Troop 34 Family Handbook
Mission Statement of the Boy Scouts of America
It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to serve others by helping to instill values in young people, and in other ways to prepare them to make ethical choices during their lifetime in achieving their full potential. The values we strive to instill are found in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
The Aims of Boy Scouting
1. Growth in moral strength and character.
2. Participating Citizenship.
3. Development of Physical, Mental, and Emotional Fitness.
The Scout Law
A Scout is .....
The Scout Oath
On my honor, I will do my best
to do my duty, to God and my country,
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight
Welcome to the world of Scouting and to Troop 34. This booklet is an attempt to put information on Scouting and on Troop 34 together in one place. The intent is answer questions you might have and give you information you will need to help your son have the best possible experience in Scouting.
For new Boy Scout parents, this information will help you understand the significant differences between Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, the challenge and adventure that await your son, and what your role is in that process.
What is Boy Scouts?
The mission statement and the aims of scouting give the goals of the Scouting movement. These are important, but boys don't join scouting because they want to develop their character and sense of citizenship. To them, scouting is fun and adventure. It's ropes, camping, cooking, hiking, climbing, knives, fire, canoeing, wilderness, teamwork, rain and shine, snow and ice, mud and dust, and of course, yelling really loud. A good scouting program uses the outdoors as a workshop to build the boys self-esteem through mastery of skills, self-reliance, and leadership development. Of course, there is a lot of fun in the process!
What isn't Boy Scouts? There are many things that Boy Scouts is not. It is not hazing or intimidation. It is not fighting either physical or verbal. It is notselective. No active scout will be excluded unless they violate their Scout Oath. It is not para-military training or "Rambo-like" in any way. It is not acamping club. Boys must be active in the troop to advance. It is not a spectator sport where parents sit in the stands. Parents of all Troop 34 scouts areexpected to lend a hand. We promise not to take an arm, unless you let us.
Who is Troop 34?
Troop 34 has a long and proud tradition. It is one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in Illinois and the longest under continuous charter. The troop has been in existence for over 80 years. It is likely that Red Grange, if he was a Boy Scout, would have belonged to Troop 34. Many Eagle Scouts have come from our troop. Several men who were scouts in the troop have become adult leaders and watched their sons mature in their Troop. The members of the troop take great pride in this tradition.
Troop 34 is first and above all a "boy run" organization. What does this mean? The senior (typically high school age) scouts are responsible for the operation of the troop. They run our meetings, decide on our outings, handle training, and take care of each other on outings. The adults in the troop are responsible to ensure that the program adheres to BSA standards, that the atmosphere is safe and constructive, and to coach and mentor the boys as needed. The best scout program is one in which the adults appear to be doing the least.
The troop draws boys from a wide area of Wheaton, Warrenville, Winfield, and surrounding communities. Boys from our troop attend Hubble, Edison, Monroe, St. Michaels, and other local middle schools. High school age boys attend St. Francis, Benet Academy, Wheaton North, and Wheaton-Warrenville South. Besides scouting, the boys are involved in many diverse activities ranging from sports to music. Most manage extremely busy schedules and the troop accommodates these other interests as long as the Scout makes a good-faith effort to remain active.
Behavior and Conduct
Scout Law and Oath
The general statement about scout behavior and conduct are found in the Scout Law and Scout Oath. These are the first things we teach a new scout and are repeated at many of our meetings and outings. Scouting is one of the few organizations that require its members to take an Oath. As a BoyScout, your son is taking on a code of Ethics. It should be taken seriously.
At meetings, we expect our scouts to act in a courteous manner in keeping with the activity we are involved in. During games and other physical activity,the noise level goes up. During instruction or announcements, the boys should pay attention and not distract the group. The raised scout sign is our signalthat its time to be quiet and pay attention. When the sign goes up, the mouth goes shut. We will occasionally ask a scout to be quiet and settle down but this is typically not necessary. A scout who disregards this will be given a verbal warning. This will be followed either by some type of "time-out" or, at atroop meeting, the scout may be asked to leave the meeting. Disregarding a verbal warning is serious and violates the Oath and the Law.
On outings we expect similar behavior. The scouts are expected to be courteous and respect each other. We use the buddy system to ensure no one gets lost - scouts should never leave camp alone. If a scout leaves camp, they are expected to let either adults or senior scouts know where they are headedand when they will be back. This is a simple matter of safety and courtesy. Occasionally, specific things will be placed off limits due to safety reasons or torespect private property. These will be explained and we expect these rules to be strictly obeyed. Scouts who don't respect this will either not be allowedon outings or will need to be accompanied by their parent or guardian. Adults in the troop cannot be responsible for boys who do not follow directions andcannot be expected to spend an extraordinary amount of their time with a boy who has a behavior problem.
The BSA maintains specific rules about adult participation in outings. There must always be two deep leadership in every situation. This means twoadults must accompany the scouts on outings and activities. This will allow one adult to go for help and one to stay with the boys in case of an emergency. This also applies to patrol outings. Boys should never be alone with an adult in any scout outing. This is to prevent the boys from child abuse and to protect adult leaders from being falsely accused. Several boys can accompany one adult and one-on-one discussions are allowed as long as other people are in sight. Other rules for adults include that members of the opposite sex are not allowed to share a tent even if they are married. Driversmust be sure all scouts riding with them are wearing a seat belt. Adults are not allowed to bring any alcoholic beverages to a scout outing or into a scout encampment. Adult scouters are also expected to abide by the Scout Oath and Law and serve as strong positive role models.
Hazing, harassment, and fighting by any scout will not be tolerated! Any willful attempt by one scout to hurt or embarrass another scout is not permitted and will lead to disciplinary action. A scout who persists in these behaviors after verbal warnings and a discussion with their parents will be asked to leave the troop, subject to approval by the troop committee. Sometimes there can be a fine line between hazing, teasing, and having fun. Good-natured banter and competitive spirit are central to scouting. For example, we may ask a scout to sing if someone else findssomething they have lost, but such things are never forced. What one scout would enjoy as fun another may take the wrong way. Our scouts aretaught that it's only fun when everyone is enjoying themselves.
Fighting is not uncommon especially with boys in 7th-9th grade and nothing will ruin a scouts experience faster. Unfortunately, our society sends very mixed messages to youth about this topic. The troop policy is that fighting is not permitted between scouts. This applies universally, not just at scout outings. There with be no "we'll settle this later." Retaliation is not permitted. One scout assaulting another does not justify a violent reaction. If a fight occurs, both parties will be guilty and subject to discipline. The proper course of action is to walk away and report the behavior immediately. Scouts are obligated by their Oath to report problems to the scouters and will be subject to discipline themselves if they fail to do so, especially for serious situations such as fighting or hazing. In any sizable group of people, it's inevitable that some people will not get along. Scouts are not required to like everyone in the troop but they are required to be Kind, Courteous, Friendly, andto Helpful to other people. We try whenever possible to place scouts who dislike each other in separate groups or teams. Parents who hear of such issues or have concerns should let one of the scouters know immediately.
