So, you signed on to lead a Den of Cub Scouts for Camp Riverhawk? Already, that makes you a HERO in our book. Is this job impossible? NO. Is this job a job at all? NO, it shouldn’t be; you should be having as much fun as the Scouts attending camp. Think about it this way: the more you prepare for something, anything… the easier, more enjoyable, better prepared, and less stressful it becomes. Here are a few things you should know about camp before you arrive. This is the SHORT VERSION. Please know that there are documents on this website that have vastly more detail to the things you will read below. To access those resources, please visit the link at the bottom of the page.
Bringing the Theme to Camp
Bringing the theme of camp (see this website’s home page for the theme) is as simple as imagining what would be cool to kids and running with it. You can pull a wagon all week, OR you could pull a space ship. Your Den area could be a place to sit and eat lunch, OR it could be a barn yard. Waiting could be boring, OR it could be an opportunity to show off your themed cheers OR to build something quickly using those sticks over there. It’s up to the Den Leader to decide how fun they want to make the position. Decorate you Den Area, create fun from otherwise normal activities. This is your opportunity to be, “the coolest Den Leader at Riverhawk!”
Imagine the excitement of a 9 year old arriving at the archery range only to discover that they need 5 minutes more prep-time for your session. Having some gathering activities, like what your home-den uses at the beginning of a meeting when you’re waiting on stragglers, is a great way to pass the time. You don’t have to carry a bunch of supplies with you, but having 3-5 on-the-spot games ready can’t hurt (the alphabet game using sticks from the ground; who can create A-Z fastest?) Little ideas like this go a long way to eliminating boredom.
Arrival & Departure
As a Den Leader, you are a THE leader for the week. Camp won’t be successful if you are not there to lead. Please be early for camp and do not plan on leaving when the whistle blows at the end of the day. Parents are entrusting you with their most cherished people, so please treat them like you would want your children treated. Arrive early so there aren’t any Scouts wandering unattended. At the end of the day, all Scouts must be signed out, so please plan to be there until the last Scout heads home for the day. Parents are very respectful of your time so it will only be a short wait.
Beads & Coups
I’m sure you know what a bead is, but do you know what a coups (pronounced “coos”) is? Camp Riverhawk runs on immediate recognition of achievements in the form of beads and coups. Scouts earn beads for all sorts of things… listening, showing Scout spirit, drinking water to stay hydrated, helping without being asked, being kind, etc. Each Den Leader is provided a “bead box” where they can hold onto the beads until such a time where they want the kids adding them to a set of curly laces on their hats. You don’t want the kids holding them in their pockets or their hands because they get lost very easily. Coups are special awards for achievements that require learning about Scouting, showing off that awesome Den cheer to the Cubmasters, going above and beyond being an awesome Scout, etc. Coups are generally something that has been created out of beads, craft items, camp-theme items, etc. They are larger than a single bead and are used to make the campers feel extra special for just being great kids.
At the beginning and end of each day there is a ceremony to bookend each day. In the morning we always raise the flag, say the pledge and the Scout Oath and Law, there are announcements of important information that both the Scouts and the Den Leaders need to know, and we recognize people for doing a fantastic job to make the Scouts’ week all that they hoped for. In the afternoon, we formally retire the flag, give important updates to the program for the following day, and generally try to pump up the kids so that they are very excited to go home and tell their families about all of the fun they had that day.
Skits, Cheers, Songs, Jokes, Run-Ons
One of the best ways to pass the time traveling between stations is to get the kids cheering, singing songs, telling jokes, doing call and repeat, etc. If you’ve ever been camping with the Scouts, you know that one of their favorite activities are campfires. One of the merits of Scouting is that we slowly put the Scouts “on stage” telling jokes, pumping up their friends, making people laugh or entertaining them with a skit. What the Scouts never realize is that, through this activity, they are public speaking and building confidence.
Just as in real life, sometimes camp doesn’t go exactly as planned. The Scout Motto is “Be Prepared” and this doesn’t just apply to the Scouts; it applies to the leaders as well. Sometimes a session can not proceed outside, maybe you just need to kill some time with a group of kids. It is always advisable that a Den Leader have some backup plans to keep the kids entertained, having fun, and enjoying camp. We always suggest that Den Leaders incorporate the theme of camp into their potential filler ideas! Take a look at the Den Leader documentation or reach out to your Den Leader Coaches for more ideas.
Snacks… Snacks… SNACKS!
What happens to your Scout when they run out of steam and just… can’t… go… on…? Does the word “HANGRY” ever come to mind? Den Leaders should organize with their den-parents for each family to provide a snack of the day. Remember that there are always allergies to nuts, dairy, gluten, etc. so please figure that into your suggestions sent to parents. Please get them to participate. You only need 5 parents to send a snack, but if all of them do, then you have many snacks to choose from on certain days.