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Den Leader Asked to Lead a Different Den

Heather sent in this request for advice:

I am currently a Wolf Den Leader (my son is a Wolf) and I was the Tiger Den Leader last year. Up until recently, we had all planned on continuing to “move up” in leading Dens as our sons progressed through the program. I have been told recently that one of the items we will be discussing at our Leader Planning Meeting this weekend is that the Current Webelos Leader and current Bear Den leader feel like it is a better idea for them to stay in their roles since they have navigated their way through the program and learned it.

While do not disagree with the premise behind what they are saying, I have no desire to stay in the Wolf Den and lead the group while my son isn’t a part of it. We look at scouting as a family activity. And yes, much of his scouting occurs outside of the actual den meeting, I still don’t want to spend all the time planning and executing things I will not be able to include him on.

What is the community take on this? I do not wish to be selfish and push my point, nor do I wish to “take over” the Bear Den if that is not wear my service is welcomed, at the same time I feel like families that want to be involved should have precedence to work with their kids if they want to, especially if they have done so for the last 2 years. I appreciate feed back on both sides of this issue, as I am really feeling torn. Thanks!

Thanks for the question Heather. I was a den leader for two of my sons’ dens. In my experience in  our pack and from talking to leaders in other packs the norm is for the den leader to move along with the den, usually because they have a son in the den and they have become a den leader to participate in their son’s Scouting experience. I’ve really never been involved with a Cub Scout program where parents who are willing to continue being den leaders for their son’s dens are asked to step aside for others.

That being said, den leaders are appointed by the pack committee with the approval of the chartered organization, so they do have the authority to replace you with another den leader. But this might just be a case where some committee members thought this might be a good idea to try out. If you haven’t already, voice your concerns to the Committee Chair and find out how committed they are to this idea.

If they are firm about placing a different leader in with the Bears, it is certainly your option to decline staying on with the Wolf den. You can be an active parent in the Bear den without being den leader and perhaps even an assistant den leader. I don’t think anyone would blame you for wanting to share your Scouting experience with your son and his friends rather than a different group of boys.

Readers, what do you think? Have any of you been involved in a situation like this?

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15 Responses to Den Leader Asked to Lead a Different Den

  1. Amanda March 24, 2014 at 11:11 AM #

    It has always been tradition in our Pack for the den leaders to advance each year with their den. I am current den leader for my son with the bears, and have been since he was a tiger. While I understand the concept of one person staying in each den to sort of become an expert on that year’s material, I think it is unfair to ask a parent to stay behind with a group that doesn’t include their child. Most families do Scouting as a family activity, and would rather be working with their own child/ren. On the other hand, next year, when my son moves on to a WEBELOS den, my middle son will become a tiger, so I am torn about what to do with that predicament. Good luck!

  2. Stephen Cerruti March 24, 2014 at 11:22 AM #

    When I read the headline I thought for certain it would be dealing with a Bear to Webelos transition. The change in skill sets for that transition is pretty radical if the program is being implemented correctly. I have seen marvelous Bear leaders stumble with Webelos.

    My proposal would be for you to suggest that you stay with your den and the current Bear leader take the Wolves for two years.

    This assumes the Bear leader did Wolves last year. It would help to know more about your Pack. Regardless you want to make certain that you complete BALOO and OWL/WLOT this year so you are trained to be a Webelos leader next year.

  3. Becky Johnson March 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM #

    I’m only aware of one pack in our area where some leaders remain with the same rank level each year. That is not the way our pack works and frankly, we’re often begging for parents to step up to be leaders, so I applaud any parent willing to take on that commitment.

