Things to Consider
When Selecting a Boy Scout Troop
Find a Pack, Troop or Crew
The following information and thoughts were prepared by Stan and Mark for Pack 13's Senior Webelos in January, 2007:
Each Webelos Scout and parents are free to visit other troops, and can
choose to join any Troop that suits them. I encourage each parent to
let their Webelos Scout make his own choice, with parental guidance.
This is a good time for parents to let their son call the shots - as
long as the place and schedule work with the parents.
Remember that you can always change Troops if it doesn't work out. The
boys will likely have more fun in Boy Scouting than they did in Cub
Scouting due to the increased freedom and responsibility, and due to the
greater opportunities to do fun and exciting activities, camping trips,
The list of considerations that Mark and I just made are as follows.
I encourage you to consider the strength of each Troop for
each item, and how each factor might work with your son's personality
- Troop leadership (Adult and Boy Scout leadership)
- Size of Troop
- Mix of ages of active Scouts
- Troop equipment available for use?
- Location of meetings / facilities
- Days the Troop meets
- Focus of the Troop - what sort of activities does the Troop do?
- Do they do monthly activities? Are the activities set up for both
younger and older scouts?
- How well did the Troop's Boy Scouts interact with the Webelos?
- Rank advancement potential for your son
- Has the Troop developed Eagle Scouts? Are they sticking around and
helping the younger Scouts?
I truly hope that each Cobra Webelos Scout joints a Boy Scout Troop -
and am confident that they will each be glad that they did. Boy
Scouting is a much different experience than is Cub Scouting, and each
boy should at least try it for a year to see if they like it.
Questions on Joining a Boy Scout Troop
Choosing the right Boy Scout troop for you is an
individual decision. Troops vary in their focus and the personalities in each
troop differ. You need to think about what will make scouting a fun, rewarding
experience for you and then find a troop that appears to best fulfill your
If you're a Webelos scout, having completed five years of Cub
Scouts, you may feel that you've experienced all there is in the program. But
Boy Scouts is a very different program full of new experiences. Make a
commitment to try it for a year to observe the differences and then decide if
you want to continue on or not.
A boy needs to visit at least one troop
meeting before joining Boy Scouts. You really should visit several troops to
learn the uniqueness of each. Select a troop that fits the needs of your
When you visit troops, try to get answers to these important
questions to help you decide on a home troop:
- How many registered scouts? (30-50 is generally recognized as a good troop
size, but there are many larger and smaller troops)
- How many of those registered scouts are active? (some troops have lots of
names on the roster, but the scouts don't participate. Count how many are at the
meeting you visit and if it doesn't match what you are told, visit again before
deciding to join.)
- How many assistant Scoutmasters, Committee members, other troop positions?
(a strong troop committee supports the plans created by the scouts. Assistant
Scoutmasters are needed to support scout advancement and troop events. One
assistant Scoutmaster for every 8-10 scouts is good.)
- What would a chart of the age distribution of the 'active' scouts look like?
(a few older and lots of 11-12 year olds indicates a troop that is either
recently growing or is having problems keeping scouts active. More older scouts
indicates there's something for them to stay for.)
- How many scouts have earned Eagle in the past few years and how many are
still active in the troop? (often scouts reach Eagle and stop participating.
Hearing that scouts stay in the troop until the age out at 18 indicates a strong
- How are the patrols organized? (new scouts should be kept together to start,
but then either continue on as their own patrol or get integrated into existing
- What goes on in troop meetings? (you should see this when you visit. Some
troops spend most troop meetings doing merit badge work - this is not the BSA
model for merit badges. Some troops run around in chaos at meetings. The agenda
for each meeting should be prepared and run by the Senior Patrol Leader.
Meetings should have an opening, time for scout skills, fun time, planning for
events, a scoutmaster minute, and closing. The key thing is that you should see
the troop being run by the scouts, not the scoutmaster or other adults - even if
it seems inefficient.)
- What service projects does the troop do? (service is a key part of scouting.
There should be many opportunities for service throughout the year.)
- How is the rank advancement managed? (There should be support in place for
new scouts to advance up to First Class. The most important thing you should
hear is that the troop has good Troop Guides for the new scouts. These are
helpful scouts in a leadership position tasked with guiding new scouts in their
first year. Some troops force-feed advancement up to First Class in a new
scout's first year while others let the scout flounder with no direction - both
tend to lose scouts.)
- How are Merit Badges managed? (the BSA merit badge program is intended for
scouts to seek out and complete merit badges that interest them, as well as 12
required badges for Eagle rank. A troop that schedules merit badges and scouts
just attend similar to school is not following the program. A troop that spends
their troop meeting time on merit badges is not following the program. Scouts
need to take responsibility to select merit badges and complete them with a
merit badge counselor advising and guiding them.)
- How is troop leadership managed? (The troop should really be 'boy-led'.
Every troop will say it is 'boy-run' or 'boy-led', but you need to see if that
is true. Who is in front of the troop? Who is corraling the scouts to start the
next activity? Who is teaching? What are the older scouts doing? These should
all be scouts in leadership roles. A Senior Patrol Leader runs the meetings with
assistance from his Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. Every patrol has a Patrol
Leader responsible for leading his group of 5-9 scouts. These scouts should meet
every month to plan upcoming activities. There should be an annual scheduling
session where the scouts plan campouts, high adventure trips, and other events
for the future.)
- When and how often does the troop meet? (A troop should have an outing
scheduled for every month. Troop meetings should occur on a regular schedule at
least twice a month, and preferably three times. Troops should not stop meeting
for the summer - the troop meetings should continue but with less expected
participation due to family vacations.)
- How is family communication handled? (email, phone trees, web site -
depending on the type of communication and your preferences, any can work. A
troop roster should be kept updated and distributed to all scouts.)
- What camping has the troop done and is planned? (This is probably the big
question that will effect your choice since you can relate to the answer with no
prior BSA background. There should be a wide range of outing themes, not the
same 12 events every year. There should be a week-long summer camp, and an
outing every month.)
- What high adventure trips have been done recently and are planned? (many
troops will rattle off Philmont, Seabase, Northern Tier, and National Jamboree
as their high adventures - these are all great trips, but they are very
expensive and pretty much a pre-packaged deal. If a troop tells you their scouts
are planning a trek in the Rockies, or whitewater rafting, or hiking the Grand
Canyon, or some other self-directed high adventure, that shows a broader view of
scouting. Ask if the scouts or adults are planning those outings - scouts CAN do
pretty much all of it, with just guidance as needed.)
- What participation and training is expected of parents? (You should expect
that parents are needed to make the troop's plans succeed. The most important
thing a parent can do is ask the scout how a meeting or outing was and to
support him in scouting. Many troops would like each family to help with
transportation to 2 or 3 campouts each year, some require less. You should hear
that adults are required to complete Youth Protection Training before
interacting with the scouts. Troops also need a few adults to take on troop
roles each year, such as Asst. Scoutmaster or Committee member - these are
required to offer a complete scouting program. They should be expected to
complete training for their position.)
- What fundraising is done?
- How are the funds managed? Does each scout have his own account?
- What equipment is provided by the troop and the scout?
- What uniforms are required?
- How often are Roundtables attended and by who? (district roundtable meetings
should be held each month and the adult troop leaders should attend to find out
district and council information.)
Some additional questions to
- What district and council events has the troop attended recently or planning
- How will new scouts learn what to do as Boy Scouts?
- How much will a year of scouting cost?
- How are conflicts between scouting and sports/theater/music/... handled?