Welcome to Troop 357. We are glad you and your son have decided to join our Troop. Our goal is to make sure you and your son have a rewarding experience along his Trail to Eagle.
There are two ways to look at Boy Scouting. From you son’s viewpoint, it’s a fun experience that takes him outdoors for camping and hiking, while giving him a chance to learn new skills and be recognized for them. Boy Scouting also offers plenty of fun with old and new friends.
From your viewpoint, Boy Scouting is all that and more. It strengthens your son’s character through precept and example, helps him become an aware, participating citizen, and enhances his physical, mental, and moral development.
Sounds like a tall order? Boy Scouting has proved it can do this and more, by exposing your son to new, wholesome experiences as he works and has fun with his fellow Scouts in our Troop.
HOW YOUR SON JOINS
To be a Boy Scout, your son must be 11 years old, or have completed the fifth grade, or have received his Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts, whichever comes soonest. The Troop will provide you with an application form and an itemized fee schedule. Together, you and your son complete the application form and return it to our Troop’s Scoutmaster, along with the Troop’s registration fee.
Also, before his first outing, a “Troop 357 Activity Permission Slip” and a BSA Class 1 medical form must be submitted. Both forms need annual updates. Scout activities that last more than 72 hours require submission of a Class 2 medical form, which only needs updating every three years.
The Troop meets at Highland United Methodist Church, 1901 Ridge Road (intersection of Ridge Road and Lake Boone Trail) most Wednesday nights, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. We meet on the third floor, in the large meeting room over the gym. You do not have to stay for the meeting to look after your son, but we are always looking for volunteers to help at meetings and other Troop activities. Class A uniforms are required during the school year, and Class B uniforms are required during the summer. (More on uniforms later.) After the Senior Patrol Leader conducts an opening ceremony, which includes the Pledge of Allegiance, he and Troop leaders make announcements. The Troop then typically breaks up into Patrol meetings to work on advancement requirements and plan for upcoming events. Alternatively, senior Scouts and Troop leaders conduct instructional programs. A game in the gym follows, time permitting. The Senior Patrol Leader ends the meeting with a closing ceremony. Please be at the church by 8:30 PM to pick up your son.
Most Troop outings are overnight camping trips, usually no more than a two-hour drive from Raleigh. We have 9 or 10 such trips a year. Departure is typically around 7:30 AM from the church parking lot. Please arrive a little early to help pack the Troop’s trailer. We often need volunteer drivers. The Troop usually returns to the parking lot early Sunday afternoon. All Scouts are expected to help unpack the Troop trailer, clean any dirty equipment, and properly store the equipment in our store rooms. Do not allow your son to leave until these chores are completed.
Unless otherwise instructed, your son should pack a bag lunch for Saturday. Patrols cook meals for Saturday evening and Sunday morning. A meal assessment is collected from each Scout the Wednesday meeting before the trip. A designated cook from each Patrol is then given money to purchase the Patrol’s food. Volunteer parents on the trip are also charged the meal assessment.
We need your help! Stay informed of outing dates. Then, ensure your son comes to the Wednesday meeting before an outing with a definitive “go” or “no-go” answer. Encourage your son to attend as many camping trips as possible, as these trips represent one of the best opportunities to pass off requirements and to learn leadership. If your son is going, ensure he brings the meal assessment to the meeting. Cash is preferred, but a check to BSA Troop 357 is acceptable.
If your son is one of the cooks for the trip, he will come home Wednesday night before the trip with shopping money and a menu sheet. The sheet can serve as a shopping list. He should know the total number of people he will be feeding. Please take him to the store and assist him with purchasing food and supplies. Please refund left-over funds to the Troop. Should you spend more than provided, the Troop will reimburse you. Receipts are not typically required. However, some cooking requirements specify that receipts be saved.
What about tents? Your son does not need a tent of his own, although he is welcome to bring his own if he likes. The Troop has an ample number of tents for the boys. In theory, tent assignments are determined in the Wednesday Patrol meeting before a trip. Should this fail to occur in the Patrol meeting, your son should be proactive in teaming up with a tent-mate. Together, they should decide if they will use a Troop tent or a personal tent. If they decide to use a Troop tent, each of them should insure a tent for them gets into the Troop trailer before it leaves the parking lot. More information on gear is provided later. (BSA policy states that, with the exception of fathers and sons, adults and boys will not share a tent. To foster Troop and Patrol spirit, Troop 357 additionally excludes fathers and sons from sharing tents.)
