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CUB SCOUT CORNER OD


Hail to the Chief Secrets for creating the real leaders of your den.


IN THE EARLY DAYS OF Cub Scouting, den leaders were optional. Den chiefs were not. That soon changed, but the den chief, a Boy Scout or Venturer who works with a Cub Scout or Webelos Scout den, remains a key member of the den leadership team. Pack 114 in Littleton, Colo., had


three den chiefs last year, including a Life Scout (and Pack 114 alumnus) who virtually grew up with his Webelos Scouts over four years. “Giving back to an organization that you’ve graduated from is a special


thing,” says Cubmaster Scotty Nash. “The impact these three had on our organization, as well as on the Scouting movement, is irreplaceable.” Still, don’t assume such a positive effect happens automatically. Instead, it relies on how you enlist,


instruct, and involve your den chiefs. As you talk with Scoutmasters about potential den chiefs, make sure they understand what you’re looking for. “The best thing you can do is


ask, ‘Does he do a good job working with younger boys in his troop?’” says Sandra Lee, a longtime Cub Scout trainer from Lenoir City, Tenn. If so, he’ll likely be an effective


den chief—even if he’s just a couple of years older than his charges. “The right boy is the key,” Lee says.


The conversation shouldn’t end


with the Scoutmaster, though. Julia Nicholas, who has trained hundreds of den chiefs in the Greater St. Louis Area Council, promotes the involve- ment of the Scout’s parents as well. “There has to be a sit-down with that young man, his parents, and the Scoutmaster so he understands his role,” she says. And the parents need to understand the extra demands on the Scout’s time. Next comes instruction. The den


chief’s success depends on training. New den chiefs should be encouraged to take the online training right away at the BSA’s Online Learning Center, olc.scouting.org. Then, they should plan to attend a council-level den chief training conference, which helps them understand the elements of a meeting, how to lead games and activities, and what makes Cub Scout-age boys tick. And Nicholas thinks den leaders and Cubmasters should attend, too. “This is the first time that many Cubmasters have seen that a boy can lead,” she says. “That’s what we show them through using youth instructors in our sessions.” Having adults involved


in those sessions also pre- vents a common problem. “Sometimes a boy will go to den chief training and become a den chief, but the den leader doesn’t know how to use him,” Lee says. Which brings us to step three: Give the den chief stuff to do. Nicholas recommends


you hold a brief huddle after each den meeting


to prepare for the next. “Set 18 S COUTING ¿ SEPTEMBER•OCTOBER 2010


CHRIS LYONS


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