Troop Principles

We are an established troop with a long and proud history and we are glad that you have chosen to visit us.

The adult leadership has put together this section as a resource for scouts and parents. It includes information on who we are, our policies and how we administer the scouting program. It also has information on advancement, Scout Skills, gear and equipment sources, trips, schedules, etc. We hope that it will be helpful and that it will be a place where you can organize and store handouts, schedules and other information you will be receiving as you participate in our program.

As Troop Committee Chairman I'd like to welcome you with some information on the organization and responsibilities of our adult leadership.

Robert Baden-Powell insisted that education could be fun. And it should be. The Patrol System he founded is based on this principle. Scouters have known for decades that Scouting is nothing less than a revolution in education. While boys do not think of in in this way, a scout troop is a unique educational unit. Look at some of the things it offers to prospective members. A boy can join if he wants to, but he doesn't have to. If he's not satisfied, he can quit anytime. Or he can transfer to another troop if he thinks he can do better. He will have many chances to learn and improve himself. He can accept them or not; it will not be held against him if he turns them down. He decides what he will learn and how fast.

As he improves himself, he will be recognized. Those who do the most get the most recognition. Each boy sets his own goals for personal growth. The troop is governed by boys. They make the rules and plan the program with the guidance of the scoutmaster and assistant scoutmasters.The will have chances to lead, and to learn how to lead. The adult leaders give their services to boys without charge. What they do is of such value that if the boys were charged accordingly, few could afford to belong. So Scouting IS education. And it looks like fun because it is fun. Thus, you have two quick ways to judge your troop and everything it does.

1. Is it fun for the boys? If it's not, it's not Scouting.

2. Is it educational? Does it lead boys to one or more of Scouting';s aims? It may be fun, but if it lacks this sense of purpose, it is not Scouting.

Every Scouting activity and way of organizing and doing things has a purpose behind it. Each has something to do with moving boys from where they are toward some basic goals. We call these goals the aims of Scouting. Here they are in general.

Scouting works toward three aims.

One is character. We may define character as what the boy is himself: his personal qualities, his values, his outlook.

A second aim is citizenship. Used broadly, citizenship means the boy's relationship to others. He comes to learn of his obligations to other people, to the society he lives in, to the government that presides over that society.

A third aim of Scouting is fitness. Fitness shows itself in four distinct aspects: of the body (well-tuned and healthy), the mind (able to think and solve problems), the "moral fiber" (as shown by courage, respect for others, etc.) and the emotions (self-control and self-respect. These aims are achieved in a Boy Scout Troop through the use of eight methods; The Ideals of the Patrol Method, Advancement, Uniform, Outdoors, Leadership Development,

Boy Scouts of America was chartered by Congress in 1916 to work "...through organizations, and in cooperation with other agencies, " in promoting the Scouting program. Boy Scouts of Amer ica was thus chartered to provide the program of scouting, they cannot and do not operate a single Scout troop. BSA grants charters to community organizations, interested in serving youth, to administer the BSA program to troops that these organizations own and operate.

Troop 474 's Chartered Organization is the First Congregational Church of Guilford. Our chartered organization's representa tive responsible for liasion with the troop, the Scouting Coor dinator, is Mr. Richard Coe. He is responsible for securing a Troop Committee Chairman, encouraging adult leader training, helping recruit adult leadership, encouraging service, assisting with rechartering, representing the interests of the troop and of the council and district as well as acting as liason with the charter organization.

Troop 474 adult leadership is organized according to BSA guidelines, into two basic units; the administrative body or the Troop Committee and the "line officers" unit which is comprised of the Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters. The Troop Committee has the responsibility of meeting the administrative needs of the troop. There are eight positions on a troop com-mittee that are responsible for approximately ninety functions. The Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmasters are responsible for administering the BSA program. In our troop, like many other Scout troops, there is not a clear distinction between troop committee members and assistant scoutmasters. The Scoutmaster and assistant scoutmasters, as well as interested parents are considered part of the troop committee. They are welcome at troop committee meetings and t hey help cover the functions of the troop committee. Although there are some adult leaders that are officially registered as troop committee members, all adult leaders in the troop, at times, serve as assistant scoutmasters and work directly with the boys. The troop committee has far reaching responsibilities for feeling the needs of the troop, but it is not responsible for administering the program. The program is administered by the Scoutmaster. His job description reads:

- Train and guide boy leaders to run their troop.

- Work with responsible adults to give Scouting to boys.

- Help boys grow by encouraging them to learn for themselves.

