Parents' Handbook

 

 

Dedicated to the Troop 8 parents who give so much to the parish, troop, and the boys.

 

Welcome to Boy Scouting and Troop 8!

This little handbook is designed by the scout leadership to provide an introduction and handy reference to what goes on in the Troop 8 version of Boy Scouting, from a parents’ perspective.   Mostly, it’s written as a response to many “frequently asked questions” we have gotten over the years.   We tweak it from time to time, in response to committee decisions and parent comments (so if you have any comments, please let us know!)

We hope it helps as you get to know our troop and its program.

Troop 8 Overview

Troop 8 is owned and operated by the Roman Catholic parish of St. Thomas the Apostle, as part of its service to youth in the parish.  The parish provides meeting places and other resources to the troop, and the pastor's representative oversees troop operations, including the appointment of troop adult leaders. Like other St. Thomas youth programs and the elementary school, it is open to youth from the greater community who want to participate in our program.  As a Catholic organization, Troop 8 reflects the mission and character of the parish, and supports the moral teachings of the Catholic Church in its program, along with the character and skill-building aspects of the worldwide scouting movement.

The Church through the parish and our national body, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, poses three requirements for us in particular.  

  1. We must run a year-round program.  Unlike some troops, Troop 8 does not shut down during the summer.
  2. We must welcome non-Catholics and non-parishioner Catholics who are willing to participate in a Catholic Scouting program.
  3. We exercise what the Second Vatican Council calls a preferential option for the poor.   All of our fundraising goes to the troop, and is allocated first to those most in need.  Troop 8 does not turn away any boy from any activity because of family financial circumstances.

The program is supported by a troop committee, a group of dedicated parish and community volunteers who believe in the mission of scouting and the benefits it provides to young men.   They provide strategic oversight, logistical support and fundraising help, approve policies, and select adult leaders to recommend to the pastor.  They serve as an advisory board, similar to a board of directors or a school board.   Like a school board, you'll never see them in daily operations;  their job is to mind the store for the future.   We are also blessed by a nation-wide group of dedicated and loyal Troop 8 alumni.

The scout program itself is run by a group of adult scouters, consisting of parish/community volunteers and parents who enjoy the outdoors with kids.   One of these is appointed to serve as scoutmaster, usually on a rotating basis and for a maximum term of two years. Functionally, the scoutmaster is the "CEO" of the organization.   No company can succeed if the CEO and a couple of executives are expected to do all the work; similarly, Troop 8 will not provide the kind of experience we want for our children if we expect the volunteer scouters to do it all for us.  For this reason,   the regular participation and volunteer efforts of parents are required in Troop 8 scouting. 

Parent participation is required in three areas:

  1. Every parent is expected to participate in providing transportation on outings, including several "long" and a few "short" trips each year.
  2. Each parent must serve in a troop support job of some sort;  these run a range from coordinating drivers to working as a part-time assistant scoutmaster.
  3. Each family is expected to participate in troop fundraising efforts.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do we have to be Catholic to join?

No! St. Thomas welcomes families of all denominations into all of its youth programs, provided they respect and support the parish's mission. At present, about half of our scouts and half of our scoutmasters come from other religious traditions.

Does my son have to participate in religious activities?

As a St. Thomas activity, the troop does reflect the mission of the parish. Scout meetings and award ceremonies open with a prayer, and leaders at meetings and award ceremonies will reflect a Catholic Christian perspective.

We're strong Catholics. Does the troop support the faith, and reflect the teaching authority of the Church?

Yes. Adult leaders and troop operations reflect the moral environment appropriate for Catholic education, and support Church teaching. Troop activities, however, are not religious education, and we do not provide religious instruction, prayer groups, retreats, etc. as part of the troop program, except for those boys who are pursuing religious awards. The troop welcomes boys and scoutmasters of many faiths, which makes for interesting and reflective sharing of perspectives, particularly among the older boys. Your son may be exposed to alternative viewpoints. For the most part, though, troop activities are generally non-religious in nature. For religious instruction, we'd encourage you to consider some of the other St. Thomas youth programs.

Will by son be able to attend mass on weekends?

For car-camping outings (and other outings when possible), we will take the boys to Catholic mass to meet their Sunday obligation. In remote areas without access to a sacred minister, or cases of severe weather, mass attendance may not be possible. Interested scouts may join scoutmasters in prayer on Sundays under these circumstances; alternately, scouts may request dispensation from the obligation from their parish pastor. For more information, see the document mass+attendance+and+dispensations

We’re not Catholic. Does my son have to go to mass with the troop?

Yes. Under certain circumstances, like Camporees, we are able to accommodate attendance at different services. Generally, however, because of the logistics of transportation and adult supervision, all boys (and parent drivers) will attend Catholic services. Those that choose not to participate are asked to come without objection and sit quietly. Most boys and scoutmasters from Christian faiths view this as their Sunday service for that weekend, and participate accordingly.

 

Occasionally, a non-Catholic set of two adults and a small group of scouts who volunteer may stay behind in camp to perform some special service at the request of the trip leader (like preparing dinner).

Will my son be able to earn religious awards for our denomination?

The troop encourages boys to be involved in their church.  We gladly work with any boy interested in achieving any of Scouting's religious awards.

I would like to help out, but I don't like going camping. What can I do?

Only a special cadre of crazies go camping with us. A number of other positions are as valuable. Most of these help with various logistics - fund raising events, troop notes, equipment, billing, transportation, scout advancement, merit badge counseling and the like. Talk to a scouter or to the Parent Volunteer Coordinator and we will find you a job that will match your interests and talents.

I'm pretty busy. Do parents have to take volunteer positions?

Just as the boys who join scouting agree to be true to the Scout Oath & Law, parents who have children in scouting agree to support the program with their talents and energies. There are a variety of jobs that need doing, some with short-term commitments like running the Pancake Breakfast fundraiser, others with longer, steady commitments like coordinating transportation. You should sign up for a job that fits your time schedule and interests. Parents who do not sign up will be assigned a job. Parents who refuse to do a job will be asked to find a different troop for their son.

 

In exceptional circumstances, this requirement can be waived for a family by the scoutmaster.

How are scoutmasters selected?

Adults who are interested in working with the boys in the troop speak with one of the current scout leaders, and are invited to help out at meetings and at campouts as an Adult Patrol Leader or outing helper. After some time doing this, if the boys and the adults feel there's a "good fit," the scoutmaster will make a recommendation to the parish. We will contact references and conduct background checks, and refer the person to the St. Thomas' pastor or his representative to make it official.   Assistant Scoutmasters are expected to take the Catholic Church Virtus youth protection training, as well as BSA core training and Troop 8 Outdoor Leader Skills training or an equivalent.  In order to guarantee to the boys and their families the best program, when there is a vacancy in the scoutmaster position, it is filled from the ranks of the active assistant scoutmasters.

