About Us

A guide to Troop 8

Welcome to Troop 8 Adventures!

This is Troop 8's general information section/booklet about our outdoor adventures program for guys.  While we're affiliated with scouting, this is not your grandfather's traditional scout troop!  If you're a 6th grader or older guy who is interested in challenges and adventure but not so much in little kid stuff, or if you're a Webelos who is looking for something way cool and totally different than Cub Scouts you should check us out.  You can click through the book in order or navigate the table of contents below.   This is also a good place to look if you're an older guy who thinks some stuff we do may be cool, but you wouldn't be caught dead doing dumb stuff in a uniform. Check it out

If you're a parent looking for an activity for your son, you can flip through the front section, but you should also take a look at some of the material in the parent information parts of this booklet.   That will help guide you to determine if we might be a good fit for your family, as well as give you some tips to help your son prepare for success in the program when he joins

For our friends in Scouting across the U.S. and the world, welcome back!   We're slowly moving things over to our new Resources section, where you can find Troop 8 publications and other resources to help you develop and improve the scouting program in your area.  

Troop 8 Overview

What is Scouting all about? You might have heard things about uniforms, or crafts; you might remember being a Tiger Cub... Well, it's not about funny-looking uniforms or arts & crafts, and it's NOTHING like cub scouts. At St. Thomas Troop 8 and a lot of other troops around the country, it's a great, wild bunch of guys who share challenging times in the outdoors, exciting hobbies, and opportunities to lend a hand to others.


We're an outing club...

Every year, guys in Scouts at Troop 8 spend more time in the woods than many adults have spent in their lifetime. We go camping & traveling to all kinds of cool places, in all kinds of weather, to do all kinds of things. We have been:

and lots more...

Are you the kind of guy who likes trying new things? Who loves adventures? Who can "handle it" when the going gets tough? Then Scouting will be a blast!


We're a wilderness school...

Troop 8 and Boy Scouting don't do "field trips." The adults aren't in charge: they don't make the plans, and they don't do everything for us. Scouting teaches you how to be a strong outdoorsman. We camp in rain, sleet, snow, and hurricane. You'll learn things like how to make a snow camp, run whitewater in a kayak, or rig a whole climbing rope system yourself. It's tough sometimes, but it's "for real" and totally awesome. Our guys learn things like:




Do you like to do things for yourself? Do you like to really learn how to do cool things rather than just watch them? Would you like to become a great outdoorsman? Then Scouting is where you should be.



We're a hobby organization...

Although Troop 8 spends a lot of time in the woods, we do some amazing stuff in-town too. Our guys and scoutmasters share some of the best hobbies. Things like...



And because it's scouting, you can learn how to do these things yourself. Do you like to play with lasers? Ever want to shoot great sports photos? Think about writing your own songs? Then Scouting is the place to make it happen.



We're a Service Organization...

Guys like you who are tough enough to do anything in the woods, smart enough to put together a TV series or publish a newsletter, and have great friends like the other guys in Scouts have a lot to share. At Troop 8 and in Scouting across the country, you get a chance to put your skills to work helping out the community. Things like...



and, when the chips are down, rendering aid in an emergency. Scouts in Troop 8 have been involved in several rescues & emergency responses over the past few years, all of them successful.

Do you care about the community and the environment? Want to do things to help, not just talk? Would you like to even have the chance to save someone's life? Then you should join the Scouts.



And an added bonus...

The best part of the whole deal? If you stay in scouting and make it to "Eagle", not only do you know that you have the skills and leadership to handle almost anything, other people know it too!

Many of our scouts become leaders in Troop 8 and in other troops and youth programs across the country.

The world looks for men who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, brave; guys who are physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Scouts. Guys like you.


Troop 8, Boy Scouts. We're an outing club... a wilderness school...
a hobby group... a community service... a bunch of friends...

We're the best. Join our team. Be a Scout!



Troop 8 Documentary Video

Interested in who we are and what we do in Troop 8?    Here's a video put together by some of our guys which describes a lot of our character and activities.  The footage was compiled from actual trips, and the interviews from one of our regular meetings.  Wouldn't you like to do some of this wild stuff (including making videos?). 


Troop 8 Facts and Figures

Troop 8 is owned and operated by St. Thomas the Apostle parish, and forms an important part of the parish’s youth ministry program.  It licenses the scouting program from the Boy Scouts of America, applying it in accord with the national and diocesan Catholic Committees on Scouting and St. Thomas’ mission and character.   Scouting at St. Thomas is the third largest youth ministry program, after the CCD program and elementary school.


