Sound advice from some other parents
In this section, adults who have watched their boys grow into young men within Troop 168 and have gone on before you, share some valuable advice for new and prospective parents on this page. Here are the topics covered:
• Surviving as a Troop 168 Scout parent
• Registration and camping fees
• What should parents do?
• Going camping with the troop
• Operating guidelines and procedures
Surviving as a Scout parent
Troop 168′s goal is to help your son become a young man of good character, with strong organizational and leadership skills. Boys who lose interest in Scouting tend to be those who are disorganized, lose things and don’t know where they are headed. You can help your son avoid those traps with these proven ideas.
Scouts should keep track of their Scout materials and records throughout their membership. A three-ring notebook with some pockets will help. Plastic 8 ½” x 11″ baseball card sheets are the perfect size for badge and rank completion cards, totem chip cards and unsewn or unworn patches. These binder pages are available at Wal-Mart, the Scout shop and many office supply stores.
When your son earns his first rank advancement, he will attend a Court of Honor to receive his patch and completion card. During that ceremony, the Scout’s mother will also receive a pin. These rank pins are worn on a red, white and blue ribbon each Scout presents to his mother during the Court of Honor. Moms should wear their ribbon for every Court of Honor. Since the pins are very small, the ribbon is also a good way to store them.
Write troop events from the troop calendar on your family calendar so conflicts can be minimized. Attendance is the key to keeping up, advancement and liking Scouting. The most up-to-date calendar is found on our website and it can be printed for your convenience.
Attend the troop meetings and share your time and skills to strengthen the troop. You will know what is happening and how your Scout relates to your troop. You can help provide a more complete experience for your son if you are involved. Don’t worry about not knowing much about Scouting, all the adult volunteers had to learn, too. Please don’t be bashful. It is important to remember that every adult involved in the troop is a volunteer. Your help will be appreciated by each and every one.
Teach your Scout to call his leader (Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader or Scoutmaster) if he won’t be able to attend a scheduled activity.
Registration and camping fees
Troop 168′s dues are $55 per year. That includes all Troop 168 insignia plus all ranks, merit badges, other awards and a subscription to Boy’s Life magazine. Scout dues are the same every year and haven’t increased in many, many years. Adult registration the first year is $30, but drops to $20 a year for the second and following years. Scouts who join the Troop between August and January pay a prorated fee.
Each Scout pays $15 to help buy his Patrol’s food for each regular campout. The $15 food charge is due at the Monday night meeting before each campout (we call this meeting Campout Prep). During Campout Prep, each Scout is expected to commit to the campout, and pay their $15 in cash, at that meeting. Adults also commit to attending campouts during campout prep, but pay their proportionate share of food costs during the campout.
When it is your Scout’s turn to buy camp meals for his patrol, help him learn how to make good purchasing decisions (using coupons can help keep costs down). Costs should not exceed $15 per weekend per boy, except when special circumstances warrant more and we always know that in advance. See Buying food for a campout in the cooking section of this website for more information on a Scout’s responsibilities in this leadership task.
Summer Camp, the Father/Son Canoe Trip, the Turkey Cookout, and all Venture campouts cost different amounts depending on many factors. The adult leadership in Troop 168 determines a non-profit budget well in advance of each of these events and communicates the costs to the troop. The troop’s philosophy is to break even whenever possible.
Participate in fundraisers. Registration fees do not make the troop go financially, fundraising does. Rather than raise our registration fees, Troop 168 uses fundraisers to provide additional operating capital and to generate funds for our Scouts to put in their ‘Scout accounts’. Our most successful fundraiser is selling Boy Scout Brand fertilizer and Blue and Gold Sausage. We also participate in the annual Boy Scout Popcorn Sale and have conducted very successful car washes. The funds generated allow us to provide Troop 168 Scouts with a financially sound program and to purchase equipment when needed.
What should parents do?
Parents play an important and vital role in Scouting. You should encourage your son to work on advancement and to participate in Troop 168′s program. If you consider Troop 168 as a glorified babysitting service, you can be certain your son will not think much better of the program and will most likely not be happy with his experience. Without exception, every Eagle Scout we’ve seen earn his rank has had at least one parent who has actively participated in the troop.
Scouts should not be expected to earn their Eagle rank without some help along the way. It is a tough set of requirements for them to fulfill, but the Eagle rank is within every Scout’s reach. You are invited, and encouraged, to attend troop activities, from troop meetings to campouts, from quarterly Courts of Honor to committee meetings as often as your schedule will allow. Troop 168 needs your active participation to keep the program alive.
Parents may not sign off any rank advancement or merit badge requirements. Advancement in all ranks is signed by the registered Scouts or Scouters appointed by the troop (typically these are uniformed adult leaders, Eagle Scouts and merit badge counselors).
Parents need to help provide transportation to and from campouts. You should not leave the church parking lot before a campout until transportation for all Scouts has been secured. We’re all in this together, and together we have an awesome program.
If you have special skills, hobbies or abilities, please learn how you can become a merit badge counselor and share your knowledge with our Scouts.
There is always a need for more adult leaders. Each year, as older Scouts leave the troop, the troop also loses adult leaders. These positions must be replenished from among the parents of newer Scouts, or the life of the troop can be threatened. The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters simply cannot do it all; nor can the Troop Committee. It takes many adults willing to enjoy the Scouting experience and provide a safe haven for youth to make a healthy, successful troop.