 

We are involved on an ongoing basis in the recruiting and training of scout leaders. If you or your son know of anyone who enjoys both young men and the outdoors and who you feel would make a good addition to the team, please let us know!

Patrols & Youth Leadership

Managing 40+ kids in one large group is enough to make anyone want to jump off a cliff.   At best, it would turn us into school marms, and scouting should be about adventure, not school.   So to help us and especially to help the boys, the troop is subdivided into three or more Patrols, consisting of a number of boys led by a Patrol Leader.   The best way to think about patrols is to think of Harry Potter and Hogwarts.  Lord Robert Baden-Powell who founded Boy Scouting was British, after all!    If Troop 8 is Hogwarts, then the patrols are the Houses in the school, like Gryffindor and Hufflepuff and Slytherin.   Each has its own personality and proud traditions.

 

When your son joins the troop, the older boys and adult leaders will do the "sorting hat" routine with your help, and welcome him into a patrol that we feel will fit his interests and personality.   His patrol will be his home in Troop 8, and he'll progress from a young first year to an experienced older scout by following the example and guidance of the older boys in the patrol.   As he moves up in rank, he in turn will become one of those older scout examples and mentors for younger boys, who will think he is so cool!  For summer camp and other events, he may even help his patrol earn patrol points toward the "house cup" - the top patrol award.

 

Each patrol is headed by a couple of older boys, who serve the patrol as Patrol Leader and assistants.  These boys are selected by the older boys and the members of the patrol for their ability, maturity, and readiness to lead others.  The Hogwarts equivalent would be "prefects."   When your son has any questions about the troop, his one-stop shop for answers will be the Patrol Leader of his patrol.

 

In boy scouting unlike Cub Scouts and most other youth programs, we believe in youth leadership.   The real organizers, planners, and leaders are the boys themselves, represented by their Patrol+Leaders+Council (PLC) and the chairman of the board, the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL).   Scouting teaches responsibility and leadership by giving responsibility and leadership of its programs to the boys.   They decide on the program, schedule and plan the events, publish the newsletters, and set many of the rules by which the troop runs. 

 

This notion of boy leadership distinguishes scouting from many other youth programs.  If you're new to scouting at this level, it may take some getting used to.   Troops run more like a "pick up game" than an adult-run league, because we feel it's important for kids to learn how to organize a team, officiate & settle disputes, decide on positions and work out strategies.   We don't take that away from them by having the adults do it all.   By making kids manage themselves as a group in that way, they learn a level of judgment, responsibility, and teamwork that is much deeper than what can be achieved in adult-run activities.

 

This does mean that troop operations will carry a distinct "kid-print" and not always be "organized" in an adult way.   It also means that troop boys end up being better at managing themselves and others than most other young adults, because they have had the real-life experience of doing it themselves.

 

The Patrol Leader's Council sets the annual calendar and budget for the troop from September to the following August.   Individual boy leaders are then assigned jobs as Trip+Leader(s) for each of the outings and activities that have been planned.   Those boys handle planning and reservations for their trips, assisted by an adult Assistant Scoutmaster who serves as Field+Leader.   Every few weeks, the PLC meets and reviews plans for upcoming events.   The patrol leaders then work with their patrols and individual boys to be ready for the event by planning menus, doing skills instruction, and getting gear ready.    This division of labor allows us to run a wealth of different outings during the year.   While one boy is working with one adult to plan the October backpacking trip, another is working with a different adult on the November campout.  Divide and conquer!   Because of this, for any given event, the Trip Leader(s) and Field Leader are likely to know more about the event than the Scoutmaster.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do the scoutmasters and older boys always call and ask for my son, and seem reluctant to answer my questions?

Scouting is about boy leadership. Unlike cub scouts, the leadership is composed of boys and works directly with boys, to develop participation and responsibility. The leaders will always ask for your son and give him the information, expecting him to pass it along to you. When you have questions about an outing or event and call an adult scouter, the first thing the scoutmaster is going to do is ask if your son has called his patrol leader or the scout trip leader. Kids learn responsibility by being given responsibility, and occasionally making mistakes. We'd ask you to help your son be responsible by working through the boy leadership, rather than doing his work for him as an adult.

I called one of the boy leaders to ask a question. Why did he refuse to speak with me?

We encourage your son to call his patrol leader or the event trip leader with questions. If you have an adult-level question about troop operations, please direct it to the scoutmaster or the adult trip coordinator. As part of the BSA's youth protection rules and to avoid misunderstandings, the boys are generally instructed not to take phone calls from adults other than the scoutmaster staff.

I've got a great idea for an event or service project. How do we schedule it?

"We" don't. The boys do. All the troop activities and events are planned and approved by the boy leadership at monthly PLC meetings. Adult suggestions should be passed along to the scoutmaster or to one of the senior boys. If it's approved and checked by them, they will assign a trip/project leader and the scoutmaster will assign an adult field leader to assist.

I don't like something about the way the troop operates. Who should I talk to?

This depends on the topic. If it's an operational matter, the boys are in charge. This means that things won't always be run as well or as smoothly as we as adults might expect, but that's how young leaders learn. Sometimes, actually, it will run better! Pass your suggestions along to your son to share with the patrol leaders.

 

If the issue is of more concern, please find the time to speak with the scoutmaster. The scoutmaster is the final say in troop operations and should be able to answer your questions, or pass your concern along to the appropriate person(s). If the matter affects the health and welfare of boys in a serious way and the scoutmaster's response was not appropriate, call St. Thomas's Scouting Coordinator.

My son is a little bit afraid of the older boys, and we're surprised by some offbeat songs like Snow White and the Seven Bodies

It has long been the opinion of the troop leadership that kids would be better served if webelos went for another year, and boys weren't allowed to join scouts until after sixth grade, when their physical and emotional maturity level is more suited to the program. Our program has some of the best, most kind, most talented "older brothers" that a parent could ever wish for. But they will behave like older brothers; they will seem slightly intimidating and occasionally gruff, especially for boys who do not have older male siblings at home. They also have a uniquely adolescent sense of humor, where goofy songs about bloody mayhem and flirting with bad words are great fun. Help your son to work through it; come out on longer campouts with him for a bit if you think he needs the extra support; teach him his own goofy song or "maneating cow call" to share at the next campfire. By the end of sixth grade, he'll be racing out the door to go camping without you, and belting out "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" with the best of them.

My son says he doesn't have to bring a jacket and I don't believe him. What should I do?

Trust your son. When we were writing this book, we asked the older boys if they had any suggestions about what should be included. Their one, big, universal suggestion was "parent communication." Please help the parents listen to and communicate with us.

 

Because scouting relies on boy leadership and makes boys responsible, your son will typically have more information on troop procedures and events than you will. That's quite a change from the little boy who was always dependent on you. It means your style has to change a bit. You have to ask him for information and listen to the answer, rather than the other way around. Instead of doing things for him, wait and be ready to help when he asks (and perhaps offer an occasional suggestion). Instead of telling him his schedule, ask what events are coming up that he plans on attending. Include him in decisions about family activities, and plan these in advance so that he can see how they fit in with scouting events. It'll be hard, sometimes. As scoutmasters, it almost kills us, but it makes for self-directed, responsible young men.

