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Boy Scout Troop 340
(Lutherville-Timonium , Maryland)
 
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Boy Scouts FAQ

 
Frequently
Asked
Questions


Use this section to find out about the BSA Program, and the degree to which Troop 340 embraces the way it "ought to be".

I wasn't a Scout as a boy, can I be a Scout Leader?


All are welcome to contribute as much as they can as a uniformed leader, Committee Member, Merit Badge Counselor (MBC), or as an active parent.

As a Committee Member, you should be willing to attend monthly Committee Meetings and get involved in as much/little upcoming activities as you wish.

As a Merit Badge Counselor, you choose to provide counseling from 1 to many of the available 121 Merit Badges. YOU DO NOT need to be an "expert" to be a counselor, as the $4-5 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 earned OUTSIDE of the weekly meeting, so Scouts meet with you ON YOUR SCHEDULE of availability.

All leaders MUST complete a BSA Adult Application, which requires you to provide your Social Security Number. A background check will be done by the Baltimore Area Council.  If you do not provide your SSN, you will not be accepted as a leader. This is National BSA policy and not the policy of Troop 340.

How much does Scouting cost?


The Troop charges an annual membership fee.  At this time that is $100.

There will be modest "food charges" for each monthly camping trip or outing, and a charge each year if your son attends week-long Summer Camp (highly encouraged!).

Fund Raisers are held as needed to fund new equipment, and more elaborate camping destinations.

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The membership fee - helps to pay for annual registration, Boy's Life Magazine subscription, numerous awards, badges, pins, camp ground fees, and more. It usually is NOT enough for all expenses (see fund raising below).

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Camping "camp fee" (food charges). Each patrol creates their own menu for monthly camping trips and can decide to raise or lower this charge to align with their menu choices. TYPICALLY, this should be $10-$15 each trip.

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Summer Camp Fee - Week-long Summer Camp is a great experience, and we encourage Scouts to attend every year. The average fee is $360.

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Fund Raising - held as needed to supplement the cost of running the Troop. Covers new/replacement equipment (tents, stoves, cook gear, fuel tanks, etc), or to cover the cost of more elaborate camping destinations.

Where can I buy uniforms and required patches?


You may purchase the needed uniforms and patches at the Baltimore Scout Shop.

Baltimore Scout Shop
800 Wyman Park Dr. #120
Baltimore, MD 21211-2837
(410) 338-0144

Baltimore Scout Shop Map

Check Hours of Operation before you leave.

At minimum, you will need a scout shirt, pants, Baltimore Area council patch, world scouting emblem, green shoulder loops and green troop numerals 340. 
 
*We have recently started selling a few key items at each of our Friday Troop meetings.*

What do I keep hearing about Scouting and Religion?


 
Per the 12th point of the Scout Law, "a Scout is Reverent".

Scouting's founder, Lord Baden Powell, believed that it was crucial to the development of the "whole person" that we have a belief in, and love for, God and that we should live by and embody His laws and teachings.

Scouting does NOT promote any denomination above another and works with organized religions to offer awards (officially known as the Religious Emblem Program) to any boys choosing to further explore their religious faith, from Catholic, to Muslim, to Judiasm, to Budist.   Again, Scouting proves itself to be SUPPORTIVE of diversity and religious differences.

However, as a Private organization, it is the right of the BSA to set a code or ethics and morals for its members to follow.  Having a belief in God, is one of those criteria.

Those professing NO belief in God may find they would be better served in a different youth program than the BSA.

As we believe "being reverent" is such a critical part of Scouting, we openly pray during meals, at meetings, and during non-denominational "Scouts' Own" services which are held while we are away at camp.

What do boys do as "Boy Scouts"?


 
The Boy Scouts of America Program is a 100 year old, professionally crafted, program of education and character development. By using the "Outdoor Method" (camping, fishing, rock climbing, etc) boys work together to do "the things boys like to do". In the process, they learn the value of teamwork, honesty, communication, mutual respect, and more as they work toward 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 Boy Scout as we teach them to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrift, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

What "age limits" exist in the Boy Scout program?


The relevant age requirements established by the National Program are as follows:

10 years old to join (If completed 5th grade or earned AOL, otherwise must be 11)

12 years old by July 1st, to attend a National Jamboree contingent

13 years old to participate in COPE (14 preferred, 13 with Scoutmaster's recommendation)

16 years old to become a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster

16 years old to be Youth Staff at a camp or Jamboree

Day before 18th birthday - the last day you are a Boy Scout. PRIOR to his birthday, all work (rank and badges) must be DONE. The Eagle Board of Review can occur after the 18th birthday, but work/project must be done PRIOR to the 18th birthday.

