Welcome to Part 2 of LDS Den Leader Training – 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 – LDS vs BSA What’s the difference? (coming soon)
- Part 5 – (under construction)
Have you ever heard a leader say “I don’t really plan my meetings.” We’ll if you don’t you may end up feeling like this poor fellow:
I hope your boys don’t feel this same way about attending den meetings. If you don’t plan your den meetings to be full of fun, the boys may indeed find something else to do and Scouting will not produce the benefits that led the Church to use it as an activity for our young men.
So when and how should we plan?
Annual Planning Meeting
The first step is an annual pack planning conference at which all of the leaders in the pack gather and set the pack’s program for the next 12 months. Pack meetings are scheduled, along with other ward and stake activities, and any special school, community, and council activities are put on the calendar so everyone can plan for them.
The annual planning meeting (called Annual Pack Planning Conference by the BSA) can be held before the beginning of each new School/Scouting year (Aug), before each calendar year or whenever makes sense for your pack. This annual meeting could take a couple of hours or more if the preparation steps are not made before. It can be a fun meeting as well, I have attended an annual planning meeting that happened in the corner booth at I-Hop over breakfast as well as in a home (again including food) You could extend one of your regular monthly meetings or schedule this one separately, just don’t skip this important part of the planning process.
The BSA has produced a step by step guide and powerpoint to help guide a pack through this process. Even though you the den leader are not in charge of this meeting – it falls to the Pack Committee Chair and the Cubmaster – but ALL leaders need to attend and help plan the packs annual calendar and coordinate and plan the den’s annual calendar as well. (You can read this blog article about creating a den annual plan) There are some adventure requirements that include a pack meeting element and those are easiest to plan when planning the pack meetings.
If you are a new leader in the pack hopefully your pack already has an annual plan and have given you a copy. Just follow the plan and you should be good. If they haven’t done their annual planning yet encourage them to do it soon.
Monthly Pack Leader’s Meeting
The Pack Committee Chair should schedule a monthly pack leaders planning meeting, where pack budgets, leader needs, individual boys, new boys turning 8 soon, as well as any other problems or concerns are addressed. Time will be turned over to the Cubmaster when any final details are covered for this month’s pack and den meetings and plans and assignments are made for next month. All leaders and parents should be invited to this monthly meeting. This meeting usually lasts about 1 hr but should be no longer than 1½ hrs.
After Den Meetings
Immediately following the den meeting is a good time to sit down with the den chief and assistant leaders to evaluate the meeting, talk about the next meeting, and update records while things are still fresh in your minds. Planning is vital to the success of the den. Well-planned den meetings attract and keep Cub Scouts coming each week. Planning also helps make the den leader’s task much easier, and Cub Scouting resources make planning easier.
A Common Scouting evaluation method is the Stop, Start and Continue evaluation.
- What should we stop doing?
- What should we start doing?
- What should we continue doing?
Also all den activities should be measured against the purposes of Cub Scouting.
- Age-appropriate. Scouting is designed to meet the needs and abilities of boys as they grow into men. It is important that as much as we might want to do something more, we need to stay within that range (see Age Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities),
- Fun, fun, fun! For both boys and leaders.
- KISMIF. Keep It Simple, Make It Fun.
Though it might sound like a lot of work, Cub Scouting makes planning a snap by providing a large number of resources. The number one planning tool, the Den Leader Guides (As discussed in Part 1) includes weekly plans to help you have for a full year of den meetings. And Cubmasters have similar pack meeting plans already for them to follow available online.
Other great resources are the Faith in God booklet, other Scouting volunteers, the district and council, and ldsbsa.org. Other Scout leaders are out there to help, and the district, council, and the Church have ideas, activities, training, and support to help make your Cub Scouting experience a great one. The Faith in God booklet has activities that can be done right along with Scouting activities.
Boys’ Life and Scouting magazines provide program information and support for Cub Scouts and leaders. Scouting comes to all registered leaders, and Boys’ Life is a subscription that is the option of the family.
There are other continuing education opportunities that are a great resource for program and meeting ideas, such as the University of Scouting. Whenever you can, you should attend and to take advantage of the other resources when planning a program for their Cub Scouts.
Remember that parents and families are a great resource for den program too. Parents may have talents they can share or access to places of interest for Cub Scouts. Active, involved parents and families encourage their Cub Scouts to participate more fully in the Cub Scout program and receive more of the benefits of the program.
Additional Planning Tips:
- Have a written plan. This a useful tool to help keep track of who is doing what and when.
- Share your plan with parents and families. You will get better attendance and more support when boys and their families know what to expect each week.
- Involve parents. Even parents who don’t think they have time to be leaders have some time and talent to contribute. Find out their skills and talents— and use them!
- Frequency. Dens should meet weekly unless special circumstances or ward activities prevent meeting. A consistent meeting pattern will help families remember and keep them coming back. Most dens meet all year-around. Cub Scouting is meant to be a 12 month program.
- Time and location. Preferably, Scouting activities and meetings for primary-age boys are held in the daytime. Scouting meetings may be held at the church, in a home, or in an outdoor setting and should open and close with prayer (see the Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States). Den meetings should be held at the same time and location each week so boys and parents can easily remember when and where to go.
- Length of the meeting. Eight- and 9-year-olds have short attention spans and also have family, school, and other community activities that take their time. Meetings should last about an hour. Stop while they are still having fun so they want to come back.
- Have a “Plan B” – you never know when something might come up and plans may have to change at the last minute. Having a plan B in place keeps meetings happening.
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.