 

Practically speaking, your son's comfort on trips depends on having just the right amount of the right gear.   The adult and youth leaders work hard at   Too much gear will make his experience heavy and miserable.

Meetings & Participation

Troop meetings are held one night a week, typically on a Monday or Tuesday.  Typically, they run from 7-8:30pm.  Indoor meetings are held in the St. Thomas Elementary School cafeteria, while outdoor meetings can be held at a variety of local parks in the area. The events and program at any given meeting vary extensively, depending on what the boys decide at the Patrol++++++++++Leader's+Council. Often meetings will include some skills instruction, time for individual patrols to meet for the boys to learn about upcoming events, and perhaps planning or preparation for an outing.   Boys can sign up for events at a meeting or on-line.   Meetings are also good places for our adult leaders to "check in" with each boy for guidance and encouragement.

In addition to regular indoor or outdoor meetings, the boys will occasionally plan a special event or "fun night" at places like Ann Arbor Whirly Ball or attending the Banff Outdoor Film Festival together as a group.

We ask that you help your son learn to be courteous and responsible in terms of meeting attendance.   The older boys and the adult leaders work very hard to put together meeting plans, often showing up half an hour early and leaving up to an hour late, on top of the planning they do beforehand.  It really hurts when boys don't take this effort by their friends and volunteer adult leaders seriously enough to show up, on time, and stay to the finish.     Scouting is a team, and meetings are the team practice before the game.  

Outings

Scouting is all about outing. One of the things that has distinguished the Troop 8 program over the years has been the number and variety of outings.  From fun nights playing mini-golf or going canoeing at Gallup Park to two weeks of summer camp or 9 days skiing in Vermont, the outdoors is where the real magic of scouting happens for kids.  Boys get to work with and play with other boys in their patrol, learning from older scouts, helping younger scouts.   They get challenged to learn new things, and get the direct feedback that comes from experience ("If I don't clean the pot at night, then it's really gross in the morning and my buddies think I'm a jerk.")  They build confidence in their abilities by facing the challenges of climbing, or skiing, or watching a wild thunderstorm roll by. 

To prepare for and be properly safe on outings, the troop tends to run sequences of events leading up to more challenging trips.   A biking sequence might start with checking out bikes at a meeting and learning some things about bike maintenance, then progress to troop meetings at the favorite mountain biking parks around town, then to a weekend outing with some longer trail riding.   A water sequence might start with swim nights at a local pool, then canoe days on flat water, then moving water practice on the Huron, then a fun trip up north on a more challenging river like the Pine, then a whitewater rafting weekend.    The more challenging the trip, the more fun and adventure!  And the more preparation!   For a boy or adult to participate on the later trips in a sequence requires participation in some of the "pre-trips" and "gear-checks" which help us be prepared and safe.

In terms of logistics, we use one permission slip for the year, rather than individual slips for each outing.  We ask that you keep your son's health and medical information up to date through your personal page on the troop web site.   Once a year, a physician physical exam is required using the medical exam form for all adult and youth participants in events.   Trips normally leave from the St. Thomas school cafeteria, and when we return from trips boys are normally dropped off directly at home (please make sure they can get in if you are not there, or they will be going home with us!).  Boys should bring some personal money to pay for fast food meals on the road, but all trip expenses are covered by dues or will be billed home. 

How do I figure out what gear to buy for my son?

Yep, it's true.   Like any hobby, outdoor adventure has its own gear.   That can be confusing when you and your son are first getting into it.   We are adding resources to the troop web site including a gear guide, gear exchange, and our list of preferred vendors for various outdoor gear.   The primary source of information, though, will be your son's Patrol Leader, who can help him make choices about various gear options.   In addition, the older boys and adult scouters are happy to consult on major purchases, including meeting you at a local shop to look at options.   We want your son to be comfortable and well equipped as much as you do!

 

We do ask that before you make any major purchase (like a backpack or skis) that you speak with us.   The troop is very particular about the type and fit of gear for outings, because it matters so much for safety and comfort.   We do not want to put you in the position of buying a great bike for your son's birthday, only to have him told by his patrol leader that because of the quality or fit he can't use it on our biking weekend.   By consulting with us first, you can be assured not only that you're getting the right stuff, but also that you're getting the best deal.

I want to learn how to ski / rock climb / etc. Can I learn along with my son?

Troop 8 resources and instructors are here primarily for the boys.    If you participate on troop outings as an adult, you will undoubtedly learn a lot by watching, listening, and absorbing what the youth and adult leaders are teaching.   As they have an opportunity, those same boys and adult scouters may give you some pointers or instruction.    We are not, however, an adult program, and for most of our trips the leaders do not have the time or resources to run adult instruction and still manage the learning, safety, and comfort of the boys.    If you like, we can direct you to local resources that offer opportunities for adults to learn outdoor skills.   Alternately, you can sign up for Outdoor Leader Skill courses as part of becoming an Adult Patrol Leader in the troop.

I want my son to call and check in every night. Is this possible?

Sorry, that option will not be available to your son on troop outings.   Even when we conduct trips to frontcountry areas, 40 boys trying to use a phone is not possible.  Cell phone coverage in the areas we travel is very limited and unreliable, and game-playing, texting, talking with friends at home is not why we venture into God's wild places.

 

In the event of any sort of problem or issue with your son the adult field leader for the event will call you promptly.   If inclement weather necessitates a delay or change in plans for our return, you will be notified by phone and email.  

 

If you do not hear from us, rest assured that "no news is good news" and your son is having a blast. 

How can I reach my son in an emergency?

For each outing, an emergency contact phone number is provided on the troop website.   Depending on the outing, this might be as straightforward as the manager of a campground or lodge, or as complex as the ranger district headquarters that oversees hundreds of square miles of land where we are hiking. 

 

Please reserve this emergency number for true family emergencies.   We have had calls in the field because a parent has suffered a heart attack or a sibling has been killed in an auto wreck.   To support your family in such an emergency, whenever we get any call from you in the field we will stop all activities for all boys and immediately begin plans to get your son home with the emotional and personal support he needs along the way.

There was a snow day from school today. Is the scout meeting canceled?

In general, Troop 8 follows the calendar and operations of St. Thomas school. If St. Thomas is closed for weather or for vacation, there will ordinarily be no troop meeting that evening.   For snow days, St. Thomas ordinarily follows the Ann Arbor Public Schools; if Ann Arbor schools are canceled for weather, St. Thomas and the troop meeting will usually be canceled.

 

For the actual updates, check the troop website and your email account as we will usually send notices out to one or both.

My son has a conflict with meetings or outings with another youth sport/activity. Is this OK?

