A Parents Introduction to Troop 44
If your son has just joined Troop 44, WELCOME. If he’s still considering it, we are glad he’s interested. In either case, this will give you an overview of Scouting and Troop 44. As you and your son become more involved in the Troop, you will need to learn more about each of these topics.
- How Your Son Joins
- Troop 44 Meetings and Points-Of-Contacts
- Two Ways to Look at Scouting
- How Our Troop Works
- The Scouts
- The Adults
- How Does Everyone Know What to Do?
- Your Role As A Scout Parent
- The Cost of Scouting
- The Boy Scout Uniform
- Later Needs
- Merit Badges
HOW YOUR SON JOINS
To be a Boy Scout, your son must be 11 years old or completed the 5th grade or made Arrow of Light. Together you and he must complete the application form and return it to our Troop Scoutmaster along with the appropriate membership fees.
Soon after the troop accepts your son’s application to be a Scout, our Scoutmaster will talk with him to see that he has discussed with you the drug and child abuse pamphlet in the front of The Official Boy Scout Handbook; that he understands and subscribes to the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law; that he understands the Scout Motto, Slogan, salute, sign, and handclasp; and that he knows the significance of the Scout badge and the Outdoor Code. When he meets these requirements, he is a Scout.
These requirements are explained in The Official Boy Scout Handbook. The handbook is provided by the Troop upon crossover, if they require replacement (damage, loss, etc) then it is the scout’s responsibility to purchase one. It contains everything you and he need to know to earn badges, learn how the troop operates, and become an outdoorsman and a first-class citizen. As an involved parent, you will want to review the Handbook as soon as possible; the better you understand the aims and methods of Scouting, the better you can encourage your son and support our troop.
The activities of Scouting are vigorous. Your son will need a physical examination soon after joining, required to participate in camping and other troop activities. A record of the physical examination will be maintained by the Troop. In the event that your son has any limitations, discuss this with the Scoutmaster — the Scout program is adaptable and can benefit all boys.
TROOP 44 MEETINGS & POINTS-OF-CONTACT
Our troop has weekly Tuesday evening meetings from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, at the Bushkill Fire Station on Bushkill Center Road, Bushkill, PA. Scout boy leaders, the Patrol Leaders Council, hold periodic planning meetings to review the upcoming activities and suggest program activities. For campouts, hikes, and other Troop activities, we usually depart from and return to the Fire Station.
The Troop Committee meets at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at an announced location. You are invited and encouraged to attend Troop and Committee meetings.
At least once a year the Scoutmasters and the Troop Committee hold a parents’ meeting. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss upcoming Troop activities in detail, typically this is done prior to summer camp or any other significant outing such as a trip to Philmont. You should make every effort to attend these meetings so that you can be an informed Scout Parent.
If you need to reach any Leader at Troop 44, our Committee page lists all the necessary contact information. You can also speak to any Leader during a Troop meeting or a monthly Committee meeting.
The troop web site is an extremely in depth source of information about the Troop and Scouting. This site maintains all documents, the calendar and important points of contact.
TWO WAYS TO LOOK AT SCOUTING
There are many ways to look at Scouting, but let’s consider two for now. From the boy’s viewpoint, it is a game. It takes him outdoors for camping and hiking, and gives him a chance to learn new skills and be recognized for them. Scouting also provides plenty of fun with old – and new -friends.
From the involved parents’ viewpoint, Scouting is all that and more. It aims to be another tool for the parent to strengthen the boys’ character through perception and example, to make him an aware participating citizen, and to enhance his physical, mental, and moral development. That sounds like a tall order, and it is. But Scouting has proved over time that it can fill that order by exposing your son to new, wholesome experiences as he works and plays with fellow Scouts in our Troop.
Our Troop recognizes, and encourages, your son to be involved in more than just Boy Scouts. A well-balanced Scout is involved in family, church, school, and community groups and activities. What he learns from these will contribute to his Scouting; what he learns from Scouting will enhance his other endeavors.
