Cubmasters vs. Den Leaders: What’s Different? What’s Similar?

Do you know the difference between a den leader and a Cubmaster in Cub Scouting? You should! Since the backbone of every pack is the adult volunteers who give their time and energy to help guide the next generation of Scouts, understanding the role each leader plays in a pack is crucial.

PS. This article is a guest post collaboration with Eagle Scout and AOL recipient, Jonathan K🙂

It’s important for you to know how the den leader and cubmaster each work for the pack, and why they deserve your attention and respect. When I look back now at my time as a Cub Scout, I can remember my den leader and assistant den leaders, but as for the Cubmaster, I can’t remember when we interacted!

Back then, I didn’t fully appreciate how much work all of the adult volunteers put into Scouting. However, I hope that this article helps you to understand more about the hours and work that these volunteers put in every single day to make a Cub Scout pack run smoothly.

The Difference Between a Cub Scout Den and Pack

In order to understand how each role is different, you first have to know how the den and the pack are different. As you can see from this graphic below, the pack is a large group made up of several dens. Den leaders work with individual dens, while Cubmasters work with the whole pack!

Cub Scout pack: 

  • A Cub pack is a large collection of Cub Scouts that consist of multiple dens.
  • It is led by a Cubmaster and supported by a pack committee composed of adult volunteers, including parents or guardians of the Cub Scouts.
  • The pack is responsible for organizing regular meetings, outings, and larger-scale activities for all members, such as pack meetings, camping trips, service projects, and community events.
  • Pack meetings involve all dens within the pack, allowing Cub Scouts from different dens to come together, share achievements, and demonstrate what they have learned that month.
  • For more info, check out this article about What Goes on at a Cub Scout Pack Meeting!

Cub Scout den:

  • A small group within the pack of about 6-10 Cub Scouts all of the same grade level.
  • Each den has its own adult den leader (often a parent or guardian of one of the den members) who plans and leads den meetings and activities.
  • Den meetings allow Cub Scouts to work on rank requirements, complete adventures, learn skills, and participate in activities tailored to their age and abilities.
  • Den meetings take place weekly or bi-weekly and normally do not include Scouts’ families.

Want to know more about Cub Scouting dens and packs? Check out our previous article about how den meetings and pack meetings are different!

Duties of a Cub Scout Den Leader

Cub Scouts spend the most time with their den leaders because these dedicated adults run the weekly or biweekly den meetings. Throughout the year, den leaders guide the Cubs through the requirements for their next rank. Den leaders also help any Scouts with individual awards, from the religious emblem to a Nova Award! 😀

The job of the den leader includes:

  • Planning and Conducting Den Meetings: Prepare and organize engaging and age-appropriate activities, games, and discussions aligned with the Cub Scout program to conduct regular den meetings. These meetings typically occur weekly or bi-weekly.
  • Communicating with Parents/Guardians: Maintain open communication with parents or guardians of the Cub Scouts, keeping them informed about den meetings, activities, advancements, and any necessary information regarding their child’s participation in the program.
  • Coordinating Den Outings and Activities: Plan and organize den outings, field trips, and service projects that teach Scouts about their community and how they can give back. They also help Cubs to complete adventures and advance in rank!
  • Setting an Example: Serve as a positive role model by demonstrating the values and principles of Scouting, including honesty, respect, responsibility, and good citizenship. Lead by example in adhering to the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • Working with Assistant Den Leaders and Adult Volunteers: Collaborate with assistant den leaders, den chiefs (if available), and other adult volunteers to ensure the smooth operation of den meetings and activities. Delegate responsibilities when necessary and encourage teamwork.
  • Participating in Pack Meetings and Activities: Attend and actively participate in pack meetings, campouts, and other pack-level events, fostering unity and camaraderie among all Cub Scouts within the pack.
  • Continuous Learning and Training: Engage in ongoing training opportunities provided by Scouts BSA to enhance leadership skills, learn about the Cub Scout program, and stay updated on policies and guidelines.

As you can tell, being a den leader is a lot of work! Some dens may have only four Cub Scouts, while others might have as many as 15. No matter the number, the duties are the same, which is why the den leader needs a strong volunteer support system, from the assistant den leaders to the Cubmaster!