There are NO age requirements for ANY merit badges or youth leadership positions (other than JASM and Camp Staff).

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 his progress along the "Trail to Eagle"... or more appropriately thought of as his "trail to manhood".

When a boy joins Scouting, his first POSITION is "Scout". 

He then works 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 his way with map/compass, what to do if he gets lost, etc...

Now a demonstrated "safe" Scout... he is ready for his 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, he learns to lead, instruct, and inspire others.  He learns to "give back" to others, and also learns his emerging place in Society as a citizen.

There are 121 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 require 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.

Does my son have to come every week?


We 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.  Each boy is a member of a PATROL, and as such, is part of a smaller group (as compared to the whole Troop of boys) where he is given AMPLE opportunity to play an active and valuable "hands on" role in the patrol's success. 

A boy who shows up sporadically DEPRIVES himself of the chance to make key decisions within his patrol; choose trip ideas and destinations, make menu selections, divvy out workload, 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 a boys misses a meeting, he will find himself 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 patrol members to do the same.

Does the Troop have some "Bylaws" that I can read?


Bylaws are not necessary in Scouting units.   Every aspect of how the Program should function is already laid out in clear detail in the Scoutmaster's Handbook, the boy's Scouting Handbook, Guide to Safe Scouting, and the National Council's training documentation for the Troop Committee and the various Committee positions.

Why would a unit try to recreate a 100 year old Program that is already perfected?  That is a good question.  You should ask them.

The Senior Patrol Leader runs the Troop meetings and events
The Patrol Leader Council makes the decisions
Adult leaders give the boys guidance and support
Committee members handle administration and funding
The Charter Organization monitors the troop to ensure things are running properly

What if my son is not advancing?


Advancement in Scouting is STRICTLY the responsibility of each individual Scout.

Through his Patrol Leader, he should voice his desire for trip destinations, activities, and opportunities to complete the various rank requirements and attend trips that HE finds exciting and fulfilling.

HE is responsible for informing the Scoutmaster (in advance) of his choice to begin working on a Merit Badge; the completion of which is up to HIM and his Merit Badge Counselor.  Through INDEPENDENT work (with a friend or family member - to comply with Youth Protection) he will work with his MBC to complete Merit Badge requirements at his own pace.

At meetings and on camping trips, AMPLE opportunity is made to complete work and FREQUENT reminders are made to encourage boys to "step up" to make the most of their opportunities.

Periodically, all boys will attend a Board of Review (BOR).   Boys advancing to their next rank MUST attend the BOR as a requirement, but the Scoutmaster or Advancement Chair may also schedule periodic BORs for boys who are NOT advancing to inquire as to the reason they are not progressing, or finding out what is "missing" in the Program.

AT ANY TIME, Scouts (with/without their parents) are free to inquire about advancement to the Scoutmaster or his Assistant Scoutmasters.

The SCOUT is ultimately responsible..... that's what makes the "Eagle" rank so significant and valuable.  Attaining "Eagle" tells the world, that this is a young man who is responsible and a leader.

Can a boy be "demoted" or have badges taken away?


Once a RANK or a Merit Badge has been earned, it can never be taken away.   In addition, once a Merit Badge Counselor signs a "blue card" stating that the badge requirement has been completed, no one has the authority to overturn the decision or refuse to award the badge to the Scout.  (BSA policy)

Firemen' Chit and Toten' Chip are safety badges and it is at the discretion of the Troop Leadership to revoke a Scout's PRIVILEGES for fire-starting or knife/axe use.    Should this ever happen, the corrective process is usually retaking the instructional course.  Until that happens, a Scout is not permitted to carry/use a knife, nor may he start or tend a fire.

What is a Court of Honor?


A Court of Honor is a Boy Scouting awards ceremony, commonly held twice throughout the year.

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 on the state of the Troop, or for some other event such as Scouting's annual Friends of Scouting campaign.

By ceremoniously recognizing the value of advancement and hard work, we hope to strengthen a boy's motivation to continue being active within the Troop.  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.

Can I keep working closely with my son?


If you mean "work with your son" like you did in Cub Scouts, the answer is NO.   There is little 1-on-1 work as a Boy Scout.

Make no mistake... You are welcome, but Boy Scouting is a new phase of his personal development. 

"Dads & Lads" was the Cub Scout model.  Your presence helped to guide him, keep him under control, and reinforce the importance of "family", but as a Boy Scout, he needs to focus more on himself, and on working with peers. 

