Getting Started

See the Frequently Asked Questions for answers to many common questions about getting started in Boy Scouts and joining Troop 652.

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BSA Information

  • The Building Blocks of Scouting – Scouting is based on life skills education, leadership development, citizenship, and values training. Its unique methods of program presentation are designed to help build youth with strong character who are physically fit and prepared to be good citizens.
  • Leave No Trace – Boy Scouts practice the principles of Leave No Trace which teach you how to minimize your impact on and take care of the environment.
  • Recruiting – A steady flow of youth into a Boy Scout troop is essential to maintaining the troop’s health. New Scouts bring energy and enthusiasm to the troop program. To avoid the pitfall of shrinking membership, a troop should add at least 10 new Scouts every year. Having a year-round growth plan in place will help attract new Scouts.

Communication

We use an e-mail list to communicate to all parents and members of the troop. Information is also posted on the front page of the website.

In the past, we have used printed newsletters to communicate plans and results to scouts and families. The advantage was that scouts had a printed record of the troop activities that they could keep as part of their scout record detailing which campouts and activities they attended and parents could see how their scout was doing and view the troop schedule for reconciliation with their family plans. Many of the old newsletters are available online to serve as a record of scout and troop activities. As a matter of policy, they’re encrypted because names, phone numbers and email addresses should not be made public.

Average Costs

  • Annual Registration Fee – $33 or $43
  • 1 week Resident Summer Camp (Great Trail Council Manatoc Camp) – Early Bird is $255, Basic Fee is $275, Late Fee is $290 for 2015
  • Weekend Camping Outings – $20
  • High Adventure Camps (Philmont, Northern Tier, Florida Sea Base, Summit) – $500-$900 not including airfare/travel/hotel
  • Uniforms – see www.scoutstuff.org for the online store. In 2015, a short sleeve uniform shirt costs from $30-$40. Long sleeve costs from $35-$45. You will also need to purchase the troop numbers, council shoulder patch, and the world crest emblem. A Class B t-shirt can be purchased from the troop for less than $10.
  • Other items – The troop will provide: a Boy Scout Handbook, uniform shoulder loops, neckerchief, neckerchief slide, red cord, tent, and sash (given when scout achieves Tenderfoot rank).

How Boy Scouts is different from Cub Scouts

Unlike Cub Scout requirements, parents do not sign-off requirements in their sons’ Boy Scout Handbooks. The Scoutmaster is responsible for seeing that the skills and progress meet troop standards but the authority to sign-off requirements can be delegated.

In our troop, Assistant Scoutmasters, Junior Assistant Scoutmasters, all Eagle Scouts (adults or youth) registered with the troop, the Troop Guide, and the Senior Patrol Leader have standing authority to sign off on requirements for ranks up to and including 1st Class. Other scouts may be given authority to sign off on specific requirements where they have demonstrated their proficiency in the skill.

How we operate – Committee does, Scoutmaster does, Junior Leaders

The Patrol System

The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.'” —Lord Baden-Powell, Scouting’s founder

The Patrol

The patrol is a group of Scouts who belong to a troop and who are probably similar in age, development, and interests. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in a small group outside the larger troop context, working together as a team and sharing the responsibility of making their patrol a success. A patrol takes pride in its identity, and the members strive to make their patrol the best it can be. Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements. At other times they will compete against those same patrols in Scout skills and athletic competitions.

Competitions:

  • “Camporee” events – these are District-wide games of scout skills (dozens of scouts)
  • “Camporall” events – Council-wide events for all Districts (hundreds of scouts)
  • “Klondike” events – similar to a Camporee but in the winter with special Sleds.

The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as patrol leader. The troop determines the requirements for patrol leaders, such as rank and age. To give more youths the opportunity to lead, most troops elect patrol leaders twice a year. Some may have elections more often.

Patrol size depends upon a troop’s enrollment and the needs of its members, though an ideal patrol size is eight Scouts. Patrols with fewer than eight Scouts should try to recruit new members to get their patrol size up to the ideal number.