Scouting is a skill-development, team sport. Scouts don't have to attend every meeting or event, of course. Our recommendation, though, is that they attend as much as they possibly can. Our experience has been that kids who don't attend around two-thirds of the meetings and outings will drop out of scouts after a year or so. Boys who don't attend often fall behind their peers in skills and ability, and become less comfortable going on events where their friends may be far ahead of them. Boys who are heavily involved in youth sports programs ("travel" soccer and hockey, etc.) that keep them away from scouting events usually need to make a choice between the two programs in the first year or two.

 

Occasional participants are also frustrating to their patrol-mates.   Players on the team who are behind in skills and abilities can hold back a group or require more supervision and leader time.   That may mean that the whole patrol has to choose a less interesting route or less challenging activity.   In response to their frustration with teammates who don't show, the boys have established what is known as the "50-50" rule: any boy who attends less than half the meetings or half the outings in a six-month period can be dropped from the active roster by their youth leaders.

Should my son bring money or a check to pay for the event?

Boys should never bring money to pay the participation fees for the event.   You can imagine the chaos of having 40 boys with checks and loose change try to pay and get their payment recorded.   We'd go crazy.   We also don't want any boy to be embarrassed if his mom forgets, or if his family is having financial difficulty.   So if you send money for the participation fees, the youth and adult leaders will refuse to accept it.   All troop financial operations go through the troop treasurer.

 

For some events, your son may choose to bring a small amount of cash for personal expenditures.   On most outings, an "on the road" fast food meal is purchased on the way out Friday night and on the return trip on Sunday, so your son should have enough spending money to pay for his meal.   Some other events like a troop bowling night may afford the opportunity to gets some fries and a coke, or there may be a chance to play air hockey while waiting for his patrol's turn at Whirly Ball on a fun night.    A reminder to "bring some cash for games while you wait" will usually be posted as part of the event information on the troop web site.

What should my son bring on the outing?

For overnight outings, an equipment list is available on the web site and through the troop. Boys should follow the list closely, and bring all of the items without bringing any extra.   Even on trips that don't involve backpacking, it can be a hike from the car to the campsite, and tents are not very large.  Excess gear will make your son very uncomfortable and unhappy.   Before trips in the "bad weather" season from October through March, older scouts in your son's patrol will conduct "gear checks" for your son to help make sure he has the gear he needs.

 

In addition to gear, your son should also bring some money for fast food stops en route to and from the destination.

Are there any things my son should NOT bring on an outing?

Generally, the gear list provided for an outing is a complete list, and a boy should bring all of the items and nothing else. Exceptions may be made for small items (deck of cards, etc.). Many home-comfort items, like pillows, bathtowels, etc. are frowned upon and will only be ruined. At all costs, avoid items with cartoon characters (mighty mouse blanket), teddy bears, or other "kiddie" items.

 

Electronic devices (iPods, cell phones, games) are prohibited on outings.  Exception may be made for long car trips provided the devices stay locked in the car after we arrive.  We prefer, however, that boys spend the driving time interacting with each other, helping the driver navigate, etc.  rather than "zoning out".

 

Personal caches of food, as well as pop and energy drinks are also prohibited.

Are equipment checks required?

Generally, yes.   Equipment checks are one of the ways we ensure the safety and comfort of all participants.   Our older boys and adults will be firm about making sure everyone has proper equipment by inspecting it for quality and fit.   Some in-troop "loaner" and rental gear is available to assist younger boys especially in having a full set of gear.

 

Adults participating in a trip as well as youth are required to complete an equipment check.   

Are pre-trips required?

For some outings, the troop requires participation in "pre-trips" or "prep-trips" prior to the main outing. A prep trip is typically a day trip or a meeting, but may be several months worth of intensive work for a Venture outing. Prep-trips develop skill and familiarize scouts and adults with troop operating procedures.  They also allow our youth leaders and adults to assess the skills and maturity of boys and adults so that we can plan the outings to be within the ability level of the group.

 

The requirements are serious and are not "bent" for either scouts or adults.

Do I need to fill out a permission slip for my son for each outing?

No. We ask you to fill out one permission slip for troop events for the year, which we hold on to for all outings.   Occasionally, an outside agency may require a special permission slip, but that's rare.

 

We also ask that you keep your son's medications, medical history, custody information and insurance coverage up to date throughout the year, by filling out the online form available through your account on the website.   If no changes are made for a calendar year, you will be notified to check and confirm the information we have on file.

 

We forgot about the signup / trip deposit. Can my son still go on the trip?

Your son can sign up on the troop website, in person at a meeting, or by phone or email to his patrol leader.   If for some reason he misses the timeframe for all of those options, he should call his patrol leader or the scout listed on the web site as Trip Leader for the event.    Where possible, we will accomodate occasional forgetfulness, but because of lead time requirements for reservations, etc., it may not be possible unless someone else cancels. Please do not just "show up" at the outing without signing up, doing pretrips, or passing equipment checks.  We will send you or your son home, which can be very disappointing.

 

Generally, we'd ask that you help your son be responsible for the signup & deposit deadlines. It drives the leaders nuts when we get "maybe's" at sign-up time, and do not have enough deposits in to secure reservations at the best rate.

My son has band/sports/karate/etc. Can I bring him out late or pick him up early from the outing?

Much of the work and responsibility of camping is in camp set-up and clean-up. It's unfair to the other boys to have your son come for the fun stuff and avoid the work. Special arrangements also require the adult leaders to go out of their way, which means that other boys' experience is negatively affected by the diminished adult coverage.  For these reasons, the troop does not allow late arrivals or early departures from outings. Occasional, rare exceptions may be made by the adult field leader for the trip, with very strict guidelines. Please understand that such requests are a very big favor, and will not ordinarily be granted. Help your son to make good choices between activities rather than rushing from one to another.

My son lost something on an outing. Is there a lost and found?

At the meeting following an outing, misplaced gear will be brought to be returned. Scouts are expected to keep track of their personal gear, so adults who pick up after the boys leave stuff in camp or in their cars may demand "payment" of $1 per item.   Your son should be prepared for that.

 

Lost items are kept on hand in the troop room until the annual troop gear auction.   If not claimed, they are then auctioned off or disposed of.

My son came home with some troop gear from the outing. What should I do with it?

Generally speaking, your son should not have come home with troop gear!   If through some confusion he did not hand off his share of patrol gear to his patrol leader to return to our equipment room, we would very much appreciate it if you would:

  • Open up any tents or other nylon tent-like things and hang them outside or in your basement to dry thoroughly.  Wet nylon mildews easily, and wet nylon left compacted will destroy the waterproof coating.   Please do not launder or wash tents or other nylon items.
  • Wash any pots, pans or utensils.
  • Dispose of any food or garbage.
  • If your son borrowed personal gear from the troop (sleeping bag, extra clothing layers, etc.), please launder all polypro or fleece, but do not launder sleeping bags or rain jackets or pants. 

