FAQ for New Parents
Topics on this page:
- How does Boy Scouts differ from Cub Scouts?
- Is the uniform different?
- Who provides my son with his rank and merit badge patches?
- Who keeps track of the activities my son participates in?
- What is a Scoutmaster conference?
- What is a board of review?
- What is a court of honor?
- What is the white ribbon my son received at the court of honor?
- What is the Order of the Arrow?
- How can parents help with Troop 407?
- Should I call someone if my son can’t be at a meeting? If so, who?
- If my son has an issue with another Scout, how should I handle it?
- How can I find out the events and dates the troop is planning?
- What medical forms are required?
- How much are the dues, and what do they cover? What are the other costs?
- What equipment does my son need to start out?
- Are there fundraising opportunities?
- What is a Scout account?
- When and where are the troop meetings? Are there also patrol meetings?
- What’s an Expresso?
- What is Youth Protection training? Do I need to take it?
How does Boy Scouts differ from Cub Scouts?
Even though Scouting is a continuum from Cub Scouts up through Boy Scouts (and on to Venturing), there are major differences between Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting.
In Cub Scouting:
- Parent volunteers plan the pack program and run the meetings and activities
- Boys work on advancement in step with others in the same grade or age
- Family members participate in pack meetings and go on outings
In Boy Scouting:
- The Scouts plan and run the troop meetings, campouts and outings
- Parent volunteers train the boys to lead and manage their troop
- Other parent volunteers provide support in doing things that the boys cannot do, such as drive to campouts, maintain bank accounts and purchase equipment
- Boys advance at their own pace individually, not in step with other Scouts
It is very important to understand the differences between the two programs and the new role of a parent in a Boy Scout troop. No longer responsible for the “heavy lifting,” parents fall into a more relaxed role where the primary responsibilities are maintaining safe conditions and providing support. There is a very good summary of adult responsibilities in the Scoutmaster Handbook and Troop Committee Guidebook, available from any Scout shop.
Your role toward your son also changes. You should encourage him to take full advantage of all Scouting has to offer, but when in a Scouting environment, you don’t participate along with him. He grows in character and leadership by being with his patrol and participating in its activities. You watch from a distance and observe. If he leaves his patrol during a troop meeting or on a campout to come and ask you questions, you should advise him to ask his patrol leader instead. He’s learning to rely on himself and his peers and needs your support.
Is the uniform different?
You probably already have most of what’s needed! The official Scout uniform consists of the tan uniform shirt (probably the same one he’s been wearing in Webelos), with olive green shoulder loops instead of blue; the official Boy Scout pants or shorts with belt (there are several styles including zip-offs); official Boy Scout socks if shorts are worn (again, there are several styles); appropriate shoes of leather or canvas, and a Troop 407 neckerchief and slide. Hats are optional and are worn outdoors only. All Cub Scout insignia except Arrow of Light (old rank patches, compass points emblem, pack and den insignia and Webelos colors) are removed (and the red vest is not worn). While the complete uniform is preferred, the Scout should wear as much of it as he owns, with insignia correctly displayed. You can always purchase the pants and socks later.
For most activities, such as during campouts and at most troop meetings, an activity t-shirt with troop insignia is worn instead of the uniform – but not just any old shirt! He needs to look like a Scout!
Who provides my son with his rank and merit badge patches?
The Troop provides basic troop insignia and all rank and merit badge insignia as part of his annual dues payments. This includes the troop neckerchief, the 407 patch, his patrol patch, and his badge of office if he holds a position of responsibility (such as patrol leader). When a Scout advances in rank, he receives his new rank badge at the end of the troop meeting, and is formally acknowledged again during the next troop court of honor. Merit badge patches are generally presented at courts of honor, although the “blue card” (merit badge record card) that indicates his finishing a merit badge is given to him by his merit badge counselor when he completes the badge (and the official date he earned the badge is the date the counselor signed the card).
Who keeps track of the activities that my son participates in?
All nights of camping, miles hiked, advancement dates, hours of service in troop-sponsored projects, and miscellaneous events are recorded in the Troopmaster database. Merit badge applicant records (blue card), as well as rank advancement cards, and special award cards should also be kept by the Scout in a safe place. This documentation may be required to document the Scout’s advancement to Eagle Scout. The Scout should also record his service hours, camping nights and hikes in his Boy Scout Handbook.
What is a Scoutmaster conference?
