I am not sure how it happened. I was blindsided by the question “Will you be the new Bear Leader for Cub Scouts this year?”
I just sort-of nodded my head and agreed but seriously I had no idea how to be a den leader. My boys are in the scouting program but didn’t join until later after Webelos age. My experience with the Cub Scouts was non-existent.
So, after I picked my jaw up off the floor, I decided to try and figure it out. Luckily, I had all summer to try and learn about the program. Or so I thought. I was so busy all summer, I found myself facing our first den meeting with almost no knowledge. I had completely the Youth Protection Training and turned in my certificate to the Cub Master but then what?
I really and truly had no idea how much work the leaders in the scouting program put into it. I received the hand-me-down leader manual with outdated pages about the Bear Program and started reading. I attended new leader training and took a huge amount of notes.
Thank goodness, I was given an assistant leader to help with figuring it out. We got together one evening and hashed out the first month of meetings. Somewhere along the lines we discovered the Boy Scouts of America had issued new requirements after the newest Bear handbook was published. Apparently, and I completely agree, the requirements in the handbook were way too hard and unrealistic to get completed. The Boy Scouts of America had reduced this down to a much more manageable amount. (I will include a link at the bottom of this page.)
So, we planned out our meetings, the snacks, the games, who would bring what, and geared up for our first den meeting.
I arrived 15 minutes earlier to make sure I was able to get organized before the cubs arrived. I did not expect the copier not to be working or the room where we were supposed to be meeting to be occupied. Change of plans.
We moved the cubs to a different room and started in on our rules for the den. This handy dandy tip was from new leader training. We were supposed to have the cubs help list out rules for the den. The idea is that if the cubs are involved in the process then they take more responsibility for their actions. Big fail…. we tried. The boys complained it was like “school” and then when they asked what happened if they broke a rule, we were stumped. Hmmm…should have figured out the answer to that one ahead of time. We stumbled our way through it but it was not an experience I want to repeat.
After that we started in on the Bear Necessities requirements of listing out supplies needed for camping both individually and as a group. This went relatively well until one of the boys decided that he would only bring weapons on his campout. He then proceeded to list out guns, ammo, machine guns, etc. on his list. Apparently, this was completely hilarious to everyone in the room under 10. We lost their attention. Grrrr…try again. Refocusing we managed to get through the lesson and move on to snack time.
Snack time consisted of grabbing huge amounts of cookies and shoving them into their mouth as quickly as possible. What a mess. I should have known but for some reason I again did not expect this. I also have no idea why I thought sugar was a good idea? Seriously learned my lesson there.
We managed to maneuver the boys to the church gym where they took off whooping and hollering because we were going to play a game. Line Tag.
We played line tag on the lines on the gym floor. This was fun and the boys enjoyed it. The goal of the game is to have one person be “It”. “It” has to chase everyone else around the basketball court lines drawn on the gym floor. If you step off the line then you become “It” and it just goes and goes. We played different variety of this game where everyone had to hop and skip and run, etc.
It was fun until…. the parents arrived. Apparently, parents arriving was the cue to run around like crazy and climb all over everything and everyone. At this point, I wanted to give up and run away. But I didn’t, I stuck it out. We introduced ourselves to the parents, handed out informational flyers about events that were coming up and managed to clean up the various messes our troop had created. It was over, we survived.
Armed with the knowledge from our first meeting, the second one went great. We learned to redirect the boys and always have some sort-of ball to play with during the times the boys are waiting.
We learned that assigning a Denner is an AMAZING thing.
Who knew that would have so much effect on the other kids? We learned to bring a non-sugar snack and to have a plethora of different games to play. We learned that being organized and having an attendance sheet and a new updated Cub Scout Record (Link below) for each child was extremely important. We are working on an incentive board for the boys to wear their uniforms and bring their books.
As the year progresses, I intend to share what worked and what didn’t. Follow along as I continue in my Bear adventure. Oh and go hug a Cub Scout Leader, chances are she needs it!