The Troop sends a contingent to summer camp every year. For the last few years, we have alternated between our Council’s camp near Carthage, NC, and camps of neighboring Councils. (Camp Powhatan, in the Virginia mountains, is becoming a favorite, but the water is a tad cool.) Please send your son to camp. Not only is it fun, but it is key to his advancement, to earning merit badges, and to building strong bonds with other Scouts in the Troop. Should he not be able to attend camp with us, information regarding alternatives is available from the Troop.
A calendar of events for the entire year is on our website, at http://bsaTroop357.org. Check this site often, as updates to the information occur regularly.
Even though your son has joined the Troop, the BSA does not consider him a “Scout” until he completes some basic requirements. During the first month or two of your son’s membership, we will group him with other new Troop members and provide an adult Troop leader, assisted by one or two mid-level Scouts, to help your son complete these requirements. As he completes each requirement, the adult leader or one of the assisting Scouts will initial and date the requirement in his handbook. Throughout your son’s climb in rank, there is only one requirement that you, the parent, sign off on: you and your son must review the Drug and Child Abuse supplement in the front of the Boy Scout Handbook, after which you initial and date this requirement in his book. Once the basic requirements are met, the Scoutmaster or another Troop leader will talk with him to see that he understands and subscribes to the Scout Oath or Promise and the Scout Law; that he understands the Scout Motto and Scout Slogan, that he can perform the Scout salute, sign, and handclasp; and that he knows the significance of the Scout badge and the Outdoor Code. After the satisfactory completion of this review, he officially becomes a Scout.
The Boy Scout Handbook explains these basic requirements in detail. Consider buying your son a book before he joins the Troop. However, if he does not have a copy when he joins, the Troop will provide him one. (Your registration fee includes an amount for the book. If you have already purchased a book, you may subtract from your fee an amount indicated on the fee schedule.)
Troop 357 provides a separate, detailed, advancement document for parents and Scouts. Therefore, only a brief discussion follows. Before beginning though, we make two suggestions. First, read the rank requirements listed in the Boy Scout Handbook, to get a feel for what is ahead. Reading the rest of the book would be great, but at least read the requirements. Second, attend an Eagle Scout ceremony with your son. These events are capable of inspiring your son to pursue this highest of Scout awards.
The Troop will lead your son through Tenderfoot rank. As he then progresses through Second and First Class ranks, he will assume more responsibility for his advancement. We will continue to offer training and advancement opportunities, but we expect him to be responsible for taking advantage of these opportunities. Coincident with this change in responsibility, he is responsible for seeking out a Troop leader when he feels he has met or mastered a specific requirement. The leader will then evaluate him on the requirement. If your son is successfully, the leader will initial and date his handbook. Alternatively, the leader may specify what additional work is needed to complete the requirement. (At the leader’s discretion, he may incrementally pass off compound requirements.)
Your son’s handbook is the single, most important record of his advancement, as individual advancement requirements are initialed and dated in the book by Troop leaders. If this book is lost, all initialed records in the book must be reconfirmed. Your son may be at risk of losing credit for requirements that he has already passed. Do not lose the book. Consider protecting it with a cover. Also, occasionally photocopy pages containing initials.
Copies of your son’s records are kept by the Troop and at the Council office. You and your son should obtain copies of these records periodically, to check them for discrepancies.
One final note: BSA requirements for Eagle do not include Cooking and Pioneering merit badges. However, Eagle Scouts from Troop 357 have a long-standing tradition of obtaining these two valuable merit badges. We feel these two badges contribute to your son’s success later in life, and ask for your and your son’s support in maintaining this important tradition, by obtaining these badges along the Trail to Eagle.
The Boy Scout Handbook provides uniform descriptions and notes the arrangement of insignia. The Scout Shop, located at 3231 Atlantic Avenue (850-0301), sells all necessary uniform items and can answer specific questions about uniforms.
