Welcome to the LDS Den Leader Training Introduction – This series of post is designed for Wolf, Bear and Webelos den leaders who have been called to serve in Cub Scout packs chartered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We hope to give den leaders the basic information they need to conduct a successful Cub Scout program, as well as an understanding of the connection between the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the LDS Church.
- Introduction – Help, I’m a new Den Leader!
- Part 1 – What about Den Meetings?
- Part 2 – The Planning Process
- Part 3 – Why the LDS Church uses Scouting
- Part 4 – BSA vs LDS What’s the difference?
If you are a brand new den leader…
You might be feeling overwhelmed or insecure in this new calling (many new Cub Scout leaders feel this way) don’t worry there is lots of help and resources for you. Don’t just muddle through and try to figure it out. It’s possible you have never had a calling with SO much help just waiting for you. Knowing where to turn and who to ask will help make your job much easier.
Here are a few first steps that hopefully your bishopric already told you about:
- You need to register with the BSA
- You need to buy a Cub Scout Leader Uniform
- You need to prepare yourself for some serious FUN!
If you don’t know how or where to take care of items 1 and 2 above be sure to ask your bishopric member or your…
Stake Primary Presidency
There should be someone from your stake primary or high council who is specifically assigned to your ward and pack with any and all scouting questions. If you don’t know who it is (They are your “Unit Commissioner” in BSA terms) be sure to ask. They should be able to help you find answers, resources and connect you with other den leaders who have been doing this a while. Don’t overlook this resource or think to yourself “They are too busy”. They want to help, it’s part of their calling to help you be successful in yours.
Your Unit Commissioner should have current information about additional training opportunities from the district (your local area) the council (a group of districts) or the stake itself. Trainings such as University of Scouting, Cub Scout Leader Pow Wows and monthly Roundtables among others. (We will talk about what those each are in another training session so don’t worry about them yet) Unit Commissioners are also able to train and mentor new leaders within their stake as the need arises. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the knowledge and resources your unit commissioner can share with you.
Online Training from BSA
The easiest and fastest way to understand your new calling is by taking the online training for den leaders at my.scouting.org. (Hopefully you already have an account created and have taken the required Youth Protection Training from this website already) One of the advantages to online training is that you can complete it when you have time and on your own timeline. (Even at 11pm in your pajamas if that’s what works for you and your family)
The den leader training has a total of 22 short modules which are anywhere from 3 mins to just over 15 mins long. The BSA has a specific order that they recommended you take them in and have put them in 3 groups but you may take them in any order you wish. You may choose the course you take based on the time required, the topic covered or any other criteria. If you were to sit down and take all the online den leader courses back to back it would take you just over 3 hrs. But its recommend that you complete them a few at a time over a few weeks so you have time to think about and implement ideas. No need to overwhelmed yourself with too much information.
Most new den leaders are pretty nervous about actually running their first den meeting. The BSA training module “Leading Den Meetings” is just over 13 minutes long and gives a great overview of what a den meeting should look like by going over each of the 7 parts of a typical den meeting. It also includes some best practices and tips and hints.
Maybe you are nervous about how to deal with 8-10 year old boys. The “Den Discipline” module is a little over 15 mins long and gives lots of information about different strategies, tools and actions that you and the boys can take to keep the den running smoothly. Being a Cub Scout den leader is not like being their primary teacher where they have to sit still and be reverent. Cub Scouting is designed to be fun and active.
It takes less than 4 minuets to learn the basics of the Cub Scout Advancement plan, 3 minuets to learn how you can get help from an older boy in the Troop as a Den Chief, and about 5½ minuets to get ideas for working with parents and families. There are SO many ideas included in the online trainings is well worth taking some time each week to complete.
Once you have completed all 22 courses for den leaders (and Youth Protection training) you are eligible to wear the “trained” patch on your uniform sleeve. Being a trained leader helps your parents know that you take your calling seriously and gives your boys a better and more well-rounded program.
Every Cub Scout deserves a trained leader. A leader who understands their role, responsibilities and the purposes of Cub Scouting. Completing your training will also help you feel more confident and capable as a den leader.
If you just aren’t into online trainings, get easily confused by technology, or would just rather have a live and in-person training where you can ask questions and get answers right away you may opt for a live training. You can ask your Unit Commissioner (Stake Leaders) to recommend a training or even set one up for you if there are multiple new leaders. You may have to wait a while to find a live training but it does have it’s advantages over the online training.
- You get to know others who are new to the den leader calling just like you. (Assuming it’s not a one-on-one training session) share ideas, fears, etc… Start networking.
- When confused by something you get to ask questions and get clarification right away.
- You may even find a mentor in the trainer who has “been there and done that” and can share their experiences and knowledge with you.
- Live trainings are often tailored to the learners. Time dedicated to each topic can change depending on level of understanding and number of questions.
- Group Trainings can be more fun! Most group trainings for den leaders are modeled after a den meeting so you can get a first-hand look at the parts of a den meeting.
There are lots of resources out there. Some you need right a way and some you might not need until you are a little more experienced. This checklist may help you get the ones you need first. Part 2 of this training will talk specifically about the resources to help den leaders with den meetings.
Download your copy of the Cub Leader Manual Checklist here.
Official BSA Websites
Sometimes leaders can actually be overwhelmed to the point of wasting time when looking for ideas on the internet. While it’s great to be able to search for just the right thing sometimes we need to just keep it simple and follow the plan. Don’t start a bad habit of looking online for all your ideas but if you do, start with the official websites so you know you are getting good (correct) information.
scouting.org – is the website of the national BSA for all things Scouting.
cubscouts.org – a national website dedicated to Cub Scouting
UtahScouts.org is the website for the Utah National Parks Council where the packs are over 99% LDS sponsored.
____________ – Your local district website should be available via your council website. This is where you will sign up for and get information about various district events.
Scoutstuff.org – is the official online Scout Store for everything BSA
Author: Annaleis Smith is a Stay at home mom of 5 (3 boys 2 girls). She has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003 (in the same ward). She has been a cubmaster, den leader, pack trainer, Boy Scout Committee Chair and is now the cubmaster for the 2nd time. She has been involved with roundtable at the district level since 2008 and involved in various council committees since 2010. She loves Cub Scouting and what being involved has done for the boys and the leaders too. Her favorite thing to do is to train other Cub Scout leaders.