Did you know that:
• During the average academic/scouting year, Troop 8 runs:
    over 100 different events (meetings, outings, service projects)
    40-50  different outings
    over 100 total days of outings
    3-4 weeks of high adventure treks for older boys
    1-2 Extended trip for all scouts
All tolled, that makes for more days of scouting than days of school, and puts us at the top of boy scouting activity in the county.

• Troop 8 has received the Boy Scout “quality unit award” every year since its inception.
• Troop 8 has qualified for the National Camping Award for each of the past 18 years.
• Almost 50 Troop 8 alumni earned the rank of Eagle Scout - scouting’s highest award.
• Troop 8 was the first troop in the local council to practice & teach environmentally conscious “Leave No Trace” camping, and the first troop in the council to implement BSA’s high adventure program for older boys.

• Troop 8 boys run this site, which is recognized as one of the best and most sophisticated scouting internet sites

• 10 or more Troop 8 scouts have their own Amateur Radio operator licenses

• Each boy from Troop 8 typically gives between 30 and 200 hours in community service each year. 
Troop 8 does not “double count” service, so this amount is over and above what the boys do for their schools and churches.  It is also over and above the work they do for the scouting program.

• A number of Troop 8 boys have professional guide-level skills in specialty areas like whitewater paddling, rock climbing, and skiing as they work on “Ranger” award.
• All of our youth leadership boys have Wilderness First Aid or higher level training, and several have professional responder certification.
• In the past 18 years, boys from Troop 8 have been involved as medical first responders in over 20 injury-accidents, and have assisted boaters in distress on dozens of occasions.  Four of our scouts won a national Medal of Merit for rescuing a family from a whitewater river.
• In the same period of time, boys from Troop 8 have been involved in well over 100 roadside assistance efforts, part of “doing a good turn”.

• To the extent we have tracked it, more than a third of Troop 8 alumni have pursued careers that they were introduced to or developed through their scouting experience, including (among other things) aviation, medicine, teaching, military service, engineering, and religious life.

• Without exception, on outings across the country over the past 10 years, Troop 8 has been described in glowing terms… “exceptional young men” – youth Director, Spirit of Christ church, Arvada, CO… “simply the best youth group we have every year”  - Grady Vigneau, owner, Round Hearth lodge …  “great boaters – not just in technical skill, but in their attention to detail and especially their care for others” – Northern Waters Adventures.

Troop 8 Banff Introduction

Created by senior scouts Mark Schulte and Ray Batra, this video is created with the energetic style similar to the introduction to the Banff Mountain Film Festival. This video is not complete yet, but this is the current version of it. All videos are of troop outings (except for the kayaking, which the troop has done, but we didn't collect footage for. Instead, a alumni scout and his friend filmed that section.)

Troop 8 in the News

When you hang out with the crazies in Troop 8 long enough, eventually something grabs the attention of the news media.   A number of articles by the former Ann Arbor News and other organizations have featured stories about Troop 8 and its members.

Scouts help save capsized family

Four Boy Scouts from Ann Arbor helped saved a family from possible drowning in a whitewater river after a sudden thunderstorm capsized the family's boat.  The Scouts from St. Thomas the Apostle School received a "Good Save'' from their troop. The award honors boys who have acted in timely defense of life or property. They have also been nominated for a national award for heroism from the Boy Scouts of America

Scouting program takes life again in Iraq

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – On Saturday afternoons, a fenced-in patch of land outside Camp Victory becomes a ground for children to play and participate in their community. Young girl scouts sit around a table to decorate arts and crafts. Some of their eyes barely make it over the tabletop as service members show them how to paint with a brush. The boy scouts hurl dodge balls at one another, while others learn how to build a fire using just twigs

Scouts sail through expedition

Few high school students have such intriguing answers to the inevitable question: What did you do over summer vacation?  Among navigating a ship out of inclement weather, climbing a 3,000-foot active volcano and meeting the Governor General of Grenada, the Troop 8 Boy Scouts from St. Thomas Catholic Church in Ann Arbor struggle to answer that question without forgetting at least a few details.  The group of five high schoolers took a 23-day sailing expedition to the Caribbean as part of the troop's semi-annual venture trip

Scouts pedal and paddle in Denmark

Forget about pen-pal ties; today it all starts with email exchanges.  An unusual Danish-American cultural exchange began more than a year ago when Boy Scout Troop 8, of Ann Arbor's St. Thomas the Apostle parish, received a hit on its web site from the Erik Menved Troop in Denmark.  After exchanging several e-mails about differences in American and Danish culture and Scouting, Troop 8 was invited by the Menved troop to participate in a Danish scout Jamboree.  With that, the germ of an idea took hold.  Why not take the Danes up on their invitation, and turn the trip into a three-week cycling adventure in Denmark

Scouts tidy up trail on Mount Kilimanjaro

It's one thing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  It's quite another to come down laden with other people's trash.  Boy Scout Troop 8, run by St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Ann Arbor, returned July 9 after three weeks in Tanzania.  The high point of the trip was conducting a cleanup of Kilimanjaro, at 19,340 feet the highest point on the African continent.  Kilimanjaro, like Mt. Everest, has suffered from the effects of accumulated trash left by climbers on its popular routes.  Eight scouts and three adults each filled about five 30-gallon trash bags and carried them down the mountain.