When a Scout is finished, or nearly finished, with the requirements for his next rank, a Scoutmaster conference is required. Along with a board of review, these are Scouting’s method of ensuring the Scout’s experience is a good one. In a Scoutmaster conference, the Scout meets one-on-one with the Scoutmaster*, usually at a troop meeting or a campout. The Scoutmaster will go through and review to be sure that the Scout’s book is signed off properly and will review with the Scout many of the requirements he has gone through. The Scoutmaster will also talk about the requirement which speaks to living the Scout Oath and Law in his everyday life. If the Scoutmaster feels that the Scout is ready for this advancement, he will sign the Scout’s handbook. If the Scoutmaster feels that there are any deficiencies, they will be clearly outlined with what needs to be done to correct them, and a follow-up conference date will be set.
After a successful Scoutmaster Conference, the next step is for the Scoutmaster to notify the advancement coordinator that the Scout is ready for his board of review, and the Scout should confirm his review date with the advancement coordinator.
The Scoutmaster Conference should be carefully prepared for, and the Scout is expected to be wearing his complete Field Uniform, or as much of it as he owns, with insignia displayed correctly.
*In some cases, Scoutmaster conferences will be conducted by an assistant Scoutmaster. Examples are if the Scoutmaster is absent, if there are a large number of advancement candidates, or if the Scout is the Scoutmaster‘s own son. We employ every measure to ensure that a Scout’s advancement is not delayed unnecessarily.
What is a Board of Review?
The Board of Review is a conference with members of the troop committee who are not Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters or the boy’s parents. Boards of review are normally
scheduled once a month (usually the second Tuesday of the month) during a troop meeting, but can also be conducted at a campout or summer camp if there enough committee members available. A board of review typically follows a Scoutmaster Conference for rank advancement, but may also be requested by the troop committee for other reasons, such as to find out why a boy is not advancing.
Although the Scoutmaster normally notifies the advancement coordinator when the Scoutmaster conference is complete, the Scout needing a board of review should confirm his appointment at least one week before the requested board date. This is done by the Scout, not by the parent.
The board will spend a few minutes with the Scout discussing the things he had to do to earn this advancement, as well as the Scout’s general feelings about the troop, the program, his goals, etc. This allows for the Scouts to be able to openly discuss issues with people they can trust, as well as to be sure that the troop has a quality Scouting program in place. He will not be re-tested on any requirements, but may be asked how he completed them. For example, for the cooking requirement, he could be asked what foods he prepared and how he did it.
As with the Scoutmaster Conference, the Scout is expected to be in his complete field uniform and have his handbook and a pen.
What is a court of honor?
A court of honor is a ceremony held every few months to formally recognize Scouts for their achievements. It is a formal event (all in uniform) with families attending and usually includes a meal or refreshments and hospitality, plus an opportunity to discuss the troop program with parents. It is like the Cub Scout Blue & Gold banquet, only on a smaller scale, and is planned and run by the Scouts themselves, not the adults. (Adults usually assist with arrangements such as food and beverage, but often the Scouts handle much of that themselves as well.)
Consider the troop court of honor with the same importance as you would a Blue & Gold banquet, or a sports or band banquet or honors ceremony.
What is the white ribbon my son received at the court of honor?
With each rank earned, the Scout receives his badge at the time of his board of review, and a certificate card at the next court of honor. He also receives a pin for that rank and a white ribbon when he earns his first rank, Tenderfoot. The white ribbon is the “mother’s ribbon” and the pin is a parent pin. He is to present his mother (or father) with the ribbon and pin, which she can wear to subsequent troop courts of honor. Each time he earns a rank, she adds the corresponding rank pin to her ribbon. Look around at the ladies attending the next court of honor and you’ll see them.
What is the Order of the Arrow?
The Order of the Arrow is the BSA‘s National Scouting Honor Society. OA members exemplify brotherhood, cheerfulness and service, and assist Scouting through camp
improvement projects, service to units, and assistance with council and district events. Scouts are elected to the OA by fellow youth members of their troop, and must have met certain requirements including achieving First Class rank and experiencing a minimum number of nights camping. For more information on OA, visit the website of Noquet Lodge 29, our council’s OA lodge and one of the nation’s oldest.
How can parents help with Troop 407?