Duties of a Cub Scout Cubmaster

Like den leaders, Cubmasters play a huge role in running the pack, but Cub Scouts don’t get to see most of what they do. Typically, the Cubmaster only interacts with the dens once a month at the pack meeting — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t always working!

The Cubmaster guides the pack and helps all of the den leaders in meeting the mission established by the Pack Committee and the expectations of Scouts BSA. The Cubmaster’s duties include the following and more: 

  • Pack Leadership and Coordination: Provide overall leadership and direction for the pack’s activities, ensuring that they meet the aims and objectives of the charter organization and the BSA.
  • Planning and Conducting Pack Meetings: Organize and lead pack meetings involving all dens within the pack. These meetings are typically held once a month and serve as a platform for recognizing achievements and allowing dens to demonstrate what they learned that month.
  • Supporting Den Leaders: Assist and guide den leaders in planning and conducting den meetings, providing resources, advice, and support.
  • Communication and Coordination: Maintain clear and open communication with den leaders, pack committee members, parents, and other adult volunteers, sharing information about pack activities, events, and updates regarding the Cub Scout program.
  • Recognition and Advancement: Recognize and celebrate the achievements and advancements of Cub Scouts, organizing and conducting ceremonies for awarding badges, achievements, and ranks to encourage continued participation and growth.
  • Pack Administration and Organization: Work closely with the pack committee to ensure administrative tasks, such as record-keeping, financial management, and adherence to Scouts BSA policies, are handled effectively for the benefit of the pack.
  • Training and Development: Pursue ongoing training opportunities provided by Scouts BSA to enhance leadership skills, stay updated on program changes, and support the growth and development of the pack.

You can see that the two roles have similar duties, as each is in charge of meetings, working with parents, and helping Cub Scouts advance! The difference is that the Cubmaster is focused on the pack as a whole, while the den leader is only responsible for their own den.

How Den Leaders and Cubmasters Work Together 

Den leaders and Cubmasters each have their own responsibilities, but they also have to work together. That means they need to communicate! For the Cub Scout pack to run properly, den leaders and Cubmasters must talk about who is doing what, why they are doing it, and how.

The Cubmaster oversees every den in the pack, and makes sure that all den leaders have the support they need. If a den leader wants to go on a field trip or needs certain supplies, the Cubmaster will help them! This teamwork allows all the Cubs to continue advancing in their ranks.

Can a Den Leader Also Be a Cubmaster?

A Cubmaster can temporarily serve as a den leader, or vice versa, but the same volunteer can not serve as both in the long term. A new pack can’t be chartered with one person in both roles. This is done to prevent the volunteer from doing too much and suffering from burnout! 🙂

It’s important to plan properly to follow this guideline. Still, we all know that life happens, and you may find your pack in a situation where one volunteer has to to fill both roles. If this happens in your pack, do your best to support the volunteer in that position, and get things back in order as soon as you can! 

Is It Easier To Be a Den Leader or a Cubmaster?

Both positions are difficult, and saying that one is easier than the other is doing them a disservice — but this question may come up when volunteers are trying to decide which role to fill. Really, the answer depends on the individual’s preferences and talents!

These roles require similar skills and commitment, but den leaders are more hands-on, while Cubmasters are more big-picture. If you want to work more directly with Cub Scouts, become a den leader. If you have a great mind for organization and planning, become a Cubmaster!

Conclusion – The Importance of Den Leaders and Cubmasters

With that, you now should fully understand what den leaders and Cubmasters do and how they work together! If you or a loved one are interested in volunteering as part of a Cub Scout pack, talk to the current den leaders and Cubmaster to find out which role is best.

To recap, if you want to someday be a Cubmaster, start out as a den leader first, then move up to an Assistant Cubmaster, gaining important skills and experience along the way. For more awesome and important volunteer opportunities, has a great guide to get you started as well! 

Thanks so much for reading! Now that you know how den leaders and Cubmasters support their packs, you’ll have an easier time navigating Cub Scouting! Also, if you enjoyed this article, I’d recommend also checking out any of these other awesome posts on ScoutSmarts if they spark your interest:

That’s all for now! Hope to see you back here at ScoutSmarts again soon. Until next time, I’m wishing you and your pack nothing but excellent adventures ahead! 🙂


I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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