Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: A Pick Me up For Den Leaders
A Pick Me up For Den Leaders
Fri, 2 Oct 1998 11:29:32 +0000
Some unsung heroines go Scouting 09/23/98
By Kathy Swindle / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
What do women have to do to get a little recognition? Mostly they have to be
built like Pamela Anderson, sing like LeAnn Rimes, create decorative holiday
wreaths from recycled Mountain Dew cans like Martha Stewart, or have an
affair with the president like . . . well, let's not go there.
There is a certain small group of women in our society who go unnoticed and
unappreciated. They don't research cures for cancer, pose for Playboy, write
books that get them on Oprah, or engage in talk-show slugfests with their
ex-lover's lesbian sister's gardener's cross-dressing proctologist.
Who are these women? Den leaders.
Historically, many dens have been headed by stay-at-home moms. Today,
according to officials with the Boy Scouts of America, 30 percent of all
dens - including Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts - are headed by women, some of
whom don't even have children but volunteer their time anyway.
Den leaders take on the unglamorous, thankless task of molding our sons into
considerate, responsible human beings. They explain sweetly to their
freckle-nosed, gap-toothed charges that no, girls really aren't icky, and,
yes, girls are every bit as gifted academically and athletically as they,
and they do have feelings, so could we please refrain from calling them
The few and the brave Den leaders live unassuming lives filled with activity
books, weird hand signals, matronly shirts with patches that require hours
of stitching, and matching socks. They rule their rowdy roosts at pack
meetings with right arms extended and two fingers pointed straight in the
air, because that is the universal signal for everybody to pipe down.
They bravely go camping in places where mosquitoes are the size of heifers,
bait fish hooks while choking back bile, and gamely load their Suburbans
with blue-capped hellions whose combined voices are shrill enough to shatter
If you've noticed that your youngster suddenly seems more mature and
respectful, thank his den leader. It is she who reinforces that when clothes
are on fire, the wearer should stop, drop and roll.
She continually preaches the notion that saying the Pledge of Allegiance at
the beginning of every den meeting need not be a competition sport. And it
is she, in her eternal wisdom, who knows how to make perfect basket-weave
placemats out of construction paper for the annual Blue and Gold Banquet and
has the foresight to include chicken nuggets on the menu.
If you've been meaning to have a talk with your son about sexual predators
but just haven't had the guts, chances are his den leader already has done
it. She probably also has taught him the ins and outs of proper bicycle
maintenance, the importance of never swimming without a buddy, and how to
tie a mean square knot.
Impact takes time. Many den leaders sometimes wonder if what they're doing
really makes a difference. Rarely are they given appreciation for the
contributions they make. Sometimes, though, the impact of their influence
hits when they least expect it.
One second-grade boy in Richardson approached his den leader last spring and
told her about being at his grandmother's house when his little brother
accidentally started a fire. Remembering the rules of fire safety he had
learned through Scouting, the little boy calmly took his brother's hand
before he could become trapped by the flames, walked him safely to another
part of the house, and informed his mother and grandmother that they needed
to phone the fire department. Everyone escaped unhurt.
After relating the dramatic tale, the little boy looked up at his den
leader, his dark eyes peering from beneath the bill of his Scout cap.
"I remembered," he said earnestly, "everything you taught me."
Kathy Swindle is a Dallas free-lance writer.
contibuted to the list by
Lorie McGraw <email@example.com> Webelos Den Leader Pack 410
Etowah Creek District Indian Waters Council, Columbia, SC
Slide Show Neckerchief Slides: http://home.att.net/~llmcgraw/etowah/slides.htm
"Don't ever squat with yer spurs on" -- Texas Bix Bender