    I can see the point that “being experienced” with a specific rank level may allow things to run a little smoother the second time around for these leaders. (When do things ever run completely as planned?) Let me just put it out there that, as experienced as these folks are NOW in the bear and webelos trails….its all changing after next year! So there will be no “long-term” advantage to this plan. Also, if these leaders feel like they’ve got such a great grasp on the details and difficulties of their rank program, why not hold a “Share Session,” where the previous leader SHARES all the “I wish I had” and “If I could do it over again” ideas they have come across for the next leader. For example, if a Tiger Den Leader doesn’t look ahead to the “Go on a hike” and “Make Leaf Rubbings” requirements in Achievement 5 from the beginning and plan something in the Fall, they my find themselves in January or February getting ready for a Blue & Gold banquet or a Rank Ceremony where their Tigers are literally stuck until the weather gets nicer. Obviously, not all parts of the country have that concern…but here in the Northeast, it definitely happens. If that new Tiger Leader had the opportunity to sit down with the former Tiger Leader, things like that could be avoided. Those are my thoughts. Hope all goes well, and one other thought, it only costs a dollar to transfer Packs. You don’t have to make a stink, but if things aren’t working for your family in your current Pack, visit other Packs in the area and see where your needs may be better met.

    • Jon March 24, 2014 at 11:58 AM #

      I agree with this one. I have seen Den leaders follow their boys and others that look forward to the day they can hand their Den off to the person that has already said that they would stay. Notice I said “would” and not “will”. Just because a person offers what they feel is an opportunity does not mean that you have to take that person up on it. I have seen this resolved by the person who wishes to stay a Webelos leader becoming the Asst. to the dad that is moving up with his son. This give the chance for dad to learn from someone who has been there and done that. The dad may ask the veteran where he learned so much, thus inviting the dad to go to additional training. Pretty soon, you have a veteran leader assisting a polished leader with new knowledge and the Den is better for it. Eventually the Veteran will step out and the new veteran could then help the upcoming dad learn the new skills. Isn’t that how Boy Scouts learn anyway? Regardless, no one should feel pressured to drop out as a leader just so someone else can stay in the position they feel suits them. It is a family organization and if the veteran leader does not want to step aside, you might want to see why it is so important to him and see if there are other issues. I believe is it just a person likes the Webelos program so much and wanted to do more that the “what if” case is probably more likely the reason. What if we had done this and not that?

  4. Chris Kallaos March 24, 2014 at 11:36 AM #

    I have been a den leader since my son was a Tiger, and I have moved up with him every year since. While I understand having continuity of leadership running with the curriculum, I think it’s more important to have continuity of leadership from the boys’ perspective, especially when you consider the new Cub Scouting program coming in 2015 (see http://www.scouting.org/ProgramUpdates if you’re unfamiliar with the changes).

    I’ve also been an Assistant Cubmaster, Cubmaster, Committee Chair, and Unit Commissioner, and I can tell you that you are much more likely to recruit and retain leaders if they can be more directly involved with their own child(ren).

    Good luck, and Good Scouting!

    — Chris

  5. Percy March 24, 2014 at 11:57 AM #

    Having taught Cub Scout leader training and the product of many many Cub Scout round tables, it has always been the “norm” for parents to move up with their Scout as a leader. I do know a couple of Packs that have leaders stay on, but usually because there is not an adult willing.

    I think it would be great for that leader to guide you as you stay on. When your son becomes a Webelos, there will be a new book with new “adventures” so the current leader will actually be out of the loop.

    See:
    http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/01/01/better-activities-simplified-advancement-coming-to-cub-scouting-in-2015/

  6. K.C. March 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM #

    I’ll try offering a different perspective. My son is a Wolf this year, my husband Cubmaster. Neither of us serve officially in his den, though one of us is always present.

    However, I have been Troop Coordinator for an American Heritage Girls Troop for 4 years now. Think Committee Chair, Cubmaster, and Scoutmaster, all in one :) We have girls from age 5 – 18.

    Through the years, I’ve had probably 50 or 60 leaders rotate through. We only ask for a one-year commitment, so every spring I must talk with each one about what their hopes for the next year are. Some choose to move up with their daughter. Some choose to move down to be with a younger girl. Some find an age group they really enjoy, and prefer to stay there. Others find an age group they really DON’T like, and move to somewhere new.

    My point is this — this decision isn’t make by me or my Troop Board! It’s up to the volunteer entirely. Every person has his/her own set of goals and boundaries, and expecting someone to serve one place or another because it’s “traditional” is a great way to get a disaffected leader, in my mind.

