Saturday, August 22, 2015

How to Combine Dens for Cub Scouts

Cub Scouts is designed for dens of approximately 7 boys.  If your entire pack is closer to 7 boys this post is for you.  For a tri-den (wolf, bear, webelos) you need a three year plan.  For a bi-den (wolf and bear) you need a two year plan.  Don't get overwhelmed, I'll try to make it as easy as I can!

Step 1)  List all the required adventures for each age group in your combined den.  For a tri-den divide this list into three groups, one group to be taught each year (for a wolf/bear den two groups).  To help decide what to teach each year,  notice that each rank has similar types of adventures.  Pick one adventure fromeach category for each year if possible.  Picking some adventures, but not all for each year is critical for success in a combined den.  We'll solve the advancement problem in a few more steps.

Your plan will have the pack combined for everything except the Scouting Adventure for Arrow of Light since it is really about bridging into scouting and needs to be completed right at the end of cub scouting.  The Webelos can work on requirements for this with the 11-year old scouts, at home, and with the combined den as needed.  You may also choose to have all the Duty to God Adventures be done by the scouts with their families.  I personally like to do them in den meetings, but it is up to you.

Cub Scouting has adventures designed to accomplish five "desired outcomes".  I use them to categorize adventures:
Character Development (Duty to God)=CD
Outdoor Adventure=OA
Participatory Citizenship=PC
Leadership Development=LD
Personal Fitness=PF
Other Scouting Skills=SK

Choose one adventure in each category for each year of your plan, there is overlap.
OA= (Wolf Paws on the Path, Wolf Call of the Wild, Bear Ferns Feathers Fear, Bear Necessities, Webelos Walkabout, AOL Camper)
PC =(Wolf Council Fire, Bear Paws for Action, Webelos Building a Better World)
LD =(Wolf Howling at the Moon, Grin and Bear It,  Scouting Adventure)
PF (Wolf Running with the Pack, Webelos Stronger, Faster, Higher)
SK (Bear Claws, Webelos Cast Iron Chef, Wolf Call of the Wild, Webelos First Responder)

This step looks like this:

Step 2)
List all the possible elective adventures.  They fall into several categories,  then pick six elective adventures to offer in your combined den for each year of your plan.  Choose at least one each of Wolf and Bear and at least two Webelos (Webelos need 5 to get the arrow of light, whereas the Wolf and Bear only need one for rank advancement.)  If you know they will get electives at day camp or Webelos camp or some special event, save those adventures for later.

Cub Scout Elective Adventures
CC=Culture and Community, STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering, Math
S=Sports 0=Outdoors

Here is my list, (slightly annotated)

1.     CC Webelos -   - Looking Back, Looking Forward  
2.     CC Webelos -   - Fix It C 
3.    CC Webelos -   - Project Family** A(completes three Faith in God activities)
4.     CC Webelos -   - Aware and Care   (similar to wolf cubs who care)
5.     CC Webelos -   - Art Explosion** B (completes one Faith in God activity)
6.    CC Webelos -   - Build My Own Hero 
7.     CC Webelos -   - Maestro!  
8.     S Webelos -   - Aquanaut (best done at a camp)
9.     S Webelos -   - Sportsman (good for athletic boys to do at home)
10.  STEM Webelos -   - Adventures in Science 
11.  STEM Webelos -   - Build It* learn about carpentry & construction careers
12.  STEM Webelos -   - Earth Rocks!*  
13. STEM Webelos -   – Engineer*  
14.  STEM Webelos -   - Game Design (very cool, good to do at home though) 
15.  STEM Webelos -   - Moviemaking D  
16. O Webelos -   – Castaway* cooking w/o pans, fire starting, survival skills
17.  O Webelos -   - Into the Wild E 
18.  O Webelos -   - Into the Woods*  
*likely to be taught at Webelos Woods or Day Camp
**scheduled for year 2 or year 3
1.     CC Bear -   - Bear Picnic Basket- recipes & cooking fun, shopping
2.     CC Bear -   - Beat of the Drum*- Native American Culture
3.    CC Bear -   - Roaring Laughter*-Comedy 
4.     CC Bear -   - A World of Sound –music around the world, hands on
5.     CC Bear -   - Critter Care  
6.    S Bear -   - Marble Madness 
7.     STEM Bear -   - Baloo the Builder* fun  (Home depot?) day camp
8.     STEM Bear -   - Forensics  okay C
9.     STEM Bear -   - Make It Move  
10.  STEM Bear -   - Robotics cool, (1 or 2 kits affordable, but must plan ahead to order) D
11.  STEM Bear -   - Super Science* okay, not as cool as robotics 
12.  O Bear -   - A Bear Goes Fishing  E
13. O Bear -   - Salmon Run    boating & swimming too hard

