FAQ


Scouting

Q: What is Scouting?

Q: Who can be a Scout?

Q: What kinds of things do you do in Scouting?

Q: Why do Scouts have to be in uniform?

Q: Does being in uniform mean that Scouting has a military tie?

Q: Do you need adult help?

Q: How do I join the Troop Committee?

When and Where

Q: Where do you meet?

Q: How do I join?

How much does it cost?

Q: Are there annual fees?

Q: Does it cost anything to go on the monthly outings?

Q: What is Summer Camp and how much does it cost?

Q: What about the big trips? How much do they cost?

Q: How can Scouts earn money to pay for Scouting expenses?

Equipment

Q: What equipment does a new Scout need?

Q: What does the Troop provide for outings?

Q: What equipment don’t we need?

Q: My son has just joined the Troop. What backpack should I buy for him?

Rank and Advancement

Q: Are there ranks in Scouting and how are they awarded?

Q: Who is in charge in the Scout Troop?

Q: What are Merit Badges and how do I earn them?

Q: My son is not advancing in his current Troop. Can he move to your Troop?

Other Resources

Q: Where can I read more about Scouting?



Q: What is Scouting?

“The Boy Scouts of America provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.”

Q: Who can be a Scout?

Boy Scouts must be 11 years old or completed the 5th grade or earned the Arrow of Light Award and be at least 10 years old, but not yet 18 years old.

Q: What kinds of things do you do in Scouting?

Scouts take part in a variety of outdoor and community service events. Scout and their adult leaders have: handed out flags at the front of the local July 4th parade; gone whitewater rafting; planted a tree to commemorate the passing of an adult leader; done service projects to create lasting good in the community; and gone canoeing for over 100 miles in the Canadian wilderness.

Q: Why do Scouts have to be in uniform?

First, although the uniform is important and strongly recommended, it is rarely required.

Uniforms are one of the “methods” of Scouting.

“The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy 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 Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.”

(from: http://meritbadge.org )

We wear the “Class A” uniform (Scout shirt, pants, belt, socks) at meetings during the school year (Labor Day to Memorial Day) and the “Class B” uniform (Scout-related tee shirt, Scout pants, belt, socks) at meetings during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day). We dress in the Class A uniform for traveling as a Troop and for special events (public service project, ceremonies, Courts of Honor, etc.)

Q: Does being in uniform mean that Scouting has a military tie?

No.

Scouts don’t march or drill or stand in straight lines.

They elect their own leaders.

They set their own agenda and plan their own outings.

There is a hierarchical structure, but the leadership model is “servant leadership” and consensus rather than command and control.

While we follow the rules and guidelines of the local council and the national organization, our local Troop is ultimately responsible to the local chartering organization (Bexley United Methodist Church) as embodied in our Troop Committee.

Scouts do not promise to “preserve, protect and defend” nor to “obey the orders of their superior officers”.

We do teach that the Scout has 3 duties: duty to self and others; duty to god; and duty to country.

The Eagle and Shield (the national symbol) on the Scout badge “represent freedom and the Scouts willingness to defend it.”

That’s about as close to military as we get.

Q: Do you need adult help?

Yes.

Scouting, although Scout-led, can’t happen without adult leaders. No Scout activity is conducted without adult supervision. The adults leaders are just parents who raised their hands to volunteer and join in the fun.

Adults can help in many ways: supporting their Scouts in the program, serving on the Troop Committee which helps to provide resources and coordination for the program, or helping in meetings and on outings as a trained, uniformed adult.

Q: How do I join the Troop Committee?

The Troop committee usually meets the third Monday of the month at the same time as the Troop meeting. The committee meets in a meeting room at the church during the Troop meeting. Meetings are on the Troop Calendar at http://www.troop166.org/event-calendar/. All parents are welcome and encouraged to attend and help with this very important function of the Troop. Membership in the committee is accomplished through a simple form.

When and Where

Q: Where do you meet?

Our Troop meets most Monday evenings at Bexley United Methodist Church in the Scout Room in the lower level. We meet at 7:30 PM year round. We do not meet on holidays or on evenings (during the school year) when there are not classes in Bexley Public Schools. Scouts do not need to be members of Bexley United Methodist Church to join the Troop.