    Anyway, just a different point of view. I hope it helps.

    KC

  7. Nikki March 24, 2014 at 2:41 PM #

    I have been a den leader with my son in Tiger and Wolf and assistant in Bears and now Web I. We generally move up with our sons so that we can have his opportunity to grow with them. My husband has been with my other son since he was a Tiger and moved up with him into Troop. He is now a Star and getting ready to move to Life These are milestones to Eagle and I am very glad hat my husband has been there for him. My husband is very involved with troop and was Scoutmaster for a few years and is now Assistant. If we had been asked to stay with our current dens we would not have as much of a chance to be with our sons and experience the Scouts as we have. If I were asked to stay a leader for a den that was not my sons, this would be a problem as well since I spend my time with my younger son in the Pack and my husband spends his time with Troop. The choice for me would be to step down as a leader and ask to help assistant in the new den (Bears) or to just parent to spend the time with my son. The other leaders need to look at this changing of dens as an opportunity to learn more for them and their sons as well. They took the time to do all this training for their sons and themselves and to help the Pack. Without their sons in the Pack there would have been no need for training. As others have said you are a Volunteer and the choice is yours. You want to help the Pack but you need to decide what is best for you and your son as well. The Scouts are a family and I am sure what ever you decide, that your Pack would support your decision. Good Luck with what ever you decide.

  8. Sandra March 24, 2014 at 3:40 PM #

    We did something different 2 years ago. I have 3 boys so have been Den Leader twice Tiger to AOL. But I had a Webelos mom who felt she missed out. So when her scout was Webelos II she volunteered to be the new Tiger Leader to get them on their feet until someone stepped up to the position. She had a blast and her scout worked as a Den Leader and now is in a Den Leader position with this group as a Boy Scout. So win win for us.
    But generally our Den Leaders move up with their boys.

  9. gabriele March 24, 2014 at 5:51 PM #

    Well as was said in a previous post if there is someone willing to continue on in a leadership role with then let them do it. However I understand your concern. I think that Tiger through Bear should be a parent that moves through the ranks with the scout. However WEBELOS is different and where in the lower ranks mom and dad can sign off achievements and stuff in WEBELOS the den leader is responsible for doing that. One of the reasons is because doing achievements is similar to doing Merit Badges for Boy Scouts. They are a little more indepth and require more planning. This is sort of where parents need to start stepping back and letting the boys do thing on their own with a little coaxing and pushing!! This is why this program is 2 years instead of one, there is allot to learn. If you have some one that is willing to stay in that position and continue on even though their child is moving on let them(if they are good!!) Remember WEBELOS is getting them ready for Boys Scouts and boy Scouts is suppose to be Boy Lead and overseen by adults but the boys are doing most of the planning. However put your foot down and voice your opinion on the lower ranks if you wish to move on through with your son!! I have been the Scoutmaster of my current Troop for 8 years and I was a Packmaster, and every Den Leader from Tiger to WEBELOS, we were a military Family so we were in 3 different Packs From Hawaii to Louisiana. I do have to say this in 1988 When I was on Recruiting Duty in the Madison Indiana my Bosses son was going into WEBELOS and his Pack was looking for a den leader. They gave me a handbook and sent me on my way. That Handbook said that the WEBELOS Den leader was suppose to be a Man!!! Well they have since rewritten those requirements LOL!!

  10. Anne March 24, 2014 at 7:37 PM #

    My husband has also been our den’s leader for the last two years, we’ve moved up each year with my son. I think continuity for the boys is important, they build a relationship with their den leader just as they do with their fellow scouts. If a parent would be unable to continue as leader, it would make perfect sense for a willing parent who had already done that level to fill in but if you’re willing and able to move up with your son I can’t see how it would appropriate for someone to tell you that you had to lead a different group. Scouts is very family oriented and quite honestly if someone told my husband he had to lead a different group of boys, well they’d lose a volunteer because he wouldn’t do it. We want to be involved with our child’s scout experience, he can’t do that if he’s leading another group. Also just from the viewpoint that the cub scout program is changing next year, their “experience” with their particular level won’t matter anymore. It’ll be a whole different set up. So their reasoning for staying in that level really doesn’t make sense when you take that into consideration.

