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.
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.
- 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 you learn the ropes and answer many of your questions.
- Get Trained – BSA has a lot of different training modules available at my.scouting.org. 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 ScouterMom.com 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.
Readers, what other advice do you have for a new den leader. Add your ideas to the comments below.