He's becoming a young man and needs to start interacting with other adults like the Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmasters, and various Merit Badge Counselors.  He also needs to become comfortable with working without adults hovering over him as he works with his patrol.

What is the minimum age to become an Eagle Scout?


The BSA does not list a minimum age before a Scout can earn his Eagle rank.  

Having said that, you need to know that this is really the wrong question.  Scouting is not a destination.  It is a journey.  You can fly across the country in a plane, but you will not then experience the richness of our national culture as you would by driving.

If your sole goal is to fast-track your son to an Eagle rank, do yourself (and us) a favor by taking your son to a different troop.  Our goal is to help make successful, productive leaders out of our sons.  It cannot be done quickly, and it cannot be done well with arbitrary deadlines.  The average boy will reach the rank of Eagle by age 14 or 15.  They have until age 17.

If you believe in the potential that the BSA (and our troop) has to help guide your son, then please do not poison the effort by trying to get him to Eagle artificially at a young age.  Those who do it the hard (long) way know the difference - and there IS a difference.  Troops that produce young Eagles are generally viewed with suspicion and for good reason.

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...
  1. How is the attendance?  (low enrollment and/or attendance may indicate a troubled program.)
  2. Were the boys AND leaders in the proper uniform?  (RUN from any troop that allows the "blue-jean brigade", where they are only in uniform from the waist up.  If they don't promote the basic uniform, rest assured that OTHER THINGS are missing too.)
  3. 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")
  4. How many EAGLES did they have last year?   (BEWARE of "Eagle Farms". On average, only 2 per 100 boys in Scouting make it to Eagle.  Rates higher than average demand scrutiny as they may be too lax about advancement requirements, or may indicate an "adult prepared" agenda.  "EAGLE" is earned by the BOYS making the effort to achieve on their own initiatives, not by being "spoon fed" an agenda of merit badge coursework over a pre-defined schedule.)
  5. Were YOU welcomed?  Did they make you feel genuinely welcomed and wanted?
  6. WHO is TEACHING?  Boys, or adults?  (With the exception of  "advanced" skill instruction, boys should be running the meeting, not adults.)
  7. Are they having FUN?  Do boys look interested, or bored?
  8. Are there boys of various ages?   (Big gaps in enrollment may indicate periods of a problem program or "issues" with the adult leadership.)
  9. How long has the Scoutmaster been the Scoutmaster?  (A "new guy" may be lacking experience, and "old timers" generally lack "updated program" changes.)
  10. Are the boys well behaved?  Do they respond to the "Scout Sign" or was someone screaming "SIGNS UP!!!"?  Any screaming is a warning sign.
  11. Ask what trips they've had, and what they have planned.   Do they do the same thing every year, or are they always trying something new and exciting?
  12. WATCH YOUR SON!   Did he blend in?  Did the boys make efforts to include him?
  13. 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.

How do Scouts earn Merit Badges?

 

The day a boy signs his BSA application, he is eligible to start working on Merit Badges. 

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

The process:

1.  Scout chooses a badge (or badges) that he'd like to work on (alone or with another Scout).

2   He informs the Scoutmaster of his 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.  He is not obligated to work with counselors in his home unit or Council.

3.  The Scout(s) contact 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 he 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. 

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. 

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.

What badges are "Eagle Required" ?


 
There are a total of 21 Merit Badges required for the rank of Eagle.

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 115 non-Eagle required "Green Band" merit badges (badges with green stitching around the border).

While there are 136 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.

Do all boys carry knives?


A knife of some type (typically folding pocket knife) is an integral part of the Scouting Program.

HOWEVER, all Scouts must pass instructional safety training to understand the STRICT provisions for using a knife safely, and at appropriate times, before he is allowed to possess or use a knife.  The training covers the use of saws, hand axe, long axe, as well as knives.

This training is known as the Toten Chip and has a corresponding award of the same name.   The award may be the pocket card (size of a business card) or if sold in the Council's Scout Store, a Toten Chip patch.  A scout is expected to have his "Toten Chip" with him if he is carrying his knife.

If a Scout falls short in his responsibility of safe knife handling, he may lose his Toten Chip privileges and it is up to the Scoutmaster's discretion as to how the privilege can be re-earned.

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, boys 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, boys 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 Boy Scout troop. A patrol is a small group of boys 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 do you mean by "Boy Led"?


A Boy Scout troop leads itself.   Adults are present to guide and ensure safety & compliance exists, but it is the YOUTH who make key decisions.

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 hold the actual leadership position within the Troop.  The SPL appoints an assistant scout (Assistant Senior Patrol Leader - ASPL) and various other leadership positions.