HOW OUR TROOP WORKS
Unlike Cub Scouting, which many of you are familiar with; Boy Scouting is a youth-lead organization. Troop 44 works on two levels: (1) the Scouts, (2) the adults (Sponsor, Troop Committee, Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmasters, and Parents). This Troop is run by the Scouts who elect their own leaders. Adults are needed to train and encourage the Scouts and to do only those things that Scouts are unable to do for themselves.
Within the troop, your son will be assigned to a new Scout patrol consisting of 6 to 10 boys generally. His patrol will be his team for games and contests, his closest buddies in camp, and his teachers as he works on advancement. For the first 6 months, his patrol will be led by two experienced scouts known as Troop Guides. They will work with the adult leadership to develop lesson plans and provide opportunities for the boys to advance through rank. It is up to each individual Scout, not the instructors, to learn the material and master it for advancement. After about 6 months, he will transition to a more traditional patrol who will elect a Patrol Leader, who will represent the patrol at troop planning meetings, plan patrol meeting time, help patrol members advance, and is responsible for communicating, through an email/telephone-tree, information to his patrol.
Troop meetings are planned and conducted by boy leaders under the coaching and guidance of the Scoutmaster. This is part of the plan to help your boy grow; to make decisions and take an active part in making the troop program successful. A typical troop meeting includes work on outdoor skills, first aid, fitness, citizenship, or some other aspect of Scouting; a game or two; a brief patrol meeting for advancement progress or planning a future patrol event; and ceremonies highlighting Scouting ideals.
At troop meetings, and working on his own, your son will have a chance to earn many badges and awards. He will get his Boy Scout badge as soon as practical after joining the Troop. After that he will work on learning outdoor skills and any of more than 100 merit badges. As he learns these skills and earns these badges, he will progress from Tenderfoot through the Second and First Class ranks and into the more difficult requirements for the Star and Life Scout badges. Finally, he may earn the most challenging of all — the Eagle Scout Award. Go for the Eagle is an excellent guide for Scouts and parents to understand the process in achieving Scouting’s highest rank.
Every month our troop will conduct a special event. It may be an overnight campout, a visit to some location of special interest or significance, or a troop service project to stimulate his interest and self-reliance. Encourage participation in these events, but let him prepare for them on his own as much as possible. For instance, if he is going on a troop overnighter, let him collect and pack his own gear. He may make some mistakes or forget something. Let him do it — that’s part of the learning experience in Scouting. Summer camp, a week at a Scout camp, requires more planning. More information devoted to the topic of summer camps will be presented by the summer camp coordinator every year.
Our troop is operated by an organization (The Bushkill Fire Station) called the chartered organization. It arranges for our regular troop meeting place and approves the adult leaders who administer troop affairs. These adult leaders are the Troop Committee, Scoutmaster, and Assistant Scoutmasters. All are unpaid volunteers; many are parents of boys in the troop.
The Troop Committee is responsible for the administrative matters of the troop. Various members, under the coordination of the Troop Committee Chair, support the Scouting program by managing finances, providing equipment, ensuring that the Troop program includes adequate camping and outdoor programs, keeping advancement and medical records, and ensuring that quality adult leadership is recruited and trained.
The Scoutmaster is the adult leader responsible for the Troop program. His main job is to train and guide the boy leaders of the Troop, work with Assistant Scoutmasters to ensure that the Troop program is conducted with proper supervision and under safe conditions. He will be the key link between the Scout leaders of the Troop and the adult Troop Committee.
HOW DOES EVERYONE KNOW WHAT TO DO?
At first glance, you may wonder, “How does everyone know what they are to do?” The answer is simple: BSA has developed a structured program and has developed manuals and videos to explain how to manage a Scout Troop. For every position in the Troop, both Scout and adult, there is training available to help the person understand how to effectively perform that job.