- Guide boy in planning the troop program.

Notice the action words in this description are train, help, work with, and guide. The troop program is actually planned and run by the scouts. The Scoutmaster and his assistants train, help, work with and guide Scouts, but they do not actually perform many of the Scout tasks which are generally assigned to individual Scouts. Adult leaders are primarily responsible for controlling the environment only to the extent that a safe environment is maintained for all Scouts, while at the same time creating an environment which enables Scouts to excercize sufficient responsiblity to learn from mistakes. Boy leadership and troop management are probably the most significant differences between the Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting pro- grams.

As any parent knows, having kids do a job is usually not an efficient way to get the job done. We believe, however, that having the Scouts plan and run the program is the only way scouts will learn the leadership and organizational skills that are central to the scouting program.

The positive side of this approach is that it works. If done correctly, it develops a troop that attracts and keeps boy interested in scouting. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of accomplishing this is that it requires adults to be cognizent of the goals of guiding, training and teaching, and to keep these goals in the forefront of their programs. Guiding, rather than doing, is usually more work for the adult leadership. Teaching boy leaders the skills of leadership while they are concurrently leading other scouts is not a very efficient way to run an organization. Consequently, there is always a certain level of confusion, miscommunication, and inefficiency in a boy run Scout troop. This is sometimes very frustrating for both parents and adult leaders. The boy run program also requires a lot of one on one interaction between Scouts and adult leaders and the better troops are the ones who have committed leadership. We, who are responsible for both the administration and safety of troop programs, feel very strongly that every Scout parent should make a commitment to the following:

First, make sure your Scout shows up on time for all events and that he is properly prepared for the activity. We do many things that can be dangerous if the Scouts are not adequately prepared ( the Boy Scout Motto - "Be Prepared"). We go many places where there is no shelter to get dry if your clothes become wet, or to warm up if you get cold. There may be no food to eat if yours is forgotten or destroyed. An improperly or poorly prepared Scout along a trip is a danger, not only to himself, but possibly for the remainder of the Troop. Lack of suitable preparation can ruin a trip for all. If you are uncertain about the scope of any scouting activity, have your son find out, through his patrol, what level of experience, training, equipment and preparation is required. (Remember, its HIS responsibility to find out, and we are trying to teach responsibility). If you are not comfortable with his answers, contact the Scoutmaster or one of the Assistant Scoutmasters.

Second, read through the official Boy Scout Handbook, and become familiar with the scout program. Know the requirements for advancement and encourage your son to aspire to the next rank. This will let your scout know that Scouting is something you consider important and it will keep him focused on working on advancement. Boy Scout advancement requirements, unlike Cub Scout requirements, are not signed off by parents but rather are signed off by the Scoutmaster or a qualified leader. Boy Scouts are expected to take the initiative in their advancement and participation in troop activities.

Considering the boy-run environment of our troop, parents need to make sure their Scouts are getting the information they need and are actively participating in the advancement process. Advancement, by the way, is not important for advancement sake only, it is how the boys learn the skills necessary to participate in many of our troop's more challenging outdoor adventures. Advancement is one of the methods we use to develop character, citizenship and self-esteem.

Parents are strongly encouraged to participate within any of the troop's activities and at whatever level with which they are comfortable. This may range from helping with fundraisers, to becoming and Assistant Scoutmaster or Troop Committee member. Parents are always welcome at outings and frequently, many family members camp with the troop.

I think that many Scout parents, when they are new to the troop, look at the adult uniformed leadership as belonging to a kind of "exclusive club" and that a prerequisite for membership into this "club" requires a special kind of training or background. There is a good sense of comaradery, that has come from camping and working together, but leadership in our troop is not exclusive by any means. We all got involved in scouting because of our boys, and we came to scouting with various levels of scouting and outdoor experience; from Eagle Scouts to people with little or no scouting or camping experience. All of the jobs we have require little experience, long hours, and the pay stinks. But if you like kids and the outdoors, the rewards are without peer. We all have and continue to learn from one another and there are many adult leader training opportunities available through BSA.

If you are new to Troop 474, I want to extend to you a special welcome, and again emphasize how glad we are that your chose our troop. If you are a scout, we think you are going to have an exciting time in our troop and we are confident that you are going to learn some things about yourself that you might never have known, and that you will accomplish things that you never thought possible.

Parents, we hope you will join our troop also. Scouting is something that we get a great deal of pleasure from and we are eager to share it with others. You too, like the scouts, may learn some things about yourself and accomplish some things you never thought possible!