Types of Patrols

  • New Scout Patrols – are for 11-year-old Scouts who have recently joined the troop and are together for the first year in the troop. An older, experienced Scout often is assigned as a Troop Guide to help the New Scout Patrol through the challenges of troop membership. An assistant Scoutmaster should also assist the New Scout Patrol to ensure that each Scout has every opportunity to succeed right from the start.
  • Regular Patrols – are made up of Scouts who have completed or near completing their First Class requirements. They have been around Scouting long enough to be comfortable with the patrol and troop operation and are well-versed in camping, cooking, and Scouting’s other basic skills.
  • Venture Patrol – is an optional patrol within the troop made up of Scouts age 13 and older. These troop members have the maturity and experience to take part in more challenging high-adventure outings. The Venture Patrol elects a patrol leader, who works with an assistant Scoutmaster to put the patrol’s plans into action.

First Year of Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts who have just joined should be working toward Scout Rank, this requires a basic knowledge of what it means to be a Boy Scout. The most common delay factor here is the youth protection stuff in the front of the book which has to be covered with a parent or guardian. It’s not that the material is a problem, it’s just commonly overlooked that the scout can’t finish the requirements on his own.

The goal for the first year Boy Scout is to join in the fun, make new friends, and learn the scouting skills needed to earn the rank of 1st Class. “Making” 1st Class rank should take about a year if everyone is diligent about getting the requirements done. We’ve had scouts do it in less than a year (barely) and some who’ve taken 3 years or more to make 1st Class. The length of time it took was not necessarily key to their longevity or success in the program, longer term.

Taking a long time to reach 1st Class is thought, by some, to indicate something about the scouts’ interest and motivation. I don’t agree. I’ve seen as many cases where the troop program plans had as much to do with it as the scouts’ interest and motivation. Also, some scouts are driven to set goals and achieve them at an earlier age than others. Sometimes it’s simply a case where some of the requirements for 2nd Class, and 1st Class are done as part of the Swimming Merit Badge which many scouts get at their 1st or 2nd Summer Camp but are generally not part of the Troop program.

The requirements are set up to take about a year or at least “a years’ worth of scouting activities”. We take “about a year” as a goal so that the requirements can be met without “being in a hurry” or detracting from the fun.

The Junior Leaders (Boy Scout patrol leaders) and the individual scouts can arrange training and outings for scouts to make 1st Class but sometimes illness or family or school schedules can cause a scout to miss the outing or troop meeting where the requirements are taught or tested. Some examples where scheduling opportunities and attendance play a big part are:

  • plan and cook a breakfast and lunch on a campout on a fire that he built
  • Plan and cook meals for the patrol
  • 5 mile hike with map & compass
  • 1 mile orienteering course
  • attend 10 non-meeting troop events.

The Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class requirements can be worked on simultaneously but the ranks are earned in order.

The Tenderfoot requirements will be covered as part of the troop program but motivated scouts can arrange with their Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, or Senior Patrol Leader to be tested on the skills as soon as they are ready.

Uniforms

“To the Scout the uniform is an outward sign that he believes in certain values and is willing to stand up for them.” – Great Trail Council

Although there is only one official BSA uniform, there are 2 “classes” of uniform in the troop. The troop has introduced some minor variations from the BSA standard for our own use.

  • Class A (BSA) – As described in the handbook and on Uniform Inspection sheets.
    When a scout attends one of the BSA functions requiring a Class A uniform (formal functions, National Camps & travel, etc.), this is it. There are standards established for adult men, adult women, and scouts.
  • Class A (Troop) – As described below. A variation of the official Class A intended to provide a uniform appearance at a reasonable cost with an added shoulder treatment.
  • Class B – Class B means a some type of “scout” shirt like a scout-logo’d shirt. Some functions may have specific requirements. For example, camp staff wears the camp t-shirt or polo.
  • Class B (Troop) – The troop has a standard Class B T-shirt design which can be ordered through the troop. Scouts and Adults should wear the Class B shirt for specific events.

