Several months ago, I happened to talk to a den leader from another ward in our area. She was newly called, and she was discouraged, for a number of reasons. I listened to her, gave her a few resources and let her know about an upcoming district training. Then I dropped by their ward on den meeting night and brought registration forms for the training. The three people that were there all filled them out, and I was able to turn them in the next day.
This last week I had a chance to talk to this same person again. I asked her whether she was still doing Cub Scouts and how it was going. She smiled and told me how much better things were going. Her den had improved, the pack had improved. “I remember you told me I would love it eventually, when I had gotten the hang of it. I didn't believe you, but I do love it now!” She attributed this all to training and to having gotten the Den and Pack Meeting Resource Guide. She is such a big fan of training that she encouraged everyone in her pack that hadn't been earlier to go to the district training in September. They have a 100% trained pack.
In a talk by Charles Dahlquist (2004 General Young Men Open House Address) he spoke of having expensive running shoes and leaving them up on the shelf, never used. We often take for granted the resources available to us in Scouting. Yet, the BSA has a number of resources available, and when we take advantage of them, our jobs are easier and our programs are better.
Our pack recently started making more use of the Den and Pack Meeting Resource Guide when we plan our Pack Meetings. Everyone is supposed to download whichever pack meeting plan we are using that month from the website and look it over. During our monthly planning meeting, we can then say, “We want to use everything except for this and this, and we want to add this in here.” Since we have started this, our pack meetings have really improved. They weren't bad before, but now they feel smoother, better planned and more interesting. They seem to flow better than before.
For those who aren't aware, the Den and Pack Resource Guide is available as both a book and online. It provides a year's worth of den meeting plans for each level of Cub Scouting, as well as a year's worth of pack meeting plans. One option your ward may consider is to purchase one or two copies of the book, then divide out the den meeting plans in between the different den leaders. You can either make copies of the pack portion for everyone, or have everyone download the appropriate plan online for any given month. The pack meeting portion of the Den and Pack Resource Guide was recently expanded online to have four years' worth of pack meeting plans so that you do not have to repeat the same pack meetings every year. Three of the pack meetings plans for each month have themes in addition to the Core Values to make things more fun and interesting, and the way the themes are used really ends up highlighting the core value well. We used the "Down on the Farm" meeting plan this last month, and it was a blast and also really focused well on Responsibility (we also threw in "Ghost Chickens in the Sky," which was a huge hit).
Another example is the book Ceremonies for Dens and Packs. We often get asked by den leaders about flag ceremonies. The rules of flag ceremony etiquette, as well as both opening and closing flag ceremony scripts can be found in the aforementioned book. It also has ideas for award ceremonies, ceremonies to present a bead in your den, and an all-purpose ceremony. We even found a really neat idea we are now using in our pack meetings of a rank advancement ladder. When the boys advance in rank, they get to move their names up the ladder.
I encourage you to look into what resources are available for your level of Scouting and try to make use of them. Of course, the very first resource to take advantage of is training, and in training you will probably learn about other resources. Yes, you could run the race in flip flops, but when you have the $200 running shoes right there, why not take advantage of them?