Before a den meeting officially starts, leaders have some den management tasks to complete and Scouts need organized activities to keep them occupied while others arrive and the leaders complete their tasks.
Gathering activities vary, but generally they include checking each Scout's book for advancement progress, collecting dues, taking attendance, and getting each boy in the Scouting frame of mind before harnessing his energy and attention to the tasks of the meeting. How is this accomplished?
The answer is with good planning, good help and a little luck!
This is something over which you have some control. The den meeting has been planned in advance by the den leadership. Each person knows what will be covered, how it will be covered, and by whom. They know to arrive at least 10 minutes early.
Share your tasks with your helpers (assistant leader, parent, den chief,
denner, assistant denner). To record dues, advancement checks, and
attendance, use the BSA forms for rapid completion of paperwork. If
you find those forms don't meet your needs, create your own form. The
point is ... do what you can to make your job easier. You might even go
so far as to teach the Scouts what is expected of them at gathering time
and share the tasks with them. Why not let them put an "X" on a
posterboard by their name for attendance, or pick out their own
Cub Scout aged boys aren't usually self-directed. You need to help them select activities that are appropriate. This will vary depending on how much "free" time there is, where your meeting is being held, what resources are available, how many scouts are present, and how much help you have.
A den chief is an extremely valuable asset to your den. He is usually
someone the boys will look up to and admire. He can collect dues,
show or teach a simple magic trick, lead a simple game or administer the
selected "fun page." Some of these activities can be conducted by your
denner and assistant denner if you don't have a den chief. And don't
hesitate to ask a parent to stay and help!
Did you know that when your hands are busy, your mind generally is too? So put together some simple craft projects - some that don't require a lot of instruction or assistance. If you put a few examples on the table and the necessary supplies, most kids will be able to follow the example. A few samples include Binoculars, Candy Canes, or Spider Mobile.
There's nothing more entrancing to Cub Scouts than magic. There are oodles of simple tricks in many of our Cub Scout resources. The Cubs will be especially attentive if they know they are going to be shown how to perform the trick themselves! To keep it interesting, show the trick to the first arrival, who then shows it to the next arrival and so on.
Fun pages can include mazes, color pages, crosswords, word searches, school pages and short answer pages. These are great if you don't have a lot of space in your meeting room, and they generally require only a pencil or colors. They can serve a dual purpose if they touch on one of the topics that will be covered in more detail later on in the meeting. It's actually fun to make some pages yourself!
If you don't already have a den game box, start one as soon as possible. Many simple games and equipment can be made from items found in your home. The boys can even get advancement credit for helping to make these (Wolf - #10 Family Fun; Bear - #15 Games, Games, Games; Webelos - Craftsman).
If the weather's nice, have your Scouts burn energy outside. Let them play catch, tag, or just shoot baskets. Not only are they having fun, you're getting your tasks done and they're getting "worn out!"
Make up a Memory Tray with 12 simple items spaced out on a
tray with a cloth to cover it all. As each scout arrives, give him a piece
of paper and a pencil. Then uncover the tray for him (and him alone) for
one full minute (be sure to time it). He has four minutes to write down
what he can remember was on the tray. Talking is not allowed until ALL
scouts have turned in their paper. Spelling is not an issue. Some
suggested items: clothespin, pencil, button, fork, dime, key, postage
stamp, nail, shoelace, ball, bottle cap, lipstick.
Cut up full page color pictures from magazines. Have at least one
puzzle per scout. As each scout arrives, hand him one to put together.
If time permits, let the scouts exchange puzzles.
Make up a "Who Am I" card for each scout. This card has the
name of someone who is famous or well-known. Try to make them all
fit a category - past presidents, actors, cartoons, etc. Tape one card on
the back of each scout as they arrive (be sure the scout does not see
the name). The scouts are allowed to ask each scout two questions
which can only be answered with "Yes" or "No" as they try to guess
"Who" they are. (The names don't have to be world-famous - use the
name of the mayor, the school principal, Cub Scout leaders, etc.)
Place a large paper on the wall that lists the following:
A=4 C=3 D=1 F=1 G=1 H=1 I=4 K=2 L=1 M=8 N=8 O=3 P=1 R=1 S=2 T=2 U=1 V=2 W=4
Give each Scout a piece of paper and a pencil. Instruct them to
write down the names of the states that begin with each of the letters.
There are four states whose name begins with "A", three states whose
name begins with "C" and so on.
Have boys sit in a circle. Select one boy to be "It" and have him
leave the room for a moment while you choose a "Leader." When "It"
returns, he stands in the middle of the circle. The "Leader" starts some
motion (winking, nodding his head, patting his knee). The others in the
circle do what the "Leader" does. The motions are changed from time
to time. "It" tries to guess who the "Leader" is. When "It" succeeds,
the "Leader" is now "It."
Last updated November 8, 1996Visit Pack 114's Library | Visit Pack 114's Home Page