A Scout is Clean
We expect our scouts to abide by this part of the law. Swearing is not part of Scouting. Unfortunately, poor verbal hygiene is so prolific and socially accepted that preventing swearing is very difficult. The scouters do not generally correct a scout's language unless he is way out of line. An example would be the shouting of profanity in a public place. We expect that the boys are mature enough to understand that language depends on the situation. If someone is out of line, they will hear about it at their scoutmaster conference. We expect our scouters and senior scouts to lead by example. Dirty magazines or tapes, raunchy jokes, and frank sexual discussions are not allowed. Scouters will correct this if they hear it and confiscate any materials that are found. These will be returned to the parents, not the scouts. Repeated problems will be brought to the parent's attention. Scouters do not impose themselves on the scout's private discussions unless there is a significant problem.
Scouts are expected to use proper sanitary procedure on outings. Human waste in the outdoors is a growing problem and leading to the contamination of many wilderness water sources. If bathrooms or outhouses are available, they are to be used. If they are not, proper wilderness sanitary procedures must be used. We tell the boys that our camp is our home. Just as you would not use the corner of the livingroom for a bathroom, our campsite is not a urinal. In general, we do not monitor the boy's personal hygiene practices. This is theirresponsibility. We try to set a good example. At summer camp, we may ask a scout to take a shower in the middle of the week. If there is a problem, normally the other scouts get on the offender's case until they clean up their act.
Knives and Other Sharp Tools
Carrying a pocket knife is one of the things that new scouts most eagerly anticipate. There are certain rules associated with knife use. Sheath knives and pocket knives with blades over four inches are not permitted. Knives are never thrown, either open or closed. Knives are not passedbetween people with the blade open. No one is permitted to use a knife if someone is close enough to touch. The simple test is to reach around with the closed knife. If you can touch someone else without moving, you are too close to them. You must never cut toward yourself. The boy must know these rules, the proper way to use, clean, and sharpen his knife, and pass a test on this administered by one of the adult leaders.When he does this he will be given a card, his "Totin' Chip". He must carry this at all times he is carrying his knife. Breaking the knife rules or careless behavior with the knife such as leaving it left open will result in disciplinary action. A corner is cut off the Totin' Chip for every offense, two comers for a particularly bad offense. When the corners are gone, the scout cannot carry his knife again until he passes the test again at a later date.
The boys learn to use saw and ax to prepare firewood. These are serious, dangerous tools and must be treated this way. In camp, they must beused only in an ax yard. This is a 10 square foot roped off enclosure. Only one person is allowed in the ax yard at a time. In the woods, the areashould also be 10 square feet but does not have to be roped off. Someone must be observing while a scout is using either a saw or ax. In general, saws are used for the bulk of firewood preparation. Hatchets are convenient only for climbing logs and splitting. Hatchets are not usedfor cutting through logs. Saws are much faster and much safer. In Troop 34, we almost never use an ax for safety reasons. We do use a hatchet but this is generally done under direct adult supervision. The hatchet does not ever leave camp except in the hands of an adult. Boys should not bring personal saws or hatchets on outings unless they are asked to for a unique situation. Improper use of saw, hatchet, or ax will result in a corner being removed from your Totin' Chip card.
After the boys have been instructed on campfire preparation and safety, they will receive another card called a "Firem'n Chit". This qualifies them to carry matches and tinder and to maintain the troop fire. The troop never leaves a burning fire unattended. One scout is always placed in charge of the fire. He is responsible to ensure that proper safety precautions are in place. All fires must have a five gallon bucket of water nearby and more if the fire is large. Ready access to fireproof gloves and a shovel is recommended. For new scouts, sticks stay in the fire, leaves just make smoke, and scouts don't play with fire. Nothing shows a scout to be a tenderfoot more than playing with the fire! There arenever flames in tents or under flies. This includes candle lanterns and lighting of matches or lighters. Any boy who violates this policy will be asked to call their parents and be removed from our outing. Repeat violations will not be tolerated.
Illegal & Restricted Equipment
Some things cannot be taken on scout outings or must be registered with the scoutmaster. There is no alcohol on scout outings as mentioned above. Fireworks are not allowed. They will be confiscated and not returned. Electronic devices are not allowed on campouts. This includes CD players, radios, video games, televisions, etc. They can be taken on the ride to the outing site but must be left in the car or with a scoutmaster. Weapons, such as guns or bow and arrow, are not allowed. Boys are not allowed to bring tobacco products on outings.
The troop maintains a uniform policy and scouts are expected to dress appropriately for the given occasion. Details on the uniform are given in the equipment section. Failure to wear proper uniform may result in a scout being excluded from an activity.
A scout respects all living things and the natural environment. We practice low-impact camping. This means we camp and leave no trace that we have been in the area. On normal campouts, we police the camping area thoroughly and leave it better than we found it. On wilderness trips, this would include naturalizing the site by scattering leaves and sticks to return the site to a natural state. Scouts do not harm any living thing, be it animal, insect or plant. The only exception is food gathering, such as fishing or gathering of edible plants. Collection of edible plants must be supervised by a qualified adult. We do not cut or carve living trees and do not bother or torment any animals. We only gather firewood in keeping with the guidelines of the area in which we are camping. Increasingly, state and local parks are requiring that no wood be gathered and that everything be brought to the site. Failure to honor the natural environment could lead to disciplinary action, especially in cases of harming living plants and animals.
Scouts will be held accountable for damage to equipment due to improper use or horse-play. This includes troop and personal scout equipment. Improper use is anything except the function tor which the equipment was designed. Tents are designed as sleeping shelters. Thereis to be no wrestling, horse-play, or eating in the tents. Quiet activities such as playing cards and talking are tine. Replacement cost tor one ofour tents is about $150. Tent poles and stakes are not to be treated as weapons. A tent pole typically costs five to ten dollars. Scouts are notliable for normal wear and tear to equipment. Scouts will be trained in the proper use and maintenance of our gear. Scouts should never borrowother's personal gear. Scouts are expected to be self-reliant and should bring what they need to an outing. If it becomes necessary, permission must be asked first. Not asking permission will be treated as stealing. If you damage someone's personal gear while using it, you must either repair or replace the item. A scout is Honest and Trustworthy.
Scouts do not bring their own tents on outings. The cost of this equipment is covered by dues and fundraising. We want the troop to maintain a uniform look in camp and don't want some scouts to have preferential living quarters. Having expensive personal gear like tents on outings can lead to problems if anything is damaged. Our policy is that the troop supplies the tents.
Troop 34 follows a progressive discipline approach. The first phase is a verbal warning either from the scoutmaster or one of the boy leaders. Ascout may be asked to perform some duty or service to correct the situation tor which they are responsible. At this level, we do not bring matters to the parent's attention. It is important that the boys realize that they are accountable for their actions and not their parents. Bringing every little thing to the parent's attention would be very cumbersome and significantly detract from the boys ownership of the program. Almost all situations are handled in this matter. If verbal warning and discussion are not effective, the scout will either be asked to leave the outing or given a time-out. This will be followed with a discussion with the scout's parents. This level of discipline may be administered by the Senior Patrol leader or the scoutmaster. At this point, the problem is a concern but not serious. If the problem continues, it is considered serious. The matter will be discussed at a troop committee meeting with the involvement of the scout and his parents. The troop committee will decide on what steps need to be taken. This may include a restriction on the scout's involvement tor a specified period of time, a written apology from the scout, a probationary period, and perhaps some special act of service. The committee decisions on these matters are not negotiable. The scoutmaster will maintain a dialogue with the boy and his parents on his progress. If this is not sufficient to correct the behavior, the situation would be considered very serious. Troop 34 is committed to bringing scouting to all boys, but there doesbecome a point when an individual's behavior and attitude becomes too much of a distraction and a burden. Out of fairness to the other scouts and scoutmasters, we will not allow a single individual to disrupt the troop. At this point, the scout will be asked to leave the troop subject to a vote by the troop committee.
