New Parent Information
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- Talent Release Form
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- Camping Gear Checklist
- 3 Things to help with Gear
- 6 First Class Knots
The First year of being a Scout – A Must READ
Don Hightower, Scoutmaster
The first year in Scouting is crucial for building relationships, learning new skills, and developing the habits that will lay a solid foundation for a boy’s journey in Scouting.
You will quickly notice that Scouting BSA is very different from Cub Scouting. To begin with, Scouting BSA is youth-led and adult-guided. This means the Scouts make most of the programming decisions, while adults provide mentoring and logistical support. It is sometimes messy to watch, but there is an important learning process in motion.
From the beginning, a Scout is challenged to act independently within the structure of his patrol. He looks to a Troop Guide (an older Scout who will act as a teacher-mentor-and older brother) for instruction, guidance, and approval of requirement completion. Parents no longer sign off on requirements.
In order to build new relationships, learn new skills, and complete rank advancements, the Scout should attend as many of the activities and meetings as possible in his first year.
Important Events for the First Year with Troop 1323
The NEXT Campout – This is the FIRST campout your son will attend as a Scout. Every campout is built around a different activity or set of activities. The idea is to keep them busy DOING WHAT SCOUTS DO. That can be hiking, canoeing, practicing Scout Skills (knots & lashings, map & compass, first aid, etc…), sports, fishing, climbing & rappelling, etc…. This is where your son will have the best opportunity to learn, achieve, and have a lot of fun. Many of these experiences will help him fulfill the requirements necessary for rank advancement. More importantly, campouts are the laboratory experience of the Scouting program. This is where the boys put our leadership structure into practice—they lead each other while being taught by older boys and Scoutmasters as well as deepening that understanding for older scouts.
The NEXT Troop Meeting – At this troop meeting, all the New Scouts will form a new patrol and elect their patrol leadership for the next six months. It will be your son’s first opportunity to participate in this process with Troop 1323.
New Scout Saturday – On a date to be announced shortly (likely in March or early April), we will have a special Saturday orientation activity for all New Scouts and their parents. Older Scouts will teach New Scouts basic camping skills, and related protocols such as how to find troop equipment and load the troop trailer. The idea is to give New Scouts all the information that they need to feel confident in going on their next camping trip. At the same time, the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters can speak with parents about their role—at meetings, campouts, and other activities.
Summer Boy Scout Camp – Nothing will help your son connect with his Scout troop—by making friends and learning the skills that will help him reach the First Class rank—better or more thoroughly than attending Summer Camp during his first year as a Scout. There are several fundraising programs available to help defray the cost of attending summer camp. Also, Friends of Troop 1323—our Troop’s charitable association—can help subsidize summer camp for all Scouts demonstrating a need, regardless of when he has joined. Make it a point to find out the dates of summer camp and get it on your calendar right away.
Regular Monthly Campouts – By attending regular monthly campouts, your son is learning to pack his own gear. To be responsible for his own gear as well as the troop’s equipment. He is learning how to work with others, and how to lead and even how not to lead. Your son has opportunities to work on rank advancement work at every single monthly campout and many of these rank advancement requirements can only be completed at a troop campout. He should have at least 20 nights of camping in a tent that he pitched himself in the first year. That is 7 weekend campouts and 1 week at summer camp. We regularly camp 9-10 months out of the year.
What about Merit Badges?
Did you notice that I haven’t said anything about the completion of merit badges? Troop 1323 believes that your son should focus first on having fun and making friends, and second on working towards earning his First Class rank. Certainly, the troop provides opportunities to work on merit badges before and after troop meetings, on campouts, and during specially organized classes. But until the First Class rank is achieved, it should not be your son’s primary focus. Instead, his goals should be to have fun, make friends, and learn the skills necessary to be a good Scout (while achieving the First Class rank).
I hope that these thoughts will help you understand your Scout’s experiences during his first year with Troop 1323. If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to ask a Scoutmaster or Committee Member for guidance.