1.     CC Wolf -   - Collections and Hobbies 
2.     CC Wolf -   - Cubs Who Care  
3.    CC Wolf -   - Digging In the Past  C
4.     CC Wolf -   - Hometown Heroes   
5.     S Wolf -   - Paws of Skill   D (do year three when we don’t have a sports adventure)
6.    S Wolf -   - Spirit of the Water
7.     STEM Wolf -   - Adventures In Coins  
8.     STEM Wolf -   - Air of the Wolf*  A
9.     STEM Wolf -   - Code of the Wolf*   E
10.  STEM Wolf -   - Germs Alive!*   
11.  STEM Wolf -   - Motor Away  B
12.  O Wolf -   - Finding Your Way*   

13. O Wolf -   - Grow Something  

Dividing up the required adventures doesn't really take the whole pack committee, one person can do it.  One person can also plan all the elective adventures, however they will really be "suggestions" more than a plan.  You could survey the committee and choose the top five electives for each rank.  You could have each den leader choose a few.  You could survey the boys and their parents to choose.
You might also change the electives based on the new boys' interests or special talents of the den leaders each year.  
Year 1 suggestions
Year 2 suggestions
Year 3 suggestions
Wolf Code of the Wolf
Wolf Motor Away
Wolf Paws of Skill
Wolf Spirit of the Water or Air of the Wolf
Wolf Digging the Past
Bear Make it Move
Bear Robotics
Bear Marble Madness
Bear Forensics
Webelos Art Explosion*
Webelos Project Family*
A Bear Goes Fishing
Webelos Adventures in Science
Webelos Moviemaking
Webelos Into the Wild
*Correlate well with the Faith in God program.

Note: Our district Webelos camps usually helps boys earn 3 pins/adventures, so that really helps them with their Arrow of Light.

Step 3)  On a calender, fill in what required adventures will be done in what months keeping in mind the seasons, holidays, and school schedules, etc.  I try to avoid required adventures in the summer.  Then fill in elective adventures.  Also note if any adventures will be done at camps.   This is messy, you may have to rearrange a bit before it is just right.  You can do this as a committee or on your own.

Step 4) Make sure each boy can reasonably earn his rank advancement despite not offering three full dens by mapping out what adventures he will earn with the pack and how he can earn the rest.  Below are examples of plans for a Wolf named Mike and a Webelos named Ryan.

Mike finishes up 6 required adventures and a wolf elective which is equivalent to earning the Wolf.  He gets an equivalent award from the pack until he finishes the rest of the wolf adventures.  He can finish them with his family or wait until the pack does them.

Ryan wants his Arrow of Light and he doesn't have two more years left in the pack, so he has to get 9 additional adventures to what the pack offers.  There is a detailed plan on how he will do this without having too much homework.  After the first year of a combined den, the Webelos will only need 4 additional adventures because they will have been working ahead in the combined den.

