Den Leader Survival Guide
Posted On: 2009-01-02
You can be a den leader and enjoy it. You've taken care of your own son for seven or eight years and you're still fairly normal, so adding seven or eight more boys to the roost isn't all that hard.
The first rule is clothe yourself in optimism, grin a lot, and be prepared at least an hour before they are due to arrive, with everything you need in your meeting room. One enthusiast in the group always comes early.
Don't feel you're copping out if you use the Cub Scout Program Helps for games to play and projects to make. Scout Headquarters has a lot of experience with this sort of thing, and you need all the help you can get.
As soon as the meeting opens, collect the dues, make announcements, and explain the day's activities. You're not likely to get their undivided attention again.
Cub Scouts have little enthusiasm for the more worthless things in life and may refuse to waste their time on such stuff as table centerpieces that can't be played with later, and artificial flowers or crepe paper things.
Good den leaders know where to look for supplies, they scour their garages, attics and trash barrels. Keep your projects simple. If you don't; you know who will be putting the finishing touches on 10 projects the night before your pack meeting. Learn enough carpentry so that you know how to build a bird feeder or a wooden bank.
Cub Scouts love to hammer, but you or another adult should do most of the sawing in advance. Remember to be patient; keep 1inch bandages on hand; decide what you'll do about unsavory words that might follow after the boys bang their fingers with a hammer a few times. Even if it's a birdhouse they have to paint, have them use a washable paint. And NEVER leave a room full of Cub Scouts all alone with paint buckets.
Cub Scouts love to wait their turn to use supplies or materials or tools, it gives them time to explore your closets, to test each other's endurance to punches and pokes and leaves time for races and shouting contests. There are ways to avoid this; one is to get together with the other parents and make up a den box. It should contain all those things that nobody cares to own ten of.
Remember how the kindergarten teacher pinned notes to your son's shirt? He's too old for that now, so put the notes for home inside each Cub's pocket and let a corner show so his mother finds it before his shirt goes in the washer.
Always make it clear that everyone left in your house after the meeting must take a hot bath and clean out your garage. This spurs the Cubs to have their parents pick them up right after the meetings and saves you from driving them home.