The following are some hints that will help you better plan and execute your den meetings.
Plan Your Meetings in Advance
Plan your meetings ahead of time with emphasis on the flow of activities. Pay special attention to sections of den meeting plans outlining preparation and materials needed for the next meeting. Alternate between quiet and more vigorous activities. Boys have a lot of energy to expend, so be sure you have an active game or other activity to help channel some of that energy.
Den Rules and Code of Conduct
At the beginning of the year, establish the rules that the den will follow and the consequences for breaking those rules. Boys should participate in the decision-making process. By helping decide what can and can’t happen in the den, boys will feel a sense of responsibility toward how the den is run. They will feel that the den is “theirs.”
Have them sign a poster on which the code of conduct is written and display it at your meeting place. Or make two copies: one that boys can keep at home and one to be displayed at the den meeting after both the boy and his parent have signed it.
Ceremonies are important for marking the beginning and end of each meeting. They are also a time for reinforcing the aims and purposes of Scouting and bringing the boys together. As boys finish adventures toward their badges, simple ceremonies during the den meeting will serve to congratulate them on their accomplishments.
Use of immediate recognition awards for Cub Scouts is a method of encouragement along the advancement trail. Set aside time in den meetings to award loops and pins representing completion of adventures. Congratulate boys enthusiastically for their efforts.
A den doodle is an object for the boys to use to show off their accomplishments and achievements. The Cub Scout Leader How-To Book has many ideas for den doodles. Your den of boys can design and create their own den doodle as a den meeting activity at the start of the year. Use the den doodle to keep a visual reminder of activities the den has completed and shared.
Boys love goodies! Simple nutritious refreshments add a finishing touch. Give everyone a chance to share his favorite treats with the den. Discuss food allergies with families and share the information with the den if appropriate.
Fill the scrapbook with sample artwork boys do as den activities, stories about their adventures, and pictures taken of boys with their completed projects. The den scrapbook will be a treasured memento proudly displayed at the boys’ Eagle Scout court of honor in just a few years!
Your First Den Meeting
The tone you set at the first meeting will determine, to a large extent, the success of your year. Key to setting the right tone is to consider the following
- Wear your adult uniform to all meetings and remind boys to wear their uniforms.
- Be completely organized before the start of the meeting.
- Explain clearly to the boys the behavioral expectations. You may wish to use the “good conduct candle” approach (Cub Scout Leader How-To Book). Be friendly but firm with the boys.
Ask the host team (Tiger and adult partner who will assist at the meeting, your parents helping and assistant den leader(s)) to arrive at least 15 minutes before the starting time of the meeting. They can help you with final preparations before the rest of the boys arrive.
A snack at den meetings is optional. Set the example with healthy, nutritious snacks. Be aware of any food allergies of den members and communicate these to adult partners who may be assisting with the snacks.
Open each den meeting by saluting the U.S. flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, while showing the Cub Scout sign, recite the Scout Oath and Scout Law. See Cub Scout Ceremonies for Dens and Packs, No. 33212, for detailed guidelines and ceremony examples.
One best practice to facilitate communications and involvement is to distribute a family information letter at the conclusion of each meeting. The letter tells families what was completed at each meeting and provides information on upcoming den and pack meetings and activities. Sample family information letters can be found here.
Field trips are an important part of the Cub Scout experience. They are a time not only for fun but for learning. And they are critical steps in your boys earning their badge of rank. It is important that you plan in advance for these field trips. Planning should include the following, at a minimum, for each field trip:
- Arrange for the visit with the place you will be going (if needed).
- Work with the adult partners in the den to arrange transportation or get an adult to do the planning for this.
- A tour and activity plan should be filed with the council service center. (MANDATORY)
A field trip as a first meeting over the summer can be a good way to break the ice for a new den.
Have a den family picnic, use sunscreen, and play an outdoor game at the picnic. This is a great way for the Tiger families to get to know one another. It is also an optimal time to recruit new Cub Scout adult volunteers.
Distribute the Family Talent Survey Sheet to the parents, asking them to complete it and return it to you at the next meeting. (The Family Talent Survey Sheet can be found here.) The survey serves as a useful tool for you to identify family resources within your den.
Pledge of Allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
and to the republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
Beyond the Basics
- Encourage the boys to earn the religious emblem of their faith. This emblem is both an important part of the boy’s (and family’s) faith journey, but is also considered a premier award within the Scouting community.
- Talk with your boys and their adult partners about earning the National Summertime Pack Award and the Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Award. These are important group awards that build a sense of team for your boys.
- Cub Scouting’s Outdoor Ethics Award defines the standards of behavior for Scouts during outdoor activities. Distribute and review the Outdoor Code and the principles or Kids Leave No Trace before any field trip to a park, playground, or other outing. The guidelines can be found at here.