Troop 14 Overview

As a new family in Troop 14, there's a lot of information available to make your life easier, especially in the first few weeks.

Philosophy

Troop 14 is a boy-led organization. Unlike most youth organizations, the boys themselves actually run the Troop. This ranges everywhere from running the meetings to training other Scouts, from choosing an outing program to organizing the food purchases and the cooking for an outing.

That's not to say that the boys are entirely on their own. There are, in fact, two different kinds of adult assistance and support available to the Scouts: the Scouters (Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters), and the parents at-large. The primary role of the Scouters is to ensure safety, and to provide guidance and mentorship for the Scouts.

Volunteering

Volunteers are essential to Troop 14's health and success. All families in the Troop volunteer their time to help. Volunteer opportunities cover a broad range of interests, skills, and availability, including:

  • Coordinating an outing (hike, overnight).
  • Arranging for refreshments for a special celebration.
  • Helping look after the Troop's finances.
  • Serving as a Scouter (uniformed leader).
  • Helping the Troop's Quartermaster (a Scout) keep track of the Troop's inventory of equipment.
  • Coordinating our annual Scouting for Food community service project.
  • Working with our Scout District on the annual Friends of Scouting fundraising campaign.
  • Being a Merit Badge Counselor.
  • Joining the Troop on an outing.

This is a sample of the possibilities. Your involvement enhances your son's experience, and makes Troop 14 stronger, more vibrant. If you have questions about volunteering for any particular role, or have other ideas on how you can help, please talk with the Scoutmaster or the Troop Committee Chair.

Scouting Organization

The "unit" (Boy Scout troop, Cub Scout pack, Explorer post, Venturing Crew) is the basic administrative unit in Scouting. Each unit is sponsored by a chartered organization: an organization authorized by the Boy Scouts of America to sponsor that unit. The Covenant Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto sponsors Troop 14. Chartered organizations provide support to their units; we are grateful to the Church for allowing us to use Church space for our meetings and for equipment storage, for example.

The Scouts in the Troop

In Boy Scouts, each Troop is divided into patrols—in Troop 14, a group of eight to twelve Scouts who work together, led by a Patrol Leader. A few Scouts in the Troop are part of a special, leadership patrol: the Senior Patrol, comprised of the Senior Patrol Leader and one or more Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders. Overall, the Senior Patrol Leader leads the Troop.

The Scouts elect their youth leaders: their respective Patrol Leaders and the Senior Patrol Leader. These youth in turn appoint other leadership positions (e.g., Assistant Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Scribe, etc.), with the advice and concurrence of the Scoutmaster.

The Adults in the Troop

The adults in the Troop who volunteer to help comprise the Troop Committee. The Troop Committee, overseen and coordinated by the Committee Chair, provides general, high-level support for the Troop. In addition to general volunteers and the Committee Chair, the Committee includes the Treasurer, Secretary, Outings Coordinator, and Advancement Chair. The Committee meets once each month.

The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters oversee day-to-day operation of the Troop.

The Larger Organization of Scouting

The units in a given geographic area are organized into districts; the districts, in turn, into councils. Troop 14 is part of the Stanford District in the Pacific Skyline Council. The Unit Commissioner functions as a liaison between the unit and the District, also providing advice and guidance based on his or her experience in Scouting.

Our council is part of the Boy Scouts of America, our country's member in the World Organization of the Scout Movement. (For historical context, Scouting was founded in 1907 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, in the UK; BSA was founded in 1910 by William Boyce.)

Advancement

There are two main parts of any great Scouting program: outings and advancement. Advancement through Scouting's ranks provides recognition for Scouts as they learn and demonstrate new skills, leadership, and service.

Earning ranks

First, your son will begin at the Scout rank, which he earns by demonstrating understanding of the basic principles and philosophies of Scouting. He'll progress through TenderfootSecond Class, and First Class by learning and demonstrating knowledge of Scoutcraft skills, ranging from basic knife safety to use of a map and compass, from citizenship and flag protocol to first aid, from swimming to cooking while in camp.

Following First Class, your son will progress through Scouting's upper ranks: StarLife, and Eagle. He does this by earning Merit Badges, providing leadership to the Troop, and engaging in community service.

Earning Merit Badges

Merit Badges provide each Scout the opportunity to learn more about a specialized area. Though the Troop provides Scoutcraft training to carry a Scout through First Class, each Scout will typically be working with adults outside the Troop, and certainly outside Troop meetings, to earn Merit Badges. Indeed, one of the goals of the Merit Badge program is to provide Scouts a chance to develop a relationship with adults outside the Troop.

In addition to earning Merit Badges during the year, various Merit Badges are available at Camp Oljato, our Council's summer camp (see below): in particular, those relating to the outdoors and advanced Scoutcraft are frequently earned at Oljato. Other Merit Badges are offered at the annual Merit Badge Midway (run by the Council; usually held in the winter).

Many Merit Badges will require your son to contact a registered Merit Badge Counselor. The Troop's Advancement Chair has a list of authorized Merit Badge Counselors. It's very important for your son to contact the counselor, rather than for you to contact him or her. You should certainly provide encouragement and support, but it must be up to your son to take the initiative and make the contact.

To earn Eagle, a Scout must complete twenty-one Merit Badges, twelve of which are required.

Scoutmaster Conferences

Each rank requires the Scout to have a chat with his Scoutmaster or one of his Assistant Scoutmasters. This is both an opportunity for the Scoutmaster (or Assistant) to talk privately with the Scout, and the Scoutmaster's chance to review the candidate's skills. We take Scoutcraft skills pretty seriously in Troop 14: the adults involved in the Troop who were, themselves, Scouts have found these skills invaluable, not just when camping or otherwise engaged in outdoor activities, but generally in life. Simple things like basic first aid response or safely hanging a tire swing benefit from the skills learned in Scouting.

Boards of Review

Following completion of all other requirements, the Troop will convene a Board of Review. The Board is a chance for additional discussion with the Scout about the Troop, his feelings about Scouting, his future plans in Scouting, and Scouting philosophies. None of the uniformed Troop leaders sits on the Boards of Review: other volunteers, typically from among the other parents in the Troop, serve.

The Board may pass the Scout, conditionally pass the Scout (asking him to demonstrate a particular skill again, e.g.), or ask the Scout to appear again for specific reasons.

Courts of Honor

Following the earning of awards—ranks, Merit Badges, service stars, etc.—the Scout participates in a Court of Honor, at which the awards are presented. Troop 14 typically holds a reception with potluck refreshments following each Court, in order to help celebrate the Scouts' achievements.

Outings

Troop 14 takes numerous outings each year. The typical schedule from September through June is to take one or two outings each month: one day trip, and one overnight. Generally, all Scouts are welcome on all trips; a few trips—longer, more difficult adventures—may have age, rank, or experience-based requirements.

Participation in Troop outings is optional, though strongly encouraged. Going on Troop outings is a very big part of Scouting. Besides learning skills that are important in the Scouting program, joining the Troop on outings instills in Scouts a better appreciation of the outdoors, nature, and the environment. It also provides critical opportunities for Scouts to get to know other Scouts in the Troop, and to work together with them as a team.

In addition to Troop outings, each patrol typically takes one or two outings on its own over the course of the year.

Summer Camps

Camp Oljato

Troop 14 traditionally heads up to Camp Oljato each summer. Oljato, run by the Pacific Skyline Council, provides Scouts with opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, experience organized Scout camping, and work on advancement (both Scoutcraft skills and Merit Badges). The Troop usually attends Oljato for two weeks, late in July.

High Adventure Camps

The Boy Scouts of America runs three "high adventure" camps: camps that provide a longer or somewhat unusual camping experience. These camps—Philmont, Northern Tier, and the Florida Sea Base—give Scouts fourteen and older three highly varied options for a summer's adventure.

More information about each of these high adventure camps is available on the Web.

Philmont: Extended wilderness treks in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico.
Northern Tier: Wilderness canoe trips in northern Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba.
Florida Sea Base: Maritime high adventure, including tall ship sailing, scuba, sea kayaking, etc.

Other Organized Gatherings

Various other Scouting gatherings or organized by the District, Council, or larger segments of Scouting. These include:

  • Camporee: a District-wide camping event, typically including various Scoutcraft contests or demonstrations.
  • Scout-o-Rama: a council-wide Scouting fair.
  • Jamborees: national or international celebrations of Scouting, held once every four years.

Supplies

Over the course of your son's Scouting career, he'll need various supplies and equipment. (If you join us on outings, you'll need some of this, too!) These will range from uniforms and handbooks, to Merit badge pamphlets and position-specific training materials, to hiking boots, tents, sleeping bags, and other appropriate outdoor equipment. In many cases, outdoor equipment can be rented, borrowed, or purchased used if you'd rather not purchase new. Similarly, as you might guess, boys of Scouting age are constantly growing—and, thus, outgrowing their uniforms. You might well be able to find an outgrown uniform from among some of the older Scouts in the Troop.

Scouting-specific supplies (uniforms, handbooks, etc.) are available at the Palo Alto Service Center located at Lucie Stern community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto; phone: 650-327-5900.

There are numerous outdoor supply stores in the Bay Area. Please note that Troop 14 does not endorse any particular store (either pro or con, either by its inclusion or its absence in the following list). Some of the more frequently mentioned stores include:

  • REI (Mountain View, San Carlos, Saratoga)
  • Redwood Trading Post (Redwood City)
  • Mountain View Surplus (Mountain View)
  • Western Mountaineering (San José)
  • Oshman's (various locations)
  • Big 5 (various locations)
  • Cabella's (catalog; available by mail, phone, and Web)
  • EMS (none west of Colorado, but available by mail, phone, and Web)
  • ALPS (mail, phone, Web)
  • Campmor (mail, phone, Web)

Ordering Troop 14 Logo Items through Lands End

Many of the scouts have ordered fleece vests and jackets which are good quality and great to have on camping trips.  Many of us have ordered hats, totes, etc.  Any item that can be customized can have our Troop 14 logo embroidered on it for a small fee.

A few tips when you order:
  • Our logo and account are set up through Lands End Business Outfitters (a division of Lands End). Their number is 800-338-2000
  • Logo ref. # 1122432
  • Our Customer number #4766009 would also be helpful to give when you call to place your order.
  • Items ordered are through the Lands End Business Outfitters site: http://ocs.landsend.com/cd/frontdoor?store_name=corpsales&store_type=1&intcmp=xsite_LE.
    Since they don't carry a men's small in the thermacheck fleece, they can get that item from the regular Lands End side.
  • It is much easier to do the ordering over the phone while looking at the items on your computer. They are open 7a.m. - 7 p.m. Central Time, Mon - Fri.

Online Resources

There's a wealth of information about Scouting available on the Web.

Questions?

If you have questions, feel free to ask the Troop Committee Chair, the Scoutmaster, or any of the Assistant Scoutmasters. Relevant email addresses:

You're also welcome to ask questions of the parents whose sons have been in the Troop a while. We strive to keep Troop 14 an informal, welcoming place.