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 boys 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 and activities THEY want to do, and appoint other scouts to serve as skill instructors, or lead games or other activities.  Adult leadership keeps them on track with suggestions and advice, but the decisions are ultimately left to THE BOYS.

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, and the weekly meetings are lead by the boys (as designed) 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.

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

What gear is required for camping?


The Troop Committee is charged with ensuring that enough equipment is procured to support camping trips.   Each patrol will have provided for them:
  • tents
  • cooking utensils
  • camp stove/fuel
  • wash bins (for washing dishes)
  • water jugs

Scouts will need to have the following personal gear:
  1. sleeping bag
  2. eating utensils (fork, knife, spoon, bowl, and reusable cup)
  3. proper clothing (including hat & footware)
  4. rain poncho & rescue whistle
  5. personal first aid kit (described in detail in the Handbook)
  6. flashlight (and extra batteries)
  7. personal hygiene items (tooth brush, deodorant, etc)
  8. Backpack (preferred) or dufflebag

In addition to the required items above, the following items are very helpful:
  1. folding camp chair (summer camp only)
  2. "travel-size" games or playing cards (non-electronic)
  3. pocket knife (if he has earned Toten' Chip)
  4. compass
  5. sunscreen & insect repellent
  6. matchless fire starter

Can I attend camp with my son?


Other than high-adventure bases like Philmont or Sea Base, where adults are required to be BSA Registered Leaders, there is nothing in the BSA Program that prevents parents or legal guardians from attending camping trips with their sons. The Guide to Safe Scouting says, "There are NO 'secret societies' in Scouting.  An adult may attend any scout function with their son".

THAT BEING SAID...  there are some guidelines visiting parents are expected to follow.

1.  Scoutings "Youth Protection" guidelines MUST be followed.  Registered leaders can explain these to you if you are not already familiar with them.

2.  Part of what your son is supposed to be experiencing at camp is becoming a functioning member of his patrol.  Therefore, he WILL sleep with his patrol, eat with his patrol, do KP (Kitchen Patrol) duties with his patrol, and perform campfire skits with his patrol.  You may watch and advise... but LET HIM "do".

3.  Attending parents will eat, tent, and in all other ways, "function" among the attending adults.  Expect to be "put to work" over the weekend.

4.  Smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol, profanity and the like are NOT welcome in Scouting.  We expect (and at BSA camp grounds it is required) that you do not smoke at Scouting events.  If you feel that you "must" smoke, you are expected to not be in view of any Scouts (our troop or other).  

5.  Do not expect your son to sleep in your tent.  While it is "technically" allowed under BSA Youth Protection, it impedes his development as a self-reliant Scout and the cohesion of his Patrol.  We STRONGLY discourage any attempts to bunk with your son.

6. Siblings are not welcome to remain at over night excursions, the only exception being 2nd Year WEBELOS scouts, who are actually encouraged to begin interacting with a Boy Scout troop (if our camping agenda is appropriate for WEBELOS-aged boys.).

7. Non-legal guardians (boy/girl friends of single parents) are not to remain over-night at camping excursions.  

8. Adults who plan to attend camp MUST inform the Scoutmaster 1 week ahead of time (indicate attendance via email).

What is a Scoutmaster Conference?


 
After a Scout completes all the required tasks towards his 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 his skills.  Certifying his skills is the responsibility of the leader who "signed off" on his 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 his 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 he likes, doesn't like, might want to do different, etc.  He wants to know what his ambitions are in Scouting and "life".  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 toward 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.

What happens at camping trips?


Camping trips usually follow the following format.

Scouts will arrive at St. John's United Methodist church with their gear.  Once all gear is packed and a final check for permission slips and medications is complete, we will depart for the selected camping destination.   Upon arrival, the first order of business is to choose camp sites and set up tents.  Once all tents are up, kitchen/cook areas are set up and all personal gear is stowed.   Then, depending on the time, a meal will be prepared or the boys will have "Cracker Barrel" (snack).

Saturday mornings begin with the designated cooks waking up a little early to start preparing breakfast.  Once this begins, the rest of the boys generally get up shortly thereafter.  Each patrol may have their own dining area, or in the case of a shared pavillion, designated tables.   Once KP is complete, there is a flag ceremony and then the Program portion of the day begins with a break for lunch around noon.    Program (Scout-skill related activity, and/or the purpose of the camping trip) continues until 5 PM.  After dinner, the flag is lowered ceremoniously and there is free time until the Council Fire (at dark).  At the Council Fire, boys often perform skits, tell jokes, and enjoy snacks.

