Orientation

for parents and new scouts

New Parents Guide - click to download the guide

Parent Orientation sessions are held in the spring following conclusion of Cross-over Ceremonies.  Individual sessions can be arranged any time by contacting our Scout Parent Coordinator, Gary Zimmerman.

Boys Scouts is a great organization where boys have fun, learn to become better citizens and build strong character and parents can participate as volunteers in the troopBelow is a brief overview of how boyscouting works and how you, as a parent, may serve.

Three Sets of Leaders
Each troop has three groups of leaders, the Youth Leaders, the Scout Master and Assistant Scout Masters and the Troop committee members. Understanding what these various volunteers do can help you determine where you can serve most effectively.

Boy Led Troop
A boy scout troop relies primarily on youth for leadership, and this is essential in building youth leadership skills. In Boy Scouting, for example, one of the Scoutmaster’s primary jobs is to train youth leaders, especially the senior patrol leader, who is the troop’s top elected Scout. The troop is divided into patrols, and each patrol has a patrol leader responsible for his patrol.  There is a senior patrol leader that is responsible for the entire troop.   The youth leaders coordinate training of younger scouts, planning and executing campouts and conducting service projects.  In a troop with well trained youth leaders, the adult assistant scout masters serve primary: to supervise activities, to make sure the scouts are safe, to ensure that each boy is treating others with utmost respect, and to ensure that skills are being taught properly.  As necessary, when the youth leaders are absent or they are newly elected, the adult leaders will take more charge and direct activities to help the youth transition into leadership.  Inevitably, adults who are accustomed to a hands-on approach to leadership, as in cub scouts or church youth groups, may initially need time to osberve the troop in order to learn to stand back and allow the boys to handle things.  Although this may be challenging and seem chaotic in comparison to other organizations, this is an inherent part of the youth leadership building process.
Even with this concept of boy led patrols, safety is always a number one priority, and we want to ensure that no bullying take place in the troop. So adult assistant scout masters will be present and watchful.

Assistant Scout Masters.
Depending on its size, a Boy Scout troop will have several assistant Scoutmasters who have specific responsibilities. The Scout Master and assistants are responsible for the overall program of the troop, including both meetings and activities. For example, each patrol might have an adult assigned to it, or an adult might advise each of the other youth leaders. If you have an interest in being an Assistant Scout Master be sure to check with the Scout Master to see if there are any needs.  Even if there are no needs currently, over the years there will most likely be opportunities to serve as an Assistant Scout Master.
To be an assistant scout master you must be 18 years of age, and agree to abide by the Scout Oath and Law.  All positions within the BSA are open to both men and women. Also, you must complete an adult volunteer application, which must be approved by the troop committee chair, the chartered organization representative, and the local Scout executive or his designee. As part of the application process, the BSA conducts a criminal background check on all potential leaders, helping to ensure a safe environment for its youth members. Along those lines, all new leaders are expected to complete Youth Protection Training within their first 90 days of service and Assistant Scout Master training courses within the first 6 months. The district holds weekend training courses for assistant scoutmasters twice each fall and spring.  The council holds special topic classes at a one day conference each Febuary, called Scouting University.
Again, the scoutmaster will determine if the troop has a need for additional Assistant Scout Masters.  Since scouting is designed to be boy led, too many assistance may put to much responsibility in the adults and not enough youth leadership training, therefore at times the assistant scout master staff may be full.  But not to worry a troop can always use help on the troop Committee, and Committee training can be completed online. Over the 6 or 7 years your boy will be in scouting, Assistant Scout Master positions will most likely come available if that is your interest. 

Troop Committee
The Troop Commttee combines the functions of a board of directors and a parents’ auxiliary. This group consists of several members, including the committee chair,  and members over various areas of responsibility. The troop committee is responsible for the troop’s administrative functions, including record keeping and correspondence, finances, advancement, training, public relations, activities, equipment, and membership and registration. Typically, a committee member takes on each of these functions, although some volunteers serve as members at large. In most cases, the troop committee meets once a month, so committee participation works well for busy parents. Of course, a lot of work also takes place between meetings. Assistant Scout Masters typically devote more time to scouting than committee members.
The troop committee meets once a month.  The amount of time required per position varies widely from minimal work between meetings to special fund raising projects that occupy more time during the fund  raising period.  You may pick what best suites your skills and available time.