Troop Class A Uniform Elements

Item Uniform Policy Official BSA Comments
Shirt BSA Boy Scout Shirt Yes BSA Dark Green Venturing shirt OK for troop.
Shoulder Loops Green Loops Yes Troop provided at 1st registration. Dark Green Venturing loops OK for troop.
Neckerchief Black with red embroidery Yes Troop provided at 1st registration. Neckerchiefs earned by scouts may be worn. (Eagle rank, special events, etc.)
Neckerchief Slide Black Boy Scout Slide Yes Troop provided at 1st registration. Slide made by the scout is allowed. Common practice is to fashion a slide from a piece of the red cord we use for our shoulder cord.
Belt Boy Scout belt Yes Leave the buckle side long enough for growth through the teen years. BSA belts are not required by the troop.
Pants Green or tan No BSA pants are not required by the troop.
Shoulder Cord Green utility cord, 15-30 ft., braided & looped, worn on Right Shoulder under epaulet. No The troop provides this rope. The Junior Leaders started this in 2004 so that each scout would have rope and it has stayed with us. The color matches the shoulder loops, it’s rated for significant loads and can be useful at camps and in survival situations, and each patrol can assemble a rescue line using it.
Socks No
Shoes Dark Shoes No
Sash BSA sash Yes Troop provided at reaching Tenderfoot Rank. The Order of the Arrow sash may be worn instead of the merit badge sash.

Troop leaders establish uniform requirements for specific events. In cases where others (National, Council, District, Event Organizers, other units, etc.) indicate uniform policies, they will be communicated to the troop through the leaders.

Some standard uniform guidelines are listed below:

  • At Troop meetings, the “Troop Class A” is required to participate. Scouts who arrive without the proper uniform can stay at the meeting but can not participate unless approved by the Senior Patrol Leader. The current rules chosen by the Patrol Leader Council (The boy leaders in the troop), do not require neckerchief, slide, or shoulder rope to be worn at meetings. Only shirt and pants as listed above. Full uniform is required for special ceremonies (Court of Honor, Webelos Crossing)
  • Service to the Charter Organizations require Class A uniforms for duties where we’re in the public eye. Class B shirts may be worn for setup & cleanup.
  • Outdoor meetings may be designated as Class B uniform events.
  • On campouts, we travel and arrive at camp in our Class A shirt.
  • On campouts, we wear the Class A shirt for dinner.
  • At Summer Camp, camp rules require Class A shirt for dinner.

Camping Gear

Gear Shopping Tips

  • Appalachian Outfitters and Gander Mountain offer 10% off when you show a scout membership card. If you have a Cub Scout membership card, use it until you get your Boy Scout membership card.
  • Both the Cleveland and Akron Scout Shops have scout uniforms and supplies. The Cleveland Scout shop is a bit bigger and often has more “gear”.

Mess Kit Tips

  • Typical scout menus often include soup, potatoes, ground or chunk beef, stews, and the like with hot and/or cold drinks. Scouts usually set the menu for themselves/their patrols and the cooking usually gets more involved as their cooking skills grow and they see what others enjoy making and eating.
  • The Patrol Box (contains gear for a patrol) has plates for the patrol for many campouts but not utensils or cups. A mess kit is needed for those campouts when we’re not using the Patrol Box. Utensils and a re-usable cup are important.
  • Aluminum or stainless mess kits from local stores work. Get one that includes a cup, a bowl, and something which can be used as a plate.
  • Coleman, TekSport and others make some aluminum ones for less than $10. Stainless adds $5-$10 to the price.
  • Some Sporting goods and outfitter shops will have the Nester stainless mess kit for about $15 – it’s bigger than the Coleman/Teksport kits – the material is thinner but adequate.
  • Metal plates/pots/bowls get hot when they have hot food in/on them. Check that the kits you’re considering have handles that can be used to hold the item while you’re eating.
  • Clean & sterilize them after they’ve been used on an outing.
  • Not all mess kits come with utensils so you will often need to purchase them separately.
  • There’s a chain ring with a set of small stainless Knife/Fork/Spoon on it which is popular because it sometimes fits inside the mess kit. If the set doesn’t fit in the mess kit, the small size can be a slight disadvantage.
  • There’s a few metal and plastic “set” brands that work well – they’re full sized.
  • Taking old knife, fork, and spoon from a regular set of silverware works too.
  • Whether your kit has a stuff sack or not, keep it all in a gallon-sized ziplock with your name on it. Besides keeping it together, it will help keep it clean and usable.