Troop Operation and Leadership
Detailed information about the structure and operation of a Boy Scout troop is found in the Scout Handbook. Troop 34 strives to closely follow these guidelines. The troop is made of four key groups: the leadership core of scouts, the patrols, the new scout patrols, and the scouters. Scouters are the adults who help the boys with their program activities.
Troop 34 Is A Boy Run Troop
Troop 34 is boy run. This means that we expect the boys to run the program, not the adults. For new parents, this is a major difference from Cub Scouts. The quality of our program, especially our troop meetings, will vary depending on how well the boys are doing their jobs. We ask parents to be patient with this. We must allow the boys to fail occasionally if we ultimately want them to succeed. Nothing will hurt a scouting program more than adults who take over and do the work for the boys. The scouts in Troop 34 "own" their troop. Evidence of this is the large number of high school age boys who remain active in our program and the number of young men who have decided to move into adult leadership roles after their eighteenth birthday.
If the boys run everything, what do the adults do? The answer is plenty! In Boy Scouts, adults are coaches, mentors, and role models. It's like a footballteam. Our job is to train the boys but not to "take the field." With more adults active in our program, the load is easier for everyone. Roles for adults are summarized later in this handbook.
The leadership core are the boys responsible for troop operations. This group includes the senior patrol leader (SPL), the assistant senior patrol leader (ASPL), and the junior assistant scoutmasters (JASM). The JASM role is intended for boys over the age of sixteen interested in becoming more involved in leadership and is a good role for an Eagle scouts. Leadership core members are not members of a patrol for their term of office but return to their patrols when their terms end.
Patrols are the functional units for activities and each patrol typically has eight to twelve boys. The boys elect their own patrol leader from the members of the patrol. The patrol is designed to operate as a self-contained unit. Each has a range of ages, skills, and ranks like the troop. They should have their own patrol flag, can maintain their own account for outings and equipment, and have their own style and traditions. On outings, especially summercamp, each patrol is expected to take care of itself. We expect the older scouts in the patrol to take on the leadership roles and work to develop the younger scouts in their unit. There are typically one or two assistant patrol leaders to focus on patrol operation.
The troop policy is that we will not change patrol structure frequently. We feel that frequent changes interfere with the natural leadership development process and the mentoring we expect from older scouts. We hope that stabilizing the patrol structure will improve leadership development, teamwork, and training within the troop. Boys will join an established patrol at the end of their first year in scouts. Switching patrols is permissible if there is a problem. This should be discussed with the scoutmaster.
New Scout Patrols
The first year in scouting is a year of transition. New scouts are placed in their own patrols to ease this process and allow them to concentrate on their special training needs. They may select their own patrol leader but his responsibility is far less than that of a standard patrol leaders. Each new scout patrol is assigned a troop guide. The guide is an experienced older scout with strong scouting and people skills. His role is to prepare the boys for admission into the other patrols and to help them complete the skills needed for First Class rank.
Scout Leadership Positions
The troop currently recognizes a variety of leadership positions. These are patrol leader, assistant patrol leader, crew chief, troop guide, advancement scribe, newsletter scribe, den chief, historian, and instructor. Other roles have been used as necessary, including quartermaster, librarian, andgamemaster. In addition to allowing the boys to learn the skills and methods of leadership, acting in these roles is also a requirement for the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks.
The positions of Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader are elected from the troop as a whole. Patrol leaders are elected from individual patrols. Other positions are appointed by the scoutmaster with the input of the Patrol Leaders Conference (PLC). Elections are held every six months.
Senior Patrol Leader (SPL)
The boy leader in the troop. He is responsible to run troop meetings and coordinate the activities of the other leadership. He is expected to preside over the monthly meeting of the patrol leadership, the Patrol Leadership Conference (PLC). He is the ranking boy in the troop andresponsible for the behavior of all scouts in the troop.
Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL)
He is the second in command and must step in for the SPL when he is not available. He assists all other boy leadership in completing their assignments and is especially responsible for training and supervision of the troop instructors.
He is responsible to help plan and coordinate high adventure trips. He will act as the scout leader of the trip and work with the adult in charge to plan and stage training activities.
He is the leader of a patrol. He is responsible for the patrol and for planning and executing patrol activities during his term of duty. These can involve outdoor themes, service, or just fun. Recent patrol activities have included a ski trip and raking leaves for elderly Wheaton residents. He is also responsible to help his patrol members with their advancement.
This scout is responsible for a patrol of first year scouts. He works with the Assistant scoutmaster for the new scouts to prepare programactivities to help the new scouts learn their First Class skills. He helps the new boys on outings and should plan to attend summer camp with the new scouts. It is a very important and responsible position normally reserved for Life scouts.
The advancement scribe assists the advancement chairman and helps the scouts with advancement issues. Other scribe opportunities have included preparation of newsletters and other troop communications.
This is a scout who participates in the operation of a Cub Scout den. He helps the Den Leader and prepares games and other activities for thecubs. He forms a bridge between the Cub pack and the troop and gives the boys someone they know in the troop should they decide to join. It is an excellent first leadership assignment for a second year scout.
This is a scout who has become proficient enough in skill to teach specific skills to other scouts. Instructors can specialize in areas such as first aid, knots and lashings, or nature. The number of these at any one time varies. They work with the ASPL to coordinate skills instructions.
This person is responsible for taking pictures at our outings and helping in the preparation of the newsletter. They maintain troop scrapbooks and related information. They should complete a project for the troop concerning troop history such as writing a newspaper article or preparing a bulletin board on troop activities.
A scout can complete leadership for the troop by performing a specific project for the troop. This could include planning an outing orcoordinating several service projects. This must be agreed to by the scoutmaster and is a good way to complete leadership if a boy is unable to attend weekly meetings. A scout must remain as active as possible with the troop if he would like to take this option.
Scouting and Camping Equipment
Before a boy finishes with scouting, he will typically have a significant amount of camping gear. Details on appropriate equipment for scouting is given in the Scout Handbook. Specific equipment for a given outing is typically communicated at troop meetings. The boys are responsible to know what to bring and pack accordingly. This is part of their individual responsibility. This section will give additional information.
The Class A uniform for Troop 34 is the official Boy Scout uniform. This consists of a BSA scout shirt with appropriate insignia, pants, and neckerchief. Appropriate pants include jeans or scout pants. Cut-offs, ripped jeans, or sweats are not appropriate. The neckerchief can be either the Troop 34 neckerchief, the blue new scout neckerchief, the Eagle neckerchief, or a Woodbadge neckerchief. Older scouts who have participated in High Adventure activities like Philmont may also where bolo ties from those trips at the scoutmaster's discretion. The proper location of the scout patches on the shirt are shown on the inside of the front and back covers of the scout handbook. The Class A uniform is worn when traveling to and from an outing and is required at our weekly troop meeting, except during June through August Boys coming directly from sports events are allowed to wear other pants such as football pants but are expected to wear their shirt. A scout is expected to have a neat and orderly appearance with his shirt buttoned and tucked in.
