Scouting Forums

Girl Dens? Multi-level? How are you incorporating them?

We have a very small amount of girls that were interested in Cub Scouting. We do not have enough girls to make separate dens for them and BSA doesn’t want co-ed dens. So, I’m thinking about how to make a multi-level den work until we can separate them into their own dens. If you have a multi-level den how are you matching requirements across all levels so they can all work on the “same” thing at their respective levels?

What ages are they? I found that the Wolf year was tough to combine with Tiger or Bear, but Tiger & Bear had a lot of overlap. The webelos requirements have some overlap with everything, but go deeper. So, they could all meet together, then add an extra meeting for just the webelos.
Note that while you can’t have co-ed dens, multiple dens can collaborate on activities. Doing that every week may not be in the spirit of things, but for something like the Whittling Chip with a firm age requirement, asking to have the girls work on it with the boys is perfectly acceptable.
One other thought - they all need to work on the Bobcat requirements (it’s not called that for Lions, but they need to learn the same things) so if you focus on that for the next meeting or two, that might buy you enough time to gather enough girls to at least split into a couple of groups.

@GloriaMason, this is our first year with a girl Den, and we have put all the girls in a single Den. The is a webpage for the Houston Council that has a chart that lines up similar adventures across all ranks to help with the Den program planning.

@KenTodd is this the page to which you are referring?

The program runs more smoothly, if you have the small girl dens meet with the larger boy ones, but you need enough den leaders for the girl dens to do that within the rules. You also need a female registered adult with each den. If the girl den gets large enough, you can peel them off and let them do their own thing.

I’ve seen lots of posts from people who tried multi-age dens last program year, and they generally say they would never do it again. I didn’t try it, so I cannot say form experience how difficult it is. But if you don’t have enough den leaders for a whole bunch of girl dens with one or two girls each, you may have no choice.

Get the girls to bring some friends.


@JenniferOlinger, it is. The “Detailed List of Common Themes” in particular.
Wow, they really updated the page since I last looked at it.

@PeterHopkins, we are striving to follow the BSA guidelines at this time and keeping the girl Den separate from the boy Dens.

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Ours was a weird hybrid last year of a multi-age girls den that met in the same space as our boys’ Bear den because that’s where we had the female leaders available. I don’t think that requiring the girls’ dens to have their own registered females makes sense since the majority of women willing to be scout leaders for their daughters have probably already signed them up for Girl Scouts. Opening Cub Scouts to girls has been such a great father-daughter experience for the families in our unit. Our solution was to have the dad-led dens meet wherever the female leaders are.
We didn’t have any 2nd or 4th graders, so we had 1st/3rd/5th meeting together some times, but also sometimes the two 1st graders would do their own thing while the 3rd/5th graders worked with the boys, and occasionally, the 1st & 3rd worked with the boys and the Webelos met with the troop.
But I don’t think that would have worked as well if we had consecutive years. When they developed the current program, they tried to remove redundancies, so there’s less overlap between 1&2 or 2&3 than between 1&3.
I haven’t kept up with the Sam Houston guides or any of the other “mixed age” suggestions, but when I was looking, I found that much of the overlap that they claimed was there WAS in the 2015 handbook, but had been removed from the 2016 requirement list.


It doesn’t violate BSA guidelines to have the girl den meet at the same time and place as the boy den, as long as there is leadership for the girl den and the Guide to Safe Scouting is observed.

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Ideally, your girl dens would have a registered female den leader. If that’s not possible, there needs to be a 21 or older registered female adult accompanying the leaderless den as it meets with the boy den. That person may be your committee chair or an ACM, and it doesn’t have to be the same person every time.

I realize that reduces the girl dens to simply paper dens, and it complies with the letter but not the spirit of the guidelines. However, it makes program delivery more efficient and gives the girls a group experience they otherwise might not have.

What if you have only two boy Wolves and two girl Wolves? The two boys are better off having the boy den and girl den meet at the same time and place.

If you have two “real” den leaders, they can take turns leading the den meetings.

If the boy den leader is female, and the dens meet together, you just need a second adult (which you would anyway), and that person doesn’t have to be female.

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@PeterHopkins, depends on your definition of same location. They are to operate as two separate Dens, no different than if you had 2 separate Wolf (boy) dens.