Most of all, please make a point of leaving the gear somewhere where you trip over it until it is returned to the troop.   Gear which gets lost in your basement is gear that will be missing for your son and his friends when they need it.   Please return gear at the start of the next meeting, even if your son can't make the meeting personally.  The Quartermaster needs time to inspect and repair gear so that it is ready for the next event.

My son doesn't seem to like outings, and avoids going on them.

There are often some comfort/maturity issues for first year scouts, and it's difficult to go from a webelos program that car-camped once or twice a year to a scouting program that goes on overnights and activities more than once a month. Talk to the scoutmaster about how together we might gently encourage participation.  Often if you push and we pull a bit, a boy will come out enough to get over his initial fear or reluctance.   Once he's developed some comfort and skill, he'll be raring to go.

 

In some cases, boys might not quite be ready to be separated from caring parents to face outdoor challenges with their friends.  In that case, you might consider taking a year off, and coming back to scouts when he is a bit older.   The scoutmaster can help you with that decision.

 

Ultimately, we understand that there are some kids who decide they don't like camping (it's dirty, smelly, cold, uncomfortable...).  Our feelings won't be hurt if you help him find some other fun youth activity.

Can parent(s) come on outings?

Parents are welcome on outings, and are often needed as drivers!   Parents must meet the same equipment and pre-trip requirements as the boys in order to participate. Parents who come on an outing serve as extra adult leaders, and are expected to stay with the adults and not interfere with the boys' activity by helping them cook, cleaning up after them, sleeping with them, etc.  Parents are expected to follow the rules set by the adult Field Leader, and not be either more or less strict with their child than the scoutmaster.

 

Mothers are welcome on outings as well as dads, and we have had quite a few camping moms over the years.   Within the troop, this is less common than having dads come out. We would encourage you to inquire as to your son's feelings about mom's participation before signing up.

I'm an expert canoeist/backpacker/etc. Can't I skip the pre-trips?

No. Adults must meet the same requirements as the boys.   Even experts need to get refresher training, and to learn troop procedures.  Canoeing with a mess of kids is different than canoeing by yourself or with a friend.  Plus, prep trips are fun!   Participating also provides a good example to your son of the importance of learning and being prepared.

I've been asked to drive on an outing by the Transportation Coordinator. What should I know?

You should read the online document on Driving+Procedures to familiarize yourself with the way we manage having 40 kids on the road together.   You should also go to your personal page on the website to make sure your driver information is up to date.   The Transportation Coordinator has to file this with the BSA.

 

You'll get specific instructions from the adult field leader or the adult patrol leader when we meet up prior to departure.  The scout trip leader will provide driving directions and maps for each vehicle, as well as designated regroup points.

Do I get reimbursed for gasoline costs when I drive on an outing?

Generally, no.  Driving is a volunteer effort on behalf of the program.   We try to share driving among the parent community as much as possible  Your driving mileage is tax deductible as charitable mileage if you itemize your federal income tax.

 

On some particularly long trips, like summer camp or the biannual Vermont ski trip, gas costs are built in to the trip fees and we will reimburse you for gas costs.   Please submit your receipts to the troop treasurer.

Can younger (or older) siblings come on outings?

No.  Just as a younger sibling can't participate in your son's 5th grade school trip or soccer match, participation in scouting is also off limits.   The troop does not know the medical history, abilities, maturity, personalities and level of preparation of siblings, and your other children don't have a relationship with our youth and adult leaders the way your son does.   The troop can't be responsible for brothers & sisters, and their addition complicates the logistics and the trip dynamic. A parent who comes on an outing is serving as a troop adult leader, and cannot be spending time tending to other kids.

 

On a few day-trip length events during the year, younger and older siblings may be allowed when the activity allows parents to directly supervise other children without impacting the program for troop boys.    These events will be indicated in the troop web site event descriptions. 

It's raining / snowing /etc. Is the outing canceled?

Troop outings go in all kinds of weather. Unless the outing is advertised as "fair weather only" it will almost surely be "on." In fair-weather-only cases, or in the rare event of a cancellation of a regular outing, all the boys who have signed up will be called. Our boys get very good at camping in bad weather.

It seems like the troop goes on a lot of difficult outings that make me nervous

Yep. Troop activities are exciting and challenging.  Just wait until your son joins the Venturing program!  

 

Challenging activities help boys to grow, and keep them interested and enthused. While exciting and challenging, the activities are also designed to be age and ability appropriate for boys in this group, and are as safe as we can make them. That's why we insist on things like gear checks, prep trips, and following troop procedure.

Why does the troop do so many trips that involve long drives and getting back late on Sunday?

Unlike the webelos camping program, which focuses on local car-camping trips appropriate to that age group, Boy Scout trips are designed to meet the needs and challenges of older boys. These are designed to fit the BSA program, providing opportunities to meet the requirements for 2nd class and higher ranks, and for merit badges required on the road to Eagle Scout. While the troop does run quite a few local day trips and some local weekend trips, the outdoor resources of southeast Michigan are somewhat limited. The patrol leaders therefore make use of upstate Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky,  Ontario and western Pennsylvania on a regular basis, because these areas offer variety and opportunities that would not be available locally. This does make for longer drives, but our experience has been that the benefits to the boys and the program are well worth it.

Does the troop carry accident insurance for outings?

Primary coverage for any accident or injury your son has while on a troop outing is going to be your family health care plan. The troop does not as a matter of course provide health coverage. Some limited coverage may be available in a particular year through special arrangement with the BSA and the local council.  Such coverage is "excess" coverage for your personal health care plan, and is very low-limits.   Please talk to the parish Scouting Coordinator if you have questions.

What is the Venture8 program?

The Venture8 (Venturing Crew 8) program is a St. Thomas program for high school aged boys who have become experienced campers through the Troop 8 program.  Venture8 focuses on "high adventure" outings and activities of a challenging nature. These include backcountry skiing, caving, rock & ice climbing, advanced backpacking and mountaineering, whitewater kayaking, scuba, coastal and blue water sailing and a variety of others. Troop 8 Venture scouts become strong outdoor leaders capable of running their own expeditions.

 

The program follows the outdoor leader curriculum of the Wilderness Education Association and the National Outdoor Leadership School. In accord with BSA guidelines for Venture Patrols/Venturing Crews, Troop 8 runs 2 extended trips each year, usually over spring break and in early August. Months of effort, preparation, training and practice are required prior to each major Venture expedition.

 

For more information, check out the Venturing program's separate website at venture.troop8.org.

How does my son join Venture8?

To be part of the Venture8, a scout must be entering high school and at least First+Class rank.   More importantly, a scout must be selected into the crew by the current members and adults, based on their maturity, reliability, and level of camping skill. This generally happens around age 15, and begins with inclusion on training trips and short events before full participation.   An aggressive and challenging "pre-V" trip is often used to assess whether a boy's skills and maturity have reached the point where participation in extended high adventure expeditions will be successful for him. 