Going camping with the Troop
Camping is the heart of Boy Scouting. While parents (and sometimes whole families) accompany our Scouts on campouts, all Scouts camp with their patrol and not with their parents or family members.
What follows is a summary of our troop (and BSA) policies..
Scout Tenting & Meals—Scouts tent with their patrol in a patrol site separate from the other patrols. Patrols plan their own menus, and cook and eat together as a team. Whenever possible, Scouts share a tent with one or more other Scouts. We avoid having a Scout sleep alone whenever possible. Adults do not eat or tent with a Scout patrol.
Adult Tenting & Meals—Adults tent with the adults (called the Dud Patrol) in a campsite separate from the youth patrols, but close enough to provide a safety oversight. The Dud Patrol plans its own menu, and cooks and eats together as a team. The troop’s youth leadership, typically three boys, has its own tent within the Dud camping area and eats with the Duds.
Adult/Youth Tenting—BSA youth protection policies forbid an adult and a youth (below age 18) sharing the same tent. While these youth protection policies allow a father and son to tent together (if no other Scout or adult shares the tent), it is troop guideline that Scouts tent with Scouts, and adults with adults. If a father tents with his son, it is our experience that the Scout will lose out on many opportunities to make decisions and be part of the patrol.
Smoking/Drinking—Drivers may not smoke while Scouts are in the car. Adults may not smoke or use tobacco products, nor drink alcoholic beverages during a Scout activity. Adults who must smoke or chew must do so discretely, out of sight of the Scouts.
Scout Leadership—Adults should not interfere with the functioning of youth leaders, even if they make mistakes (we all learn best from our mistakes). Step in only if it is a matter of immediate safety or if the mistake will be immediately costly. If at all possible, involve a uniformed adult leader first.
Scout Growth—Never do anything for a Scout he can do for himself. Let him make decisions without adult interference. Let him make non-injurious mistakes so he can learn from them. Be willing to help Scouts learn and teach without criticism.
Adult Training & Resources—The Boy Scouts of America provides an outstanding handbook for adults and an excellent training course to help us understand the goals of Scouting and how to attain them. The adult manual is called the Scoutmaster’s Handbook, and it’s worth your time to become familiar with it. Mandatory adult training for individuals who will be active with youth is offered in our area several times a year. It’s also a good investment of your time. Troop 168 strongly encourages each of it’s uniformed adult leaders to be familiar with the Scoutmaster Handbook, and requires that each completes several specific training classes.
Boy Scout camping activities are based on what the BSA calls the patrol method, where Scouts learn teamwork, leadership, and most camping skills from their peers. It is important that adults not be in the middle of patrol activities such as site selection, tent pitching, meal preparation, and anything else where boys get to practice decision-making.
A key difference between Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting/Webelos is youth leadership. Look for the word “leader” in a Scout’s job description, and you will begin to appreciate the difference. The responsible person for a Cub/Webelos den is the adult Den Leader. The responsible person for a Boy Scout patrol is the youth Patrol Leader.
This isn’t token leadership. A Patrol Leader has real authority and genuine responsibilities. Much of the success, safety, and happiness of six to ten other boys depends directly on him.
Boy Scouting teaches leadership. And Scouts learn leadership by practicing it, not by watching adults lead.
So what do we adults do, now that we’ve surrendered so much direct authority to boys? Well, we have a really good time and still stay busy.
The underlying principle is worth repeating: never do anything for a boy that he can do for himself. We allow boys to grow by practicing leadership and by learning from mistakes. And, while Scout skills are an important part of the program, what ultimately matters when our Scouts become adults is not how well they remember to use a map & compass, but whether or not they know how to offer leadership to others in tough situations; and that they live by a code of conduct that centers on honest, honorable and ethical behavior.
When a parent goes on a campout, he or she is automatically included as a temporary member in the Dud Patrol. This patrol has several benefits — really, really good food and camaraderie while providing an example the Scouts can follow without having to tell them what to do. The Dud Patrol tents some distance from the youth … that way they aren’t right next to a boy patrol where our mere presence could disrupt the learning process. The youth leadership determines which adults become permanent members of the Dud Patrol by secret vote among themselves. Typically, they choose adults from among those who regularly camp with the troop for several months.
If you go camping with us, we hope you will visit the patrol sites, talk to your son and the other Scouts, ask what’s going on and how things are going. At the same time, remember to give the guys room to grow while you enjoy the view.
Don’t hesitate to show a Scout how to do something, just don’t do it for him. Don’t jump in just to prevent a mistake from happening (unless it’s serious or involves safety). Encourage Scouts to make their own decisions … ask them what they think should be done or how THEY are going to solve a problem. We all learn best from our mistakes and a big part of our job as adults in the troop is to provide them with a SAFE environment in which they can make mistakes.
And above all, remember to let the youth leaders lead. That’s their job, not ours.
Camping with the troop is more fun than you probably imagine and is something you should do if you can. The Dud Patrol is made up of men and women who are committed to being a part of the troop and contributing to it’s health. Everyone pitches in and the workload is shared.
Troop 168 Operating Procedures
As in any organization, Troop 168 has a set of guidelines to help us be consistent in what we do and how we do it. The guidelines are available to all adults and youth registered with the troop and typically given to new members when they join.