Welcome Scout Parents
Troop 26 welcomes you. Boy Scouting provides for growth of moral strength and character, teaches citizenship, and enhances the development of physical, mental and emotional fitness. This is all done in the spirit of fun and adventure.
If your son was a Cub Scout, you will find that Boy Scouts is considerably different, some valuable information is provided below to ease your transition. Also, please take a few minutes to read Chapter 1 of your son’s Boy Scout Handbook.
Meeting Place and Time
Troop 26 meets at our chartering organization Mount Ararat Baptist Church off of Route 610 (Garrisonville Rd) in North Stafford on Tuesday nights from 7:00 to 8:30, except on the third Tuesday of the month, which is reserved for the Patrol Leader's Council (PLC). During this time, boys are informed of the details for upcoming events and activities, troop skills are taught and practiced, questions regarding advancement may be discussed, etc..
Scouts will need to bring a small notebook along with a pen or pencil to take notes for details of upcoming events. He will also need to bring his Boy Scout handbook to every meeting. It is the Scout’s responsibility to inform parents of times, dates, and details of scheduled events, merit badge assignments, and equipment needed for the next meeting, etc.
Sound advice from some other parents
In this section, adults who have watched their boys grow into young men within Troop 26 and have gone on before you share some valuable advice for new and prospective parents on this page. Here are the topics covered:
Surviving as a Scout parent
Troop 26's goal is to help your son become a young man of good character, with strong organizational and leadership skills. Boys who lose interest in Scouting tend to be those who are disorganized, lose things and don’t know where they are headed. You can help your son avoid those traps with these proven ideas.
Scouts should keep track of their Scout materials and records throughout their membership. A three-ring notebook with some pockets will help. Plastic 8½" x 11" baseball card sheets are the perfect size for badge and rank completion cards, totem chip cards and unsewn or unworn patches. These binder pages are available at stores like Wal-Mart, the Scout shop and many office supply stores.
When your son earns his first rank advancement, he will attend a Court of Honor to receive his patch and completion card. During that ceremony, the Scout's mother will also receive a pin. Many mothers wear a ribbon, which the pins can be attached to. Moms should wear their ribbon for every Court of Honor. Since the pins are very small, the ribbon is also a good way to store them.
Write troop events from downloadable Word documents on your family calendar so conflicts can be minimized. Attendance is the key to keeping up, advancing and liking Scouting.
Attend the troop meetings and share your time and skills to strengthen the troop. You will know what is happening and how your Scout relates to your troop. You can help provide a more complete experience for your son if you are involved. Don’t worry about not knowing much about Scouting, all the adult volunteers had to learn, too. Please don't be bashful. It is important to remember that every adult involved in the troop is a volunteer. Your help will be appreciated by each and every one.
Teach your Scout to call his leader (Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader or Scoutmaster) if he won't be able to attend a scheduled activity.
Registration and camping fees
Troop 26's registration fee is $45 and dues are $5 a month (Eagle Scouts are not required to pay dues). These fees help cover all rank awards (patches), merit badge patches, other awards and a subscription to Boy's Life magazine. Scout dues are the same every year and have not been raised in many years.
Each Scout usually pays $12 dollars to help buy his Patrol's food for each regular camp out, and another $10 to $15 to cover campground, permit fees, or other expenses. The money for camping is due with the permission slip. During the campout preparation meeting, each Scout is expected to commit to the camp out, and pay their money (food and any other fees) to their patrol leader, at that meeting. Adults attending a campout will temorarily become part of the adult patrol and will also turn in a permission slip and fees when they are due. This is important for budget planning and accountability purposes.
When it is your Scout’s turn to buy camp meals for his patrol, help him learn how to make good purchasing decisions (using coupons can help keep costs down). Costs should not exceed $12 per weekend per boy, except when special circumstances warrant more.
Summer Camp, and all Venture Patrol camp outs cost different amounts depending on many factors. The adult leadership in Troop 26 determines a nonprofit budget well in advance of each of these and communicates the costs to the troop. The troop's philosophy is to break even whenever possible.
We ask all Scouts to participate in fundraisers. Registration fees and dues do not sustain the troop financially, fundraising does. Like most other BSA troops, rather than raise our registration fees and dues, Troop 26 uses fundraisers to provide additional operating capital. We also participate in the annual Boy Scout Trails End Popcorn Sale. The funds generated from this fundraisers allow us to provide Troop 26 Scouts with a financially sound program and purchase equipment when needed.
What should parents do?
Parents play an important and vital role in Scouting. You should encourage your son to work on advancement and to participate in Troop 26's program activities and events. If you see Troop 26 as a baby-sitting service, you can be certain your son will not think much better of the program.
Scouts should not be expected to earn their Eagle rank without some help along the way. It is a tough set of requirements, but one within every Scout's reach. You are invited, and encouraged, to attend all troop activities, from troop meetings to camp outs, from quarterly Courts of Honor to committee meetings. In fact, Troop 26 needs your active participation to keep the program alive.
Parents can not sign off any rank advancement or merit badge requirements for their own sons. The individual tasks required for rank advancement are signed by scouts who have achieve the rank of 1st Class or higher. The Scoutmaster’s conference and the Board of Review are conducted by adult leaders. Merit Badges are “signed-off” by approved/trained merit badge counselors.
Parents need to help provide transportation to and from camp outs. You should not leave the church parking lot before a camp out until transportation for all Scouts has been secured. We're all in this together, and together we have an awesome program.
If you have special skills, hobbies or abilities, please consider applying to be a merit badge counselor.
There is always a need for more adult leaders. Each year, as older Scouts leave the troop, the troop also loses adult leaders. These positions must be replenished from the parents of newer Scouts, or the life of the troop is threatened. The Scoutmaster simply cannot do it all; nor can the Troop Committee. It takes several adults willing to enjoy the Scouting experience to make a healthy troop.