 

There is no application for the Crew 8 program; when the guys feel he's ready, your son will be invited.

My son is working toward First Class and has to buy food for a weekend outing. What should I do?

If it's his first time around, his menu will have been approved by his patrol leader or one of the adult leaders.   You should go with him to the store and buy food. He should have a list and a number of people to buy for. While the youth and adult leaders do their best to screen menus, sometimes the oddest additions of "pop tarts" seem to happen along the way!   Please exercise some judgement in terms of nutrition and minimizing cost, and help him to understand these pieces.  However, please do not add significantly to the quantity of food planned.  Unlike at home, extra food in the field cannot be saved and creates a real disposal problem, as well as an attractive hazard for animals!

 

Save the receipt from food shopping, and submit it to the treasurer as soon as possible for a credit to your troop account.

Can my son snowboard instead of ski on a ski trip?

As with all of our events, our winter sports outings are a combination of fun and learning.  We do our best not only to “get kids outdoors” but to build their skills rapidly through hands-on learning opportunities.  Our Troop 8 staff and senior scouts are very capable alpine, telemark, and Nordic ski instructors.  We are therefore able to offer the equivalent of double-length private small-group lessons to our skiers on all of our outings and our first few days in Vermont, using current Professional Ski Instructors of America materials and techniques.  The result is that our skiers progress very quickly to levels where they can safely ski Vermont intermediate (Michigan Black Diamond) hills on their own. 


We love our snowboard riders, too!  Snowboards have the advantage/disadvantage of having a steep learning curve.  Progress is painful, but for those who stick with it is also relatively rapid.   Troop 8 does not, however, have the depth of instructional skill in snowboarding that we do in skiing.   For that reason, in order for your son to keep up with his peers (and keep the safety/supervision burden manageable for us), he will need to avail himself of appropriate professional lessons on troop trips for at least part of the time. For this reason we have added (or will add) appropriate professional lesson fees to your son’s scout charges.   These fees are in general not eligible for financial aid. Because professional lessons are shorter and less comprehensive, we will still try to have one of our youth or adult leaders available to help coach our snowboard riders in addition to their lesson time.


As a parent, if your son is a “raw beginner” or has only been out a couple of times, our youth leaders would like to encourage skiing as a better choice.  That’s particularly the case if you know your son is likely to become upset or discouraged by initial failures, since the first couple of times out on a snowboard can be very frustrating.  Regardless of your choice of snow sliding equipment, we are happy to do what we can alongside our professional colleagues to help develop your son’s snow riding skills.
 

Awards & Recognitions

During their time in the scouts, boys progress through seven ranks, finishing with the rank of Eagle+Scout.  In order, these ranks are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second+Class, First+Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. Troop 8 has a proud List+of+Eagle+Scouts.


Scout ranks reflect increasing level of skills, maturity, and leadership.   The Scout rank is earned as part of the joining requirements, and is almost identical to the requirements for the Arrow of Light in Cub Scouting.   Tenderfoot, Second+Class, and First+Class ranks are earned by completing a “laundry list” of requirements that include basic camping skills, first aid, and citizenship.   The “field ranks” of Star, Life, and Eagle+Scout require completion of merit badges, leadership within the troop, and service to the community. In order to earn a rank, a boy must complete all of the requirements by having them “signed off” by a scoutmaster or a scout of field rank.  Next, the boy must have a personal conference with the scoutmaster, where he must demonstrate his knowledge.  Finally, the boy must appear before a “board of review” composed of troop adults and satisfy them that he deserves the change in rank.   It’s a great experience for developing confidence and interviewing skills.

 

Merit badges are recognition of advanced skills in a particular area.   Merit badges are awarded for outdoor skills, citizenship, hobbies, and career-related achievement.  Twelve merit badges are termed “required,” because they must be earned in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout (citizenship, camping, first aid, etc.). To earn a merit badge, a boy must fulfill all the requirements for that badge and be “signed off” by a merit badge counselor who is knowledgeable in that particular field.   Counselors are always troop adults, either scoutmasters or parents. In addition to ranks and badges, scouting and Troop 8 each have a number of additional awards and recognitions for boys who have developed particular skills or participated in noble activities.

 

One of the highlights of scouting are troop award ceremonies, called “Courts of Honor,” where boys receive recognition for their achievements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sign off requirements when my son earns them?

No.   This is a big difference from cub scouts.   In boy scouts, you as a parent will not sign off your own son’s requirements, and in Troop 8 you will not be assigned to serve as his merit badge counselor.  Older boys and adult scout leaders are the ones who can do the signoffs for rank requirements, and your son must use someone other than a relative for a merit badge counselor.  This way, your son gets the full benefit of the experience of working with different adults, and there is no possibility that you can be too easy or hard on him!

How long does it take for a boy to move up in rank?

There’s a wide variation in times, depending mostly on how often the boy comes to meetings and on troop outings, how focused he is, how interested he is in advancement, and other factors.  As a loose rule of thumb, one rank per year is pretty good.   Practically speaking, though, boys usually go in fits and starts.   They seem to not do much for a while, then all of a sudden push and get a bunch done.

 

Rank advancement in Troop 8 is pretty low-key;  each boy moves at his own pace and we don't pressure kids.   The youth and adult leaders do keep track of how kids are doing, and will work to move them along over time. While we hope that you will encourage your son in all his scouting endeavors,  and occasionally help him keep track of requirements, we would ask that you not impose any deadlines or rules that aren't imposed by the troop.   Rather than you pushing, it works much better if you let us pull!
 

Can my son work on more than one rank at a time?

Yes.  In particular, the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks can be earned out of order.   The ranks, however, must be completed in order.  Typically, when a boy earns one rank he will already have about half of the requirements done for the next rank.
 

What is different about Field Ranks?

The requirements for the field ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle are very different from the "laundry list" of items for the lower ranks.   These boys must demonstrate leadership within the troop and community service.   They are allowed to act as an adult in signing off younger boys’ requirements, teaching skills, planning outings and events, etc.  First Class Scout represents a boy who is a strong camper and able to manage himself in the field year-round.  Star, Life, and Eagle Scouts are boys who are taking their personal strengths and using them to give back to the troop and community as organizers and leaders.  These boys are usually eligible to participate in Venture+8 high adventure programs.

 

For the rank of Eagle, a boy must (on his own) put together a large community service project: soliciting funds, directing adults and younger scouts, etc. to help a community agency.   This allows him to demonstrate all of the personal and leadership skills he has learned in his scouting career.

They taught First Aid (or Communications, or...) at the meeting. Why didn't they sign my son's book?

Most of the scout requirements say “demonstrate,” as in “demonstrate first aid for...”   To meet the requirement, a boy must be able to do a good job at the task on his own, without help or prompting, usually “in the field.”   He must really have mastered the skill.    Teaching is just the first step.   Learning a skill takes coaching and lots of practice, but the reward is real ability and self-confidence.  For this reason, the troop will never sign off a requirement at the same time it is taught.