Parents can help in many ways. We welcome your participation as a member of the troop committee. The committee handles the business aspects of the troop, supporting the Scoutmaster and the troop program by doing things that the boys cannot do for themselves. There are a number of different committee positions, such as secretary, equipment coordinator, training coordinator, or Treasurer (to name a few) that require volunteers from the parents. Most positions can have a “shadow” who can assist the primary officer and learn the job. Committee members who are registered with the BSA also serve on boards of review. All parents are welcome to attend the monthly meetings of the troop committee, which meets monthly to discuss the business of the troop and provide support to the program. Parents are welcome to register with Boy Scouts of America; the cost is only $16 per year, which includes six bimonthly issues of Scouting Magazine. (There is no charge if you are already registered in another unit, e.g. Cub Scout pack.).
If you are interested in working with boys, helping them learn to lead and run their troop, speak to the Scoutmaster about becoming an assistant Scoutmaster. Assistant Scoutmasters support the Scoutmaster in various ways including working with patrol leaders and appointed youth leaders in helping them learn their jobs (but not doing it for them!). Assistant Scoutmasters are required to attend position-specific and outdoor leader training offered by our council.
Parents can also help by remembering that we are a Boy Led Troop, and letting their son fulfill his requirements on his own is an important part of the growing experience.
Should I call someone if my son can’t be at a meeting? If so, who?
Well, yes and no. Your son needs to make that phone call. Everything is a learning experience, even this simple act. He should contact his patrol leader. If he is a patrol leader, he should contact his assistant patrol leader (so he can fill in) and the senior patrol leader.
If my son has an issue with another Scout, how should I handle it?
It really depends on the nature of the issue. Your son’s first and most important leader is his patrol leader. In general, he should discuss the problem with his patrol leader, who may want to involve the other Scout. The patrol leader may also want to involve the senior patrol leader. (In such cases, the senior patrol leader could ask the Scoutmaster for advice.) We always try to have the youth leaders handle their own issues if at all possible.
You may wish to inform the Scoutmaster of issues or problems your son is having, and the Scoutmaster would work with the youth leaders to arrive at a resolution.
Sometimes, if it’s friction between members of a patrol, a Scout may be better off switching patrols, especially if he has friends in other patrols. This is handled among the boys, and the senior patrol leader notifies the Scoutmaster that a Scout is changing to a different patrol.
The troop committee and unit commissioner can serve as a resource in cases where there are ongoing behavior problems, but these are usually best handled between the Scout, his parents and the Scoutmaster.
Of course, if any issue ever involves conduct that endangers personal safety (either the Scout’s own or that of others), the process skips directly to the adults. Any adult seeing unsafe behavior should step in and stop it immediately, and then refer the issue to the Scoutmaster.
How can I find out the events and dates that the troop is planning?
Check the online troop calendar for the latest updates. You can also download a
one-page calendar formatted for printing.
What medical forms are required?
The Boy Scouts of America requires that each youth member have on file with the troop a completed Annual Health and Medical Record form, updated annually. The same form is used by both adults and youth. The form has four sections:
- Parts A and B provide basic health information on the participant and is required for all outdoor activities such as weekend campouts.
- Part C requires a physical exam by a doctor and is required for long-term camping (over 72 hours) such as summer camp.
- Part D is required for longer-term high adventure activities such as BSA‘s Philmont, Sea Base and Northern Tier bases.
The physical examination must be completed annually for all participants – both youth and adults, and the form is valid until the last day of the month of the following year in which the exam takes place. For example, if you have your physical on May 3, 2013, the form is valid until May 31, 2014.
The form is provided as a field-fillable PDF that you can save to your computer and print as needed. A printed copy of the completed form with parent and physician signatures should be given to the troop youth protection/health & safety coordinator (photocopies are acceptable – you should retain the original signatures).
How much are the annual dues, and what do they cover? What are the other costs?
Currently, Troop 407’s annual dues are $75 per scout, payable prior to December 1 for the following calendar year. Annual dues covers registration with Boy Scouts of America, accident insurance, a one-year subscription to Boys’ Life Magazine, all rank advancement, merit badge, and special insignia such as Journey to Excellence or Scout Sunday patches. It also helps pay for fixed costs such as youth and adult training, meeting room rental, and materials and supplies. A scout joining in mid-year is charged a pro-rata amount based on when he joins. The adult registration cost is $16 per year unless the adult is also registered
and paid for through another unit (e.g. Cub Scout pack).
Dues only covers a portion of the costs of running the troop. There is a charge for most campouts, normally $25 unless a special event or out-of-town trip is planned. Fees for summer camp are approximately $325. There are small costs involved with activities such as swimming, fun activities and events such as merit badge work. The cost of a full 12 months of Scouting is around $650, if the Scout participates in all activities.
