The Care and Feeding of Your Den Chief

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What to expect

The den chief program provides an opportunity to put a trained Boy Scout (First Class or above) in front of Cub Scouts and assist den leaders to run their weekly meetings. These Scouts also benefit by earning leadership credit for this position that they require to advance. By having the Cubs get to know an older scout, they will be familiar with someone in the Troop when they bridge. Boy Scouts are youth led and this also introduces the practice of an older scout teaching skills to a younger one.

Understand that the quality of your den chief can vary greatly. They are all trying their best but this may also be their first time in charge of anything (or anyone). Our goal should be to make sure they are prepared to do their best, help them along and make it a positive experience for everyone involved. You will do them a dis-service if you don't communicate what you want, or offer feedback on how things went during something they were in charge of. Most of them will be scared to death at the prospect of teaching younger Scouts a skill. The secret is that the younger ones will be much more attentive to an older scout than an adult -- we want to use that create a great learning opportunity.

Encourage your den chief to earn the Den Chief Award. If you look at the requirements, it will give you ideas for things they can do to help you.

Also reference the course notes from the Den Chief class from University of Scouting here.

What can a Den Chief do for you

Den Chiefs can be particularly helpful to Webelos II leaders when you're teaching a Boy Scout skill such as the Oath and Law. Have them work one-on-one with scouts that are struggling, lead a game where you practice the 12 points of the Scout law, have them teach a camping skill before a scheduled camping trip. Here are some more things den chiefs can be tasked with:
  • Lead a pre-meeting gathering activity, skill, practice with oath/law
  • Organize for opening pledge, take attendance, do a uniform inspection
  • Have them lead a game, song or activity
  • Let them be responsible to run a "Cub Grub" activity once a month (you provide the ingredients)
  • Lead a "knot a month" activity to teach one of the Boy Scout knots using the EDGE method

What you need to provide them

The best way to have a successful den chief experience is to PLAN for it. Plan your meetings in advance. Let your Den Chief know what skills or activities he's responsible for. Communicate changes to your schedule and let them know you expect to hear from him if they're not going to be there. Share your contact information and get his phone/email numbers.
  • Always plan the Den Meetings in advance. Write down your plan and make sure your Den Chief knows what his portion is at least 1 WEEK IN ADVANCE
  • Den chiefs can help keep the boys occupied at all times, but you need to provide them guidance on what you need them to do
  • Be sparing with your criticism; generous within your praise. They're new at this too and need your guidance to succeed.

What you should expect from them

Your den chief is not another Scout and he should not be participating in activities or being a distraction to your den. Expect them to do what you've prepared them to do. They are only teenagers, but part of his job description is taking responsibility for a couple of tasks in your den. If you don't get that from your den chief, tell him! If it still doesn't get better, talk to Pack Leadership or the Troop Den Chief coordinator. We want them to learn and grow, even if they're a little intimidated by Scouts and adults they don't know. When they have success in your den, they should begin to offer you more and more support as your year progresses.