How does my son earn the Show Scout Spirit requirement?

Scout spirit is a behavioral requirement, which reflects enthusiasm, participation, and good “expedition behavior” on campouts and outings.   The requirement is different for different ranks.  At Second Class, participation and cheerfulness are key.  For Eagle, leadership, character, and integrity are the deciding factors.   The scoutmaster will sign off this requirement when he sees your son demonstrate the appropriate level of maturity and behavior on outings.   This is often the last and toughest requirement for rank.

 

For the rank of Eagle Scout, we will also ask for reference letters from different people in your son's life outside of scouting - from you, from his teacher(s), his employer(s), his religious leader(s), his coach(es) and his peers. 

Can a boy fail a Scoutmaster Conference or Board of Review for rank?

In Scouting, there is no such thing as failing.   There is simply being ready for an award and not yet being ready.   We work to recognize young men when they are ready - when they have mastered skills or developed habits of character at different levels.  

 

Along the way, conferences with adult leaders and review boards help us to check in on how a boy is doing, and on how our youth and adult leaders are doing in terms of instruction.  After a conference, the scoutmaster may send a boy back to his patrol leader to "brush up" on a few things, or may send him along to a board of review.  A board may similarly either award a rank or encourage a boy to keep working with the scoutmaster in some area.   All decisions are arrived at by consensus, and must be unanimous.

 

 

When can a boy start working on Merit Badges?

Merit badges can be earned at any time.   Usually, we recommend that new scouts concentrate on the Tenderfoot and Second Class requirements, though, because the skills required for most merit badges are set at 8th grade / early high school level and might be beyond their level of physical and mental maturity.  Good first merit badges for a boy to try include anything that he already has some skill in.   A boy who is a strong swimmer should work on Swimming MB his first summer, for example.  Another good initial merit badge is Family Life MB.  Crafts merit badges are sometimes used during summer camp to introduce boys to the process.

What is a "partial" merit badge?

Quite often, a boy may complete some of the requirements for a merit badge but not finish. This can happen when he misses some part of the instruction, or when he completes the book work for a badge but hasn't achieved the level of physical skill, or when he's demonstrated the skill but hasn't done the book work.  Or sometimes when he's started a badge and decided that it just wasn't for him!

 

The troop will try to keep track of merit badge "partials"  to remind boys to finish up. Sometimes, merit badge partial lists or "blue cards" may be brought home, and you can help with the encouragement.  Ultimately, it's up to the boy to take the initiative to finish up.  

 

The troop generally does not recognize "stale" or old partial merit badges, because a boy is expected to have proficiency in all of the skills at the time the badge is earned.   So if more than a few months goes by, your son will typically have to re-demonstrate his MB skills to his counselor.

Can I sign up to be a Merit Badge counselor?

Absolutely!  If you have a professional or hobbyist background in some area which is covered by a merit badge and you are willing to share that with boys who are interested, we would love to hear about it.

 

Merit badge counselors register with the BSA, and must complete St. Thomas background & reference checks as well as BSA and Catholic Church Virtus youth protection training.   Counselor training is also provided by the troop.   Generally, for your first few times counseling a badge, an experienced counselor will co-teach or assist, until everyone is comfortable that you know the system and are working well with the boys.

I've been asked to serve on a Board of Review. What should I know?

A board of review is the "interview team" that evaluates a scout for a rank award. If this is your first time on a board the Advancement Chair will be aware of that, and you'll be included on a board that has some experienced members to help guide you through it.  There will be a paper review guide which will provide information on specific skills and requirements for each rank.

 

Boards of Review serve three purposes.   Our first purpose is to make sure that a scout has learned what he needed to for the rank.   Scouts are expected to be proficient in their skills.   Usually a board will ask some specific questions to "spot check" several of the requirements and what his understanding is of them or how he achieved them.   Our second purpose is hear feedback from the boy about his experiences that we can pass along to the scoutmaster.   And our third purpose is to asses the boy's growth in character and understanding of the Scout Oath and Law, and encourage him to further achievement.  

 

Depending on the type of board you are asked to serve on, the focus will emphasize different things.   Younger boys will typically be asked more specific and skill-based questions instead of abstract questions, in relatively shorter boards.   Older boys will be asked more abstract questions about character and leadership.   You'll find the experience will give you an interesting insight on the troop and how the boys grow during their scouting experience.

Our son isn't getting any awards. Should we still come to the Court of Honor?

YES!   Many troop awards happen by "magic".   The youth and adult leaders quietly observe your son during his outings with us and when he has reached proficiency in an area he will be awarded the badge.    In addition to rank and merit badges, the troop has many special awards, as well as patches for participation in various events.  Despite what he may think, it is possible your son may in fact be earning some awards.

 

More important, though, is that scouting is a team.   While it's nice to get something, that's not why we participate in awards ceremonies.   We participate in awards ceremonies to cheer for our friends and celebrate their accomplishments, because they're our friends.   Your son should come because he's part of the team, and that's what friends do for each other.   Next time, his buddies will be cheering for him.

 

The added bonus is that often when a boy sees his friends getting recognized, it motivates him and inspires him to achieve as well!

Should we keep the cards and badges our son receives at a Court of Honor?

Yes! In addition to being nice awards, the cards are your son's proof of achieving those things. Our experience has been that the BSA's national computer system is not the best at keeping accurate records. So if you move to a new troop, or when your son is applying for the Eagle rank, those cards may be helpful.

 

In scouting, there is also a tradition of collecting and trading patches from events.   It's not hard to find older boys and adults with large patch collections and patch blankets which detail their trail through scouting as youth and adults.   While Troop 8 does not traditionally have a lot of patch traders, your son might find this hobby worthwhile.  At very least, the patches and cards make nice personal momentos to bring back memories of good friends and fun times.

Why were we called to bring food to a Court of Honor?

Food, setup, and teardown for Court of Honor ceremonies are the responsibility of the parents, since we're honoring the boys' achievements. Typically, food for regular courts of honor is a dessert potluck. For Eagle Scout honor courts, a full dinner is normally provided.   We appreciate your help in providing a special time for all the boys!

Finances & Fundraising

Troop finances and billing for troop outings are run by the troop Treasurer, so as to relieve the Scoutmaster and other adult leaders from this burden.   All troop billing and payments goes through the troop treasurer.  No boys or adult leaders will ever collect or accept payment for any event, or otherwise touch money!  

The troop charges dues twice a year, in September and March.   You can think of dues as your son's membership fees for the following six months.   Dues provide for the base costs of outings for the six-month period, including food, stove fuel, camping and activitiy fees, meeting supplies, and minor gear maintenance.   In addition, the September dues include an additional charge for registration and chartering with the Boy Scouts of America.  