For the Scouts, there is Troop Leadership Training conducted to help Scouts understand the various leadership positions they may fulfill within the Troop. There is also Den Chief training available for first class and above who want to work with Cub Scouts. In addition, the Scoutmaster will conduct leadership-training sessions throughout the year, both in Troop meetings and on special campouts. The better trained the Scouts are, the better their program will be.
For the adults, there are “Fast-Start” courses available from the National BSA website https://myscouting.scouting.org, which highlight various adult leadership positions within the Troop. The District conducts Scoutmaster Fundamental training twice a year. The Council conducts Wood Badge, an in-depth training course for Scouters, once a year.
YOUR ROLE AS A SCOUT PARENT
Naturally, you will want your son to get the most out of Scouting. The best Troops have enthusiastic leaders, involved parents, and motivated Scouts.
You can help by becoming an involved parent. Don’t panic — an involved parent doesn’t have to live and breathe Scouting nor become a Scoutmaster him/herself. An involved parent is: (1) informed, (2) helpful, (3) concerned, and (4) encouraging.
Stay informed of the troop and patrol activities that are available to your son. He may not want to participate in all the activities that are offered, but encourage him to try some new experiences — he will grow from them. Also, stay informed of your son’s advancements throughout Scouting encouraging him to continue advancing through the ranks to Eagle. Help him make time for Scouting. Offer suggestions and choices; after he does the choosing, support him in his decisions, and let him do the work.
Your son’s success in Scouting depends in part on the success of our troop. If the troop is strong, active, and vibrant, he will have a much better chance to make the most of his experience as a Scout. You can help keep the troop strong.
How you support the troop depends on your talents and available time. Perhaps you will be asked to serve on the troop committee, which functions as a sort of board of directors. If you have the desire to work directly with the Scouts, we encourage you to serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster. Or you might be called upon for only occasional tasks – helping with a fund raiser or service project, providing transportation for a campout or hike, maintaining troop equipment, or serving as a merit badge counselor in a hobby or career field you are familiar with.
Occasionally, you and your family will be invited to a special troop activity — a parents’ night or Court of Honor at which Scouts are recognized for their advancement. Your participation in these activities and your offers of help when the troop has a need will show your son that you support him and want him to have the best experiences possible in Scouting. Whenever you have problems or suggestions with the administration or program of the Troop, bring these to the Troop Committee Chair or Scoutmaster as soon as you can. The adults are all volunteers that need your support.
There are several times when your direct participation in your son’s advancement in Scouting will be required. The first will occur almost immediately — prior to becoming a Scout, your son will be required to review with you the drug and child abuse pamphlet in the front of The Official Boy Scout Handbook . Additionally, participation is needed at Courts of Honor and Eagle Ceremonies.
If your son is having problems with schoolwork, please don’t use Scouting as a punishment — there are Scouts in the Troop that may be able to help your son with those hard school subjects. Bring such things to the Scoutmaster’s attention.
COSTS OF SCOUTING
The cost of Scouting involves more than money — it also includes time and materials. We have already illustrated how some time must be spent with your son to make his Scouting experience more meaningful. Camping supplies, materials for service projects, and awards are often needed and perhaps you can contribute when needed. Each Scout will share food and transportation costs for outings.
Scouting believes that a Scout should pay his own way, to the extent possible. So urge your son to earn enough money to cover his dues, pay for activities, and buy at least some of the equipment he will want. Money earning projects are undertaken by the troop to cover expenses as needed. Part of your son’s responsibilities as a Scout will be to do his share on these projects.
Troop financing, including annual dues, is covered under the by-laws approved by the Charter Organization. If, for any reason, you may have problems meeting the costs mentioned above, please talk to the Committee Chair or the Scoutmaster– we will not let the issue of money keep your son from enjoying all Scouts has to offer. This applies to summer camp as well — each year there are grants for summer camp provided by the Boy Scout Council.