Meetings
Parents are welcome to come to meetings and stay to observe if they want.  However, they are more than welcome to just drop off their boy if they would like.  You will notice that most meetings have several assistant scout masters on hand to observe and help out as necessary.  The program defines the structure of meeting & campouts.  Many of the requirements for scouts to acheive each rank will be  by performing  various roles at meetings and campouts. During meetings the boys will be teaching or learning a skill and will be playing games together.

Campouts
Campouts in boy scouting are not family outings.  Normally parents that are not assistant scout masters do not go to campouts nor do siblings of the scouts.  Assistant scout masters are required to take several levels of training with in six months of becoming an assistant and receive special training on youth safety, how to teach youth leaders and the scouting skills they will be imparting.  At campouts we want the boys to learn to completely run things and to coordinate the entire productions.  The scout master is known to ask parents and/or assistant scout masters at meetings and at campouts occasionally to step back and allow the boys to work out problems that may occur.  For new parents the scout master will occasionally allow parents that are not assistants and are not trained to come along perhaps just once. 
The troop camps out once a month, on a schedule determiend at the yearly planning meeting.  The troop attends district weekend campouts in the spring (camporee) and fall (webelos woods) and a full week-long summer camp.  For each campout and overnight, parents must sign a permission form for each scout that attends.

What you can do
Parents can serve either on the committee or as an assistant scout master.  Those parents who do not have enough time to do either can do other things to support your son in scouting including:
• Performing an occasional task to assist the program
• Participating directly with your Scout
• Going to and observing Scout meetings
• Assisting with outings as requested by the Scout Master.
• Bringing food and refreshments to the court of honor.
• Serving as a merit badge counselor for a badge related to your career or hobby.
• Supporting the program financially
• Coaching your Scout’s advancement and the earning of recognitions
• Influencing your Scout’s continued participation
• Helping out with other requests as may be needed in the troop.
• Helping out fund raising activities.
We encourage each family to do what they can, and in particular, to serve some time as a committee member.  However we are here to serve the boys, and parents that are to busy and do not have the time should feel no pressure to serve either on the committee or as an assistant scout master Our most important mission is to serve the boys and we do so with generosity.

Parents - Deciding How to Serve
First ask the Scout Master what the troop needs are.  The scout master will tell you where your services can be most utilized. 

Advancement
In scouting there are 7 levels of advancement: Scout rank, Tenderfoot rank, Second Class rank, First Class rank, Star rank, Life rank and Eagle Scout Rank.  When you boy joins the troop, he will receive a scout book. The scout rank primarily serves as a work book for the first four ranks as well as a record book for all ranks.
At meetings and on campouts you son will work with other scouts and perhaps adult assistant scout masters on the rank advancement requirements.  Either an adult assistant scout master or an older more advanced scout will sign your sons book when a requirement/skill is learned.  When you son has actually participated done requirements, it is up to him to get his book signed off on.  It is very important that he bring his book and stays diligent about getting his book initialed as tasks are complete.  As parent, you can support him by simply asking what he learned and having him show you if he got his book signed.  If he learned a skill or completed a task remind he needs to get the requirement signed off on. Please note!! It is not your job to ask an assistant or an older scout to sign his book. It is essential for your scout to have the opportunity to learn to become responsible for his own advancement by asking for these himself.
The district holds a Saturday “Merit Badge Fair” once each fall and spring were Scouts may earn up to two merit badges.  Scouts may earn multiple badges at the week-long summer camp.

Scout book, Uniform and Equipment
The troop will present your son with his scout book and troop numbers.  Your son will need a full scout uniform as well.  The troop usually has used uniforms that graduating scouts leave behind if you would like to see what we have on hand otherwise you will need to go to the scout shop and purchase a full uniform.  The people at the scout shop can tell you what you need.  There is a list of personal camping gear in the scout book, which is a good check list for you to buy your son what he needs for camping.  Be sure and have your son ask the senior patrol leader any questions about equipment.  The troop provides regular camping tents, but many scouts also choose to buy their own backpacking style tent as well.  Your son will need a backpack.  The troop normally has good backpacks on hand for sale for $35 each