While dues cover all basic outing expenses, they do not cover costs for major trips like week-long summer camp, junior leader training week, or the biannual Vermont ski trip.   For these major events, a separate information packet is distributed to boys that explains the event and the event costs.   Payments for major events are typically split into two or more partial payments or deposits to reserve space.    The troop cash flow relies on timely deposit payments!    Trip deposits are generally non-refundable. 

Dues also do not cover large expenses for weekend outings which are individually incurred.   For example, dues are not sufficient to cover downhill skiing lift tickets for a weekend ski trip.    When a trip has such additional costs, those costs will be listed in the online information about the event.   If your son signs up for a trip, we will commit troop funds for his participation and you will be billed for that cost.   If your son cancels at the last minute and we have incurred non-refundable costs, you will be billed for those fees.

The troop treasurer maintains accounts for each family.   Approximately every two to three months, and any time major deposits are due, the treasurer will send out statements listing current account charges and requesting payment of any balance not covered by receipts you may have turned in.   We ask that you pay off your account promptly.   Troop 8 runs on a very limited budget, and delays in payment can compromise our ability to secure campsites and activities in a timely fashion and at the best price.

We recognize that sometimes individual families will be in financial circumstances that do not allow them to be able to afford some troop events.   We ask such families to do two things:  First, to pay the dues amount if at all possible, or if not possible in full to make some good faith effort toward paying the dues.    Second, to let the treasurer or the parish Scouting Coordinator know of the difficulty in advance of major trips, so that we can plan appropriately.   We value all our boys, and work hard to make sure we never turn a boy away from any trip because of family financial circumstances.   Through a combination of generous alumni, parish support, and troop fundraising, we have been 100% successful.   There are two important limits to our generosity, however.  We cannot use financial aid money for a boy who cancels out of a trip.  Therefore, if your son was receiving assistance but cancels out of a trip, you will be expected to pay our real cost.   Second, we cannot cover financial need that we are informed of after the fact. 

To help support our common troop gear and a portion of our scholarship support for boys, the troop conducts several fundraisers each year.   The troop prefers to schedule "one shot" fundraisers like a pancake breakfast, rather than sales like the BSA popcorn drive.   Parents of all troop scouts are expected to participate in a fair share of shifts (usually one or two) for each fundraiser as a condition of maintaining membership.

Frequently Asked Questions

We like to give a portion of our income to worthwhile causes. Can we give to Troop 8?

Yes! The troop’s programs and scholarships for kids are supported by the generosity of parents, troop alumni, and St. Thomas parishioners. Your participation in some troop fundraising is expected, but your generous contribution to making a strong program available to young men is most definitely appreciated. 100% of your contribution to Troop 8 goes directly into the program for boys.   Make checks payable to "St. Thomas - Troop 8," mark them as a donation, and send them to the troop treasurer.

 

You can also give money to supporting the administration of Boy Scouting in our area through a Friends of Scouting contribution to the Great Sauk Trail Council.   Checks should be be made payable to the Great Sauk Trail Council, and sent to the council office directly with a note that it is for Friends of Scouting from a member of Troop 8.

Why did we get billed for an outing our son did not attend?

When a boy signs up for a trip, the troop commits money for reservations, campsite fees, etc.  That is true even if we have not received a deposit from you, because we want to ensure that your son does not miss out on a trip if your family is having financial difficulty.    

 

Because it is unfair to ask others to cover your son's expenses when he signs up but cancels out too late for a refund, troop policy is to hold boys liable for the costs incurred.   We would ask that you help your son learn this responsibility.


What do I do if I have a question about our statement?

Call or email the troop treasurer (treasurer@troop8.org).   He or she will be happy to help.

Is it OK to make our son pay for part of the outing cost himself?

About 25% of the troop families ask their son to pay a portion of trip costs. That's a family decision which the adult leaders will support.

 

Our experience with this practice over the years, however, is that it should be used with some caution. We have seen about half of the boys who had this sort of arrangement drop out because of it. Boys who participate in scouts, particularly in more expensive Venture outings, have a great deal of difficult responsibility for planning and "making the outing happen." It's a lot of work. To add the money-earning requirement (more responsibility & work) puts kids in the "hey, it's easier and almost as much fun to just hang out with friends & play video games" mode. Just as in the marketplace, higher cost discourages purchase, even when it's a good product.

 

We would also ask that you be realistic about the earning power of young teenagers in a town with a ready supply of college-aged laborers.

Our family is unwilling to spend the money for an expensive outing. Why do the adults and patrol leaders keep inviting our son?

Boy Scouting is about boy leadership. Most of our trips are possible only because of the skills and contributions that each boy, and particularly the older boys, make. Each boy is a teammate, and each patrol needs enough team members to play the scouting game. When one can't come, it hurts everyone, from the boy who doesn't get to learn a skill, to the peer who has few friends on the outing, to the older boy who spent a ton of effort planning the campout or preparing to teach a skill.

 

Troop 8 practices the values of Catholic social teaching, reflected in the practice of the early disciples, where each gave according to his ability and took according to his need. Many friends and families of the troop give generously of their resources to provide for boys where family resources would be stretched. They recognize the value scouting has as an educational program, and were often themselves the recipients of such kind assistance in the past. We know your son will be similarly generous to others, by teaching younger boys, being a contributing part of the team instead of an occasional player, and supporting youth education programs in the future. It's a good investment.

 

The second half of the Christian principle is to "take according to your need." This notion tends to run counter to the Calvinist-Puritan tradition of thrifty independence in the U.S., and may seem uncomfortable to you. Please don't let it be. While accepting the troop's offer of assistance and allowing your son to go on more adventurous trips may require the practice of some humility, it gives others the opportunity to share, and helps bring our scouting community together. Accepting Troop 8 financial assistance is no different than accepting a scholarship to help pay your son's college tuition (except that we're going to expect more of him than just doing OK in classes!)

We can't afford to pay the bill for an outing. What should we do?

Troop 8 works hard to ensure that no boy is denied participation on any event because of ability to pay. Our boys are our trip leaders; it's more valuable to the troop to have them out learning skills and taking responsibility than the small cost of outings.

 

If you can't afford an outing with special costs but your son wants to go, please send him.   Just let the treasurer or Scoutmaster know in advance about your circumstances.  If a bill comes, simply write "we can't afford to do this at this time" on it, and we'll take care of the rest in complete confidence. Your work for troop fund-raising will be allocated to pay for your portion. 

My son has been on several campouts with additional fees. When will we be billed?

The treasurer has to collect all the individual receipts and participant lists from a campout before doing a billing; this takes some time and effort. He or she will also usually accumulate bills until they're more than just a few dollars. Statements are sent out as necessary, usually every 2-3 months. Because we are billing after the fact for most special outing expenses, prompt payment is expected; the troop does not have the cash flow to support ongoing "loans" to delinquent families.

How much are troop dues?

Troop dues are set by the committee each year, but are usually pretty stable from year to year.    At the time of this writing, dues are $110 for a six-month period, plus a $30 BSA registration fee assessed in September.