Q: How do I join?

Scouts and parents complete a simple application.

How much does it cost?

Q: Are there annual fees?

There is a $70 annual membership fee.

Q: Does it cost anything to go on the monthly outings?

The cost of monthly outings varies based on the event. Our typical outing costs the Scout $20.

Of that $20, $7 goes to pay for food, $10 pays for the rental of the campsite or cabin where we stay for the weekend and $3 goes to other non-food supplies (paper towels, propane, toilet paper, etc.)  . The Troop loses a few dollars on each outing, which we make up with fundraising and donations.

Some of our outings have addition program costs which are included as a part of the outing.

Q: What is Summer Camp and how much does it cost?

Each year between the end of the school year and before the 4th of July, the Troop spends a week at a Boy Scout Summer camp. The boys live in tents and eat in a dining hall.

During the day, the Scouts spend time working on Merit Badges, Scout skills and having fun outdoors. In the evening there are games and programs to engage and involve them.

For first-year Scouts, there is a special program to give them a “quick start” in their Scouting adventure by working with them (and other Scouts spending their first year at Summer Camp) on basic skills and requirement.

Prices and locations can vary, but for the 2015 year, the cost of Summer Camp was $275.

The cost of Summer Camp is deliberately kept low by Simon Kenton Council ($275 is far less than the cost of having a youth at camp for a week) to encourage participation in this important program.

All Scouts are encouraged to attend Summer Camp.

We usually attend summer camp during the last full week before the 4th of July.

Q: What about the big trips? How much do they cost?

Most years, the Troop is involved in a “high adventure”, a major trip with substantial planning and advanced training. These trips are planned at least a year  to 18 months in advance (we are planning now for next year’s trip) and we we spread the cost out over several payments for make it easier for Scouts to participate.  In the past we’ve had crews  travel to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, The Norther Tier High Adventure Base in the Boundary Waters region of Northern Minnesota and Canada, Seabase in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean, and to attend the National Boy Scout Jamboree. Depending on the program costs, High Adventure programs cost up to $1,500. Spread over a 18 months , that’s less than $100 a month for the adventure of a lifetime. Participation in High Adventure is optional. A list of our past High Adventures can be seen here.

Q: How can Scouts earn money to pay for Scouting expenses?

We provide Scouts the opportunity to earn money for their “Scout Account” with our annual Popcorn Sale and by selling food and drinks at Bexley community activities like the July 4th Picnic, the Labor Day Block party and at the Harvest Festival.

The Troop’s “Scout Account Policy” is available at http://troop166.org/scout-account-policy/.

Equipment

Q: What equipment does a new Scout need?

The Scout Handbook provides a very useful list of the gear that Scouts need for outings. Look for “camping gear checklist” in the index.

A couple of suggestions:

Water bottle: a wide mouth, one quart, hard plastic water bottle is the most useful for all of our outings. Most scouts pick the Nalgene brand.

Mess kit: A plastic bowl, a plastic cup, and plastic utensils are all that Scouts need. They will work much better for our outings than a metal mess kit. My idea of a perfect bowl looks like this and is made of Lexan.

Sleeping bag: Every Scout needs a sleeping bag for every outing. Buy a bag that is made of synthetic material (not cotton, not down). Sleeping bags are rated by outside temperature that one can comfortably sleep at. A 20 degree bag should allow one to sleep outside at 20 degrees.

Sleeping bag manufactures tend to exaggerate the ratings by 10 to 20 degrees. A 20 degree bag would be comfortable to about 40 degrees. A 20 degree bag would be good for most of our Troop camping.

It’s easy to make a sleeping bag OK for colder temperatures by spreading a coat or blanket over the bag, spreading some newspapers under the bag, or wearing a hat and socks to bed at night.

Ground pad: Scouts tend to fall into one of two camps on what to put between the sleeping bag and the ground.

Foam pads come in a variety of sizes and styles.

