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What Should a New Den Leader Know? How to Do Your Best!

A New Den Leader Asks a Question

Elena sent in this question:

What is the most important thing for a new den leader to know? My son has joined cub scouts and is a tiger. The other parents and even my son all asked me to be the Den Leader. The only thing is, I know nothing about cub scouts except for what I have been reading. I have said I will do the Den leader, but I honestly am scared I will let the boys and parents down. Thank You for your time.

Tips for a New Den Leader

Thanks for volunteering Elena! Being a den leader is a fun way to spend time with your son and to get to know some of his friends and their families better.

Below is my top ten list of the things a den leader should know and do. The order doesn’t really indicate a particular importance. Which is most important depends on your situation and what your current needs are.

So without further ado, here are my top ten suggestions for new den leaders:

Find a Mentor

Talk to the other den leaders in your pack. They have been where you are. Even though the requirements may be different than what they did in the past, they will have ideas and resources to share with you. Even more important, they can help a new den leader learn the ropes and answer many of your questions.

Get Trained

BSA has a lot of different training modules available at Start with “Youth Protection Training”, “This Is Scouting”, and “Den Leader Specific Training”. Your local district and council will also have training opportunities. Take advantage of these.

KISMIF  “Keep It Simple, Make It Fun” 

Cub Scouting doesn’t have to be elaborate. It is often better just to do a few simple activities and leave plenty of time for goofing off and socializing. You will find that many of the requirements are not that complicated.

Go to Cub Scout Roundtable

At roundtable, you will meet Cub Scouters from other units in your area. You will also receive practical ideas for your program and learn about upcoming events in your council or district.

Engage the Other Parents

For Tigers especially, all of the parents should be involved. Ask each to take one of the adventures and lead it. Play to their strengths. Find out about their occupations and hobbies. If your den is working on something related to that interest, ask them to help. Also, encourage them to invite grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and colleagues who have skill in a particular area to be a guest at a meeting.

Remember the Cub Scout Motto “Do Your Best”

Don’t stress. Just do the best you can and nobody will be “let down”. If one of the requirements seems difficult, ask about it. You can check with more experienced leaders in your pack or ask at roundtable.

Visit Often

Of course! Use the Cub Scout  menu or the search box to find resources and den meeting plans.

Get a Den Leader Guide

There is a den leader guide for each level in Cub Scouts. This expands on the ideas found in the Cub Scout handbooks and includes detailed den meeting plans for each level.  You can pick this up at your local Scout shop.

KISMIF Part 2 “Keep It Secret Make It Fail”

Communication with the parents is important. Let your parents know well in advance of events. Then send a reminder a few days beforehand.  Don’t assume they know anything. They rely on the den leader to keep them informed. Also, let them know what the upcoming topics are and see if they know anyone who can help. (See #5 above.)

Have Fun!!!!

In many ways, this is the most important. If you are not having fun, the parents and the Cub Scouts will probably not have fun either. And if nobody is having fun, participation will drop off. Relax and enjoy this time with your son and his friends. You are creating memories which will last a lifetime.

Add Your Own Ideas

What other advice do you have for a new den leader? Add your comments below.


7 responses to “What Should a New Den Leader Know? How to Do Your Best!”

  1. Elena Avatar

    Thank you so much for this list. I am sure I will come back to it often. My son and his friends are all excited that I am the Den Leader and the parents all said they will help out. I’m excited too!

  2. Greg Avatar

    The new Cub Scout program is very simple to follow if you use the Den Leader handbooks. BSA has literally planned out every meeting and requirement, including what materials you will need! If you follow the Den Leader Guide, you will have no reason to be worried about letting anyone down!

  3. Beth Avatar

    Perfect timing! My den has grown from 8 to 17 at our registration night. A parent volunteered to lead a second den and this is the perfect link to send her!

  4. Dee Dee Kong Avatar
    Dee Dee Kong

    I am also a new Tiger den leader.. I was petrified at first because. I am also in charge of Advancements and was afraid I took on to much. After a few meetings I am following the book and Having fun..

  5. ashley Avatar

    Be relaxed, be confident! rome wasnt built in a day so an experienced den leader wont be either!

  6. Dan DeQuoy Avatar
    Dan DeQuoy

    I would like to say that this website is very helpful and full of valuable information that is very useful. I was involved with the scouting program several years ago but would like to get involved again especially with getting inner city kids involved with such a wonderful program. Do you have any ideas of how to go about this? Thank you

    1. Scouter Mom Avatar
      Scouter Mom

      Talk to your local council. There are probably many ways to volunteer your time.

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