Scouting in Combined Units and Dens

By Michelle Sayre & Ernst Rogers

Are you challenged with more than one unit(ward) working together as one pack? Do you have a stake pack? Do you have a limited number of boys, so you are trying to combine dens?  We are going to discuss some possible solutions to these seemingly epic issues so you can have a successful program and membership can increase.

For combined units – How do you staff your program? Who is responsible for what? How do you balance the budget and make it fair? How do you communicate with your leaders, committee and families in your pack? How do you charter and re-charter a multi-unit pack? Who is my committee?

For small dens – If we combine our dens, do we still have to have 2-deep leadership? And, who is in charge of who?

Let’s get started:

What is Cub Scouting?

Cub Scout Overview Video –

Cub Scouting is fun! No matter what grade you are in, first through fifth, it can be a blast. Do you like to learn by doing? This is just the place. You can learn to tie knots, set up a tent, or shoot a bow and arrow (archery). Have you ever cooked a meal on a campfire? Sent a secret code to a buddy? Built a bird house? Hiked? Earn rewards for doing these things in Cub Scouts.

Cub Scouts Belong to Packs and Dens

As a Cub Scout, you will be part of your own pack.

The pack is divided into smaller groups called dens. Each den has about six to eight boys. All of the Cub Scouts in your den are in the same grade and may even go to the same school.

The Cub Scout pack belongs to a church, a school, or some other group of people in your community or neighborhood. This group makes sure your pack has good adult leaders, a place to meet, and exciting things to do. The group gets help from the Boy Scouts of America, which is part of Scouting around the world.

Cub Scouts Do Things and Go Places

Have you been to the local police station and talked to the policemen on duty? Or visited the fire station and sat in the driver’s seat of the pumper truck? Or visited the local TV station and sat in the news anchor’s chair? These are some of the places you might go with your den or pack.

You might also build a pinewood derby car and race it on the track, build a sailboat or trimaran and race it in the raingutter regatta, or build a spaceship and race it to the stars in the pack space derby.

Cub Scouts Earn Awards

Each time you complete an accomplishment or learn a new skill, you will be rewarded. Sometimes the reward is a loop for your belt, a pin, or a patch. Sometimes it is a smile on your parents’ faces to see you grow and learn.

Check out this site to find out more about “How Cub Scouts works!”

How to staff a Multi-Unit Pack:

Now you find yourself with a Multi-Unit Pack and we have to find leaders for our Wolf, Bear and Webelos/Arrow of Light Dens. We can’t forget about the Cub Master and Assistant Cub Master and we need a committee too! How do we determine who is responsible for whom? What are the common excuses we hear when it comes to finding leaders? How can we come together to maximize our potential in our multi-unit packs?

The easiest way to staff your pack is to ask for volunteers! Find out if there is someone in your zone that wants to serve and in what capacity they are willing to serve. Don’t take away the opportunity to say YES by thinking they are going to say no!

Then assign responsibility. Often times we think that “someone else is going to take care of it.” Or “the other unit has a larger group of boys coming so they can send more leaders.” Or “I don’t have any boys in the program so I don’t need to send any leaders.” This thought process hinders the success of the overall program.

When it comes to the success of the unit, Participation is Key!!! Remember, we must have 2-deep leadership in each den. Depending on the size of your pack, it may make sense to have 3-deep leadership!

But, what happens when you only have 2 wolves and 3 bears?

Here are some links to guides for leaders:

Guidance for Leaders –

Stake Primary Leader Responsibility –

Leader Resources –

Remember, that Every Boy Deserves a Trained Leader:

  • BSA Training Is Required for All Leaders
    • “Young Men and Primary leaders who are called to Scouting responsibilities should receive training in Scouting principles, policies, and procedures as used by the Church” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 2.0).
    • Required Training for Leaders: see the tab for “New Leader – Pack” and “New Leader – Eleven-year-old Scouts.”
    • To find out what training is required for most Scouting positions, click on the BSA’s “Trained Leader Requirements: Unit and Other Positions.” Training requirements are also listed at the BSA Adult Leader Training website and on the back of the BSA Adult Application (the applicant’s copy). On this back page, the bishopric member should clearly mark the line indicating the training required for the appropriate Scouting position.
    • In a nutshell, training initially required for LDS leaders includes the following:
      • Youth Protection training is required for leaders in LDS units before submitting the Adult Leader Application.
      • Fast Start Training for the appropriate position should be taken before beginning to serve in an LDS unit (not required by the BSA but strongly encouraged for all leaders serving in LDS units). For Cub Scout leaders, Fast Start Training has been replaced by the online course Before the First Meeting (i.e. the first four or five modules in their position-specific training course).
      • Leader position-specific training should be completed ASAP—within 60 days for online courses for committee members and Cub Scout leaders. More time is allowed for EYO Scout leaders, who must take Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Position-Specific Training (all day) and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (overnight).

Leaders – Remember, we need a Cub Master, Assistant Cub Master, Den Leaders (minimum of 2 per den) and a Committee! These are key roles to have in place to make sure that your unit is successful!

