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1.     Wouldn't it be easier if..?

Probably. Especially if adults take over. We try and give scouts opportunities to show character and learn leadership.

2.     What happens at troop meetings? They don't appear to be very structured; is that typical? 

An eagle scout father once put this in perspective for me. We were visiting troops with our webelos and he actually preferred a troop I was worried about. The organization flaws showed scouts were in charge. Being in charge of the meetings is just one of the ways scouts learn about leadership. Granted it looks like chaos sometimes. Sometimes the patrol assigned to head up a meeting fails to show up prepared, or the patrol leader fails to notify the rest of his patrol that they are responsible for the meeting. We could step in and run it for them, but that's not the way they learn.

3.     What are the dues and how/when are they paid? What do the dues cover?

Dues are $5 a month, year round. Dues basically just cover the annual boy scout registration fee. To pay for tents, tent poles and stakes, propane, supplies, trailer maintenance, and various rental fees we organize fundraisers.

4.     Do the boys work together on rank advancements? What are the first steps? 

Good patrols work together to make sure each member is advancing; especially during the first year. However, scouts cannot sign-off in each others books for the material they learn. That right is reserved for Troop Guides, Senior Patrol Leaders, and designees of the Scoutmaster.

5.     We joined in March, why were the first month's meetings in the troop so unorganized and uneventful? 

For new scouts there's always some period of waiting for all the packs to finish bridging so we can start the first year program and not have to repeat material. It's compounded by school districts when they have different spring holiday schedules. The majority of our scouts attend Birdville, Grapevine-Colleyville, and Hurst-Euless-Bedford schools and some years they all seem to have different spring break schedules.

There are lots of issues that impact the troops function. It's the job of the adult volunteers to help the SPL keep these in balance. Some of these issues are:

o    Lack of participation in Patrol Leaders' Councils (PLC). This is where the scouts plan meetings.

o    Lack of leadership on the part of Senior Patrol leader.

o    Lack of adult participation. We always need adults to participate, whether it's helping watch over scouts at meetings, teaching merit badges or skills, camping, or all three. This situation is easy to get into. It's a constant battle to recruit new adult volunteers as the older scouts exit.


6.     Are the boys assigned to one patrol that lasts the entire time they are a scout?

Patrols change. Typically the scouts are given the chance to disperse to other patrols after their first year. Even so, it's at the Scoutmaster's discretion and he usually weighs different factors before letting patrols reorganize. As scouts age more and more drop out of scouting and the upper ranks start to thin so patrols are merged or otherwise disbanded. Scouting works best when there are 6-8 active scouts in each patrol, and when their age is not too disparate.

7.     Is Scouting totally youth driven and is that why not much is accomplished at meetings?

Partly. Some scouts are better at organizing meetings and thinking of things to do. It's a balancing act, and it's hard not to step in and take control but it's also the most gratifying when you see scouts do a superb job all by themselves! They ARE capable of it. As an adult leader you strive to find the balance where the scouts are challenged but the challenges are not too much to overcome.

8.     For first year Scouts what is the importance of having held the position of Patrol Leader, Assist Patrol leader, etc?

While not responsible for advancement until a scout reaches First Class, being a first-year PL or APL is still important. They help the SPL by calling their patrol members to inform them of events or last minute details. They provide input at the PLC, helping the SPL choose troop activities for meetings, campouts, service projects, etc that their patrol is interested in. The Assistant Patrol Leader is the backup for the Patrol Leader. He performs the Patrol Leaders duties when he is not available.

9.     How often do positions change for Patrol Leaders, etc? What responsibilities, if any, do a patrol leader, and/or a assistant patrol leader have?

Leadership opportunities change every 6 months. The troop website has a leadership document describing each leadership position available to the scouts, the requirements, and any prerequisites.