  11. Jody March 24, 2014 at 9:07 PM #

    …the answer is in your heart…you want to continue on with your scout…that’s most common in cub scouting….volunteer to help or co-lead…be active…volunteers do just that volunteer….I have 5 yrs Girl Scouts…then did Boy Scouts from tiger to transition to Boy Scouts…and now back to Girl Scouts…but now I help however, whenever needed but I am letting someone else lead…it’s nice to be active but not overwhelmed with top job …. I have one graduating..so it helps …and we still work individually on f
    Badge work…and you can develop other skills to benefit your pack…like outdoor training…canoe training….archery training….summer camp coordinator….hiking or wider ops camping or trips…talk to the committee to further your skills…lots of packs pay for the training…but prepare your mind to let them become more independent Webelos II year…transitioning to Troop…the boys are required to be more self sufficient and responsible for themselves…remember we are making boys into young men
    Best of luck and you can always transfer packs where they may need you more

  12. Fred March 25, 2014 at 9:12 AM #

    Stay with your son. Your son already has to go on every single outing even if it is the second or third time for the requirement. Family time is too precious to have to find time for den outing for two separate dens when your son is not a member of the den.

    Being a Den Leader takes some training, mentoring. research and preparation but don’t get pigeon holed because two leaders do not want to move along with their dens. The Webelos and Bear den leaders need to mentor those leaders coming up behind them, not hold them back.

    Just my scouting 2 cents.

  13. Groupscouter March 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM #

    It is great to want to move up with you child. However through past experience I have seen times when there is conflict caused by a Youth who needs to be away from parents who are overpowering, overprotective and stifle a child’s ability to learn and grow, also there are times when parents seem to show preference to their child over others. Sometimes parents have their own ideas as to what “scouting” is all about. Scouting is not meant to be “family time” but meant to teach children independence, teamwork, self confidence and responsibility for their actions along with many other life and outdoor skills. If you are worried about family time you will need to make it else where and it sounds like you are doing that already. If you want this to be something you can share with your child and do together then you need to stand back and take a look at what it is that you are doing or wanting from the program. Talk to your chair person and find out if there are any problems that should be addressed and discuss your thoughts with them. Scouting is for the Kids and all about the Kids.

  14. Miss B. March 26, 2014 at 10:02 AM #

    Heather, and fellow scouters,
    It is difficult when you are being asked to step aside and let someone else lead your child’s Den, especially if you have invested 2 or more years with the scouts. What would be size of the Den be? Ask yourself that first. If you have 8 or more scouts, you may want to opt to have 2 Dens for that rank. There is the option of being an assistant, or taking on another role. You can opt to be a committee member, secretary, treasurer, advancement, training, etc. if those positions are open. Just because you are not working on a project or activity with/for your son, does not mean your child is not benefiting for your involvement. The whole pack benefits from whatever planning and executing you have done. There are also opportunities for you to share your knowledge or skills for certain meetings. If you are a geologist who better then to help with geology requirements? If you like scrap booking, who better then to assistant with scrap booking requirements?
    I also agree continuity is best for a group. The relationships formed last for a lifetime. Sometimes there are things out of our control that change those relationships.
    I would “sit on” on a meeting of the bear leader, and see if their leadership style would be a good fit for your group of boys. Do they have a code of conduct established? Is there instruction keeping the boys attention, or are the boys distracted and bored? Ask yourself what are the needs of the boys in your Den. Do any of them have special needs? Is there a family conflict (divorce, inability to pay dues, etc.) that you are aware of? You have to respect privacy in addressing such issues, but those are things that affect a child’s scouting experience. You have established relationships with the scouts in your den. If you foresee any issues with the bear leader that could cause conflict, I would talk to your Committee Chair and Cubmaster. The committee is ultimately responsible for approving pack leadership.

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