How is a Troop different from a Cub Scout Pack?
Scouts BSA is a leadership development program that takes place mainly in the out of doors. There are vocabulary differences compared with Cub Scouts (e.g. patrols instead of dens) but the main difference is that most parents are not directly involved (they can help out behind the scenes). Youth run the program with advice from the Scoutmaster and his Assistants. Here is a good article that explains the difference between the two programs:
How are we different from other Troops you may be considering?
- We take seriously the "boy-led" aspect of Boy Scouts. This means a certain amount of chaos at times, and occasionally important equipment left behind on campouts, however we feel strongly that this is how we develop boys into independent, capable young men who can lead others;
- Many of our scouts achieve the rank of Eagle, but in Troop 61 they get there slowly. We make sure that our young men are able to demonstrate an ability to lead others before we allow them to advance in the upper ranks of Scouting;
- We have a strong focus on character development;
- Our Scoutmaster is passionate about American History. Inevitably our Scouts end up learning a lot about this topic (and sometimes less about bird or tree identification);
- Almost all of our scouts attend summer camp the last week of June every year. This helps develop camaraderie in the Troop, speeds up advancement, and helps with our leadership development program.
Youth: Our Youth are organized into groups of 8-10 scouts, which are called Patrols. We have 4 Patrols - Cobras, Panthers, Tigers and Flaming Arrows. Scouts are assigned to a Patrol when they join the Troop (they can request to be with a friend). Each of these groups elects a leader, who is called the Patrol Leader. This is the "go to" person for each of our scouts. The entire Troop is led by a youth leader called the SPL or Senior Patrol Leader. This individual is responsible for running meetings, organizing campouts etc. (with help from the other youth leaders). Together our youth leaders are known as the PLC or Patrol Leader Council. We have other youth leadership roles as well (e.g. Assistants to the leaders, Quartermaster, Historian, Webmaster, Den Chief etc).
Adults: The Adult leadership in the Troop is divided into the Uniformed Leaders and the Committee. The Uniformed leaders are Assistant Scoutmasters and they are led by Scoutmaster Tamari. The Committee is composed of the Treasurer, Secretary, Advancement Chair, Camping Chair, Fundraising Chair, New Member Chair, Church Rep etc and are led by Vicki Burns, the Committee Chair.
We hold meetings every Thursday during the school year from 7-8:30pm (until 8pm only during COVID). Parents are more than welcome to stay and watch. If you click on "PLC resources" on the left side of the screen you will see a meeting template and will better understand how meetings are structured. Each month the PLC gets together and plans the meetings for the following month (usually following a theme such as "hiking"). Scouts need to wear their "Class A" uniform (the one they bought a the scout shop) to meetings unless otherwise instructed (note "Class B" is the Troop T-shirt along with scout shorts or pants).
We have monthly campouts from September through May, with the exception of December. The dates are published in the Annual Calendar which is distributed each August. We almost always depart from the church on a Saturday at 8am and return on a Sunday at 1pm (leaving Sunday afternoon for homework). Details and a request for RSVPs are sent out the week before the campout. The Troop provides tents and cooking gear but scouts must bring their own sleeping gear and mess kit. Checklists with what to bring on campouts are on the "Camping" tab at the top of the screen. Note that in Troop 61, we encourage parents (other than adult leaders) to stay home (except for the parent-son camping trip). Boy Scouts helps your sons' transition from boys to men, and learning to be away from their parents is a part of this process.
In Scouting advancement occurs when a youth has met the requirements for a particular rank. The Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class ranks are focused on scout skills (higher ranks focus on leadership). A scout learns (or does) these, reviews them with his Patrol Leader, and gets them signed off in his Scout Handbook. When all of the requirements for a particular rank are complete, the Scout meets with the Scoutmaster or an ASM for a "Scoutmaster Conference" and then sits for a "Board of Review" (a panel of parents). The Scout then advances. Three times each year we hold a "Court of Honor" where we recognize this advancement (as well as other achievements in the Troop).
Requirements are listed in the Scout Handbook but may also be found on the "Advancement" tab on this website. There is also a link to videos which demonstrate most of the requirements.
The merit badge program allow Scouts to learn more about subjects that interest them. Some are basic skills (e.g. swimming, cooking, wilderness survival), some are hobbies (eg. art, dog care, archery), and some are more career oriented (eg. law, architecture). Scouts usually take merit badges in classes around town or at summer camp, although sometimes a scout will do the requirements for a badge on his own at home, and then get "signed off" by a Merit Badge Counselor (we have several in the Troop). To become an Eagle Scout, you must complete 21 Merit Badges, 13 of which are required (our Scouts usually do two of these per year once they are Tenderfoot). When Scouts start with the Troop their main focus is on mastering their Scout skills, and then as they progress they slowly shift to completing merit badges. To complete a merit badge a scout needs a "blue card". See Merit Badge Procedure under the Advancement tab.
Our Troop heads to summer camp every year the last week of June. We aim for high attendance as this helps scouts advance, is good for camraderie, and allows the older youth to work on their leadership skills. It is also a lot of fun! If we don't have enough adult leaders who are able to attend we sometime ask if a parent is willing to join. We have financial aid available for summer camp.
Our Troop believes strongly in fostering a commitment to community service. We sometimes do service during Troop meetings (eg. preparing for for Martha's Table; raking leaves for the church) or we may do service at Summer Camp or on a weekend (e.g. remove invasive species on the Capital Crescent Trail). Our scouts also usually help out at Eagle Service Projects, which vary in type and quantity from year to year.
The Troop hold 2 fundraisers per year:
a) Scout Popcorn - we sell popcorn in front of Giant or Safeway - each scout is asked to attend for 2 hours. A portion of the proceeds from this sale goes to local area scouting (and a portion also goes to the Troop);
b) Wreath and Tree Sale - this is our main fundraiser, which occurs in November. We sell wreaths and trees for delivery - to family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
Class A: Scouts wear our regular, or "Class A" uniform to meetings, other events and for traveling to and from campouts. There is a uniform inspection at every meeting and the results are compiled and used in the awarding of the "patrol of the year". The Class A uniform is comprised of:
- pants, shirt, belt, socks, and epaulettes purchased online or from the scout shop
- patches (World crest, Council, 61 patch, Patrol patch) are provided by the Troop upon joining. A neckerchief and slide are provided at a scout's first campout in a welcoming ceremony around the campfire.
Class B: Scouts will be given a Troop T-shirt upon joining. Occasionally (and especially at summer camp) scouts will be instructed to wear this T-shirt instead of their regular uniform shirt. This is known as the "Class B" uniform.
In scouting, exciting trips are usually referred to as "High Adventure". There are 4 BSA High Adventure Bases in the US open to scouts age 14 and up:
- Northern Tier is canoeing in Minnesota.
- Sea Base is sailing or scuba diving in the Florida Keys (a crew will scuba August 2021)
- Philmont is a 2 week back country trip in the mountains of New Mexico (a crew will head to Philmont July 2021)
- Summit is in West Virginia and offers a variety of fun outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting or mountain biking
We also organize trips to Europe which are open to scouts of all ages. We have hiked Hadrian's Wall from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, and have been to Switzerland to an international scout camp. In 2022, we plan to head to France and Switzerland.
Note: Troop 61 takes Youth Protection very seriously. We strictly adhere to "two-deep" leadership (a scout and an adult may never be alone together unless its a parent) and require all adult leaders to take Youth Protection Training.