10. How does the troop address special needs children?

We try to support everyone's desire to be a scout, within our means. No matter if it's a physical or monetary disadvantage. However, we are just volunteers and sometimes we don't feel comfortable taking on as much responsibility. We handle each situation on a case by case basis as we think we are capable based on parental involvement.

11. How is discipline handled at campouts if there is a problem?

It depends on the problem, but in general the SPL is informed and the PLC decides what action to take. The Boy Scouts of America has certain policies we follow in some situations. We have called (and will call) parents to come pick up their children from camp. We have also banned scouts from camping for a period. We have also removed scouts from the Troop. Scouting is a privilege not a right.

12. How can interested parents stay informed regarding things that happen during meetings/campouts?

Become an active volunteer! It's fun and if we spread the work around it takes less and less of each volunteer's time. Come to committee meetings! Every registered adult who does not hold a position on the "program" side of the Troop is automatically a part of the committee. It's a great way to learn the concerns, needs, and strengths of your scouts Troop.

13. How are the different levels (age and rank) of scouts integrated to make the new scouts comfortable and accepted within the troop?

14. What steps are taken to keep the new scouts engaged?

We keep them separated into a "first-year" program for the first year of their scouting adventure. They learn all the basics of scouting and are on common ground with others having the same interest. They are not responsible for planning or conducting meetings. It also helps that they are competing with one another for rank advancements. Conversely, there are also activities we do not let them participate in. This builds their anticipation and gives them things to look forward to in future scout years.

15. Do most troops operate in essentially the same manner? 

No. All troops are different. In BSA theory all troops should be run by the scouts with the adults there to facilitate. In reality, each troop is cared for by adult volunteers and they are free to interpret just how "boy run" they want to be. Troops are dynamic and change when adult volunteers change, when older scouts leave, when there is a big influx of new scouts, and when there is a small recruitment year.

16. What sets this troop apart from other troops in the area?

We have traditions and philosophies we strive to maintain, but the root of our strength comes from our adult volunteers.

17. What suggestions can you offer for a 2nd year Webelos in picking out a troop?

o    Let your webelo decide which troop to join. It's hard not to guide them, but in the end they are more committed if they make the decision. I know my webelo made a terrific decision even though the troop he joined was not my first choice. Webelos are smarter than you think.

o    Have a good reason for joining a Troop alone, especially if good friends are joining other troops.

o    Have your scout commit to reaching first class before you consider letting them drop out

o    BE ACTIVE. It's easy to drop behind other patrol members if you skip meetings the first year. You also double the effort required by the adult volunteers when they have to bring a single scout back up to speed.

o    Summer Camps are crucial if you have any desire to reach Eagle.

o    No scout ever reached eagle rank by themselves; parents ALWAYS have to get involved. Come on, it's fun!

o    If your scout wants to drop out of scouting; you might consider visiting other troops before letting him quit. Some Troops are more adult run, some are scout run, some are strict, some camp a lot, some camp infrequently. It only cost $1 to transfer your registration.


18. Why is it encouraged to help other scouts and not your own?

Associating with other adults gives confidence, introduces alternative viewpoints and personalities, and provides a different source for a common theme: following the scout oath and law.

19. This troop is great! I would like to help out but I'm too busy.

We're all busy.

20. This troop is not so good!

One thing is for sure, it's not because of the people. We have the best adults around! Sometimes we get stretched for manpower and end up neglecting some important jobs. We can ALWAYS use help making the troop better, even if it's doing a little job during meetings or handling one event or activity.

21. I was hoping my son would get ____ out of scouting.

Sometimes it takes you getting involved.

22. My son likes scouting but I don't want to get involved.

Most people are hesitant to get involved at first, especially after cubs. Scouting is different. The scouts are supposed to do all the work. The people are fantastic. The outdoors is a gigantic adventure there for us to enjoy. The high adventure treks are fantastic. I've learned more from the other adults in the troop than I ever imagined. I've also seen some of the most dramatic changes in my scouts when they learn from each other and from other adult mentors.