David Grima (dgrima@COURIERPUB.COM)
Wed, 17 Dec 1997 09:32:03 -0400
I am a Cubmaster and Webelos den leader in Rockland, Maine. There are two
things I see from your description that I think can be fixed.
First, there are about twice as many boys in the den as there should be. No
wonder discipline can be tough. My favorite number is six boys, and my
absolute maximum is eight. This den should in fact be two separate dens.
Second, you speak about a parent assistant when in fact the den really
needs a trained assistant den leader. There is a world of difference
between the two. The one often feels no genuine commitment, and is
sometimes willing to do what they are asked. The other is a genuine fellow
leader, as involved as the other one.
As Cubmaster you should split the den into two ASAP. Gather the parents of
the boys in the new den and tell them you need two to be trained to run it,
or else unfortunately the only alternative is to disband. Point out that
the present 11-boy den is too large to be successful, and mention that
smaller units are easier to handle and therefore better led and accomplish
more. Talk to your commissioner or executive, and get some back-up on this,
I am sure it will be there. Then ask for volunteers to become leaders.
Scouting is a parent and son thing, not a day care operation.
Next, you should address the so-called parent assistant issue. Talk to the
parents of the boys in the existing den and tell them one must enroll and
be trained as a den leader. Tell them that this is how Cubs is supposed to
work, and that without it the den will not work as they want it to.
I have a similar situation with a den leader. The parents have each come to
me privately and said how discpline in his den is poor, and accomplishments
few. In each case I pointed out he needs an assistant, and that one of them
is the ideal person. Everybody in Cubs seems to think solutions can be
found from outside a situation, as if my magic, when usually the solution
is already there. They are getting the point.
I know this sounds overwhelming, but stick to your guns. When I inherited
my CM job, we had no committee and needed a lot of help. So I rounded up
the parents and put it to them. To my surprise, I watched them volunteer on
the spot. They had never been asked by the previous CM, so did not know
what was expected.
Now, to prevent all this happening again, you need to concentrate on what
we in Pinetree Council call "All Out For Scouting Night," in September.
When we held recruitment night this fall, I had the new boys and their
parents organized into dens, and had leaders chosen, before I would even
give them application forms to fill out. I said I would not enroll any boy
unless enough new den leaders enrolled, too. It sounds harsh, but in fact
is is not because it works.
If you sound desperate to enroll anybody, that is how you will be treated.
If you make it sound as though enrollment is a priviledge that carries
responsibilities for boys and parents, they will see it that way as well.
Believe me, it really does work. Anyway, you owe it to everyone to Do Your
Best of luck in Scouting,
>I'm hoping the list can give me more ideas for how to advise one of my
>Den leaders on how to get back in control of her Den. First, The Den
>leader HAS been to Leader Basic Training and YP. She began with a Den of
>4 boys, the next year had 6, and now has 11. The parent asst. doesn't do
>alot to help.
>There seems to be 3 boys who do not behave and pull the rest of the boys
>to their level. At her last Den meeting the boys got into a pecan
>throwing contest, who can hit the most of the Den members and bystanders
>with pecans. When the Den Leader asked the boys to stop one of them hit
>her with a Pecan. A halt should have been called there and the culprit
>sent home but I believe the boy is one she carts around, picks up at
>school and takes home afterwards not alot of parental envolvement. I
>don't know who the boys are or if there are underlying problems like ADD,
>The first Den meeting the boys all read and signed a sheet of 12 Den
>Rules based on the 12 points of Scout Law, they are Webelos so this isn't
>to advanced for them. So all of the boys should be familiar with the
>The Den Leader has written a letter to the Parents of the Den asking the
>Parents to talk to their boys about their behavior. She has a list of
>consequences for actions from time outs to for the fourth infraction
>being banned from the Pack. I've told her to document all dicipline and
>hopefully have a witness to sign the "incident report" with her. I've
>told her to be sure to enforce the rules evenly and fairly. I've printed
>new copies of the Den Rules to go back over with the boys so they
>remember what may have been forgotten.
>I have no problems with 4 strikes and you're out, in general if it is
>fairly enforced and everyone is aware of the consequences and the
>situation calls for a drastic measure. There is some behavior that is
>totally uncalled for like hitting and throwing Pecans. I'm just afraid
>she is so fed up that the severity of the infraction may not matter. I
>don't blame her for her frustration, I saw some of the behavior but I was
>involved with my own Den at the time and couldn't go to help. I wasn't
>sure if and when to get the District Professionals involved with the
>situation or if there was anything I could suggest to her instead of the
>drastic step of banning.
>I really wanted to be "double checked" to see if I've forgotten anything
>and any ideas that might help.
>Thanks in advance,
>Cubmaster and Jack-of-all-Trades, Pack 392
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City