We generally sleep a little longer on Sunday. Again, cooks are up early to prepare breakfast.  Cold breakfasts are encouraged, due to the faster KP time.   After KP, all scouts are to gather personal gear and then start packing kitchen/dining areas.    The tents are the last to be packed, as it is usually necessary to wait until the tents and ground cloths have dried completely.   A tent put away wet will grow mildew and be ruined in a VERY short time.     While waiting for tents to dry, the Troop is lead in a "Scouts' Own" prayer service, led by the Chaplain's Aid; a boy appointed by the SPL to lead religous events.   Once all gear can be packed, camp is struck and we depart for home targetting a return home by around 12 Noon.

What's so special about "Eagle Scouts"?


 
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 he has no desire or sense of committment 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 persistance, 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 exectution of his "Eagle Project" before his 18th birthday.

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 his "final exam" in Scouting.  

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

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

What is a Board of Review?


After a Scout completes his Scoutmaster Conference, he is to appear for a Board of Review.

Amazingly, it 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 he has earned his 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.

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

How fast can my son advance?


Advancement in Scouting is COMPLETELY under the control of the Scout himself.

As fast as he can learn the skills, he can get credit for them towards rank advancement.

TYPICALLY, it will take more than 1 year for him to make it from Scout, to Tenderfoot, to 2nd Class, and then to 1st Class.  A Scout can work on the requirements for rank IN ANY ORDER, but his actual progression through the ranks must be sequential.

Some of the rank requirements have SET TIMES that must be met before he can get credit for them and advance.  These are clearly outlined in the back pages of his Scout Handbook.

A boy has until his 18th birthday to reach Eagle and/or be a Boy Scout.  

Reaching Eagle is NOT an easy task and requires an abundance of effort and self-motivation.  Encouragement at home is CRUCIAL to a boy's success towards his Eagle Rank.

Can I "sign off" on my son's requirements?


Golly Toto... we're not in Cub Scouts any more.

This is one of our most common questions, and the answer is "no" (and should have been "no" when he was a WEBELOS Scout as well.)

In Boy Scouts, it's not enough that a Scout "did it once before" or was "there the night we talked about bla bla bla.."    A Scout must SHOW PROFICIENCY and UNDERSTANDING of the rank requirements in the presence of a registered adult leader.  ONLY THEN can he get "signed off" on the requirements in the back of his Handbook.  This can be done by a uniformed adult, or a Scout who has been entrusted with the job of skill instruction.

Is there any hazing in Scouting?


Absolutely not.   "Hazing" or similar types of practical jokes are simply not tolerated.

Our church has a pack and a troop already.


Do you need to bridge into the Troop where you are currently a Cub Scout?   Absolutely not!

Just because a charter organization has "their own" Cub Scout pack and a Boy Scout troop, a boy is NOT obligated at all to bridge into that Troop.  If you are given any pressure to do so.... that's probably a sign for you to run in the other direction!

While all Troops (should) follow the same BSA Program designed by the National Council of the BSA, you will find every troop has a program MUCH different than any other.  Some predominantly like to HIKE, others BIKE, some CAMP while others CANOE.  Some are "year round", and others take a summer break.

It's in your son's best interests to shop around and make sure the place he is likely to spend the next 7 years of his Scouting career is going to be the best fit for him.

Why do Scouts wear a Uniform?


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 trace 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 so 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.

Wouldn't it "run smoother" with adults in charge?


Yes... it probably would.  But why would we want that?

This is BOY SCOUTS... not "fathers getting away for the weekend" Scouts... nor is it "WEBELOS 3" where adults are in the leadership role as in the Cub Scout program.

This is where boys LEARN and DEVELOP their leadership skills so they can become capable young men.   We DON'T EXPECT them to be the most efficient and organized leaders (and neither should you). 

This is their learning ground.  Here is where we want the "mistakes" to happen, so they can learn from them.   This is how we TEACH leadership skills instead of getting adults to "step in" because we could be "more efficient".

Remember... the program is NOT DESIGNED to run perfectly.

They may elect their "best friend" instead of the "most qualified"... and they will experience the consequences of casting a "careless vote".  They may elect the Class Clown instead of the Class President... and NEED to "suffer" through a few months of a weaker or chaotic Program.

Remember, NOTHING happens here by accident.  Trust us. Trust the 100 year old program. Have faith.   Keep your boy coming ESPECIALLY if he comes home with a few "complaints" on how things are being done.  Ask him what he would do differently or what he did to try to correct what appears to be a "screwed up" situation.  HERE is where the Program really shows its value.

NOW you know...  "bigger things" are happening here at Troop 340 than meets the eye.