  1. Committee – This is generally assigned to the 2nd Counselor in the Primary but can consist of parents who are willing to help plan and carry out the responsibilities of a committee member. Attendance at District Roundtable is recommended.
  2. Den Leaders – A couple, 2 men or 2 women can make up the Den leaders. They are responsible for carrying out the weekly den meetings and reporting advancements to the Cub Master for each boy in their den. If you have a 3rd leader this person should match the current den leaders. Men with men, women with women unless the original leaders are a couple, then you can add either with the couple. Attendance at District Roundtable is recommended.
  3. Cub Master and Assistant Cub Master – The Cub Master and Assistant Cub Master are responsible for the Monthly Pack Meetings. They also have the responsibility of calendaring out the year making sure the Cubs in their program are earning all the awards and advancements each month. They would also host the committee meetings and let their committee know their needs and what they can do to help them ensure the program is successful. Attendance at District Roundtable is recommended.

With this in mind, knowing your units can help with making assignments for leadership within the program. Maybe one Unit is responsible for the Cub Master, another unit responsible for Wolf Leaders, another unit responsible for the Bear Leaders and so on. If you only have three units maybe you could have one unit find a Cub Master and Wolf Leaders. The second Unit the Assistant Cub Master and The Bear Leaders and the third unit responsible for the Webelos Leaders.

If you find that you are smaller in numbers even with combining your units, you may have to combine your Bear and Wolf dens. However, if this is something you plan to do, please be aware that the requirements for each rank advancement is different. Careful planning will have to take place in order to make sure each Cub works on their appropriate rank advancement. With your Wolf/Bear den leaders determine which requirements can be done together where the Wolves and Bears can earn their Adventure for the month.

Keep in mind, there are 5 required Adventures and 2 electives for both the Wolf and Bear ranks. If you are on a 12 month program this gives you some flexibility. If you take the summer off, you can have the parents work with their cubs. Here are the requirements for each rank:

Budget Planning

Now that you are all staffed up, it’s time to discuss the budget! Yep, that’s right! We have to talk about the money!!! Where does it come from? How much is contributed by each unit? Are you basing it on the boys in each individual unit or does each unit contribute the same amount?

For Non LDS units

Sample Budget Plan –

Planning –

For LDS Units – Please follow the LDS Guide to Scouting when it comes to your budget.

LDS Guidelines –

LDS Guide to Scouting –

8.15 Funding Scouting

Leaders should follow the budget allowance guidelines in Handbook 2 to fund Scouting (see 8.13.7, 11.8.7, 13.2.8, 13.2.9, 13.5, and 13.6.8). Ward budgets should be used to purchase Scouting awards and materials, as determined by local leaders. Commercially produced or packaged goods or services should not be sold.

Scouting units may participate in Scouting shows, camporees, and other BSA activities that involve the sale of tickets by boys or young men, as long as all other budget allowance guidelines are met.

The Church supports the BSA’s annual Friends of Scouting drive. These funds provide financial support for the BSA local council. Stake presidents and bishops oversee the drive in their units.

Communication is Essential

With today’s technology it is becoming easier to communicate with our leaders and Cub Scouts. However, we still need to observe the rule of 2-deep leadership. We should not have any one-on-one contact with any of our cub scouts.

Two-deep Leadership in Cyberspace?

Internet safetyScouting’s Barriers to Abuse apply in cyberspace:

Youth Protection policies extend into cyberspace. There should be no one-on-one online or digital activities (games, social media, etc.) or electronic communications. Leaders should include or copy a parent or another leader in all online communications, ensuring no one-on-one contact exists in text, social media or other forms of online or digital communication.

Our partners at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) NetSmartz Workshop program advise us child predators are knowledgeable about BSA’s polices regarding two-deep leadership and no one-on-one contact. As a result, they seek interactions with youth in cyberspace where youth interact with each other and are usually unsupervised by parents (i.e., gaming, chat rooms, etc.)

As a safety precaution to protect youth and leaders, we require all interactions (e.g., texting, email, instant messaging, etc.) to be copied to a parent or other registered leader. While we understand that this may present a challenge to some, we feel that safe interactions are of prime concern.


Now that you are staffed and the budget is determined it’s time to talk about re-chartering! This has to happen each year to keep your charter. Typically, this takes place within your council in November. This is your chance to review your records for each of your cubs and determine who is still in your units. We want to make sure that we catch every leader and every boy so they don’t get dropped from your roster!

Here are some guides you can use to successfully re-charter your unit:

  1. Gather Necessary information on Youth and Adults
  2. Gather applications and proof of Youth Protection Training
  3. Submit the information in the BSA online System
  4. Submit the “Unit Charter Renewal Report Package” (printout) and documents to your District Commissioner.
    1. You will need a copy of the applications and youth protection for EACH of the units registered in your pack. For example, if you have 5 units registered—Multiple-Unit-Types-pdf—Combined-Cub-Packs-pdf

Would you like more information?


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