Den Chiefs, and I *tried* to be short
Mon, 3 Nov 1997 18:48:38 -0500
I always moved the most mature Scouts straight out of Webelos toward being Den
Chief and before we got to Tenderfoot in many cases. These boys just came from
Cubs and remember what it takes and what its like. The boys in the den often
remember just enough about him to make him seem bigger and important. The den
leaders may feel better since even if they're new they can check on what he
was like as a Cub by asking a few questions. And it all makes for boys that
are better leaders when they get older.
My #1 son was a Den Chief from the time he crossed over right up to the time
we moved to a new council. By then he'd already taken one den from Wolf to
second year Webelos and on and didn't want to be the one to do that again,
although the Troop he joined and the Pack both tried to make him. (One
important note: Don't MAKE a Scout be a den chief, no matter how qualified. At
one point at a Pack meeting they called him up and handed him Den Chief cords
- again - and that settled it, he wouldn't do it again from that point on).
During the same time he was DC the Troop's Senior Patrol Leader assigned him
to be Troop Guide for the new Scouts, and I honestly think more of them
advanced faster because he had something that reminded him what they had come
from and where they were going.
Had to want to do it.
Had to be mature enough to be trusted alone and get a job done. A simple test
that any SM can run by walking away during dinner clean-up for 5 minutes,
Had to complete Den Chief training - and if your council doesn't offer the
course they should start yesterday.
Had to show an ability to teach others how to do simple tasks - and #1 son
serving as Troop Guide was a key to identifying these from the day they moved
up to the Troop. Other SM's take note of a most valuable resource (not my son,
your Troop Guide!).
You will find lots of little problems, but as long as the Den Leaders keep the
Scout in the loop (the major downfall is when they don't communicate what they
need or want from the Den Chief and when) you'll get Scouts in the Troop that
become prime candidates for higher level stuff. Of all my Den Chiefs one went
on to staff two JLTC's and attend NJLIC. The other became SPL and never would
have lost an election he was such a good leader that if I hadn't made him move
to another position so others would get experience (we would've really been in
trouble when he got into High School wrestling). Both were chosen for Vigil
Honor in their Lodge.
One last thought - make sure they have someone in the Troop to report to so
that if they do have troubles, or can't find out what the Den is doing, or the
boy just goes through a phase and doesn't think the DL likes him because of
something said or done - theres an adult there to help out. In the Troop, the
OA, and a lot of other things there were lots of times where I took those
youth and told them "Forget it, thats an adult problem and we'll figure it
out, you go worry about youth problems and I'll tell you what the adults
decided when the time comes".
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City