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

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.

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.

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.

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

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).

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.

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.

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.

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!