ultimately the one in charge, but pack meeting should not be a “one-man-show.” The assistant Cubmaster, pack committee, den leaders and of course the boys themselves should assist with games, skits, crafts or other activities at the monthly pack meeting.
Rule 4 – Games, activities, crafts, skits, etc should occupy a majority of the pack meeting time. Pack meetings are for the whole family. Be sure to plan for parents and siblings to participate too. Anything that only the Cub Scouts can do should be done at den meetings.
Rule 5 – Make the presentation of awards as short as possible while still making it important to the boy. Make each month’s award ceremony somehow different or special so that they do not become stale or boring. Using the monthly theme works well. Presenting awards in groups by den, by rank, or other is one way to keep it shorter yet still effective.
Rule 6 – Set and communicate your expectation for Cub Scout siblings who attend. Make sure that they follow the same conduct rules as the Cub Scouts. Do not allow uncontrolled or undisciplined children to detract from the pack meeting.
Rule 7 – Decide how you want your space set-up before the meeting. Designate a specific place for the dens to sit with their den leaders, families to sit with their children and other guests to sit. Know how much space you will need for the other activities that night and have everything set up and ready early.
Rule 8 – Use Pizzazz! Themes, decorations, costumes, hats, music, lights, posters, displays, props, cheers, skits, special guests etc. will make your pack meetings sparkle. Change things up depending on your theme. Keep it Simple – Make it Fun!
Rule 9 – Dens should be given rotating assignments for set-up, clean-up, opening flag ceremonies, and other parts of the pack meeting. Knowing ahead of time what is expected will give them a chance to prepare and practice and will yield better results than just asking for volunteers at the time.
Rule 10 – Always have a Plan B – you never know when your plans need to change. Weather, leaders, and many other factors may mean you need to change your plans and possibly at the last minute. If you have a “Plan B Box” or “Plan B Bag” with items for games, crafts or other activities you can easily fill the time with fun and engaging activities (more specifics about what you might want to include in a Plan B box here).
Key 8 – Primary Counselor, Cubmaster, and Committee Chair form the Key 3
These three people make up your pack’s “Key 3” and should meet regularly (before the regular committee meeting) to correlate and coordinate the Cub Scout program with the Primary program —calendars, meetings, activities, needs, budget, boys etc. These three people should also meet monthly in the Ward Key Scouters meeting which is conducted by a bishopric member.
Key 9 – Summertime – Summertime Pack Award and Cub Scout Day Camp
Cub Scouts is a 12-month program. Summertime does present some challenges but it also presents some opportunities for activities that you may not be able to do any other time of year. One challenge is the boys and leaders going on family vacations and such. There are multiple ways to continue to meet in the summer. Maybe combine all the dens—there are bound to be at least 2 leaders and some of the boys each week. Maybe you only meet every other week? Find a way to make it work. Don’t take the summer off, there are too many opportunities to miss.
Plan to earn the Summertime Pack award. It’s easy; all you have to do is have three pack activities, one in June, one in July and one in August. That’s it! Easy right? If your pack earns the award any boy who attended all three activities can receive the Summertime pin (each rank earns a different color) and any dens that had at least 50% of their boys at each of the three activities can earn a ribbon for their den flag. However, the boys and dens cannot earn anything (no pins, no ribbon) if the pack doesn’t earn the Summertime pack award first.
Be sure to take the boys to Cub Scout day camp. Whether it’s run by your council, district or possibly your stake, it’s an opportunity that the boys shouldn’t miss. There are certain activities at Day Camp that are only allowed (by BSA policy) to be done at day camp, such as archery and BB guns. Day camp involves many fun activities and the boys always look forward to it. Pick your date early so that families can plan to be in town so their boy can attend. In the Utah National Parks Council we even have certain days/times that you can bring your Activity Days girls to Camp Jerimiah Johnson too—they love it.
Key 10 – Help the Cub Scouts Have Fun in Developing Upright Character, Self Confidence, Citizenship and Growth in the Gospel through Practical Application.
“Purpose of Scouting in the Aaronic Priesthood and Primary
Scouting can help young men and boys enhance close relationships with their families and the Church while developing strong and desirable traits of character, citizenship, and physical and mental fitness. Under priesthood leadership, Scouting should complement the efforts of Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Primary classes in building testimonies in young men and boys. Scouting under Church sponsorship should become an extension of the home, Primary classes, and Aaronic Priesthood quorums. Scouting functions as part of the Church’s activity program for boys and young men. Scouting activities should be planned to fulfill gospel-centered purposes.”
Don’t forget why we do this. It’s for the boys! For all the boys in our area, members of the LDS Church or not. And it’s not really even about the ranks. It’s about the fun, friendship, and growth.
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Author: Annaleis Smith is s a self-professed “Training Junkie.” As a Cub Scout leader for the past 13 years, she has attended many trainings and has helped train hundreds of leaders in our council. Akela’s Council is her favorite training of all time. She is currently a Cubmaster, a unit commissioner the VP of Membership for the UNPC.
**Reminder – As stated at the beginning of Part 1, The original document titled Keys to a Successful Cub Scout Program in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was written by Adair Petty and Joy Petty of the National Capital Area Council and the version used as the inspiration for this post was updated 2/06. This version was updated by A. Smith of the UNPC 11/16.