For more formal occasions such as Courts of Honor, Boards of Review, and other events where the scout represents the troop to the community, a meritbadge sash for scouts of First Class rank or higher, and other honors like Order of the Arrow sashes may be worn. During the summer the troop often meets outdoors and scouts may choose to wear our Class B uniform. This is an official Troop 34 t-shirt which is distributed during the spring or at summer camp. Boys can also wear shorts.
The troop owns many types of camping equipment for its patrols, including tents, dining flies, propane stoves and lanterns, cooking equipment, and tools. We have a fully equipped first-aid kit. Combined these items represent a significant investment, and are funded by the troop. Troop equipment is stored in the troop trailer, and is typically managed by the Quartermaster, an adult position.
Personal Outdoors Equipment
The boys will need to have a variety of equipment for our troop outings, depending on the location, weather, and planned activity. For a weekend outing, they include a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad or airmattress, a flashlight, a water bottle, a cookset or plate and bowl, eating utensils, appropriate clothing, and a bag to carry it all in. Expensive outdoor gear is not always needed or appropriate, and is often unnecessary for a scout's first year until he learns about what works best.
The most important piece of personal camping equipment is the sleeping bag. Your comfort in the outdoors is largely determined by the quality of your sleeping bag. Choice of bag is most crucial in the cold months but a bag that is too heavily insulated is quite uncomfortable when the weather is hot. Sleeping bags come in all shapes and sizes and costs. A bag with a temperature rating of 1O degrees insulated with a non-water-absorbing synthetic material can be used year round if it's supplemented with a blanket or second sleeping bag in extreme cold. The lightest and warmest bags are insulated with goose down, but these are also the most expensive and poor insulators if they get wet. A quality sleeping bag typically costs from $80 to $150. Low cost sleeping bags work well for indoor sleepovers and summer camping but are insufficient in wet or cold weather. It's important that the sleeping bag be supplemented by some sort of foam pad or air mattress. This brings the body off the ground and insulates underneath when you are sleeping. When crushed by your body weight, the bottom of your sleeping bag loses much of its insulating power and without a pad you will be cold even in a good sleeping bag. A foam pad is sufficient and inexpensive. Thermal-Rest self-inflating pads are more expensive but extremely conformable.
Personal gear may include a pocketknife, if you have your Totin' Chip. Any pocket knife with a blade less than four inches will do. More expensive muti-purpose tools are handy but should be saved until a scout is old enough not to lose them. Other gear includes matches or some sort of tinder box, a water bottle or canteen, and eating equipment. The troop does not provide paper plates and plastic silverware on outings, as this is expensive and not consistent with the proper use of natural resources. For eating equipment, many boys use a small scout cook kit or a plastic plate with a separate cup. Plates with separate compartments work quite well. Plastic has the advantage of not getting too cold or too hot, and are inexpensive.
Clothing choice is important especially in cold weather. The key is to keep water out and heat in. Clothing made from water resistant fibers such as polyolefin or polyester work best in the outdoors. Wool is also excellent. Clothing containing cotton fibers is not recommended because it holds moisture and loses its insulating power when wet. This is particularly crucial when camping in cold, wet conditions such as are encountered in the early spring. Layering clothing traps heat between the layers and allows a great deal of flexibility by adding or removing layers as the activity and temperature changes. The inner layer should be your basic underwear in hot weather or long underwear if its cold. The material should not be cotton but a breathable synthetic. The middle layers should be insulating and adsorbent. Several may be needed if it is extremely cold. Synthetics and wool are the best materials here and cotton is the worst. The outer layer should be water repellent. This can range from an expensive GoreTex rain suit to a scout poncho or rain suit. In the winter, the outer layer is typically a winter coat. Socks are very important, with two pairs working best with the inner being a polypropylene liner and the outer being a padded wool hiking sock. Sweat from your foot passes through the inner and is adsorbed in the outer. This virtually eliminates blisters. Shoes should also be water resistant. Tennis shoes work well in warm, dry weather but are not suited to cold or wet weather. Headgear is also important - you lose over 60% of your body heat from your head. Wearing a stocking cap or balaclava when camping in cold weather significantly improves retention of body heat.
Quality outdoor equipment is available from a number of different sources. Local sources included department stores like Walmart and K-Mart, sporting goods stores like Dicks Sporting Goods and Sports Authority, and specialty outdoors retailers like Gander Mountain, REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, and local ski shops. Specialty shops usually have very knowledgeable staff and high quality equipment but can be more expensive. Mail or online ordering of equipment can also provide high quality gear at lower prices, such as from REI Outlet, Gander Mountain, Campmor, and Sierra Trading Post. Many also have mailing lists and catalogs. Army surplus stores are also options, and have good prices on outdoor clothing and personal gear. However, full military-style camouflage clothing is not appropriate for outings and is discouraged. Information about many of these sources is located in an appendix at the end of this booklet.
The specific requirements for each rank in scouting are shown in the Scout Handbook. The details of each rank will not be repeated here. Our intention is to give a brief explanation of the advancement process and a description of the scout ranks.
There are seven ranks in scouting: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. These ranks have a number of basic things in common. Each requires the scout to demonstrate mastery of specific skills, complete leadership projects, do community service, participate in troop activities, and demonstrate scout spirit and maintain a positive and enthusiastic attitude. As the scout progresses through the program, the difficulty of each of these tasks is increased to reflect a growth in maturity and skills.
Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class
The first four ranks are typically completed within the first year if a scout is active. The skills reflect an initial demonstration of competence in a wide range of areas from outdoor skills to citizenship. Some have said that all a scout needs to know, they learned by the time they became First Class. Thereis some truth in this because these skills are the basics. When a skill is mastered and demonstrated, the box in the scout's handbook next to the skill is initialed and dated. This can only be done by the scoutmaster, assistant scoutmasters, or boys in the troop who have been given this responsibility. Parents should not sign their son's books.
Star and Life - The Middle Ranks
The next two ranks are significantly more challenging. Instead of general skills, the boys must demonstrate more in-depth knowledge in specific areas by completing merit badges. The merit badges fall into two groups. The core skills for scouting are found in the Eagle-required merit badges. Other interests are reflected in the wide range of non-required badges. Merit badges cover a wide range of topics from outdoor skills, career interests, hobbies, citizenship, and physical fitness. For Star and Life, the scout must also complete a fixed amount of community service. They do not have to organize the event but have to take an active role in carrying it out. The Troop sponsors regular community service projects and active boys have no difficulty fulfilling this requirement. Service outside of scouting counts. In this case, we would like a note from the parents.