Step 5)  Recognize the boys!
I have worked with hundreds of cub scouts and dozens of packs and  I believe that having a balance of required and elective adventures throughout the year as well as den meetings that have both games and learning will be best for the boys.  Also I believe a strong pack will have a year plan of the adventures it is going to offer and will give copies to the boys and their parents.  When combining dens, don't be tempted to just cram requirements into den meetings like crazy to get it all done or to divide the boys into three corners of the room to do different requirements.  That is not fun!  Advancement is important, but it isn't what makes boys come back the next year.  Plan a well-rounded year with adventures presented in the way they are intended (see the den leader guides).  This means your boys will earn six required adventures each year but not the official ones for their rank.  I would still recognize the boys in the usual way after they get six required adventures and one elective for their age-level.  There are a zillion paw print patches you could award them as an equivalency, perhaps red for Wolf and Blue for Bear.  Don't make a big deal that they aren't official--the boys will love their patches.  Encourage the boys to get the official patch by doing some adventures with their family, or sticking with the pack all three years!  To get their official rank they will need to complete up to four adventures at home.  Adventures would be great family activities.  The Wolf adventures are very easy to finish in a short period of time and the Bear adventures are also very doable.  If parents don't want to do them, no problem, they will get their equivalent award and will have a sense of accomplishment!  Recognize the boys no matter what if they are participating.  In a combined den, it is just a little non-traditional.

The first year you combine dens, the Webelos/Arrow of Light boys will be very hard pressed to get all 14 adventures done (if you are in an LDS pack that combines those years).   Perhaps you will do a few Webelos Adventures for them on the side.  Our district camp teaches three adventures in a day.  Try to get help from parents and 11-year old scout leaders as well.  If they only want to earn their Webelos Rank there should be no problem.

Step 6) After the first year, boys trying to earn the Webelos/Arrow of Light will have a headstart because of the Webelos work they did during their first year.

The first year or two in a combined den are tricky, but by the third year, your boys will have earned everything and advancement will be straightforward!!!

7.  Give the den leaders all the books, but only teach one adventure at a time.  Customizing it for your unique den by giving extra help to wolves doing Webelos stuff and extra responsibility to Webelos doing Wolf stuff.  Keep track of adventures boys earn in advance, such as wolves earning bear and webelos stuff, then they won't have to do those adventures twice.  Use parents, substitutions, mini pow wows,  and day camps to get everything done rather than cramming lots of different requirements into den meetings.

8.  Have fun, enjoy your little pack and let the boys enjoy the fullness of meeting in a full-sized den rather than alone or with just one other boy!

9. Let the adult leaders enjoy the ease of staffing a pack that only needs 2 or 3 den leaders rather than six.

This is what my pack came up with:
 Year 1: 

1   OA Wolf Paws on the Path
2   CD Wolf Duty to God Footsteps (Faith in God learning & Living #9, Developing Talents #2)
3   SK Bear Claws (Faith in God Developing Talents #4)
4   PC Bear Paws for Action
5   SK Webelos Cast Iron Chef (Faith in God Serving Others 
6   PF Webelos Stronger, Faster, Higher (Faith in God Developing Talents #8)
7   OA Arrow of Light Camper  
8   Wolf Elective Adventure#1Code of the Wolf
9           Wolf Elective Adventure#2Air of the Wolf or Spirit of the Water
10            Bear Elective Adventure#1 Robotics
11            Webelos Elective Adventure#1 Art Explosion(Faith in God Developing Talents #5)
12            Webelos Elective Adventure #2 Adventures in Science
Faith in God Learning & Living #1, Developing Talents #10

Year 2: 

1   PC Wolf Council Fire (Faith in God Serving Others #1)
2   PF Wolf Running With the Pack (Faith in God Learning & Living the Gospel #7, Developing Talents #9)
3   LD Bear Grin and Bear it (Faith in God Serving Others #2,#5,#9),
4   CD Bear Fellowship & Duty to God (Faith in God: Learning & Living#2,5,6,8*, Developing Talents #3 Preparing for Priesthood #5)
5   OA Webelos Walkabout (younger boys may need shorter hike)
6    SK Webelos First Responder
7   CD Webelos/AOL Project Family elective #3(Faith in God Learning & Living #8*, Serving Others #7*, Developing Talents #7) 
8   Wolf Elective Adventure#3 Motor Away
9   Bear Elective Adventure#4 Marble Madness
10            Wolf Elective Adventure#4 Digging the Past
11            Webelos Elective Adventure #4 Movie Making
12            Bear Elective Adventure #4
*covered by more than one adventure requirement

