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Welcome to Troop 661! By now your son has chosen to join our Scouting family and you might be a bit confused about what to expect and what is expected of you, the parent.  As you have been told, Troop 661 is a “boy run troop.”  What this means is that the boys select and plan most outings under the guidance of the Scoutmaster during Patrol Leader Council (PLC) meetings.  Generally, at least one Troop outing per month is planned.  The Troop Committee (made up of a number of parent volunteers) reviews the boys’ proposed annual schedule submitted by the PLC.  Once an annual schedule is planned (taking into consideration logistical issues, financial strains, and BSA guidelines) the Committee needs adult volunteers to step forward and facilitate the outings - these volunteers are lovingly known as “Trip Masters.”  (Click here to see the Tripmaster Handbook) As you can see, being a “boy led troop” does not mean that parent involvement is not needed or wanted, quite the contrary - we all need to help make this volunteer organization run well to help our children grow. It has been said that Scouting “... makes boys into men and men into boys!”  Parents (both moms and dads) are expected to participate and experience the outdoors too.  Boys are encouraged to attend as many outings as possible.  Many requirements for rank advancement and merit badges are fulfilled through outing participation.  In the outdoors, a boy can meet the natural world face to face and begin to develop a keener sensitivity toward our wildlife, forests, rivers, mountains and open space -- and the growing environmental dangers that threaten them.  The outdoors is the method that makes Scouting work; three-quarters of “Scouting” is “outing.”  Experience shows that adults have as much fun as Scouts.  Moms and dads are needed to participate and join in our camping and hiking activities. BSA guidelines require that at least two adults participate in all outdoor activities - more is always better, especially in more rigorous environments such as hiking trips.  Any outing with less than two adults will be automatically canceled or postponed, and this can be upsetting and frustrating for our boys.  Therefore, you as the parent of a scout in our Troop are encouraged to break away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routines and come spend time with your son and enjoy our outdoor activities.

Back to what we expect from youNumber one, be sure to read and go over our Scout Notebook with your son.  This notebook has been carefully designed to answer MOST, if not all, of your questions about how Troop 661 is run.  The notebook also contains a copy of our most up to date Roster with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all boys and parent volunteers in the Troop. Number two, be sure to get your son to meetings (and outings) on time, in proper uniform, prepared to learn and have fun.  You also need to be sure to pick up your son, on time.  You are encouraged to stay and participate as well.  We have monthly parent meetings, and parents are often needed to assist with rank advancement, such as participating in a “Board of Review.”  If parents do not stay and help out by participating in Boards of Review, the boys’ rank advancement may be impeded.Number three, find out how you can help by becoming a parent volunteer.  Look over our Troop Resource Survey (attached).  You very likely have interests, skills and/or hobbies that you can share with our boys either as a formal trained adult leader, a merit badge counselor, as a Trip Master, or as a supporting adult leader.  Look over our adult volunteer list in your son’s Scout Notebook.  All of these types of adult volunteers are needed to help our Troop.  Speak with our Committee Chairperson to find out what jobs are open and to discuss becoming a merit badge counselor and/or a Trip Master.  We really do need and want your help; and so does your son!Important topics for you to know include the steps of advancement, the “Trail to First Class,” merit badge counselors, and Trip master duties.

Steps of AdvancementGenerally, there are four steps of advancement.  As a Boy Scout advances:He learns by doing “hands on:He is individually tested by his boy leadersHis progress is reviewed by his Scoutmaster anda Board of ReviewHe is recognized for his achievementAdvancement takes place by earning rank and merit badges.  Each boy follows these four steps through each rank from Scout, to Tenderfoot,Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle.

Trail to First Class Here at Troop 661 we have a program to assist our boys in progressing through the ranks to First Class.  All new Scouts are encouraged to achieve First Class Scout rank within their first year with the Troop.  Although merit badges are fun, no merit badges are required until after First Class, and basic skill awards are no longer given.  The first ranks of Boy Scouting focus on basic Scout skills and elementary leadership.  Nationwide studies indicate that when a boy moves from Scout to First Class within the first year:He will stay in the program an average of 18 months longer, providing more opportunity for personal growth through the Scouting method.He will have a good Scouting experience which he will remember the rest of his life.He will adopt the ideals of Scouting in his life.He will be more likely to become involved with his own children, especially in Scouting.Scouts who achieve First Class have learned personal satisfaction and the recognition that comes from achieving.  They are more satisfied with their progress, and they have established a pattern of advancement which will help them mature into young adults, becoming leaders among their peers, and many of them will move forward toward the rank of Eagle Scout.