Closed cell foam (doesn’t absorb water) formed into an egg-carton or waffle pattern are popular, lightweight, and inexpensive.

Lightweight air mattresses (about an inch thick) are also popular. Therm-a-rest is the most widely used brand.

Tents: The Troop does not provide tents, but many of the Scouts have tents (and some have spare tents) so a tent is not something that you need to rush out and buy. You will likely want to buy a tent at some point. Like most camping equipment, last year’s models and autumn sales are our best friends when shopping for tents. We encourage a “buddy” system for tents, so that scouts share tents and we transport less equipment.

Q: What does the Troop provide for outings?

The Troop has stoves, cooking gear and cleanup gear for the Scouts. Scouts cook and eat together as a group, taking turns with the various jobs.

The Troop provides woods tools (saws, hatchets, etc.) and training on how to use them.

In general, the Troop provides gear that is used for the whole Troop and Scouts provide their individual gear.

Q: What equipment Scouts don’t need?

A metal mess kit. See “Mess Kit” above.

Big, blow up air mattresses. See “Ground Pad” above.

Q: My son has just joined the Troop. What backpack should I buy for him?

You’re certainly welcome to buy your son a backpack.

But he won’t NEED a backpack for at least two or three years.

And the problem with purchasing one now is that one that is a good fit for him today won’t be a good fit for him (and carry enough) when he goes on a major backpacking trip in 3 or 4 years.

The Troop usually takes one backpacking trip each year and there are lots of backpacks to use and borrow in the Troop. I have a couple that I keep “just in case.”

For most of our day hikes on our monthly outings, a school backpack works just fine.

Borrowing a few backpacks also would give him some experience about what he likes and doesn’t like about different packs.

That being said, I’ve always been happy with products from Kelty (my step-son Chris and I use big Kelty bags that we purchased a couple of years ago) but North Face, Jansport, Marmot, and Sierra Designs all offer fine products. Products listed in catalogs for women are often a good fit for younger Scouts. I currently buy most all of my gear (including our last two backpacks) online from Campmore.com. They are cheap, offer a wide selection and ship fast. The only limitation of buying online is getting to try on the packs that you’re interested in.

It’s important to try packs before your buy them (unless you are willing to return them), so plan a shopping trip (not a buying trip – a shopping trip) to a big box outdoor store (Gander Mountain, Dicks, Cabela’s – coming to Columbus in 2013).  I recommend big box stores because I feel guilty taking up the time of sales people at smaller, local stores (Outdoor Source, Everest Gear) unless I intend to make purchases there, which I seldom do. The big box stores already get lots of my money for other things. I’ll leave you with the ethical dilemma of shopping at “A” and buying at “B”.

Rank and Advancement

Q: Are there ranks in Scouting and how are they awarded?

After completing a handful of requirements, boys achieve the “Scout” rank and earn their first badge of rank.

The Scout Handbook lists the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class ranks. All require the Scout to demonstrate “Scout Skills” and to live the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Skills are usually taught to younger Scouts by older Scouts and then “signed off” by the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster.

Rank advancements are actually awarded by a Board of Review made up of Troop Committee members that interview the candidate.

Star and Life Scout ranks are earned by the Scout by service, taking on leadership positions within the Troop, living the Scout Oath and Law, and earning a specific number of merit badges.

The highest rank in Scouting, Eagle Scout, is earned by service, leadership, living the Scout Oath and Law, and merit badges, along with creating and managing a significant project of value to the community. While adults provide guidance and encouragement, the Scout creates, secures approval and funding, manages, supervises and documents the project. Upon completion of the project and other requirements, the candidate is interviewed by an Eagle Board of Review at the District level.

Q: Who is in charge in the Scout Troop?

Our Scout Troop is “boy led.” The Scouts elect leaders that plan and conduct meetings, direct activities and provide leadership on outings. Each year in December, we conduct a “planning outing” where our primary focus is for the Scouts to decide on the monthly outings that will be offered during the next year.

Adults are always present whenever Scouts are meeting or on activities, but we are there for health and safety issues.

Adults provide guidance and support for the youth leaders, helping them to do planning and to handle difficult situations.

