Here is an idea that I would like feedback on: a district (or sub-district) den chief coordinator (DDCC).
As a former Cubmaster/ASM and current Commissioner, I am a huge fan of Den Chief’ing, when it is done right:
- The Cub Scouts see an ideal example of what staying in the program looks like
- The Cub Leader gets an extra set of hands and ideas
- The Troop gets an ambassador to the Packs that may join them
- The Boy Scout learns leadership
But there are challenges that have to be managed:
- Ensuring that the Boy Scout acts as a “leader” and not just “a big cub to be handled”
- Ensuring that the Boy Scout participates and is able to receive coaching, just as they would if they were serving within the Troop
- Ensuring that every Den gets a Den Chief (that wants one) and that every suitable Boy Scout gets an opportunity to serve/lead/learn.
As an Asst. District Commissioner, I serve 5 troops and 9 packs. At a minimum that would be 36 Dens (Wolf, Bear, Web1 and Web2 times 9 packs) that need Den Chiefs, but there are likely more like 45 dens in my service area. While I have helped many boy scouts find packs and vice versa, and am sure there are lots of other 1:1 matchups going on, I’d like to try something new:
A “District” Den Chief Coordinator:
- Gather the list of dens (for all Packs) and meeting schedules at the beginning of each Cub year
- Gather the list of Boy Scouts (from all Troops) who are trained and interested in serving as Den Chiefs, along with their availability, former-Pack information/preferences, etc.
- Manage the placement of Boy Scout Den Chiefs within Cub Dens
- Provide ongoing (perhaps every other month plus ad-hoc) quality check-ins, so that the boys are able to be coached through their leadership development, etc.
- Award the boys with their Den Chief Service cords at the end of their service
Am thinking that the DDCC would be a registered Unit Commissioner, ideally with Cub-leader and ASM experience, so as to provide ongoing coaching from both perspectives. The DDCC function might rotate every 2-3 years, so setting up the program aspects and an easily manageable communication mechanism would be important. The DDCC wouldn’t work alone:
Den Chief ASM (per Troop)
- Serve as the primary point of contact within the troop for communicating about the Den Chief program
- Serve as liaison and local sign-off for the Boy’s leadership requirements with Troop Advancement
- Serve as a coach for helping the Den Chief learn through the leadership experience, via insights from the Cubmaster(s) whose Packs have Den Chiefs from that Troop
By creating this role:
- Every Boy Scout that wanted to serve would simply submit their information, proof of training and an endorsement from their Den Chief ASM to the DDCC for placement
- Every Pack would simply contact the DDCC when they had need for more Den Chiefs.
Depending on who acts as the DDCC, I could foresee future scenarios where a “Job Fair” could be put together each August – to provide in-person Den Chief training (instead of online) and even give Cubmasters or Den Leaders the opportunity interview/select boys, instead of blind placement. But that is up the DDCC.
Am hoping that someone who likes this idea will take it up as their area of UC service, or perhaps a recent Wood Badge participant will consider taking this as a ticket item?
#1 Den Chiefs should first be trained, and at that time they complete training, be awarded the should loops. (instant recognition) Den Chief is not a rank but a position.
#2 Assuming you are short of Den Chiefs which is likely, they should be first assigned to Webelos Dens in order to assist the transition from Cub Scout to Boy Scout. I think that that is the real purpose of having a Den Chief.
#3 The DDCC should be the Trainer and should have the know-how to assess the prospective Den Chief as having what it takes to be a serving Den Chief.
#4 The Den Chief from Webelos II Den should generally move on to serve as PL of the New Scout Patrol.
#5 Check out the syllabus for Webelos to Scout Transition (MCS307) from ADMINISTTRATION OF COMMISSIONER SERVICE #33501. It is downloadable for free,
or if you like hard copy, you can purchase a hard copy in the Scout Shop.