Merit Badge Counselors There are more than 100 merit badges available to the Scout.  Each merit badge is related to a career, hobby, or skill.  You undoubtedly have interests, skills or hobbies which you can share with our boys.  The merit badge program is aimed at helping boys discover their abilities and interests.  Be sure to contact our Committee Chairperson to become a registered merit badge counselor and share your stuff!  A merit badge counselor application is included in your son’s Scout Notebook.

Trip Master Duties All outings require advance planning.  You simply cannot decide on Friday that the Troop is going on an overnight backpacking trip that night.  There is also nothing more frustrating than to arrive at a campground thinking a reservation has been made when in fact it hasn’t.  Successful trips require planning.  This also ensures that outings will be fun and provide a suitable environment for the activity.  Planning shall include verifying that Troop policies and BSA requirements will be followed during the outing.  As a Trip Master you should consider the following tips Volunteer!!!  We need both Trip Masters and Assistant Trip Masters for each and every outing to ensure that we have “two deep” leadership.  Without at least two adults there can be no outing, so get out there with your son and have some fun!Make reservations as soon as possible after volunteering.  Coordinate with your Assistant Trip Master and share your duties and responsibilities.  Also, if necessary procure any permits needed, such as Wilderness Permits, Fire Permits, etcetera.Make a descriptive flyer with information to interest the boys: where they’re going, when, where to meet, any special activities, weather considerations, and any special equipment requirements.  Make a permission slip.Three weeks before the trip be sure to make an announcement at the beginning of a regularly schedule Scout meeting, hand out your flyers and permission slips, set out a sign up sheet, and make another announcement at the end of the meeting reminding the boys to sign up and get the flyer and permission slip.Two weeks before the trip make another announcement at the beginning of the Scout meeting, get adult volunteers (an absolute must), fill out a Tour Permit, collect permission slips and trip money, and make another announcement at the end of the Scout meeting reminding boys who have not signed up to bring their permission slip and money to the next meeting.The week of the trip make your final announcement, collect permission slips and money, finalize plans including what adults are driving and/or participating and determining who will be the “Grub Master” for the “adult patrol,” you menu and duty roster.  Generally, we plan for $3 per meal per Scout (or adult) plus any applicable camping fees and expenses, as well as gasoline.  Most weekend trips cost $25 per participant (Scouts and adults).  While you and your adult volunteers are meeting to plan your menu and duty roster, the boys will be doing the same thing in their Patrol Corners, led by their Senior Patrol Leader.  Each Patrol (or group of boys) going on the trip will assign a “Grub Master” who will be in charge of purchasing their food.  Each boy “Grub Master” will report to you as the Trip Master on their purchases, submitting receipts for reimbursement of foodstuffs.Communicate with the Senior Patrol Leader and make sure that he asks all of his Patrol Leaders to call the boys in their Patrols to remind them when and where to meet to leave for the trip.On the day of the trip have maps and other information ready for each driver, ensure that all drivers have copies of permission slips for all boys in their vehicle, exchange cell phone numbers and establish a caravan.Have fun!!!

Summary Troop 661 wishes for all Scouts and their parents to have a safe, rewarding and enjoyable experience in the Scouting program.  The importance of your participation in the program and in outings cannot be overstated.  The outdoors is where rank and merit badge requirements are fulfilled.  If you and your Scout don’t participate, his advancement in rank may be slowed by missing skills.  Also, you both will miss exciting fun and comradery.Please remember that Troop 661 is not a babysitting service or child care facility, and Scouts must behave appropriately.  Any Scout not consistently trying to obey the Scout Oath and Scout Law will be asked to leave.  We consider Troop 661 to be an extended family, and wholeheartedly welcome you into our family.  Remember that what you get out of Scouting is what you put into it. Come along, participate and have some fun.