At the Star and Life level, the boys must complete leadership assignments within the troop. The boys are responsible for the troop and the boy leadersare the ones who make this happen. A wide range of positions are available and they are typically tailored to the age of the given scout. Leadership demonstration is easier for Star and more challenging for Life rank. The Troop has used a contract with the scout so that they will be certain of what is expected from them for a given position. Examples are given in appendix II. Failure to complete the contract is an indication that the scout is not yet ready to hold the next rank. Scouts who comes close to completing the leadership contract may be able to complete a special activity to finish his obligation. In general, a scout who fails to complete his contract will have to start over unless there are significant circumstances beyond his control.Accountability for doing a good and thorough job in leadership is the major distinction between a Star and Life scout and the four lower ranks.
Eagle - The Ultimate Achievement
The last rank. Eagle, is in a class of its own. To obtain this rank, a scout must complete the remaining Eagle required merit badges for a total of eleven and have ten additional non-required badges. The scout must demonstrate strong leadership skills by completing six months in a leadership position. To reach this rank, the scout must do a strong job in one of the demanding core leadership jobs such as SPL, ASPL, Troop guide, or patrol leader Our Eagle scouts and Eagle candidates represent the senior and most experienced boys in the troop. They should therefore be accountable for the most difficultassignments. Anything else is not in keeping with the spirit of the rank. The unique Eagle requirement is the completion of an independent service project of the candidate's own choosing. This project must be something of lasting value not a one-time event. The scout must organize and lead the group that completes the project. This group can contain anyone qualified to help, including family members, scouts, or adults. Recent projects include theconstruction of a tool box and the of it with toys for the pediatric ward of a local hospital, planning and organizing the garden at Kline Creek farm and laying it out so that underprivileged children could successfully plant the garden, building a storage room at St. Mike's, organizing an organ donor drive, and obtaining dental equipment for a clinic in Wheaton. As you can see, the nature of the project can be quite wide ranging.
Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review
After a boy has demonstrated all of the skills for a rank, he must present himself to the scoutmaster for a conference. At this time, the scoutmaster reviews with the boy what he has learned and gives him a status report on how he is doing. These are one-on-one discussions between the scoutmaster and the scout. After the scoutmaster is satisfied that the scout has completed the requirements of the rank, he signs the book and the boy must present himself for review at a Board of Review. The Board of Review is a panel of adults normally from the troop committee who talk to the boy about his scouting. The meeting is formal and the boy must come in full dress uniform and take the meeting seriously. The meeting is not a test and boys are not asked any difficult questions about scout skills. The board reviews the scouts progress, checks that he has indeed met requirements, and finds out if he is having fun. This allows the committee to keep track of how the program is going. If a problem is detected, they will bring it to the scoutmaster's attention.
All rank advancement requires a scout to be active. This means that they come to meetings and outings and are generally active in the troop program.Many scouts, especially when they enter high school, find it more difficult to attend meetings and outings. Sports, religious education, and music all create conflicts. We do not expect a scout to make every outing or meeting. We do expect scouts to explain these conflicts to us if they wish to remain active. There are ways for scouts who have conflicts with meeting nights to remain active and fit scouting into their schedule. This must be discussed with the scoutmaster on an individual basis. This is the responsibility of the scout. We also expect scouts with conflicts to make extra effort to attend meetings and outings when they can. Most activities give an occasional day off. A scout with a conflict must make a strong effort to come when they can. A scout who has become inactive is still a member of the Troop and is allowed to come on all outings and activities unless there were specific training requirements for the outing that the scout did not complete. This is for obvious safety purposes. Patrol leaders will continue to keep them informed andthe newsletter should help communicate when outings are occurring. The main cost of an inactive status is rank advancement. Scouts who have become inactive will not be allowed to make a rank advancement until they reactivate themselves by participating in the program. This will be handled on an individual basis. The net result of becoming inactive is to reduce the pace of rank advancement. This is an individual choice.
Some Hints on Advancement
There are some things you can do which will really help your son maintain a good rate of advancement, especially with the early ranks. Attending summer camp is certainly the most important thing. Here are some specifics for each of the ranks:
Requirement 9a and 9b, physical fitness, are the most difficult and the longest to complete. Help your son to start a fitness program and keep a log. After one month, he will complete the requirements. Requirement 3b is the next most difficult. Help your son practice his knots. The rest of the requirements are easily handled at troop meeting.
Requirements lb, 5, and 7 are typically the most difficult especially for scouts who don't attend summer camp. There is no easy way for the troop to test swimming outside of camp, though we have on occasion held a swim night at a local pool to help scouts. Take your son to the YMCA or other pool and get a lifeguard to write a note saying he has passed the swimming requirement. We can teach the safe swimming aspect during a meeting. The hike and nature requirements can be combined and make a great family event. Have your son map out a route in one of the forest preserves - Herrick Lake works very well. If he presents his map prior to the hike and can describe ten animals he saw during the hike, he will pass the requirement.
Requirement 5 is often a sticking point. Some scouts this year went and discussed the Constitution with one of their social studies teachers to pass the requirement. Requirement 6 can take some time. If you have a guidebook, take a walk through your neighborhood identifying trees and have your son bring a notebook to write notes describing what you found. Requirement 1 is normally handled during an outing but could be done at home. Send a note from home and if the scout can give a good explanation, he will pass.
Star rank is a big jump. The toughest thing is to complete the requirements for four Eagle required merit badges. Most boys will complete the swimming merit badge during their first year at summer camp and should complete the requirements for the camping badge by the end of their second camp. We typically work on one of the citizenship badges and first aid at troop meetings every year. Another good badge to complete at this stage is Family Life. We typically do several non-required badges every year in our program, and these vary. Good students can easily complete requirements for the scholarship and reading badges. If you have a pet, the Pets merit badge is also easy to complete. Collections is another simple badge for boys who collect baseball cards, coins, or stamps. Good leadership positions are den chief, instructor, scribe, and historian.
The most difficult job here is completing the leadership position. Six months of quality work are required. Typical jobs are patrol leader, scribe,ASPL, or instructor, but other jobs are possible. The scout must complete three more Eagle required badges. These are typically environmental science, one of the citizenship badges, and either safety or lifesaving. Athletes can fit personal fitness and sports badges into their training programs. Non-required badges should not be a problem if the scout has been active and attended several summer camps.
It's crunch time. Your son can't escape those Eagle required badges he doesn't like such as communications, safety, citizenship in the world, or personal management. Help him get these done before he's sixteen or he may run out of time. His non-required badges are probably no problem. He's had fun at summer camp doing canoeing, fishing, archery, nature, etc. If he needs one, suggest one of the career badges or puthim to work around the house and he can earn home repair. Leadership requirements are similar to Life but now it is time to do the hard jobs like SPL, ASPL, patrol leader, or a troop guide. Help him stay active in the troop. Schedule the project for the summer when he will have time tofocus on it but he should begin planning early and do it well. Help him pick a project that is meaningful but don't let him get too carried away, unless he's really committed.
A Last Word on Advancement
The last word about advancement must be that it is not the objective of our program to produce Eagle scouts. We try very hard to help boys develop the skills and abilities to reach this goal and give strong support in achieving this. Our true objectives are the three goals listed under the Aims of Scouting. Obtaining Eagle rank should come naturally as the boy matures in the program. A scout whose sole goal is rank advancement is missing the point of scouting and ultimately cheating themselves.
Medical and Safety Information
Scouting is not dangerous but there frequently are hazards. We do everything within our power to identify and eliminate hazards. Safety is nevercompromised for any reason! There are a number of things we do to ensure a safe environment and keep parents informed of the hazards in a given activity.