Adults also provide support and logistics: reserving the campsite, registering scouts for summer camp, providing drivers and vehicles to transport Scouts, etc.

Q: What are Merit Badges and how do I earn them?

Scouting offers over 120 different merit badges that can be earned to explore many areas of the environment, science, commerce, crafts, and history.

Merit badges each have a specific set of requirements that usually require the scout to learn something and to do something.

Any Scout can sign up for any merit badge at any time.

Merit badges are offered three ways. There are merit badge events, like the one that the Columbus Zoo offers for Oceanography on a regular basis. The sponsor usually provides specific instructions about sign up, prerequisites and costs. Upcoming merit badge workshops are often listed on the Council website (http://www.skcbsa.org/boyscouts_merit.php#Merit) and on ourTroop website (http://www.troop166.org/local-current-merit-badge-opportunities/) . The second way that merit badges are earned is at summer camp. We usually attend Camp Falling Rock near Newark, and most Scouts earn most of their merit badges there. The third way that Scouts earn merit badges is through individual counselors. The uniformed adult leaders have access to a list of registered merit badge counselors and can provide contact information for most of the 100+ merit badges.

You might think from all this focus on merit badges that Scouts is all about earning merit badges. It’s not. While important, merit badges are secondary to another goal – advancement.

Unlike Cub Scouts, where the Scouts advance on a yearly basis with their peers from rank to rank, in Boy Scouts, each Rank advancement is earned.

Shortly after joining most Scouts earn the “Scout” rank. The Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class ranks each have a variety of requirements including cooking, camping, safety, first aid, knots and other skills. Each item is reviewed with a uniformed adult leader and signed off by that leader. After the First Class rank, Scouts are expected to take on leadership roles and ranks are awarded based on leadership roles, time in rank, service hours, and merit badges.

Scouts get items signed off by bringing their Scout Book to an adult leader and asking to be “signed off” on an item. If a Scout does not bring the Scout Book to an adult leader and ask, they will not advance.

The adult leaders make themselves available at every meeting and on most every outing to review and sign off on advancement items, but the responsibility is the Scout’s, not the parents or the Adults Leaders.

Some number of merit badges are required for each rank advancement above First Class Scout. A few of the key merit badges are specifically listed as “required” merit badges and are required for the advancement to the Eagle Scout rank.

Q: My son is not advancing in his current Troop. Can he move to your Troop?

Your son may  have not advanced at his previous Troop for a number of reasons and the Scoutmaster would be happy to discuss the issue with you, but you should know that in our Troop, advancement is an individual responsibility for the Scouts in the Troop.

We encourage and support advancement. Every meeting (once a week) and most every outing (scheduled once each month) provide Scouts an opportunity to work on advancement tasks. We celebrate advancement. At a recent Court of Honor, 7 Scouts earned 9 rank advancements). Advancement is discussed often.

But your son will not advance because we want him to advance. He will not advance because you want him to advance.

He will only advance because he wants to advance. Not all Scouts proceed through advancement at the same pace. Although I wish that it was not so, not every Scout advances – although most do.

Your son will have every opportunity to advance, should he decide that our Troop is a good fit for him. There are a number of Scouts who have previously been a part of other Troops.

Other Resources

Q: Where can I read more about Scouting?

Each Scout’s Boy Scout Handbook is a carefully researched and crafted guide to the Scout’s journey through scouting. It contains checklists, resource guides, training material, and requirements for all the ranks from “Scout” to “Eagle”.

The official BSA website is a rich, deep source of information: http://scouting.org

Our council is the part of BSA that we interact with most and provides us with lots of activities and services: http://skcbsa.org

This Troop website  (http://troop166.org) is an online newsletter which we try and keep updated with that latest news about activities, events and opportunities for the Troop. All of our outings, for example, are described there. We also try and provide some history and useful links.

Many other sites on the web provide information about different aspects of scouting. You can click “Links” at the top of each page to see our collection of useful Scouting links.

Any of the adult leaders will be happy to answer your questions or guide you to more resources.

 

John Fulton
Revised April 2015