Going camping with the troop
Camping is the heart of Boy Scouting. While parents (and sometimes whole families) accompany the Scouts on campouts, the Scouts camp with their patrol and not with their parents and family members.
What follows is a summary of our troop (and BSA) policies.
Scout Tenting & Meals -- Scouts tent with their patrol in a patrol site separate from the other patrols. Patrols plan their own menus, and cook and eat together as a team. Whenever possible, Scouts share a tent with one or more other Scouts. We avoid having a Scout sleep alone. Adults do not eat or tent with a Scout patrol.
Adult Tenting & Meals -- Adults tent with the adult patrol in a patrol site separate from the other patrols. They plan their own menu, and cook and eat together as a team.
Adult/Youth Tenting -- BSA youth protection policies forbid an adult and a youth (below age 18) sharing the same tent. While youth protection policies allow a father and a son to share a tent together (if no other Scout or adult shares their tent), it is troop policy that Scouts tent with Scouts, and adults with adults. If a father tents with his son, it has been our experience that the Scout will lose out on many opportunities to make decisions and be part of the patrol team.
Smoking/Drinking -- Drivers may not smoke while Scouts are in the car. Adults may not smoke or use tobacco products, nor drink alcoholic beverages during a Scout activity. Adults who must smoke or chew must do so discretely out of sight of the Scouts.
Scout Leadership -- Adults should not interfere with the functioning of youth leaders, even if they make mistakes (we all learn best from our mistakes). Step in only if it is a matter of immediate safety or if the mistake will be immediately costly. If at all possible, involve a uniformed adult leader first.
Scout Growth -- Never do anything for a Scout he can do for himself. Let him make decisions without adult interference. Let him make non-injurious mistakes so he can learn from them. Be willing to help Scouts learn and teach without criticism.
Adult Training & Resources -- The Boy Scouts of America provides an outstanding handbook for adults and an excellent training course to help us understand the goals of Scouting and how to attain them. The adult manual is called the Scoutmaster's Handbook, and it's worth your time to read it. The training is called Scout Leader Basic Training, and is offered in our area several times a year. It's also a good investment of your time. Troop 26 strongly encourages each of its uniformed adult leaders to be familiar with the Scoutmaster Handbook, and requires that each completes the appropriate Scout Leader training. We encourage other adults actively involved in the troop to follow suit.
Boy Scout camping activities are based on what the BSA calls the patrol method, where Scouts learn teamwork, leadership, and most camping skills in their own group of peers. It is important that adults not be in the middle of patrol activities such as site selection, tent pitching, meal preparation, and anything else where boys get to practice decision-making.
A key difference between Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting/Webelos is youth leadership. Look for the word "leader" in a Scout's job description, and you will begin to appreciate the difference. The responsible person for a Cub/Webelos den is the adult Den Leader. The responsible person for a Boy Scout patrol is the youth Patrol Leader.
This isn't token leadership. A Patrol Leader has real authority and genuine responsibilities. Much of the success, safety, and happiness of six to ten other boys depends directly on him.
Boy Scouting teaches leadership. And Scouts learn leadership by practicing it, not by watching adults lead.
So what do we adults do, now that we've surrendered so much direct authority to boys? Well, we have a really good time and still stay busy. Here are our troop's guidelines on the indirect, advisory role you now command (no kidding, you should enjoy watching your son take progressively more mature and significant responsibilities as he zooms toward adulthood).
The underlying principle is worth repeating: never do anything for a boy that he can do for himself. We allow boys to grow by practicing leadership and by learning from their mistakes. And while Scout skills are an important part of the program, what ultimately matters when our Scouts become adults is not how well they remember to use a map & compass, but whether they can know how to offer leadership to others in tough situations; and that they can live by a code of conduct that centers on honest, honorable and ethical behavior.
Being an adult advisor can be a difficult role at times, especially when we are advising kids. Several times each year, the Boy Scouts of America offers special training on how to do this, which we expect our uniformed adults to take. And any adult is welcome and encouraged to take the training (see the Scoutmaster; dates are in the annual District calendar).
When a parent goes on a camp out, he or she is automatically included as a temporary member in our "Old Goat" (adult) patrol. This patrol has several purposes -- really, really good food...and camaraderie (of course), but more important is providing an example the Scout patrols can follow without our telling them what to do (we try to teach by example when we can). Since Scouts camp as a group in patrols, the Old Goats do also. However, adults tent some distance from the youth...that way they aren't right next to a boy patrol where our mere presence could disrupt the learning process.
Quite simply, our troop policy requires adults to cook, eat, and tent separately from the Scouts. If you go camping with us, we hope you will visit the patrol sites, talk to your son and the other Scouts, ask what's going on and how things are going. At the same time, remember to give the guys room to grow while you enjoy the view.
Don't hesitate to show a Scout how to do something, just don't do it for him. Don't jump in just to prevent a mistake from happening (unless it's serious & involves safety). Encourage Scouts to make their own decisions...ask them what they think should be done or how THEY are going to solve a problem. We all learn best from our mistakes and a big part of our job as adults in the troop is to provide them with a SAFE environment in which they can make mistakes.
And above all, remember to let the youth leaders lead. They get to learn from their mistakes, too!
Camping with the troop is more fun than you probably imagine and is something you should do if you can. And, it's not just dads who go camping...each year, we have mothers that go join us and are big contributors to the troop. Women do not get stuck with cooking or KP any more often than they choose, either!
Troop 26 operating procedures
As in any organization, Troop 26 has a set of guidelines to help us be consistent in what we do and how we do it. The guidelines are available to all adults and youth registered with the troop and typically given to new members as they join.
Click here to download our Troop Operating Policy