We expect all scouts and scouters in our program to have a current medical examination and to submit a scout medical form every three years. Scouts and scouters going to summer camp or on a high adventure trip must have an exam within one year of the event. Please return this as soon as possible. For safety reasons, the troop needs to know about any special medical problem a scout may have. Important problems include dietary problems, allergies especially to insect bites, asthma, sleepwalking, behavior disorders, or learning disabilities. The scoutmaster needs to be informed if your son is currently on medication. All medical information is held in confidence. If your son needs medication with him on outings, it should be turned into the scoutmaster or other scouter with information on the correct dosage and frequency. We will be sure to keep it in a safe place and make sure your sontakes his medicine. Scouts are not allowed to carry their own medication, with the exception of scouts with allergies to insect bites who may carry epi-pens and scouts with asthma who may carry inhalers. In the event of a medical emergency, the scouters are authorized by our permission slips to takewhatever action is necessary to assist your son. You will be notified immediately if that is possible. In some wilderness situations it may be difficult tocontact you immediately but this will be done as soon possible. Several of our scoutmasters are CPR certified and most have taken basic first aid courses. Most of our older scouts have CPR training and have completed basic first aid courses. We are always trying to increase our preparedness in this area. The troop carries at least one fully equipped first aid kit on all outings and supplements this kit with additional materials and a good first aid book when traveling in wilderness settings. One first aid kit, a gray box marked with red cross insignia on it, is kept in the trailer.
Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
Prior to an outing, the scoutmaster performs a risk assessment. He will discuss the outing with knowledgeable people, especially those with past experience of the specific area or the type of skills being used. For outings involving special knowledge or training, the troop works with an expert and checks on the individuals credentials prior to the experience. The scoutmaster develops a plan to deal with the hazards inherent in the outing anddiscusses these with the Troop Committee or the committee chair. He must obtain Committee approval for any outing with unique hazards. Examples would include rock climbing, canoeing, caving, or backpacking in difficult terrain. Scout rules for Safety Afloat and Safe Swim Defense are always strictlyadhered to. A tour permit is obtained from the scout council prior to any outing.
Outings may require training prior to the experience. The scoutmaster is responsible for this training and will ensure that it is adequate. The scoutmaster is responsible for obtaining a qualified instructor. Scouts participating in the experience will be required to complete the training or will not be allowed to attend. The scoutmaster has the final say on a scout's fitness and can refuse to take a scout who he feels is not properly prepared. This decision is final. The scoutmaster must also explain any hazards to the parents and how they are being eliminated. This is typically done in the permission slip but more thorough explanations may occur in the newsletter. If you have any concerns, please bring them to the scoutmaster's attention.
A permission slip must be obtained from every scout prior to his participation in an outing. This permission slip will detail any unique hazards on the outing and how they will be dealt with. It will give the location of the outing, the gathering time, and an approximate arrival time. A summary of the planned activities is included. The parents will be asked to read and sign the slip. They will be asked to supply any unique information about their son's current condition that the scoutmasters should be aware of. The parent's signature is an acknowledgment that they are aware of the hazards of the trip and the precautions being taken. It gives the scouters the authority to obtain appropriate medical assistance in the event of an emergency. A typicalpermission slip is shown in Appendix Ill at the end of this handbook. We typically stamp the slips when individuals have paid for the outings and use themas our record of payment and attendance.
The scoutmaster has the right to exclude any boy from an outing if he feels his behavior may create a safety hazard during the outing. If he feels the hazard is to the scout, he may allow the scout to attend if accompanied by a legal guardian. If he feels the scout may jeopardize the safety of the group, he will exclude him from the outing. Such cases will be discussed with the Troop Committee and the boy's parents.
The troop uses several methods to communicate information about events and meetings. Most information is disseminated at troop meetings and the scouts are responsible for keeping their parents informed. The SPL and patrol leaders are also responsible for communicating information. The SPL informs the patrol leaders and they are responsible for getting relevant information to their patrol members. Sometimes there are communication breakdowns when the boys fail to follow through. Please be patient with this, as it is a fundamental part of the boys running the troop. The troop also issues an "email update" approximately every month. This is designed to inform scouts and parents about the troop's activities. If you are not receiving these email updates, please check with your son. We also maintain a troop website which contains more permanent information about the troop and is updated every two or three months.
Information about return times on outings is typically communicated at meetings and by email. It is difficult to precisely predict return times. The scouters in charge of an outing will call after the group has started for home and return time is more precise. Parents should call the designated phone number for information. When we get back to St. Michaels, scouts will call for rides.
Meetings, Outings, and the Calendar
The troop conducts a range of meetings and outings. Troop leadership meets once a month at the Patrol Leaders Conference (PLC) for planning the Troop activities. On most Tuesday evenings, there is a troop meeting which is used to conduct troop business and prepare for the monthly outing, conduct training, and have fun. Troop outings occur roughly once a month throughout the year. There is a monthly meeting of the Troop Committee and the scouters.
We try to plan our calendar about six months ahead so everyone will know when an outing will occur. Check your email to keep abreast of scheduledevents. Sometimes timing on events will change due to unforeseen circumstances such as very poor weather or unannounced business trips by key adult leaders. Trips have also been canceled due to lack of interest. We try to separate the trips by one month wherever we can but sometimes this is difficult due to scheduling of facilities.
The troop meets most Tuesday evenings during the school year at St. Michaels School. In the summer, the troop meets at Seven Gables Park. Meetings begin at 7:00 PM sharp and end at 8:00 PM. The meetings typically include some type of pre-meeting activity, an opening, announcements, training, patrol meetings, and a game. Patrols are assigned to handle specific aspects of the meeting. Troop meetings are ended with a brief meeting of the PLC to review the events. Attendance at troop meetings is critical, especially for new scouts, and lack of attendance will slow advancement in rank. Also, critical information regarding troop activities is given out at meetings. If a scout knows he will be unable to attend a meeting, it is his responsibility to contact his patrol leader or the senior patrol leader in advance.
The troop has an outing during most months. These outings are selected by the Patrol Leaders Conference with the assistance of the scoutmaster and scouters. Outings include a full range of outdoor activities, including camping, canoeing, hiking, climbing, and caving. Permission slips for all outings are distributed in advance of all outings. It is the scout's responsibility to secure the permission slip and have it signed by a parent or guardian. Scouts who do not have signed permission slips will not be allowed on outings. Attendance at outings, like troop meetings, is important and lack of attendance will slow advancement in rank. Some rank requirements can only be completed outdoors.
The troop conducts regular service projects. These are sometimes combined with troop outings. Projects have included painting the Du Page Children's Museum, collecting trash and broken glass at Warren Dunes, assisting with St. Michael's market day, raking leaves for the elderly, and clearing brush for a local church. Most scouting ranks require some sort of participation in service projects.