The BSA recognizes a formal uniform and a casual uniform, but does not recognize “classes” of uniforms. However, through common usage, people in the program have come to call the formal uniform the “Class A”, and a less formal uniform the “Class B”. Some troops even define Class C and D uniforms. Our Troop defines Class A and B uniforms as formal and casual respectively. Your son will need at least one Class A and one Class B uniform. The Troop’s Class A consists of buttoned Scout shirt, Scout slacks and/or short pants, Troop neckerchief and slide, Scout belt and buckle, and Scout socks (green, with red band at top). Off the record, the Troop but has been flexible on shorts and slacks, provided they look like Scout attire (jeans are unacceptable). This flexibility could change. Numerous patches and pins are required on the shirt – seek Scout Shop help. Items provided by the Troop include a Troop 357 neckerchief and a BSA slide, two red epaulets, a set of Troop numerals, and a nametag. The Troop specifies that the shirt collar be tucked under when a neckerchief is worn. In addition, the Troop considers a nametag and a pen or pencil as parts of the official uniform.
The only difference between the Troop’s Class A and B is that a Scout T-shirt is substituted for the buttoned shirt and neckerchief. The Troop has a custom T-shirt, which is available from the Troop for a “near cost” charge. Your son will need at least one Troop 357 T-shirt. As note below, two Troop T-shirts are required for summer camp.
Class As are worn at Troop meeting coincident with the school year. During the summer, Class Bs may be worn to the meetings. (The Scoutmaster will announce specific changeover dates at the meetings.) Class As are also worn when the Troop is in transit. The boys may change into Class Bs after reaching our destination.
At summer camp, Class As are required for the evening meal and any evening events. Class Bs may be worn at other times. Flexibility is allowed on the T-shirts. Appropriate Class B shirts are Troop T-shirts (minimum of 2), Scouting event shirts, or plain T-shirts without logos, etc. Athletic, music, band, advertising, or “civilian” wear shirts and T-shirts are not appropriate. Some boys hand wash some clothing during the week at camp. Consider giving your son lessons, and providing him with detergent.
Put your son’s name on all clothing.
Gear is available from the Scout Shop at 3231 Atlantic Avenue (850-0301), and from recreational stores in the area. A list of some basic gear follows. Note that, contrary to your son’s opinion, he does not need the highest quality gear on the market. However, gear should be sufficiently sturdy to take some abuse, and be of high enough quality to adequately serve the intended purpose. We camp in some pretty cold weather, so insure his sleeping bag is warm. Being cold at night can ruin your son’s camping experience.
Pocketknives must be of the folding style with a locking mechanism, and must be less than 6 inches long.
Train your son to pack for his camping trips. Be prepared to let him make a few mistakes, for his learning benefit. Checklists for gear are in the Boy Scout Handbook and on the Troop website. Numerous other checklists can be found by searching the web. In this day of the internet, spreadsheets, and word processors, anyone can easily compile their own personal checklist. Consider compiling a list with your son.
Usually, the Troop expects each Scout to bring his camping gear packed in a single backpack. Because our Troop is large, and we have limited cargo space, everything he brings should be in or on his pack. Avoid attaching items to the pack that will flop around, as such items are vulnerable to damage and make packing the Troop trailer difficult. He may bring a camp chair, provided it is reasonably small, is collapsible, and fits in or is attached to his pack. Pillows must fit in his pack or be stuffed with his sleeping bag.
Radios and electronic/computer game devices are not allowed on camping trips or at summer camp.
Put your son’s name on all gear.
Naturally, you’ll want your son to get the most out of Scouting. Keep the dates of Troop activities on your calendar as a reminder. Ensure your son has a definitive “go” – “no go” answer Wednesday night before each outing. If he is going, ensure he has money that night to contribute for food. Please encourage your son to attend as many of the meetings and outings as he can. These activities are where a large percentage of his advancement will happen. Each rank has a Scout Spirit requirement. Scout Spirit is demonstrated in part by how many meetings and campouts your son attends. Advancement can only happen if he attends meetings, campouts, and summer camp. Summer camp is a great place to learn skills for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. It is also a great place to earn merit badges.
Your son’s success in Scouting, in large part, depends on the success of our Troop. If the Troop is strong, active, and fun, he will have a much better chance to make the most of his experience as a Scout. The Troop needs your help in making this happen. We strongly encourage you to join the Troop Committee and attend its monthly meetings. The Troop Committee acts a board of directors for the Troop. You can gain a lot of information about, and provide input regarding, upcoming activities, needs, and plans of the Troop. The committee meets the last Tuesday of each month in Room 301 at Highland UMC. Meetings start at 7:00 PM, and usually run about an hour.