Water Bottle Tips

  • Whatever you have will be good enough to start with.
  • A popular option is a quart-sized, wide-mouth lexan bottle of some brand or another. Nalgene started the market but Target and others have other brands. They’re between $5 and $10, mostly depending on where you’re shopping.

Sleeping Bag Tips

  • We camp year-round, including the winter months. If you’ll be getting only one bag, get a zero-degree rated bag. Don’t spend lots on a scouts’ first bag unless they’ve already demonstrated that they will read and follow the “usage and care” instructions. For additional cost, you get lighter weight and more compression (packs smaller). a mummy style bag will be more efficient and lighter than a comparable rectangular bag.
  • Slumberjack and Coleman have inexpensive models suitable for scout use. Coleman bags are often available at places like Wal-Mart, Target, or Kmart as well as sporting goods stores and on-line. Slumberjack bags are available at local sporting goods stores (Gander Mountain, for sure, Dicks has them sometimes, MC Sports has some models), outfitter type stores, and on-line. Check out the lineup at Campmor Sleeping Bag section.
  • Inexpensive zero-degree rated bags will weigh more than 5 pounds because they use more of an inexpensive insulating material. More expensive bags use lighter weight materials like Polarguard or down which allows for bags about 3-4 pounds.
  • Avoid down bags. Down does not insulate when it is wet and it takes a long time to dry. Its advantage is that it’s very light weight and very compressible. Stick with synthetics.

Cot Tips

  • Cots are recommended for summer camp but are not required. If you can buy or borrow one for Summer Camp, you’ll sleep better and enjoy camp more. Summer camp uses wall tents with wooden platforms to keep stuff off the ground. Cots make for comfortable sleeping and gets you off the floor and away from crawly things.
  • If you watch the Dick’s and MC Sporting goods ads, you’ll find pretty good cots for $19 instead of their usual $25-29 price.
  • Some scouts bring cots on weekend campouts but they’re heavier and less convenient than a foam pad.
  • There are basically two types of cots – relating to the cot legs. X-Leg and D-Leg (imagine the capital letter D with the rounded end on the bottom).
  • Some styles fold up smaller than the ones which just fold in half. The X-Leg ones shouldn’t be used in a regular floored tent because the legs can push holes into the floor of the tent. The D-legged styles are easier on troop tent floors. If the cot will be used only for summer camp, you can get the D-leg ones that fold in half because you won’t be hauling it around on other campouts.
  • Get a foam pad whether you get a cot or not because eventually, you’ll be sleeping on the ground in a tent.

Backpack Tips

  • Not for summer camp. Maybe not until after summer camp. They can be convenient in that there’s gear that can just stay in the pack – which makes it less likely that some important item will be left behind.
  • For summer camp, they’re not the best way of keeping things clean, dry, and organized. A footlocker type storage container is best.
  • If you do buy a backpack, consider one that has adjustment options that can grow with your boy.

Compass Tips

“Know yourself” is key in selecting your “first serious compass”. Some are better off starting with the least expensive compass and replacing it when it gets lost or damaged with a similar or better compass. Some are better off with a more expensive compass which will serve for years. Either way, read the directions.

  • The compass needs to serve 2 purposes: finding directions while hiking, map work: orienting and route planning. Until recently, compasses which were good at both were rare and expensive.
  • A decent, inexpensive “starter” compass for scouts is the Silva Starter Type 1-2-3 Compass ($10) which can be used for simple map work and can be used in the field. It’s widely available.
  • Cliff Bellmore, Scoutmaster, recommends the Silva Trekker at Campmor.com ($20 – $27) which functions as a “map” compass like the Silva Starter Type 1-2-3 Compass ($10) as well as an orienteering compass like a Lensatic Compass ($8). The Silva Trekker is also available at local stores: sometimes at Dick’s or MC, usually at Gander Mountain and Appalachian Outfitters.