What equipment does my son need to start out?
He won’t need to purchase a lot of gear to begin his adventure in Boy Scouting. The most important requirements are a sleep system (sleeping bag and ground pad), a water bottle, and a mess kit (or dishes, silverware and mug). It’s also helpful to have a duffel bag or backpack to carry everything in. (An old school backpack should work fine.) Troop 407 either provides all other equipment, such as tents and stoves, or can loan gear like compasses. For cabin campouts, he may only need a blanket and pillow, but for outdoor campouts he’ll need a sleeping bag rated for at least the expected low temperature. A closed-cell foam ground pad (e.g. Ridge Rest) will help block heat loss into the ground.
Of course, normal outdoor clothing appropriate for the weather is a must. Look in the Camping section of this FAQ for a list of essentials.
Are there fund-raising opportunities?
Troop 407 offers scouts an opportunity to earn money toward scouting expenses through participation in fundraising activities. Currently, our troop general fund activity is the work detail at Michigan International Speedway. The troop camps at MIS and works cleaning a portion of the grandstands after the races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during two race weekends in the summer. Participation in MIS is expected of all troop families, and the entire family (and friends and relatives) are welcome. You can also enjoy the midway and can usually get to see a part or all of the races for free! A portion of the proceeds is credited back to the Scouts who work, and by working all shifts, a scout could earn $100 toward his expenses this past summer.
We also participate in Trail’s End popcorn sales. All of the troop portion from a Scout’s sales goes to that scout’s account, so a Scout can raise an unlimited amount of money toward his expenses. The troop sponsors other fund-raisers from time to time, either to raise funds for troop operations or for a specific activity such as high adventure.
What is a Scout Account?
A Scout account is a fund held by the troop but belonging to the Scout, which can be used to pay for Scouting activities and related expenses. A Scout earns money for his Scout account by participating in fundraising activities. Money can also be deposited into the Scout account for convenience. The Scout account can be used to pay for campouts, summer camp, dues, troop t-shirts, merit badge classes, and Scout-related purchases such as merit badge books and other publications, and outdoor equipment including hiking boots, backpacks, personal camping gear, and the like. An account is established for each active Scout and adult Scouter. The troop treasurer can tell you your balance at any time.
When and where are troop meetings? Are there also patrol meetings?
Troop meetings are held from 7:00 to 8:30 PM each Tuesday that Novi schools are in session. (If Novi schools are closed or cancelled for any reason, the troop meeting is also
cancelled.) At the troop meeting, the entire troop meets together at the beginning and end, and Scouts sit with their patrols. There will be time for patrols to meet and conduct business or plan for participation in campouts or future troop meetings. Patrols may also choose to hold meetings outside of troop meetings, if necessary to work on projects, maintain their patrol equipment, or other purposes. This is up to the patrol leader of each patrol, who will notify each patrol member if a separate meeting is called.
What’s an Expresso?
No, not a strong cup of coffee! (Though our campout coffee sometimes qualifies!) The Expresso is a file with folders for each of our families. This is your troop “mailbox” where you’ll receive flyers, forms, printouts and other information, and where you can leave items for troop committee members or other families. There are also supplies of permission forms, applications, recent handouts and information sheets. Be sure to check your Expresso at each troop meeting.
How does the troop communicate with parents?
The troop has two e-mail lists: an announcement list (T407announce) for the troop adult leadership and senior patrol leader to send announcements to the troop, and a chat list (T407chat) for troop members to post messages for all to read and respond to. New members are placed on the announce list and should start receiving e-mails regularly. We do not automatically add you to the chat list; you can join it, and also add additional addresses or manage your subscriptions using the links on the website.
What is Youth Protection Training? Do I need to take it?
Youth Protection Training instructs adults in the steps BSA requires to keep our youth safe. It covers a variety of subjects including rules of contact, recognizing and preventing abuse, safe travel, camping, equipment, privacy, and many other subjects. You will learn the rules which all adults in the Scouting program are required to obey. All registered adults and those who have contact with youth are required to take Youth Protection Training and remain current by retaking it every two years. This includes any adult who camps with the troop, drives Scouts to and from campouts or events, or works with Scouts in any capacity (including Merit Badge Counselors). Anyone can take Youth Protection Training – you do not have to be a registered leader. Begin your training by visiting the BSA Online Learning
Center. Turn in your certificate of completion to the troop Youth Protection, Health and Safety officer.