Summer Camp is perhaps the most memorable activity for a Boy Scout, and marks an important moment of independence for new scouts. Troop 34 has attended several Midwest area camps run by scout councils, including our own council's Camp Freeland-Leslie in Oxford, Wisconsin. CFL, as it is called, has a very diverse program of activities, including an extensive merit badge program, a beautiful lake and aquatic activity area, rock climbing and rappelling, pioneering projects, a COPE course, fishing, and a full rifle, archery, and shotgun range. COPE stands for Challenging Outdoor Physical Experience and is designed for older scouts and scouters to develop teamwork and leadership skills. New scouts who attend summer camp will get a big jump on their advancement to First Class. Older scouts can finish many of their Eagle-required merit badges that are difficult to complete at home, including swimming, lifesaving, and environmental science. At summer camp the boys spend the entire week living with their patrol. They cook all of their own food and are responsible for their individual campsites. This is by far our best team building activity of the year. Several adults typically attend camp, and these include both scouters and other interested parents. If you are interested in attending with your son, please contact the scoutmaster.
Our other major yearly program feature is High Adventure. This is a demanding outdoor adventure usually in another part of the country. Recent trips have included sailing and scuba diving in Florida, canoeing in the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, and backpacking at Isle Royale on the shores of Lake Superior.in upper Michigan. Perhaps the most famous High Adventure trip of all is visiting the Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico. Philmont is a BSA-operated facility, and scouts typical! backpack 50-100 miles over a ten-day trip. Our troop has scheduled Philmont trips every three years or so that all of the boys can have this tremendous experience. High adventure trips are very physically and mentally challenging. They are limited to boyswho are over thirteen years of age and who complete the required training for the trip. Adults participating must also complete the training andpreparation.
Patrol Meetings and Outings
Besides troop outings, patrols also conduct their own activities. Activities depend on the age and interests of the patrol members.
Patrol Leaders Conference (PLC)
Once a month, the scout leadership meets to plan program and activities. This is the patrol leaders conference, or PLC. These meetings are typically scheduled on a weekend afternoon or after a Tuesday meeting. Scout leaders are expected to attend all PLC meetings, or to inform the Senior Patrol Leader is they are unable to attend.
Courts of Honor and Eagle Courts of Honor
Courts of Honor are where the boys are recognized for their individual accomplishments. The troop holds several Courts of Honor every year, typically in September and May. The event is organized by the troop advancement scribe with the assistance of the Advancement Chair and run by the scouts. All scouts should attend Courts of Honor in their best Class A uniform. Eagle Courts of Honor are held when a boy becomes an Eagle Scout. These focus on the accomplishments of the individual and are lead and organized by the scouts.
Parent Meetings and Family Picnic
Troop 34 holds one or two parent meetings every year. We typically coordinate these with the Courts of Honor for everyone's convenience. We use these opportunities to answer questions and give out information.
The troop has several general policies with regard to finances. We believe that the scouts should be able to earn their scouting costs through their own fundraising efforts. The majority of the proceeds from fund-raising are directed to the individual scouts who participate. The funds are maintained in a separate camp fund which the boys use to support their scout-related activities. The troop collects dues to support general activities common to all of our scouts.
The cost of individual outings depends on the length and type of the outing. Scouts are not charged for outings they cannot attend. Some more expensive outings are partially subsidized by the troop. Costs can either be paid directly or deducted from the individual scout's camping fund. Costs cover transportation costs, food, program expenses, and camping fees. Costs are estimated prior to the outing and collected ahead of time. Experience shows that collecting funds after events is cumbersome. Only one fee will be collected for an outing. Scouts and scouters will be reimbursed for outing costs such as food and transportation. In the event that a significant cost over-run occurs, the difference will be taken from the troop's operating budget. In the event that costs are less than estimated, the difference will be credited to the camping funds of the scouts who went on the outing. Outing costs typically vary from $15 to $30, depending on the trip.
Annual Dues and Costs
The troop charges annual dues of $50. This pays for merit badges and insignia, Courts of Honor, newsletters and postage, expenses associated with troop meetings, training, insurance, troop equipment, and helps finances more expensive troop outings such as canoe trips and summer camp. The dues are assessed in January, and fees for scouts joining in mid-year are prorated. We also encourage the scouts to participate in troop fundraising activities, and require them to contribute an additional $50 through those activities, which has not been a difficult task for most scouts. If a scout or family is unwilling to participate in fund raising, we require $100 in dues.
"Friends of Scouting" funds go directly to Three Fires Council, and contributions are optional. We ask that you return FOS cards promptly, as the Council has been providing a bonus to units with 100% participation.
A typical year of scouting for an active scout is typically $300 if they attend summer camp. Costs for High Adventure trips are additional and normally range from $400 to $1200.
To help scouts cover these costs, there are a number of fund-raising events each year. Our major fund-raiser is a fall wreath sale, and runs from September to November. Of the profits from the sales, 35% goes to the troop and 65% to individual scouts, most into their camp fund but some as cash as an inducement (the disposition of this money is up to the scout and his family). The troop runs other fundraisers, including the council's autumn popcorn sale and spring Pancake Breakfast. We encourage scout families to assist in fund-raising events.
Camping, Equipment, and Campership Funds
The Troop maintains individual camping accounts for each scout, the camping fund. The proceeds from fundraising activities are placed in these accounts. Scouts can use these funds to pay for any trip or outing or to purchase camping equipment. These funds are transferred with the scout to his new troop if he transfers to another scout troop. If the scout leaves Boy Scouts, these funds are transferred to our Campership fund. The troop treasurer issues periodic updates on these accounts. The troop also maintains a running budget for equipment. This fund covers the purchase of new equipment and repair of existing equipment. It covers the costs of our trailer. This fund is supplied through our fund-raising efforts. Occasionally this is supported by special fundraisers when large purchases are needed.
The troop maintains a Campership fund to help scouts who are financially disadvantaged. Funds will only be dispersed to scouts who participate in troop fund-raising activities and preference will be given to families who are donating their time by assisting with troop committee or program. Decisions on the disbursement of the Campership fund will be determined by the scoutmaster and committee chair in strict confidence. Parents who need financial assistance should discuss this with either the scoutmaster or the committee chair.
Specific troop budget information is available from the Treasurer and Committee Chair.
Adult Roles and Responsibilities
There are many ways for you to assist your son in scouting. There are a variety of roles for adults within the troop. (In this booklet, "parent" signifies both parents and legal guardians.) Parents may wish to become trained scouting volunteers, or scouters, who work directly with the boys, especially on their advancement activities. Scouters assist in training and accompany the scouts on their outings. Other parents who are interested in the outdoors and camping may wish to become involved in driving or participating in outings. Parents less interested in the outdoors may become merit badge counselors or serve on the troop committee. Merit badge counselors specialize in teaching the specific skills of a merit badge. Troop committee members provide support necessary for the smooth operation of the troop program. Of course, the most important way to help your son is to foster his interest and participation in scouting and encourage his rank advancement.
A scouter is any adult who dons the khaki BSA shirt and becomes directly involved with helping the boys run their program. Scouting is for boys first andTroop 34 is boy run. Adults are responsible to make sure a safe and constructive environment is maintained. The best scouters interfere the least with the boys and, within the limits of safety, let them deal with their own problems. There are a variety of specific jobs for scouters in the troop and some of them are always vacant. Anyone interested in helping is welcome. Scouters must complete the "Boy Scout Leaders Basic Training" course to understand the Scouting program, and are encouraged to complete further Scouting training through online training programs, Wood Badge, and other classes. Scouters are not just men - women are encouraged to become involved in troop program. Here are some brief role descriptions:
The scoutmaster is responsible for training the boys so they can run the troop. He helps them develop the troop program. He coordinates the activities of the adult scouters and conducts scoutmaster conferences.
