Getting help as a den leader is important – just ask Danny Heitman.
As a Scout parent who hadn’t been a Scout himself, had never been outdoorsy, and wasn’t handy with tools, Danny was, by his own admission, underprepared to be a leader. Realizing he wasn’t going to be able to teach his den everything they needed to know, Danny started reaching out to community members that would be able to teach his Scouts what they needed to know.
For a recycling unit, Danny was able to convince a local waste-disposal company to bring a garbage truck to his den meeting. During a safety unit, representatives from the local electric company and Red Cross showed up to demonstrate electrical safety and wound treatment.
Danny’s experience demonstrates that knowing when to ask for help is an important part of being a Scout. It’s not always easy, though, so we’ve compiled some of Danny’s tips to help den leaders ask for help themselves and give their Scouts the best experience they can (check out the CubCast and the full transcript of Danny’s interview from September 2015).
How Do I Find A Credible Helper?
Look to people you already trust. You probably know an electrician, plumber, medical professional, police officer, etc. from your own dealings, and they’re often happy to share their knowledge. Danny also had success asking family members and school employees that the children already were familiar with – maintenance men, mechanics, school cooks, nurses – to share their experiences with Scouts. Both the Scouts and the experts loved it, says Danny.
How Do I Convince People To Help?
Most of the time, people are very accomodating. They trust the Cub Scouts brand, and are happy to take some time to teach young Scouts. Be conscious of their time, be specific about the amount of time you’ll need, and be flexible enough to work with their schedules. If someone doesn’t want to participate, that’s fine – don’t force them. Maybe they’ll be able to recommend someone else.
How Do I Keep Scouts’ Attention During Guest Units?
Danny’s advice is to keep things short and hands-on. Attention spans during presentations max out at about 15 minutes, so make sure to incorporate hands-on activities pretty quickly. Danny’s troop surveyed trees with an arborist, counted birds with an ornithologist, fixed leaky faucets with a maintenance man, changed oil with a mechanic – you get the idea.
How Do I Encourage Guests To Come Back?
Say thank you! It’s simple, but it makes a big difference. Have your Scouts say a group “Thank You!” at the end of the guest unit, and then have them make and send thank-you cards a few days later. Get creative with thank-yous, too – send pictures of Scouts practicing what they learned from the guest, or have them share a completed project using the skills they learned. The options are endless!
Have you had success asking for helpers? Have other ideas about guest units? Share them in the comments section below!