Welcome to Part 1 of the 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 – (Under Construction)
As you might assume, the den leader’s main job is to plan and lead den meetings each week. So this post is all about the parts of a den meeting with a few other tips and information thrown in.
A Den Leader’s Best Resource
As a new den leader the Den Leader Guide for your rank will be the most useful resource. Hopefully you have already been told about it or better yet given a copy for your respective den. You will find 3 weeks of detailed meeting plans for each Cub Scout adventure already planned and laid out for you. All you have to do is follow the plan and adapt where necessary – what could be easier than that.
The first 30 pages of each Den Leader Guide contain lots of great information about Cub Scouting and your role and responsibilities as a den leader. We will talk about some of those later in the course but you are probably worried about your first den meetings coming up. You probably have questions about what to do and how to do it so let’s jump right in to den meetings.
You will find that each of the Cub Scout den meeting plans will have the following information and follow the same general order. It make take a little while but if you follow this same order for each meeting the boys will soon understand what needs to be done when and what comes next. (You may even want to make a simple poster with a basic agenda to hang in your den meeting location)
7 Parts of a Den Meeting
Preparation and Materials Needed. This part of the meeting plan lists the things you need to do or have on hand before the Cub Scouts arrive. It will remind you of the basics such as the US Flag, pencils, as well as any supplies specific to the games or activities to be done during that meeting. Being prepared is a big part of a successful den meeting for you and the boys.
Gathering. (In older materials this was often referred to as a pre-opener) As the Cub Scouts begin to arrive, they should join in an informal activity or game (often conducted by the den chief) to keep the boys interested and active until the entire group has arrived. This can be before the actual start time or maybe the first 5 mins but don’t get in the habit of not starting until everyone arrives. Set a time to start and have the gathering activity before that.
Opening. The Opening is the official formal start of the den meeting. It usually consists of a opening ceremony, such as the pledge of allegience, an opening prayer, possibly a fun song, and often reciting the Scout Oath and Law together. (sometimes this is done as part of the closing instead)
Talk Time. This is where the business items of the den take place. This can include, reminder of upcoming events, introducing a new adventure, a new Cub Scout, and other announcements. Talk Time should be brief so the den can get right to the fun of the meeting.
Activities. The Activities part of the meeting will be the main portion of your meeting. This is where you help the boys complete requirements for one of the Cub Scout adventures and helps boys earn their ranks. Depending on the adventure you are working on that month the activity time may consist of craft projects, games, field trips or other activities based on the current adventure. The den leader guides provide clear instructions as well as additional resources.
Closing. The Closing draws the meeting to an end. It’s usually more serious and quiet. Den leaders could present a thought for the day (called a Den Leader’s Minute) and give reminders about coming events or requirements they need to complete at home. The living circle is a common closing. Den meetings should close with prayer.
After the Meeting. Have the boys help clean up and leave the location better than when they arrived. The leaders evaluate the meeting and finalize plans for the next den meeting.
Cub Scouts at Den Meeting
Your Cub Scouts should be expected and reminded to wear their uniforms and bring their handbooks with them each week. Their handbooks contain the adventure requirements, useful information and activities. Some den leaders find the handbooks to be a useful resource for them as well. Be sure that all boys, parents and leaders have the handbook addendum. And are aware of the modifications made to may of the adventures in Nov. 2016. The BSA has provided printed inserts for each handbook. (Available online or from your local scout shop for free.)
Be familiar with the Faith in God requirements. As a den leader you will find that some of the activities suggested by the BSA can easily fulfill a Faith in God requirement as well with just a slight tweaking of the activity. The more familiar you are with the Faith in God program the easier it will be for you to help the boys complete both requirements.until new handbooks are printed)
You will want to have one boy be the “denner” and another be the “assistant denner”. These youth leadership positions are designed to teach the boys basic leadership. The exact duties for the denner and his assistant will be set by you the den leader. You might have him make reminder phone calls to the other boys. You may have him call the meeting to order, lead the opening ceremony or have him ask other boys to do each part. Boys should each get a chance to hold leadership positions. Some dens rotate weekly, others monthly, every 3 months etc… You will decide what works best for your den.
A snack is optional. If you do serve a snack its best to offer fruits or vegetables to set an example of healthy eating. Be aware of any food allergies of den members and communicate these to adult partners who may be assisting with the snacks. Be aware of your pack’s budget, don’t just assume it will cover this.
Setting the Stage
The tone you set at your first den meeting will determine, to a large extent, the success of your year. Key to setting the right tone is to consider the following:
- Wear your adult uniform to all meetings, and remind boys to wear their uniforms.
- Be completely organized before the start of the meeting.
- If you are new to running meetings like this, it may be easier to think of it as seven short activities (see the parts of the den meeting section above) rather than a single long event.
- Explain clearly to the boys the behavioral expectations. You may find the “managing Boys” section at cubscouts.org helpful and develop a den code of conduct. This can be handwritten on poster board, or a den code of conduct poster may be purchased at your local council Scout Shop (No. 32068). Be consistent, friendly, but firm with the boys.
- Be sure that you and the assistant den leader(s) arrive 15-30 minutes before the starting time of den meeting so you have time to set-up and any other final preparations before the boys arrive. You want to be prepared when the first boy arrives.
If you are already feeling overwhelmed by planning den meetings then the easiest thing to do is just follow the plans in the Den Leader Guides but once you have a little experience under your belt and feel like you need to branch out a little more you may find the following resources (available at your local Scout Shop or at scout stuff.org) useful.
- The Cub Scout Leader Book – This is THE book on Cub Scouting. Policies and procedures are explained as well as all Cub Scout Positions defined. If ever you have a question about Cub Scouting this is the book to turn to. Every pack should have at least 1 copy of this book.
- Cub Scout How to Book – This is a resource book full of ideas for games, activities, how to run a pinewood derby, ideas of den doodles, and SO much more.
- Ceremonies for dens and packs – ideas for advancement ceremonies, flag ceremonies, induction ceremonies, and much more.
- Group meeting Sparklers – A booklet full of fun applauses, cheers, and yells as well as run-ons, ice breakers and audience participation stories.
In Part 2 of LDS Den Leader Training we will talk about The Planning Process. Steps to helping you have a great program plan for the boys in your den.
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.Author: