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Boy Scout Troop 98
(West End, North Carolina)
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Many Questions Answered

This section, although long will help answer many questions about Scouting and Troop 98.  If there is something that you can not find or more questions please contact our Troop using the link at the top of the page.

What is "Scouting"?



Scouting is unlike anything your son has ever experienced before.   


Unlike school, organized sports, or perhaps even in the home setting, in a Scout troop the youth are the ones who are in charge.  THEIR desires become our agenda.  THEIR ideas for adventure, fun,and excitement are what the adults guide them to bring into reality.  In Scouting, THEY speak and the adults listen.


By practicing representative democracy, they pick their own leaders who form the"Patrol Leader Council" which creates the monthly/yearly agenda.Scouts work together on every issue, from what to eat at camp to deciding who will wash dishes and shop for food.They learn and PUT INTO PRACTICE communication, public speaking,teamwork, conflict resolution, and leadership... all the skills they will need to excel in the "real world".


By taking advantage of any of the 136 (as of April 2015) possible merit badges, they gain exposure to areas of interest ranging from Rifle Shooting to Chemistry, from Small Boat Sailing to Aviation, and from Reading to Nuclear Science, and more.Statistically, the Merit Badge program often leads to life-long hobbies and even career choices.  At a minimum,Merit Badges help a young man try things he may never have had a chance to do if not for the Scouting experience, such as rifle shooting, archery, sailing,or camping.  


While they are busy "being Scouts" and having fun, they start to embody the virtues of Scouting defined in the Scout Oath and Law.


What is scouting?   It's "fun with a purpose".




The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the "Aims of Scouting.” They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.


The methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.



The ideals of Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Scout measures themselves against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high and as they reach for them they have some control over what and who they will become.



The patrol method gives Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches them how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through their elected representatives.


Outdoor Programs

Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Scouts gain an appreciation for God’s handiwork and humankind’s place in it. The outdoors is the laboratory for Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources.



Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Scout plans there advancement and progresses at their own pace as they meet each challenge. The Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps them gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.


Association with Adults

They learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to their Scouts, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.


Personal Growth

As Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Scouting. They grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with their Scoutmaster help each Scout to determine their growth toward Scouting’s aims.


Leadership Development

The Scout program encourages them to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a Scout accept the leadership role of others and guides them toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.



The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Scout activities and provides a way for Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.


What do they do as "Scouts"?




The Scouting Of America Program is over 100 year old, professionally crafted, program of education and character development.  By using the "Outdoor Method" (camping, fishing, rock climbing, etc) they work together to"do the things they like to do".  In the process, they learn the value of teamwork, honesty, communication, mutual respect, and more as they work towards their goal and overcome any obstacles they encounter.


By employing the METHODS of Scouting, we reinforce the AIMS of Scouting, which are reflected in our Oath and Law.  The goal is to see that they become permanent fixtures in the character of each Scout as we teach them to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrift,Brave, Clean, and Reverent.


Most Scouts get to do things and go places they would have never had the opportunity to do if not for being involved in Scouting.   


      Do the Scouts join "character development" programs?




They do...but only if they don't realize it.  :-)


Ask a teenager if they wants to join a "character development program" and they will look at you with the same enthusiasm as asking if they want to help wash the dishes and take out the trash.  


Ask that same teenager if they wants to get together with his friends and go camping,fishing, biking, or shoot rifles and bows & arrows and the answer will be,"SIGN ME UP!"


WHAT IF...someone were intelligent enough to make FUN happen in a way that indirectly taught MEANINGFUL lessons?

WHAT IF...there were a way to offer ADVENTURES, while constantly exposing them to positive values & morals?

WHAT IF...there were a way to let them plan a "weekend of adventure"while teaching them how to plan, communicate, compromise, organize, and execute... you know...  those valuable SKILLS that they will need in the"real world" someday?


Wouldn't that be perfect, to "play" in a way that allows them to learn, grow,develop, and prosper while being surrounded by like-minded peers and adults?Those are precisely the AIMS and METHODS of Scouting.


Hidden within the FUN and ADVENTURE, Scouting is totally a "character development" program, but as trained Scouters (adult leaders), our job isto focus on delivering the program the "BSA way" so that the Aims& Methods are successfully achieved.   We're not"babysitters" or "zoo keepers", nor are we a bunch of guys trying to get away from the yard work one weekend a month.   We're dedicated to serving our youth by delivering the Scouting Program the way the BSA designed it.  When we're done, we've got some outstanding young adults to show for it!

What is the ONE bit of advice for a Scout?






The Scout Handbook does an EXCELLENT job explaining the BSA Program.  


It also provides valuable skill instruction and has the potential to IGNITE dreams of adventure, exploration, and fun for Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities.... all of which are POSSIBLE in this troop!  


"I'm bored" are the 2 words NO Scout has a right to say, as we are determined to help bring all their ideas into reality.


Spend time with your child each night (especially if he is new to Scouting).   Read the book with them.  Quiz them on a skill, or challenge them to a knot tying contest.  Ask them if they believe they are living up to the Scout Law.


Don't let Scouting be "1 hour a week" each Monday night, but a regular and routine part of every day.


We're looking at troops. What should we look for?


WHAT should you look for when you visit a troop?

WHAT are some signs of a "good" unit?


Keep these questions in mind...

How is the attendance?  (Low enrollment and/or attendance may indicate a troubled program.)

Are boys advancing at an individualized rate?  Is there a mix of ranks among the Scouts, even in the same patrols?  (Right answer is "yes")

How many EAGLES did they have last year?   

Were YOU welcomed?  Did they make you feel genuinely welcomed and wanted?

WHO is TEACHING?  Scouts, or adults?  (With the exception of “advanced" skill instruction, youth leaders should be running the meeting.)

Are they having FUN?  Do the Scouts look interested, or bored?

Is there Scouts of various ages?   (Big gaps in enrollment may indicate periods of a problem program or "issues" with the adult leadership.)

How long has the Scoutmaster been the Scoutmaster?  (A "new guy" may be lacking experience, and "old timers" almost always lack "program updates” or haven't attended training in years.)

Is there room for you as a leader or on the Troop Committee?

Are the Scouts well behaved?  Do they respond to the "Scout Sign" or was someone screaming "SIGNS UP!!!"?  Any screaming is a warning sign.

Ask what trips they've had, and what they have planned.   Do they do the same trips every year, or are they always trying something new and exciting?

WATCH YOUR Child!   Did he blend in?  Did the Scouts make efforts to include them?

Watch for different "stages" of the Troop meeting.  There should be distinct periods of Skill Instruction, Patrol time, Inter-patrol Activity, and some formal opening and closing ceremonies.

What are the facilities like?  Is there adequate meeting space... Storage to "do things"?  

ASK the Scouts questions.  Ask if they like the troop, and then ask WHY they gave that answer.

Ask about camping fees or monthly dues.   There are some troops that take extravagant trips every year and may run a program that is quite costly for its members.  Remember that one troop does not represent "all" of Scouting.   A troop with extravagant trips or plans endless "fund raisers" does not mean every troop will operate that way or that "Scouting" is expensive.  


My child was never a Cub Scout, can they still join?




YES!  There are no prerequisites for joining any of the Scouting units other than meeting the age requirements.   Scouting has MUCH to offer young men and women and we welcome new members at any age, and at any point in the year.


Cub Scout Pack - Boys ages 5-11 (kindergarten through 5th grade)

Scout Troop - Young Adults ages 11-18 (can be dual-enrolled in Crew or Post)

Venturing Scout Crew * - Young Adults (coed) ages 14-21 (can be dual-enrolled in Troop or Post)

Explorer Scout Post * - Young men ages 14-18 (can be dual-enrolled in Troop or Crew)


* Venturing Crews focus on more high-adventure activities; Explorer Posts focus on a career path such as law enforcement or fire fighters.     While a member of Venturing or Explorers, youth under the age of 18 can continue to pursue Eagle Scout (Scouting of America) or the Gold Award (Girl Scouts).


I wasn't a Scout as a child, can I be a Scout Leader



All are welcome to contribute as much as they would like as a uniformed leader, Committee Member, or a Merit Badge Counselor (MBC).


As a Merit Badge Counselor, you choose to provide counseling from 1 to many of the available 130+ Merit Badges.  YOU DO NOT need to be an "expert" to be a counselor, as the $4.59 handbooks will cover ALL that you need to know to learn/teach each particular badge.    


As a Merit Badge Counselor, your time is ONLY used "upon request" when a Scout decides he would like to work on a particular badge for which you've agreed to be a counselor.  Merit Badges are intended to be earned OUTSIDE of the weekly meeting, so Scouts meet with you ON YOUR SCHEDULE of availability.


NOTE... all leaders MUST complete a BSA Adult Application, which requires you to provide your Social Security Number.   A background check will be done.  WE (Troop) will NOT know of the particular details of anyone's record, but will simply be told "yes/no" regarding your eligibility.   If you do not provide your SSN, you will not be accepted as a leader.   This is National BSA policy, not a policy of Troop 98.

Where would I fit as an adult leader?




Youth are Scouts.Adults are Scouters.


As a Scouter, you can serve in 3 capacities in a local Scout unit. Other positions exist at the District level, but we're focused on the Troop on this FAQ.


Scoutmaster (SM) / Assistant Scoutmaster (ASM) - these Scouters work closest with the Scouts and ensure the program is running as it should.  Their primary focus is to support the Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader by guiding them in leadership of the Troop while delivering the "Program".


Merit Badge Counselor (MBC) - a MBC works with Scouts on an individual basis to work on the specific badges (from 1 to 140) that the MBC is registered to teach.  A MBC works with the Scouts "on demand" when he is contacted by the Scouts requesting time to complete badge work.


Committee Member - the role of the committee is to provide the Scoutmaster with the support needed to deliver the program that the Patrol Leader Council chooses as the "Program".   The Committee provides the logistical support (funds/fund raisers, camping equipment, Treasury, campsite reservations, recording advancement, Boards of Review, registration/recharter, etc) needed to support the Troop.   The Committee also has the responsibility to ensure that the Scoutmaster and the PLC are delivering a program that is aligned with the BSA Charter.  If not, the Committee can recommend replacements.  The Committee Chair would report to the Charter Organization which has the authority to hire/fire adult leaders.


The Committee is headed by a Committee Chairman who functions as the "great organizer" to make sure that sub-committees are on-task in their roles within the troop, such as ensuring a Treasurer delivers a Treasurer's report... Outdoor Chair is making campsite reservations....  Quartermaster is maintaining the camping equipment.... webmaster(s) are updating the website... etc. To avoid "power plays" the Committee Chair is more of an "organizer" than a "position of authority".   Committee decisions are made via parliamentary procedure and voting.  The Committee Chair does not get to cast a vote unless votes are tied.  By design, the Scoutmaster and assistants are NOT members of the Committee, and therefore cannot vote on committee decisions.  


There are a myriad of positions needed to staff a strong committee, so most adults in a troop are registered as Committee Members.




Why do Scouts wear a Uniform and what is official?



The Uniform is a specific item listed in the"Methods" of Scouting.   Wearing a uniform publicly identifies the young adult as a member of an organization and underscores that certain behavior is expected from them through the Scouting Oath, Law, and Motto.   To those who understand the Program, wearing the [full]uniform is an essential aspect of the Scouting Movement.


Also, Scouting's founder, Lord Baden Powell realized long ago, that when people look the same (uniform), they not only show they are members of an organization, but being dressed the same erases all traces of "class" or "wealth" or "social status".In Scouting, all are equal and treat each other with respect.  In doing so, we learn to look past class, income,race, religion, nationality, and social status.


Despite the attacks from some of Scouting's detractors, there has never been a program as OPEN and SUPPORTIVE of diversity as Scouting.


Considering this was taken into account in 1907,Lord Baden Powell was clearly a man ahead of his time.


Officially, the BSA has ONE uniform, and any historical version of it is acceptable (once official, always official).It is found in the front pages of every Scout Handbook.


The official BSA uniform is comprised of:

A troop-issued hat *

A troop neckerchief *

BSA tan shirt (with patches placed in the proper spots)

A Merit Badge Sash **

BSA olive pants*

BSA web belt w/ buckle

BSA socks*


This is THE official uniform, but in many pieces of BSA literature it may be referred to as the FIELD uniform, or commonly, the"Class A" (a military term the BSA prefers NOT to use as the BSA does not wish to be perceived as a paramilitary organization).


* Technically, hats and neckerchiefs (and how they are worn) are optional in the BSA Uniform Guide we have adopted not to require the pants or socks, but if the wearing of either is adopted by a troop, they are then considered official components of the uniform.  


** The Merit Badge Sash, worn over the right shoulder, is impractical for most Scouting-related activities.  It is therefore only worn at ceremonial events or select meetings such as a Court of Honor.


It is not always practical to wear the Field Uniform shirt every minute a Scout is involved in a scouting-related activity. The BSA offers a variety of polo-type shirts and tee shirts imprinted with BSA logos, and many troops (ours included) often opt to have custom printed shirts made.  


It is customary practice that when a troop (as a whole) agrees on a standard shirt, they will opt to wear it INSTEAD of the BSA olive shirt, and in many items of BSA literature, this will be referred to as an ACTIVITY uniform, or sticking with military nomenclature, "Class B".


Historically, the BSA offers major redesigns to the uniform about every 20 years.  The last change that the BSA announced was the "Centennial Uniform" with "switchback" pants and some color changes to troop number decals and shoulder loops.   This is the 5th major redesign in the BSA's 100 year history.


What do you mean by "Scout Led"?



A Scout troop leads itself.   Adults are present to guide and ensure safety & compliance exists, but it is the YOUTH who make key decisions.  The primary role of the Scoutmaster is to teach the Senior Patrol Leader how to run/lead the troop.


The Scouting program using The Patrol Method means the Troop members ELECT their own leaders; individual Patrol Leaders and a Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) who takes on "ownership" and holds the actual leadership position within the Troop.  The SPL appoints an assistant scout (Assistant Senior Patrol Leader - ASPL) and various other leadership positions, all of whom serve at the Scoutmaster's discretion.


While serving as Senior Leaders, the SPL and ASPL cease to be members of their respective patrols and function as peers with the adult leadership. The SPL and ASP execute Program decisions, lead the meetings, plan agendas, pick camping destinations, and LEAD BY EXAMPLE when executing the agenda that the Scouts themselves created and agreed to follow.


Patrol Leaders are responsible for the well-being and actions of their individual patrol and will REPRESENT their patrol in the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC).


At the PLC meeting (chaired by the SPL and monitored by the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster), Patrol Leaders plan future trips and troop meetings. Through a model of Representative Government, THEY choose the trips andactivities THEY want to do, and appoint other scouts to serve as skill instructors, or lead games & other activities.  Adult leadership keeps them on track with suggestions and advice, but the decisions are ultimately left to THE YOUTH.


Once the future meetings/camping trips are planned, the SPL and Scoutmaster present the PLC's plans to the Troop Committee for review. The agenda is checked for issues such as necessary fund raising, unique equipment/skills, camp ground reservations, and is given an over-all inspection to confirm that trips are aligned with the purpose of the Scouting Program.   If the plans are approved, the SPL goes forward with leading the weekly meetings or delegating others who will lead all/part of the meeting.The model is "Scouts leading Scouts" unless the skill instruction needed is currently beyond the skill set of the Scouts or relates to merit badge requirements, then adults will render assistance.


ADULTS are a RESOURCE for guidance and ensuring that things are done the "BSA way" for safety, youth development and general direction setting.


"Youth Leadership" really means the Troop is doing the things the Troop want to do, and in doing so, they will develop the leadership, communication, problem resolution, and organizational skills that underscore why Scouts excel in all other areas of their lives.



If Scouting is "youth led", why have adult leaders?




A Scout troop is "youth run", and the functioning boss is one of the Scouts who serves as the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL).  They were elected to that position by all the Scouts in the troop and typically serves for a 6 month term.


However, just because a patch is sewn on your sleeve designating you as the "leader", it doesn't mean that you actually know HOW to lead. That's where the adults come in.    


The Scoutmaster's job is to teach the SPL how to lead their own unit.   That seems to be more of a "journey" than a "destination" because in 6 months, a new election is held.  The next Scout to be elected as the SPL may have strong leadership skills, or may be starting to develop them for the first time so getting to a "100% youth run" status is difficult.


Sometimes we're able to be more "out of the way" than others, but our goal is to let the youth leaders "lead" and only step in when necessary, even if that means letting them make a few mistakes along the way.  

Does my child have to come every week?



We certainly won't send the "Scout Police" out to find you if you don't show up, but you miss out on a big part of the BSA Program if you don't attend regularly.


Scouting is NOT just playtime, or "Billy's weekend fun" away from his kid sister.   Scouting is a carefully crafted character-development program where no aspect of this program exists by accident.


Each scout is a member of a PATROL, and as such, is part of a smaller group (as compared to the whole Troop) so that they are given AMPLE opportunity to play an active and valuable "hands on" role in the patrol's success.


A Scout who shows up only for the "fun trips" or shows up sporadically to the weekly meetings DEPRIVES themselves of the chance to make key decisions within their patrol; choose trip ideas and destinations, make menu selections, divvy out workloads, and build close friendships.  Every meeting includes a period of valuable skill instruction and fun inter-patrol competitions that relate to the upcoming camping trip. If someone misses a meeting, they will find themselves less prepared for the upcoming weekend in the outdoors.  The troop meetings are where we "learn", but the camping trip is where we reinforce the skills by putting them into practical use.


Scouts should make every effort to attend meetings on a regular basis.   Those who don't are missing out on the full experience of their limited Scouting years, and are causing their fellow patrol members to do the same.  Patrols with members who do not attend regularly DO perform less efficiently than other patrols where their members attend each week.   The differences are noticeable and sometimes astounding when it comes to teamwork, food preparation, advancement, etc.


Scouts who hold LEADERSHIP POSITIONS are expected to show up at every meeting and camping trips as the leadership positions are "working" positions.  Scouts need to provide leadership service to their patrols and the troop as a whole in order to be credited for their time in leadership positions (often needed for rank advancement).


What is "being active in your troop"?




For the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks, the scouts are required to be "active" in the troop and serve in some type of leadership capacity.   


Being active "enough" to get credit towards rank is a very hard thing to measure.  Some troops insist on 80% or 75% attendance at all events.  Some BSA resources ( insist that "active" is nothing more than being registered and having your annual dues paid.   But a FAIR and REASONABLE definition of "active" or "leader" is found somewhere in the middle.


The March-April 2012 edition of Scouting Magazine did a 1 page article that offers the best answer.  This is the guideline we will follow.     It recognizes that several worthwhile organizations/activities for youths are found outside of Scouting, and that it is unreasonable to expect 100% attendance at all functions.  However, the fact also remains that the PURPOSE of being "active" in Scouting is so the program can have an impact on you, and you can have an impact on the Program and your fellow scouts. Therefore, a REASONABLE amount of participation and attendance is incumbent upon you.  


Those in Leadership positions have a unique responsibility.  People are actually counting on you to do your "job" and provide leadership (in some capacity) to the Troop in general.  Therefore, the Scoutmaster will clarify these expectations with you when you have attained a position of leadership.  You may also ask them any time you are unsure or confused as to whether or not you're fulfilling the obligations of your position.    The decision of the Scoutmaster as to whether or not a Scout has completed requirements for "leadership" and has been "active" are made at his discretion.


What is the purpose of a "patrol"?



A significant part of the Scouting experience is to get plenty of HANDS ON activity.  From knot tying, to cooking on a fire and stove, to learning how to use a pocket knife or axe...   Scouts "DO".


In order to make sure everyone gets a chance to DO, the Scouts are divided into smaller groups within the Troop so that everyone gets ample opportunity to participate.  This is part of what the BSA calls, "The Patrol Method".


Within a patrol-sized group, they do not get "lost among the crowd" or feel as though their opinions (and votes) don't matter. Each plays a critical and important role in the Patrol's success.


The definition of the "Patrol Method" from the National Council's website...


Patrols are the building blocks of a Scout troop. A patrol is a small group of Scouts who are similar in age, development, and interests. Working together as a team, patrol members share the responsibility for the patrol's success. They gain confidence by serving in positions of patrol leadership. All patrol members enjoy the friendship, sense of belonging, and achievements of the patrol and of each of its members.


What is a "Patrol Outing"?




While there is a planned agenda for the Troop as a whole, individual Patrols are encouraged to participate in their own activities aside from the weekly meeting.  For example, if a Patrol wants to hike or visit a zoo, they need not wait until the activity can be scheduled and incorporated into the Troop's annual or semi-annual plan.


Patrol members may plan & execute trips on their own.   In this age of Facebook and Twitter, nothing stops a patrol from having spontaneous plans or outings to add to their fun/excitement as Scouts.   


The only stipulation would be that any outing done as a "Scout unit" must comply with the Guideline To Safe Scouting, and we'd ask that Patrols NOT plan trips that are REPLACEMENTS for the scheduled Troop activities, but are done in ADDITION to troop-wide events.


Patrol Outings are a great way to build unity and teamwork in a patrol, and a great way to keep the program nimble and exciting.


What is "Summer Camp"?




Summer camp is a week long experience in "Scout life", and a LOT of fun!  It's held at Council-run scout camps like Durant, Reeves or other BSA-owned properties.  It is staffed with some adult leaders, but the program areas (merit badge classes, and other skill areas) are run by other (older & experienced) Scouts who spend the entire summer living at camp as councilors.


Troops from all over come to camp, and each troop stays in their own campsite.  We sleep and eat together, but beyond that we are joining other scouts in merit badge classes, 1st Year program, or COPE or High Adventure.  You can think of Summer Camp as a week at "Scout College" where they sign up for the classes that interest them, allowing the camping experience to be a personally satisfying experience.


Summer camp has up to 4 basic programs, "1st year", "Open Program", "COPE" (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience), and High Adventure.


The "1st Year Program" is a dedicated program for boys who are typically new to Boy Scouts.  The agenda is focused on the outdoor and basic skills that relate to the first 3 ranks of Scouting.  Although they are focused on basic Scout skills, 1st Year Program attendees usually get the chance to earn 1 or 2 merit badges, get swim lessons or play in the lake during free swim, and after dinner, try out ALL of the program areas around camp during "open time", or join in with camp-wide games organized by the Camp.


"Open Program" is like going to college for a week.  Scouts typically choose to attend classes for up to 5 merit badges. It's a great way to get a LOT of advancement towards Eagle!  After dinner, the program areas throughout camp are opened to everyone so they can sample every part of camp, even if they aren't working on specific merit badges.  There's also plenty of time for "free swim" in the lake, or time to join in with camp-wide games organized by the Camp counselors.


"COPE"  Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience - What a great way for older scouts (13 and up) to challenge themselves physically as they engage in team building, trust building, and physically challenging activities and obstacles like the climbing wall, zip lines, overhead wire course, or the rappelling wall.  While generally open to scouts as young as 13 years of age, the course does require a moderate amount of upper-body strength.  13 year old attendees usually require the approval of the Scoutmaster, as the "ideal" age for COPE is 14 and above.   


A "High Adventure" program may or may not be offered at every BSA camp.  Like COPE, high adventure programs are designed for the "experienced" Scouts (13/14 years or older) who feel like they've "done everything" offered by camp and are ready for something "new".   Some high adventure programs include SCUBA, canoe trips, or other exciting excursions that take you away from the rest of the campers.  Check out the website for the summer camp we are attending in the coming year to see if there is a High Adventure program.




At summer camp, Scouts will be boarded in 8'x8' "wall tents" (large canvass tents with 2 cots, usually on pallets to keep them off of the ground).  Per BSA regulations, "long term camping" requires a set amount of "living space" per scout; hence the use of the BSA camp-supplied wall tents.  Despite their open exposure to the elements, the tents do a great job keeping out the elements and protecting camping gear from getting wet.


All meals are served in the Camp Dining Hall.  Note that ALL camp attendees (adult and youth) MUST be in full Field (Class A) uniform for admittance into the dining hall for dinner.  After dinner, class B or plain clothes are allowed again.


During the day, scouts spend the day in "Program" areas learning the scout skills they selected before coming to camp.  However, there is plenty of "free time" for Scouts to relax, sample other program areas around camp, visit the shooting ranges, fishing, or swim in the Lake.  There are often "camp-wide games" at each camp to make sure Scouts have plenty of FUN and entertaining activities for their entire time at camp.   There are usually opening and closing Council Fires and other ceremonies throughout the week, including OA "tap outs".


What is the "BSA Swim Test"?




Swimming is a big part of many Scouting activities and is a skill that virtually all Scouts will eventually master.  Swimming also represents the largest category where death and injuries in Scouting occur. Therefore, careful attention to the swimming capabilities (and facilities) of ALL water-related activities must be of paramount importance.


In "safe swim areas" (open water) or swimming pools, it is imperative to know the exact level of swimming capabilities of each/every scout.   Before a Scout can participate in any water activity, he must take the "BSA Swim Test" where he will be categorized as a Non-swimmer, Beginner, or Swimmer.   Each designation dictates the depth of the water that the respective scout can enter.


The test:

1.  (Unless a professed non swimmer) Scouts are to jump into water depth that is over their head and return to the surface.  (All swimming is to be done on the surface, not underwater)

2.  Scouts are to swim 75 yards in a "strong and steady" forward stroke (crawl, side, breast, Trudgen) without stopping and without touching the bottom.  Typically it is a 25 yard pool which requires the scout to make a sharp turn and continue uninterrupted, and do this for 3 laps (75 yards).

3.  Scouts are to switch to a "gliding back stroke" and traverse a distance of 25 yards (completing 100 yards of uninterrupted surface swimming).

4.  At the completion of 100 yards, Scouts will then "rest by floating" until signaled by the LifeGuard to exit the pool.


Depending on the category of swim designation, the swim tag will be color coded to visually identify the skill level.  This is a key function in the system used by the lake staff to monitor & manage the number of swimmers, including "Buddy Checks".

What preparation is needed for Summer Camp?



There is much we do to prepare for summer camp; health forms, acclimation, Program selection & prerequisite work, and Swimming.


Health Forms - Every year, we are required by the BSA to bring current/valid health forms for EVERY ATTENDEE (adult and youth) to camp.   EVERYONE must submit the BSA health forms in order to remain on BSA property.  It is best if the BSA health form is completed by the family doctor at the time of the annual "school physicals".   If a current form is not already on file, then families should engage their doctors to ensure the forms are complete and in the hands of the person coordinating troop registration ON TIME for a smooth registration.   PLEASE do not expect "special exceptions" when you are not handing paperwork in or time.Registering/Administrating camp attendance is a huge undertaking, and we need/expect your full cooperation to help facilitate a smooth registration experience.


Acclimation - Every year (typically in April) the Troop conducts a weekend camping trip SPECIFICALLY for the benefit of our newest scouts (those bridging from WEBELOS).  The goal is to get younger Scouts used to attend overnight camp, ideally, 1st year scouts should attend camp without their parent(s).  This will give them a taste for being away from home, especially since Summer Camp is 6 nights away from home.   New parents generally like to "tag along" with their "former cub scouts" on the first couple of camping trips, but this defeats the purpose of getting them used to being away from home.  Try to be supportive of the idea of your child’s camping without you.


Program Selection & Pre-req work - Scouts should choose as early as possible which program area is right for them at camp; 1st Year, Merit Badges, COPE, or High Adventure.   1st Year and Merit Badge participants should select their merit badges early so they can start getting familiar with any prerequisite work that needs to be done before coming to camp.  These actions will ensure that Scouts come home with all badge work COMPLETE and will have the badges awarded as soon as possible. Otherwise, Scouts will have to find other merit badge counselors to help them complete the tasks that were not completed at/before Summer Camp.


Swimming - Swimming is a big part of advancement and other activities in Scouting.   Scouts usually pursue the "Swimming Merit Badge" at a BSA camp due to the number of requirements to earn the Swimming MB and a daily chance to keep cool in the lake.  If your son wishes to attempt the Swimming merit badge, he must be a STRONG swimmer.  Jumping up and down in your 4' deep backyard pool is "keeping cool", it is not "swimming".

Please note that the BSA measures swimming capability by the ability to jump into water that is over his head, surface and swim multiple (3) 25 yard laps (no stopping allowed) in a strong, steady, and proficient forward stroke, the 4th 25 yard lap is made on is back (a "gliding back stroke"), and then 30 seconds of rest/emergency floating.  If this does not describe the swimming capabilities of your son, please do NOT sign him up for the Swimming Merit Badge, as he will NOT pass and will only feel defeated and frustrated when he does not complete the badge and is surrounded by boys who are much more proficient in swimming ability.  Whether pursuing the Swimming merit badge or not, everyone attending Summer Camp will have AMPLE time to cool off and enjoy the lake during "open swim" and/or "instructional swim" times.  Anyone needing basic swim lessons will have them provided at camp.  LIFEGUARD training is also available.


What is the difference between Rank & Merit Badges?



Rank is an interesting word choice, clearly derived from Scouting's origin as a program modeled after a military structure.


Those holding a "higher rank" do not order around those of "lower rank".   In Scouting, the term "rank" is a PERSONAL measure of the progress along the "Trail to Eagle".


When someone first joins Scouting, the first rank they work on is "Scout".  They are the same requirements to earn the Arrow of Light during Cub Scouts.  If a Webleos Scout can demonstrate all of the requirements they can be awarded this rank right away.


They then work on the first 3 RANKS; Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class.    Within the requirements of these ranks, a Scout learns the SAFETY aspects of Scouting; basic first aid, how to choose a safe camp spot, how to properly dress for an outing, how to find their way with map/compass, what to do if they get lost, etc...


Now a demonstrated "safe" Scout... they are ready for the next period of personal development, which is LEADERSHIP.  In the pursuit of Star, Life, and Eagle, a youth is learning (and then mastering) the skills of leadership.  By holding leadership positions within the troop, they learn to lead, instruct, and inspire others.  They learn to "give back" to others, and also learns there emerging place in Society as a citizen.


There are 130+ various Merit Badges available (only 21 needed for Eagle).   To ensure that the Scouts are getting a taste of the opportunities available, the higher badges of rank requires a set number of merit badges be completed (including some designated as "Eagle required").


Merit Badges offer exposure to a diverse background of interests, adventures, and opportunities that Scouts may never experience IF NOT for the Scouting program (Aviation, Scuba, Reptile study, shooting sports, etc).    It is not uncommon that exposure to a topic via the Merit Badge Program leads to life-long hobbies and career choices, as well as "needed skills" like Home Repair, Auto Mechanics, and Public Speaking.


There is no limit on the number of Merit Badges a youth may earn.

Service Projects




Upon reaching the 1st Class rank, Scouts start to learn their place in the community, and more importantly, the citizenship lesson that despite being a young age, scouts have the POWER to IMPACT the community.  Community service hours are required for advancement to Star, Life, and Eagle ranks.


Requirements are to be done as stated in the Handbook; specifically done "while" holding the appropriate rank and "approved by the Scoutmaster".   This clearly implies that approval should be sought before conducting the work.  A scout should not expect to get "service hours" credit for work done without getting the Scoutmaster's approval.   Also, for Star Scouts working towards Life, a scout should be reaching out on their own to find service projects, just as a Life Scout will work to find an acceptable Eagle Project.


What are the steps my Scout has to do to get his Rank Advancement?



Scoutmaster Conference


After a Scout completes all the required tasks towards the next badge of rank, the next step is for the Scout to meet with the Scoutmaster for a "Scoutmaster's Conference".


The Scoutmaster's Conference SHOULD NEVER be a re-testing of any of the skills.  Certifying that the skills have been met is the responsibility of the leader who "signed off" on the Handbook.   Rather, the conference is a chance for the Scoutmaster to make sure all requirements are signed off, and then engage in a comfortable, yet detailed, discussion on how the Scout is feeling about the Program and how Scouting is fitting into that Scout’s life as a whole.  (This IS a character building program, if you didn't know.)


The Scoutmaster wants to hear from the Scout exactly what they like, doesn't like, might want to do different, etc.  He wants to know what the ambitions in Scouting and “life” are.  The ultimate goal is to make sure the Scouting experience is of real benefit to the Scout's development.  


Once the Scoutmaster is convinced the Scout is ready to move forward towards the next rank, the Scoutmaster will direct the Scout to meet with members of the Committee, where a similar meeting will take place.  This is known as a Board of Review.



Board of Review


After a Scout completes his Scoutmaster Conference, they are to appear for a Board of Review.


Amazingly, its functions just like a job or private high school interview (this is not by accident) where the Scout will basically be addressing 2 specific topics:  

How is the Program (including adult leaders) running, and is there anything the Committee should/need to do to make the Program better?

Why does the Scout feel as though they have earned this rank and is ready to move forward to the next rank?


There will be several questions put to the Scout by 3 to 5 Committee members comprising the Board, but ultimately, the 2 questions above are what is being addressed.   For example, a Scout will not be asked to tie a square knot, but may be asked "which knot was the hardest, and how did you get yourself to finally learn it?"


Like a job interview, the Scout MUST come properly dressed; wearing the full (clean and presentable) BSA Field Uniform.  Per BSA policy a Scout should be in "as much of the uniform as possible" for a Board of Review.   Since it "is possible" to be in full uniform, we prefer that Scouts be appropriately dressed as to help them realize that advancement is something "special".


After meeting with the Scout, the Board will debate and if they are in unanimous agreement, will allow rank advancement to be recognized.



Court of Honor


A Court of Honor is a Boy Scouting awards ceremony, commonly held throughout the year.  It is a formal recognition ceremony of awards, badges, or advancement they may have already received at the weekly meetings.  Why recognize things "already received"?  Because Scouts stay motivated by "instant recognition" of work they've done, so as soon as a Scout earns his next rank or completes a merit badge, they are presented to them to help keep them motivated.


At the Court of Honor, Scouts and their families gather for a formal recognition of advancement(s) and accomplishments that have been earned since the last Court of Honor.  There are also periods for the Troop's Committee Chairperson to speak to the state of the Troop, or for some other event such as Scouting's annual Friends of Scouting campaign, updates on fund raising, etc.  Lots of information is presented, but the focus is always on the Scouts' accomplishments first and foremost.Awards for adults or other troop business is downplayed so the focus stays on "building strong adults".


By ceremoniously recognizing the value of advancement and hard work, we hope to strengthen the motivation to continue being active within the Troop and reach for the next rank.  The Court of Honor also gives parents/guardians valuable insight to accomplishments or Program happenings they may not see due to their lack of presence at the weekly meetings.


As always, the goal is to ENCOURAGE through positive reinforcement and praise.  Please join us WHENEVER the possibility exists, to accentuate accomplishments and achievements!


How do Scouts earn Merit Badges?



The day as they sign the BSA application, they are eligible to start working on Merit Badges.  


Completing a Merit Badge involves 4 people... The Scout, the Scoutmaster, the Merit Badge Councilor (MBC), and the troop's Advancement Chair.


The process:


1.  Scout chooses a badge (or badges) that they would like to work on with another Scout.


2.  They then inform the Scoutmaster of the intention to work on a badge, and is issued a "blue card" and given the contact information for a registered Merit Badge Counselor (MBC).  A MBC can be ANY registered MBC in any Council.  They are not obligated to work with councilors in their home unit or Council. CONTRARY TO URBAN MYTH, the Scoutmaster can NOT deny any Scout the opportunity to work on any badge, nor can he delay the badge being awarded once the MBC signs the "blue card" showing that it is complete.  Judgment as to whether a Scout successfully completed the badge requirements rests solely with the MBC.


3.  The Scout(s) contacts the MBC and make arrangements to meet as often as necessary to complete the badge requirements (following Youth Protection guidelines at all times).   Upon the first meeting, the Scout presents the MBC with the blue card, which the councilor keeps so that they can update completion dates and keep track of the Scout's progress.


4.  Upon completion, the MBC will sign all 3 segments of the blue card, and return it back to the Scout who in turn, presents it to the Scoutmaster for final signature indicating final recognition that all work is complete.    Again, the Scoutmaster does NOT have the authority to deny, "Retest", or delay the formal completion of any MB work.


5. The Scoutmaster will pass the signed segments along to the troop's Advancement Chairperson who will record the work on the Troop and Council levels, and ensure the Scout is presented with his badge on the next possible opportunity. *


* While NOT mandatory that a badge be presented right away, the BSA strongly encourages "instant recognition" for effort.  The typical model is to present the badge by the next meeting, and present the "pocket card" during a formal presentation at the next Court of Honor.  


6.  The Scout will be given 1 segment of his blue card which he must keep so that it can be produced when applying for his Eagle Rank.  The Troop should also retain a segment for their records as will the MBC for his records.  

What is the Order or the Arrow?




The Order of the Arrow (OA) is the Honor Society of Scouting.   



As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to: Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.

Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.

Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.

Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.


The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are:  

Be a registered member of the Scouts of America.

After registration with a troop or team, have experienced 15 days and nights of Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election. The 15 days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps.

Youth must be under the age of 21, hold the BSA First Class rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster, be elected by the youth members of their troop or team.

Adults (age 21 or older) who are registered in the BSA and meet the camping requirements may be selected following nomination to the lodge adult selection committee. Adult selection is based on their ability to perform the necessary functions to help the Order fulfill its purpose, and is not for recognition of service, including current or prior positions. Selected adults must be an asset to the Order because of demonstrated abilities, and must provide a positive example for the growth and development of the youth members of the lodge.

How/When do I wear the OA Sash?




When worn, the OA sash or Merit Badge sash is worn over the right shoulder.


The OA Sash is NOT an automatic addition to your Field Uniform (Class A).   Your membership in the OA is shown by the pocket flap patch on your right hand pocket.  Simply put, the OA sash is only worn at OA events or when you are rendering service directly on behalf of the OA.    A scout never wears both sashes at the same time, nor should either of the sashes ever be worn hanging from the belt.


Per the OA Handbook:


The Flap signifies a scout or scouter as a member of a Lodge (if their dues are paid)

The Members wear their sash at camp on Visitors night for the OA call out ceremony

Members of the Unit Election Team wear their sash when they come in to do a unit election.(This is also an appropriate time for the members of the troop to wear their sash.)

Members of the Dance team wear their sash while at a Function.


Remember, Scouts are expected to HONOR THE UNIFORM at all times, which includes wearing it correctly and keeping it clean and presentable.

What's so special about "Eagle Scout"?




Becoming an Eagle Scout is no small achievement.  In fact, among adults who have gone on to become astronauts, doctors, politicians, or business leaders, most of them will say that earning their Eagle is clearly among the most important achievements in their lives.


Back to the question... WHY?


Look at it from this angle.... ADVANCEMENT is completely up to the individual Scout.   If they have no desire or sense of commitment to advance in rank, that is his choice.   IT IS POSSIBLE for a boy to attend EVERY meeting and EVERY camping trip, and never make it through 1/2 of the available ranks if he isn't motivated enough to take the extra step of demonstrating skills or earning merit badges.  Statistically speaking, only 2 out of 100 boys in Scouting will push themselves to become Eagle Scouts.


The "Trail to Eagle" is one of persistence, dedication, well-rounded learning experiences by earning 21+ merit badges, strong attendance at meetings and camping trips, and hundreds of hours of community service.... all culminating with the planning and complete execution of the "Eagle Project" before the Scout turns 18 years old.


The "Eagle Project" is SO MUCH MORE than "giving something back to the community" (which it is, and let's not minimize the importance of community and charity).   It is actually the "final exam" in Scouting.  


The Scout manages the Eagle Project.  They will put to use all of the lessons that has been learned as a Boy Scout;  communicating, organizing, recruiting, conceiving an idea, selling the idea, planning the work, assigning work details to those helping, being the "accountant" that tracks the hours worked and the money spent, etc.   In every conceivable way, The Scout is the "project leader".


THESE are the highly desirable skills and traits that makes "Eagle Scout" stand out on a job resume or college application, and the fact that such skills and moral foundations are learned/mastered before "society" recognizes them as an "adult"...  simply amazing!


What badges are "Eagle Required”?




There are a total of 21 Merit Badges required for the rank of Eagle and are specifically selected to provide a base of education in Scout Skills, Civics, Personal & Financial management, and Physical Fitness.


13 of these badges are Eagle Required "White Bands” (merit badges with white/silver border stitching around the edges).


The remaining 8 (or more if you choose) may be any badges from among the remaining 109 non-Eagle required "Green Band" merit badges (badges with green stitching around the border).


While there are 17 possible Eagle Merit Badges, there are some that are "optional".  Refer to the picture to clearly understand which badges qualify for Eagle, and which ones do not.   Earning MORE THAN ONE of the optional badges will NOT afford you the choice to NOT earn other required badges, but "extra" Eagle badges can be counted towards the mandatory total of 21.


What is an "Eagle Project"?




An "Eagle Project" is a project that is ORGANIZED and MANAGED by a Life Scout who is working towards the Eagle rank.   There are guidelines for Eagle Projects that will be described below, but in its most simple definition, it is a community service project where the Eagle Candidate shows there LEADERSHIP ABILITY.    It is not for the candidate to "do" the work, but to provide the organization and leadership so the work can get done.


Does an Eagle Project need a certain number of "minimum hours"?

No.  There is no set minimum for a project, although most average more than 100 hours of combined service.   However, the length of work must be long enough that there is AMPLE OPPORTUNITY for a scout to show/demonstrate actual "leadership".


Does an Eagle Project have to be unique?

Yes & No.   An Eagle Project does NOT need to be "unique", but it should be unique FOR HIM.   A scout who simply repeats a project that was worked on with another scout is NOT "leading".... that is “repeating" someone else.  Remember, PLANNING and THOUGHT are big parts of the project/process.


Does an Eagle Project require "building" something?

No.  An Eagle Project can be a SERVICE, but it cannot be "routine service"... such as raking leaves at a local church, spreading mulch, or cutting the lawn.  An example of a non-routine service may be the planning/organizing/executing of a clothing drive or canned food drive.       By PERSONAL PREFERENCE, many scouts like "building" something that they can come back to years later and say "That was my Eagle project!”


Does an Eagle Project require all the Scouts of the troop to work on it?

No.  There must be some involvement of the Troop (leaders) so that those who will be sitting on a candidate's Board of Review can say they saw leadership qualities demonstrated, but that does not mean all the labor has to come from Scouts.   If the Candidate wants to call upon friends, family, or contract labor, that's up to them as the "foreman" to hire the right people to get the job done.   However, it is "healthy" for all the scouts when workers include the troop members as it gives all the Scouts a feeling of participation and the motivation for their own Eagle endeavors.


Does an Eagle Project have to cost a certain amount of money?

No.  If money is needed, it is up to the Candidate to raise it through donations, fund raiser, or it can be self-funded.  The stipulation is that there can be NO donated money left over.Any leftover money must be returned to those who donated it.


Does an Eagle Project have to benefit Scouting?

It CAN'T.   Once again, the BSA shows its value to the surrounding community.   Eagle Projects are done for organizations OUTSIDE of Scouting of America.


Can an Eagle Project be done on Government property?

Yes.  Please note that the nature of "government" is slow and full of many "approval processes".   Doing any work on government land or for government agencies will require permits, approvals, board meetings, etc....that can take quite some time.  Scouts should ask these questions in the early stages of his project. Government land projects are NOT a good idea for someone who is about to turn 18 years old as government delays may cause them to MISS the Eagle opportunity.


Can an Eagle Project be done after his 18th birthday?

No.   There is a 60 day time gap after a boy's 18th birthday to file the application for Eagle and have the Board of Review, but ALL WORK (Project, Leadership, Merit Badges and Rank) has to be done prior to turning 18 unless they have ALREADY been granted a waiver for medical/developmental purposes.


This Candidate is a really good kid, an A student, involved in sports, etc...  Is there ANY way to get an extension on time?

No.  All work for the Eagle Rank must be completed before a Candidate’s 18th birthday. There are no exceptions unless his has been previously classified as a "Special Needs" scout.


Do adults help in the Eagle Project?

Absolutely!   Just because it's "the Scout’s" project doesn't mean they are expected to magically have the knowledge of a structural engineer, electrician, or master carpenter.   An Eagle Candidate may reach out and solicit assistance from the RIGHT RESOURCES in order to plan/execute the Project.  Remember, the Candidate’s job is not to be the person swinging the hammer or drawing the plans... but HIRING the right people and making sure work is done according to the plan.


Is there a special way for Eagle Projects to be done?

Yes.  Please reference the BSA Eagle Project Workbook for a step-by-step guide (and approvals!) needed to complete an Eagle Project.


WHAT IF a Scout didn't do exactly what they were supposed to?  Maybe they allowed their dad to take over the Project, or never invited the adult leaders to see them "in action"... you wouldn't "punish" the Scout by denying them their Eagle, would you?

Yes, and so would District, and so would Council, and so would National... but we would not view it as a "punishment", but simply a situation where a Scout didn't do the REQUIRED work. If there was a mistake or some type of misunderstanding, that's something to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, but if a scout makes the conscious decision to not complete all of the requirements, then the troop leaders are left with no choice but to not award ANY rank advancements, including Eagle.