@KenTodd, correct, and two separate boy Wolf dens may frequently meet together,

That’s what I was trying to explain. Our pack has 4 registered females - all with kids in that boy den. (12 bears last year vs other dens except lions having 3-4 kids each, so we have more parents to draw from). So plenty of coverage if the girls need someone female for anything, but the dads are the ones delivering the program (different content at other end of the cafeteria) and the moms are able to be with their own sons.

Thanks, im going to need this

Hi Gloria,

I am in exactly the same situation as you. We have 7 girls; 3 Wolves and 4 Bears. We placed the girls in separate dens (so that we could track their advancement in ScoutBook) and I am listed as the Den Leader for both dens. We are meeting as one den until we recruit more girls.

I have an ADL assigned to each den. When each den reaches capacity, the ADL will become the DL and officially split into their own den with their own separate meetings.

We begin and end our den meetings together, then separate into “breakout sessions” to work on rank requirements during the meeting. The ADLs lead the activities for their den.

If you have fewer scouts and fewer volunteers, you can group the similar rank requirements and plan age-appropriate activities for each group. I found it helpful to create a spreadsheet with all of the rank requirements and match up the ones that were similar enough to group together.

Hope that helps!

In all of my research, I have only found the requirement that girls be in separate dens. There is nothing that I have found that says they must exclusively be separated in all aspects of the program. All of the girls in our dens are, quite frankly, confused as to why they even need to be in a separate den.

So our camping trips include both girls and boys. In most cases the girls are there as siblings and they camp with their parent just like their brother. They share a tent with their brother and their parent.

When it comes to training, there are times when it makes sense to do the training separate and times when it makes more sense to do it jointly. If you only have one girl in the den then you could train that girl one on one, but so much of the program is lost when the information and the activity cannot be a shared experience. I would love for someone in the know to respond with exactly where in the BSA rules it says this cannot happen. I have searched repeatedly for an answer and have not found one. For the most part what I have heard are opinions about what the BSA policy would be.

At the end of the day, Packs are chartered by the BSA, but many of the rules and guidelines actually come from the chartering organization. I would suggest you consult with them about their desires. At the end of the day, I believe we all want to ensure we are delivering a quality program. We have certain constraints due to “growing pains” but we should not be extending constraints in one area to all areas. Separate dens yes, 100% isolation, no, unless someone has an authoritative citation that says it is banned by BSA. Many of the rules BSA has are suggestions, not edicts.

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BSA rules are in fact rules. They are not suggestions. That said, you are right on the rest of your points that the BSA said there must be separate dens for boys and girls. They’ve also said that dens can have joint activities together as the pack and den leaders deem appropriate.

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Peter, My wife and I have been scout den leaders for our two boys at various ranks for the last 4 years, this year Tigers for our youngest son. We had a young lady interested in scouts. We would be happy to have her. but she chose not too rather than be in a Den all by herself,she wanted to do scouting with her classmates, who wanted her too and invited her to come. I’m not sure what the BSA has against the integrated Dens, it’s not like there is super-secret Boy stuff that we do. And keeping the girls, separate seems to me to be a half-hearted effort toward equality. I truly hope they can get over themselves and past this by the time my daughter is old enough join scouts. I have a lot of fun with the scouts, I have a lot of hang-ups with some of the things of the BSA does too, this might be the last thing to get us to finally call it quits if Lily is not just a normal scout. I kind of understand it to a certain degree (but not really) at older ages past Cub scout, but Cub scouts, kids just want to be kids and treating them differently just begs for isolationism and will continue to keep pushing Girls to the GSA. It that is the intention fine, but just say so. It seems like they want to say they are inclusive, but they really don’t want to be.


For the reasons you stated, many packs with a single girl in her own Tiger den and six boys in another Tiger den just have both dens meet together. Otherwise, the girl loses out on the den experience. You need to make sure there’s a den leader for the solo girl den, and a female adult needs to be present during the joint meetings of the two dens.

I’ve seen lots of people say that, but never from an official source.


The closest I’ve ever seen is in some of the generic statements the BSA makes. For example, here it says:

Each den is led by an adult den leader in addition to other parents, together they plan and carry out a year-round program of activities for the den. Many parents serve as a Den Leader or Assistant Den Leader.

Therefore, if the girls are required to be in a separate den (not my preference, but also not my call), and each den is led by an adult den leader, then the girls’ den (even if it’s only one female cub scout) requires a den leader. There may be specific rules indicating that a single den leader may not serve more than one den, but I’m not specifically aware of them. I don’t see how you’d have time, but my dens were always huge, so that might be biasing my opinion.

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