How you support the Troop in other ways depends on your individual talents and available time. We always seem to be in need of dads on the camping trips, both as drivers and to help with guidance and supervision. We invite moms and dads to become merit badge counselors if you have a talent, hobby, or job that qualifies you in the related subject matter. You would probably be surprised to see that we have almost as many adults working in the background as we do boys in the Troop. Understandably, as boys mature out of the program, their parents often move on as well. These losses occur annually, so we are always in need of new or replacement, adult volunteers. The Scoutmaster and the Troop Committee Chair can give you ideas for volunteering.
Highland United Methodist Church, our chartering organization since 1959, owns and operates the Troop. The church is responsible for making sure the Troop has a good program with qualified adult leadership. The church also provides a place for us to meet. The Boy Scouts of America provides a framework for the program.
The adult Troop leaders are the Scoutmaster, several Assistant Scoutmasters, and the Troop Committee. All are unpaid volunteers; most are parents of boys in the Troop or former Scouts in the program who have just hung around because they love the program. The real leaders of the Troop, however, are the youth leaders themselves.
Within the Troop, your son will be assigned to a Patrol of six to ten boys. His Patrol members will form his team for games and contests, be his closest buddies in camp, and be his mentors as he works on advancement. One member of the Patrol is elected Patrol Leader. Another member is elected Assistant Patrol Leader. Tenure is for six months. All Patrol Leaders must attend monthly meetings of the Troop Leaders Council (TLC) and communicate regularly with their Patrol members.
Boy leaders, under coaching and guidance from the Scoutmaster and his assistants, plan and conduct the Troop meetings. This method helps your son grow by providing him with opportunities to make decisions, plan, and actively participate 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. There are also brief Patrol meetings to check advancement progress or to plan a future Patrol or Troop event. There are occasional ceremonies highlighting Scouting’s ideals. The Troop usually holds three or four “Courts of Honor” each year, where your son is recognized for his accomplishments. It is a good idea for your son to come to each meeting prepared to pass off one item of the rank he is working on. “Prepared” is the word. It is not always possible for every Scout to pass something off at each weekly Troop meeting, but when help is available he will be ready. This way your son will make steady progress along the Trail to Eagle.
At Troop meetings and outings, and working on his own, your son will have a chance to earn many badges and awards. He will receive his Boy Scout badge as soon as he completes the basic requires previously described, and has his first review talk with our Scoutmaster. After that, he will work on rank advancement for Tenderfoot, Second, and First Class, and any of more than 100 merit badges. As he earns these awards and badges, he will progress from Tenderfoot through the Second and First Class ranks into the more difficult requirements for the ranks of Star and Life. Finally, he may earn the most distinctive rank of all – the Eagle Scout Award. Only 2% of all Scouts in the BSA program earn their Eagle badge. Since its inception in 1959, our Troop has awarded more than 106 of these coveted badges. We hope that one day your son will be able to sign his name to the leather scrolls that hold the names of this Troop’s Eagle Scouts.
The Troop has a High Adventure program, which is designed for Scouts that have achieved their First Class rank and are at least 14 years old. This is a more rigorous program of hiking, backpacking, and camping. The High Adventure Scouts go on a yearly, weeklong trip. Past trips have included whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and backpacking the Appalachian Trail. The Troop also offers activities other than camping and meetings. We average one or more ceremonies or special projects monthly. These events include rank-related service projects and community service projects. Encourage your son to participate in these events. As with camping trips and meetings, participation in these other events is demonstration of Scout Spirit.
Your son may be invited to Junior Leader Training Camp if he becomes a junior leader and shows promise. Encourage him to attend. The Troop may also have its own JLT program in the fall. At JLT your son learns how to lead, teach, counsel, and plan. These are obviously valuable life skills.
Should you have any questions about your son’s Troop, do not hesitate to contact one of the adult leaders or Committee members.
A final note before closing: “Scout Sunday” occurs each February. Scouts of Troop 357 and their families are invited to attend Highland UMC as a group, to show respect for our sponsoring organization. Your son gets a chance to see that without this church, our Troop would not exist. Church members get a chance to see tangible evidence of their efforts to support the Troop. Please come.
Thank you for choosing Troop 357 for your son’s Scouting career.
Forms, rosters, schedules, patrol announcements, and a wealth of other information are available on our Troop’s website, at https://sites.google.com/site/bsatroop357. Bookmark the site so that you can easily visit it regularly.