The fluid in most compasses “damps” the movement of the needle so that bearings can be read quickly. If the compass is repeatedly subjected to freezing temperatures, the fluid can leak out.

Knife Tips

  • Sheathe knives are not allowed on scout reservations. They’re not “scout knives”.
  • Lowe’s sometimes has “Swiss Army” style knives available at 1 (or 2-packs) for $10-17 for the same knife that would cost $24-40 at a sporting goods store or outfitter.
  • Scouts aren’t allowed to carry a knife at scouting events until they have been trained in safety procedures and earned their “Totin’ Chit”. Each minor infraction of safety rules or incident/accident with “sharps” will cost a scout or adult a corner or their “chit”. When the corners are gone, the Chit is revoked and the training must be repeated to earn a new card. A major incident/Accident will be grounds for immediately revoking the chit.

Socks Tips

  • Good socks are important and a cost-effective solution to many boot/shoe problems.
  • Smartwool and similar high-tech wool socks can help cushion feet and keep them dry. “Hiking” weight is suitable for most of the year
  • Cotton socks are only useful for wearing around camp while the better socks are drying/airing. Wet socks and shoes and related foot problems are the most common “Health Lodge” problem at Summer Camp – even when there’s no rain! (Morning Dew on the grass).

Hiking Boots Tips

  • Boots are important and expensive and scouts sometimes outgrow their boots multiple times in a year. Get what you can afford that offers support and protection.
  • Eventually, you’ll have waterproof boots that fit well and protect your feet under backpack-weight loads when combined with the proper socks, but boots like that are in the $100 range so don’t expect them until you’ve slowed your growth to a single shoe size for more than 1 year.
  • In the meanwhile, get affordable boots that feel good and get some good socks that wick moisture, cushion your feet, and keep your feet warm even when they’re wet.
  • Don’t expect to make it through summer camp wearing only athletic shoes (tennis shoes). Our camp site is the farthest one from the Dining Hall (3 trips per day), plus lots of other walking around camp and all of it is on gravel roads or uneven paths.
  • In the morning, the dew will soak your shoes, if it rains during the week, the wet grass and mud will soak your shoes.
  • Bring a pair of boots – the summer camp manual calls for them but I haven’t seen anyone sent away because they didn’t have them. Every year at the “Adult Leader” meetings, we Scoutmasters get lectured about bringing scouts to camp without proper footwear.
  • Bring a pair of shoes for wearing around camp in the evenings while your boots dry out or “air out”.

Tent Tips

  • Troop will issue you a tent which matches the rest of the tents. Leaders or special needs tents are permitted. The scout is responsible for keeping the tent in good working condition and “complete”. Normal wear and tear is expected but lost or broken poles, stakes, rain fly, etc. will be the scout’s responsibility to fix, repair, or replace.
  • Avoid bringing your own tent on regular troop campouts – especially if it’s a good tent. Scouts learn a great deal though their own and others’ mistakes so don’t let someone learn proper procedures for fires or bug repellent use by seeing what happens to your expensive tent when the mistake is made.

Bug Repellent Tips

  • Summer Camp requires a lotion instead of a pump or spray in order to protect the tents.
  • DEET is very effective but it melts plastic. (Personal note: I’ve melted my fingerprints into my watch face with DEET.) Don’t buy anything with more than 20% DEET unless you’re going someplace special (back woods, high adventure) where bug bites could be a survival issue.
  • There are sometimes new high-tech chemicals developed for bug repellant. No problems with trying them on local campouts because someone else will likely be willing to share their tried-and-true repellant if your new stuff doesn’t work well enough.
  • There are also sprays and washes which treat clothing. I think they’re effective but I am usually a bug magnet.