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Den Meetings: The Basics
Along with the Cub Scout’s family, the den meeting is critical to the Cub Scout’s success and enjoyment of Cub Scouting. It is in and through the den that Scouts make social connections, have fun, attain advancement, and bond with the pack.
Before we go any farther, let’s cover two subjects: a) the basics of the Cub Scout program and b) Den Leader-Specific Training:
Basics of the Cub Scout program
Den Leader-Specific Training
This required course provides Den Leaders with the information and tools to conduct a successful den meeting (as you probably remember from the video above, a “den” is a group of 8-10 Cub Scouts and is assigned a number like “Den 1”; there are multiple dens within a Cub Scout Pack). This training course applies to all Den Leaders, whether you’re leading a Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, or Webelos Den. It’s free, and available for you right now online through the Boy Scouts of America’s online training portal, My.Scouting.org. The training never expires. When you complete Den Leader-Specific Training, Hazardous Weather Training, and Youth Protection Training, you are considered a “fully trained” Den Leader.
OK, back to den meetings. Den meetings should be fun, organized, and interesting. The good news is the Boy Scouts of America has put together a step-by-step guide for Den Leaders with everything you need to know, including plans for den meetings.
Den Leader Guides
Den Leader Guides are your best resource. They contain detailed and specific meeting plans for all required and elective “adventures” (adventures are the name of belt loop awards that cover different topics). Den Leader Guides come three hole punched so you can easily customize a folder for the year. All are available through our Steve Matthews Scout Shop; you can purchase them in the store or order them online using the links below and have them shipped to you:
Lion Den Leader Guide (Lions are Cub Scouts in Kindergarten)
Tiger Den Leader Guide (Tigers are Cub Scouts in First Grade)
Wolf Den Leader Guide (Wolves are Cub Scouts in Second Grade)
Bear Den Leader Guide (Bears are Cub Scouts in Third Grade)
Webelos Den Leader Guide (Webelos are Cub Scouts in Fourth or Fifth Grade)
Parts of a den meeting
Den meetings have seven distinct parts. These help keep the meeting organized and structured. Each den meeting plan in the Den Leader Guides follows these seven parts.
This is the time to read the den meeting plan, the adventure in the handbook, and secure the materials needed to run the meeting.
As the Cub Scouts begin to arrive, they join in an informal activity or game, often conducted by the den chief to keep everyone interested and active until the entire group has arrived. The gathering activity should be completed prior to the formal start of the meeting as it encourages everyone to arrive on time so the meeting can start on time. A gathering activity is optional.
The Opening is the official start of the den meeting. It consists of a formal ceremony, usually including a flag ceremony, and a group recitation of the Scout Oath and Law.
This is where the business items of the den take place. Business items can include dues, recording advancement, notification of upcoming events, introducing a new adventure or a new Scout to the den. Talk Time should be brief so the den can get right to the fun of the meeting.
The Activities part of the meeting is focused on the activities related to the adventure the den is working on.
The Closing draws the meeting to an end. It’s usually serious and quiet. Den leaders could present a thought for the day or give reminders about coming events.
After the Meeting
The den leader reviews the events of the meeting, finalizes plans for the next den meeting, and reviews upcoming plans pack events or activities.