Assistant Scoutmaster - Outings (Program Coordinator)
This assistant works with the PLC to develop an outings plan for the troop and with the specific outings coordinators to make sure necessary background work is performed for the outings to occur successfully.
Assistant Scoutmaster - Venture
This assistant works with the older boys, generally with a crew chief, to develop programs for older scouts.
Assistant Scoutmaster - Summer Camp
This assistant works with the scouts to develop the summer camp program.
Assistant Scoutmaster - New Scout and Recruiting
This assistant works with the troop guides to coordinate the training and advancement of the new scouts.
Assistant Scoutmaster - High Adventure
This assistant works with the scouts to develop the high adventure program.
Assistant Scoutmaster - Patrol Operation
This assistant works with a specific patrol leader to develop patrol activities and outings.
Assistant Scoutmaster - General
These assistants help coordinate outings, and serve other designated assignments as may be needed to facilitate the program.
Merit Badge Counselors
Merit badge counselors are experts who work with a scout to complete the requirements of the badge. This is a good activity for a parent who is too busy to become involved in general program activities. Many parents of our scouts serve as counselors. The troop maintains a list of these, which is available from our Advancement Coordinator. If you are interested in becoming a counselor contact either the scoutmaster or the Advancement Coordinator.
The Troop Committee supports the operation of the troop and supports the scoutmaster. They make important troop policy decisions and provide necessary resources to the troop. Some of these roles are performed by scouters, but most are not. Here are some brief descriptions:
Troop Committee Chair
The Troop Committee Chair leads the troop committee, coordinates their activities, and recruits new adult volunteers. They are the primary liaison between the Chanonee District, Three Fires Council, and Troop 34.
Handles troop finances and keeps the books. Maintains the scout camping funds. Issues regular reports on troop finances. Issues checks for troop expenses.
Fundraising - Wreath Sale, Popcorn
Coordinates the fall wreath and popcorn sales.
Maintains the troops advancement records and list of Merit Badge counselors. Secures needed rank insignia and merit badges. Works with the scout advancement scribe and coordinates Courts of Honor.
Maintains communication between the Troop and local Cub Packs.
Works with the Eagle candidates on selection of their project and on their Eagle paperwork.
Takes care of troop equipment and gear. Works with scout quartermasters.
Develops service opportunities for the troop.
St. Michaels Coordinator
Maintains communication with St. Michaels Parish and looks for opportunities for the troop to be of service.
Committee Member at Large
Performs specific tasks for the committee and is generally helpful.
Chartering Organization Representative
Represents the chartering organization (St. Michaels Knights of Columbus) on the Troop Committee.
This person coordinates publicity and communicates Troop activities to the public through press releases.
This person helps the troop find equipment and materials it needs to complete its program. They look for ways to get materials donated to the troop.
There are a variety of other positions within the troop which scout parents can fill. Others arise during the year.
Specific Outing Coordinator
When we plan our outing schedule we attempt to identify adults who can coordinate all the activities necessary for a specific outing to occur successfully. This includes getting advance information about the site or activity, securing needed reservations and permits, communicating with outside parties like guides or state park staff, identifying special costs and equipment, making sure permission slips have the relevant information for parents, etc. These adults allow the Assistant Scoutmaster-Outings to work on the overall outing plan for the year without becoming bogged-down in the details of each month's outing.
Eagle Materials Coordinator
The troop has a list of well-known Eagle scouts such as astronauts, judges, politicians, etc. who will send a personal letter to a new Eagle scout, which are very much appreciated. This person sends out requests for these letters of congratulation.
Hospitality - Courts of Honor
This person coordinates refreshments for Courts of Honor and Eagle Courts of Honor.
How to Help Your Son
There are a variety of ways in which you can help your son in his scouting and several things you should try not to do. The best way to help is to maintain an active interest in his growth and development and to keep in touch with what is going on with the troop. We hope the newsletter helps and you should feel free to contact any of the scouters or committee members if you have a question or just to talk. Don't be shy - we want to hear from you.
You should keep tabs on your son's advancement progress - he is given a card for every merit badge and rank he completes. Make sure these are not lost; they are your proof of his progress if the troop or council records are inaccurate or lost. Steady advancement is a key to success in scouting. For a new scout this is completion of the fifty skills necessary for First Class during his first year or two. We work on these at meetings but scouts should definitely work on them at home, especially if they can't make all the meetings The specific requirements are listed in the Scout Handbook. Even if you don't know anything about scouting, the skills are all explained in the handbook. Take some time to go over these with your son and have him teach them to you as he learns. If he learns a skill at home, all he will need to do is demonstrate them to a scouter at a meeting or outing to be signed off. After First Class is reached, advancement depends on merit badges, leadership, service, and remaining active. Most boys have little difficulty achieving their merit badge requirements if they attend summer camp. Those who can't may need some reminding to keep active on their badges. Completion of leadership duties is also important. We expect the scout do complete the requirements, not just hold the position. Have him show you his leadership contract, post it somewhere where he will see it, and help him where you can. Service is not normally a problem for advancement. We perform service projects and many of the boys are involved in others due to school and church commitments. Help your son remain active in the troop. If you have a conflict with our meeting time, let the scoutmasters know. The troop has enough activities going on that most boys can work around their conflicts and remain involved.
Life scouts working toward Eagle face special problems. The Eagle project is a major undertaking. Some boys will have a few false starts before they find something they can complete. Though this is not a hard and fast rule, most scouts need to reach the rank of Life by the age of fifteen to have enough time to complete all the requirements for Eagle. Many boys procrastinate on their project and merit badges and face a mad scramble to complete everything before their eighteenth birthday. After age eighteen, boys cannot become Eagle scouts. It is a strict deadline and is not negotiable. Keep track of how your son is doing and gently remind him to budget some time for his scout work. Lastly, help your son participate in fund-raising. This allows him to earn his scouting, and makes it that much more his achievement.
There are also some things you should not do. Don't take on responsibilities that should be your son's. Any scout over First Class does not need his parents to pack for him for an outing unless there are special circumstances. You should check what he is bringing only if the weather will be extreme. Expect him to be competent - we do. Don't do his leadership work for him. If he is a patrol leader, it's his responsibility to call meetings and come up with a program. Please help him but expect him to do the work. Don't push him to advance because of your aspirations for him or achievements of his older brothers. Achieving a goal is not important to a person unless it is his goal. Most teenage boys resent parental pressure and will resist to a point well beyond reason. Younger boys hate being compared to their older brothers. Seeing friends in the troop reach higher ranks creates a more positive pressure.
Welcome to Troop 34! There is a wealth of information, resources, and people available to help scouts and their families get the most from the program. Again, feel free to contact any of the scouters or troop committee with your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. And thanks in advance for your help in making Troop 34 the exciting and fun unit it has been for over 80 years.
The Troop 34 Family Handbook was developed and written by many Troop 34 Scouters over the years. This February, 2017 edition of the Family Handbook was updated by David Jenz, Committee Chair.