Jim Sleezer (JHS8@OSUVM1.BITNET)
Thu, 13 Jul 1995 11:34:17 CST
We've had some discussion on this topic before and I hope I do not duplicate
unnecessarily. However, we have a lot of new people who may not know how to
look through the archives.
Anyway . . .
Den Chiefs are a vital part of both the pack and the troop operation. The
office of den chief is particularly valuable for younger scouts who are not
yet ready to take on the challenge of leading a patrol. As a youth, we had
a policy that a person could not become a den chief until he had achieved
tenderfoot rank and had been ACTIVE in the troop for at least six months.
(In those days, membership was an age issue, not grade related)
In my troop we had several den chiefs, some of whom worked with our
institution related pack, and some with other packs. This was one of our
strongest recruiting tools. Those cubs who went on to Boy Scouting generally
joined their den chief's troop.
One of the things that I think made it work well for us was that all the den
chiefs in our pack met monthly with an ACM who kept us briefed on upcoming
themes and activities. He taught us a new game or two each month and we
talked about problems we were having. We got ideas for handling problem
situations although it was always stressed that it was not our role to
discipline any cub--this was strictly a role for the den leader. We discussed
what our jobs would be at the next pack meeting. Mostly, we worked with our
dens but we usually had a little part in the meeting, especially if we had
boys in our den who were getting their arrow of light (webelos) badge.
Sometimes we escorted parents to the front of the room, sometimes we held
props for the leaders. We led the grand howl for all those who received awards
We had a troop committee member who met with us (and the ACM) about once every
three months to see how things were going. He coordinated recognition in the
troop--after all, we were troop officers. The den chief cord was always
presented at a troop meeting. New den chiefs were introduced at pack meetings
but their cord was never given there.
We were expected to participate in troop activities as any other scout would.
Den meetings were an extra but because we were treated special by the pack
leaders, we never felt it was a burden.
At a typical meeting, I arrived a few minutes before the cubs. I quickly
reviewed the meeting plan with the DL and ADL. Generally, I did the pre-
opening activity--something the cubs could join as they arrived. That also
gave the DL a chance to collect dues and check advancements.
The Denner lead the opening ceremony. The DL usually conducted the business
portion of the meeting (i.e., planning outings, special activities, etc.).
During this time, I often helped the ADL set up the meeting's activity and
was ready to assist the cubs when the business was over (usually less than
five minutes). Sometimes I helped with the business. After the activity
I generally managed a game of some type (used ACM's suggestions). The Denner
led the closing. After the meeting, I stayed a few minutes to help with
cleanup and check plans for the following week.
I was a den chief for three years but for most of two of those years I had
two dens (different packs, different meeting days). I enjoyed them both but
always felt most important in the pack where the ACM worked with us. In the
other pack, most of the den leaders did not have den chiefs--I heard one say
they were more trouble than the cubs. Where the ACM worked with us, every
den had at least one den chief and occasionally a den had two. I clearly
believe that the success was directly tied to the training and support that
the ACM provided. He believed that Den chiefs were important and made us
feel that way.
Of course, I also came from a scouting family--my mother was a den mother
(no den leaders in those days) for 15 years, retiring only after I had
received my webelos and graduated into boy scouting. Our den always had at
least one den chief and at one time had four--we had 24 boys in the den but
operated a lot like three dens. All of our den chiefs were active in Scouting
and of the five I can remember, four received eagle, three were on summer camp
staff, all served as SPL at one time or another. I couldn't wait to join their
troop when I turned 11.
I do not remember a council or district training course for den chiefs but
our ACM more than made up for any lack of formal training. I believe that a
trained den chief is a real asset, an untrained one can be the problem I
mentioned above--nothing but an overgrown cub!!
BTW, about every three months we had a den chief cookout as part of our
meeting with the ACM. That month, the CM, committee chair, and a few other
adults also attended to see what ideas we had for making things work better.
I would remind den chiefs who were not attending troop meetings that their
position was a troop office, not a pack office, and that if they were not
ramaining active in the troop, then they could not hold the office. Be sure
to get pack support for this.
From time to time, I see packs recruiting den chiefs directly. I always remind
them that they need to contact the SM. Unfortunately, some SMs don't fulfill
I've rambled enough. Hope this helps.
Roundtable Commissioner, Pawnee Bill District, Will Rogers Council
JHS8 at OSUVM1.BITNET JHS8 at VM1.UCC.OKSTATE.EDU (Internet)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City