THE BOY SCOUT UNIFORM
It is not the purpose of the Scout uniform to hide the difference between boys or make them feel they are all the same. Scouts come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. They have their own religious beliefs and family traditions. Scouting wants boys to take pride in these differences, rather than to hide them or to be ashamed of them. But there is one way in which all Scouts are alike. Whenever a Scout sees another person in a Scout uniform he knows he is like that person because both have committed themselves to the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. This is important in a time when there are many things which seem to divide people from each other. The Scout Oath and Law bind all Scouts of the world together in a common purpose. So boys wear the Scout uniform to identify themselves openly with some beliefs to which we are all committed.
There are two distinct uniforms Scouts and Scouters wear: the traditional “Class A” uniform is worn to all Troop meetings and on every troop trip. The less formal “Class B” uniform can be worn when authorized by Troop leadership. The “standard” Class A uniform for Scouts in our Troop is: (1) Boy Scout shirt (either short or long sleeve) with Minsi Trails Council shoulder patch, numerals (44), and shoulder loops; (2) blue neckerchief with Troop 44 patch and neckerchief slide (Scout’s own choosing); The Troop Committee provides advancement rank patches, troop leadership position patches, and merit badge patches. The “Class B” uniform is a Scout-related T-shirt or sweatshirt with appropriate solid colored pants/shorts. The Troop 44 T-shirt or polo shirt can be purchased from the Troop treasurer. It is never appropriate to wear shirts or other apparel with tobacco or alcohol advertising on them or studded belts.
As your son gets into scouting activities, he will need additional equipment. As an active troop we have at least one outdoor activity (camping/hiking) each month. So, he will need a backpack, hiking shoes, poncho/rain gear, pocketknife (sheath knives are not allowed), compass, sleeping bag, and personal camping gear (flashlight, canteen, eating utensils, garbage bag, toilet paper, etc.). We recommend that Scouts tent with another Scout on each campout; your son can use his own tent, or share ownership of a tent with another Scout. Use your good judgment; only you know what you can afford. If planning to purchase camping equipment, check with our adult leaders first. They will have a good idea of the equipment Scouts in our troop use and what is suitable for the Scout’s needs.
Merit badges are awarded to Scouts who fulfill requirements in specific fields of interest. The goal of the merit badge program is to expand a Scout’s area of interest and to encourage the Scout to meet and work with adults in a chosen subject. There are more than a hundred merit badges Scouts can earn, in subject areas that include careers, sports, hobbies, and Scout skills.
Merit badges can help a Scout discover abilities he didn’t know he had, and fields of interest he’s barely heard of: everything from Agribusiness to Wilderness Survival, Atomic Energy to Truck Transportation, Music to Handicap Awareness, Dentistry to Plumbing, Oceanography to Sculpture — and scores more.
Merit badges can guide a Scout toward a career, enrich his leisure life, hone his fitness, and enhance his ability to help others, and stimulate personal growth. A Scout earns a merit badge by working with an adult counselor, an expert in the chosen subject, who is on a list provided by the troop. The Scout, along with a buddy, makes an appointment with the counselor, and works on the merit badge with him during one or more visits. When the counselor approves the Scout’s application, the Advancement chair submits it to the council service center and obtains the badge. As with rank awards, the Scout is awarded the merit badge at the next Court of Honor. Any registered Scout, regardless of rank, may work on any merit badge and receive the award when he earns it.
Boy Scouts is a network of resources that is available for each level of involvement in the program — for the Scouts, Parents, Scoutmasters, and Committee members. Some items that are available to help you with your Scout include the following literature. The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters have MANY more than what is listed here.
“The Official Boy Scout Handbook”
“Go for the Eagle”
“Junior Leader Handbook”
“The Scoutmaster Handbook”
“Troop Committee Guidebook”
“Guide to Safe Scouting”
“Boys’ Life” magazines
“Boy Scout Songbook”
Merit Badge booklets
Troop and patrol rosters
Troop activity calendar
More important than all of the books listed above are the human resources that are available in the troop, the community, and in the Scouting program. Scouts will learn how to find and solicit the assistance of others in accomplishing their goals. We encourage you to be a resource to the troop in the areas that you have skill, knowledge, or experience.