Year 3: 

1   LD Wolf Howling at the Moon (Faith in God Serving Others #7*)
2   SK Wolf Call of the Wild
3   OA Bear Necessities
4   OA Bear Ferns-Feathers-Fur
5   CD Webelos Duty to God & You (the primary program)
6   CD Arrow of Light Duty to God in Action (Faith in God Learning and Living #4
7   PC Arrow of Light Building a Better World (Faith in God Serving Others #8, Developing Talents#1, Serving Others #10)
9   PF Wolf Elective Adventure #5 Paws of Skill 
10            Bear Elective Adventure #4 Make it Move
11            Bear Elective Adventure#5 Forensics
12            Wolf Elective Adventure #5 Into the Wild

Webelos Duty to God & You (parents discuss primary program)
Webelos Walkabout #1,2,3,4, practice #5)
Webelos Walkabout #6,8 #7(clean up trash at trail, at a school, or recycle something--next den meeting), practice #5
Webelos Building A Better world #10, #8 (see den leader guide meeting 2 for idea),  #5 (Faith in God:Developing Talents #1), Wolf Council Fire #6 (save crafts to display)
pack meeting recycling displays
Webelos Building A Better World #6,7,10
Cast Iron Chef #2,3
Cast Iron Chef #1,4,5 (build a fire, cook an outdoor meal, discuss safe food handling)
Wolf Council Fire #1, #2, #3, Scouting Adventure #3b,c, Webelos Building a Better World #1, **need Mason & Isaac to attend
flag ceremony: Wolf Council Fire #1, Webelos Building a Better World #1, Wolf Council Fire Present Ideas for Conservation Project #4b
Wolf Council Fire Service Project, (make thank you notes for next week)
Webelos Building A Better World #1-partial,# 2, #3, #4, #9 (make up a game--see the den leader guide), Wolf Council Fire #5
Howling at the Moon & Faith in God: Developing Talents (make a gospel principles skit on service for pack night, Theme Cubs in Action, value=A scout is helpful)

flag ceremony: Wolf Council Fire #1, Webelos Building a Better World #1
Webelos Elective #1 Adventures in Science
Webelos Elective #1 Adventures in Science
Webelos Elective #1 Adventures in Science
Bear Elective #1 Robotics or Forensics*
Bear Elective #1 Robotics or Forensics
Bear Elective #1 Robotics or Forensics
Wolf Elective #1 Wolf Code of the Wolf
Wolf Elective #1 Wolf Code of the Wolf
Webelos Elective #2 Art Explosion
Webelos Elective #2 Art Explosion (Faith in God visit an art museum)
Webelos Elective #2 Art Explosion
Stronger Faster Higher, Faith in God:Developing Talents #8
Stronger Faster Higher
Stronger Faster Higher
Bear Claws, Webelos Whittling Chip Faith in God: Developing Talents #4
Bear Claws
AOL Camper (geocache outing)
AOL Camper
AOL Camper
Webelos Camp (First Responder plus Elective #3 and #4)
Bear Paws for Action
Bear Paws for Action
Day Camp
Bear Paws for Action
Faith in God LL#1
Paws on the Path/Ferns-Feathers-Fur/Call of the Wild
Paws on the Path/Ferns-Feathers-Fur/Call of the Wild
Paws on the Path/Ferns-Feathers-Fur/Call of the Wild
Webelos Walkabout                         Bear Ferns-Feathers-Fur
Wolf Running with the Pack            Bear Necessities (Wolf Paws of Skill)
Bear Grin and Bear it                        Wolf Howling at the Moon
Bear Religious Knot                           Webelos & Arrow of Light Duty to God
Webelos First Responder                 Wolf Call of the Wild
Wolf Council Fire                                Arrow of Light Building a Better World

Webelos Family Project                     

*During this first week in January Webelos start working on the Scouting Adventure pin by meeting one night with the 11-year old scouts.