Parent Information

This section of our introduction is dedicated to parents who are considering Boy Scouting in Troop 8 or some other program as an activity for their son.  It will tell you a bit about the scouting program overall, as well as about our Troop 8 program here at St. Thomas.

Scouting is a worldwide movement, and our brother and sister scouts can be found in over 160 countries.  The program has much the same character wherever you go.  Scouting is a youth-led outdoor adventure game that teaches outdoor skills, self-reliance, service, citizenship, and values along the way.   We appeal to boys' sense of adventure and challenge, and through that challenge them to become better individuals.   Scouts enter the program as "tenderfeet", and learn from the older older scouts.  As they develop confidence and skills, they take more responsibility for running activities and teaching younger scouts, until they "graduate" as skilled outdoorsmen and adults.

Here in the U.S., the Boy Scouts of America provides scouting program resources to different community agencies and groups so that they can offer a scouting program as one part of their youth work.    You might think of this as a sort of franchising arrangement - the BSA licenses the program, but the organization owns and operates the troop to its own standards and goals.  Troop 8 is owned and operated by St. Thomas the Apostle (Roman Catholic) Church, and along with our elementary school, CCD, and teen programs is part of our youth ministry to the community.   Like the elementary school, Troop 8 is open to non-Catholic boys on an equal basis, provided their families are comfortable with our mission & values.

We think the most important thing in looking for a troop is to find one that is a "good fit" for your son and your family.   In the next sections we'll talk about the range of different troops, where Troop 8 falls in that range, and what sort of kids have found us to be a happy home over the years.   If it turns out that Troop 8 doesn't seem like it will work for you, we are happy to help you find other troops in the area or other youth programs that might work well.

Methods of Scouting

In the Boy Scouts of America scouting program, there are 8 "Methods" used to achieve our goals of citizenship, character, and fitness.  St. Thomas Troop 8 has an additional goal of "learning," which also sets us apart.    How each troop implements the 8 methods and what emphasis they place on each determines the character of the troop.  Some troops, for example, will place a larger emphasis on the outdoor adventure program, while others will focus more on uniforming and advancement/award programs.


The Eight Methods Are:

Ideals and Values

The ideals and values contained in the Scout Oath and Law.   The St. Thomas Troop 8 program is firmly grounded in ideals and values, but in a quiet way.  While we use the Scout Oath and Law as tools to get boys to think about such things, our view of ethics and values in the Catholic tradition goes well beyond such simplistic sayings.  We quietly encourage boys to deepen their knowledge and thought about such issues, and explore their own faith.  

Adult Association

Scouting provides a wonderful venue for boys to learn from "role models" of older men and women who are not their parents, and who can be at once friends and mentors.  Troop 8 values this adult mentoring very highly, and actively seeks out younger 20- and 30-something leaders because the boys can identify with them.  Boys and adult leaders are usually on a first-name basis, and form lasting friendships.  More than a third of our former scouts found their careers because of the examples and mentoring of adult leaders in the troop.


Probably the most recognized feature of the scouting program, the Advancement Method sets goals and challenges for boys to work toward in order to get recognition through higher rank or "merit badges" that demonstrate special skill.   Troop 8 uses the BSA Advancement program and has a number of boys who make Eagle Scout, but it would not be considered a central feature of our program.   Our style is to work more toward internal than external motivation, and to be very rigorous about demanding high performance before awards are given.   Troops that emphasize Advancement will have their program planned around getting badges, and a well-defined system to guide boys to earn things in order and on-time (and often as rapidly as possible).

Youth Leadership

In Boy Scouting, the youth grow by taking responsibility.  Troop 8 emphasizes youth leadership very strongly.  Our youth choose the activities, set the budget for the year, determine safety plans, do instruction, and run the show.   Boys who graduate from the program are usually so accustomed to leading that they are able to step directly into outdoor guiding jobs.  Troops that do not emphasize youth leadership as much will have adults doing some or all of these tasks.

Patrol Method

One of the ways that Scouting teaches youth leaders is by breaking the troop up into smaller gangs of boys, led by one or more Patrol Leaders.   Patrols can be compared to "houses" like Gryffindor in the Harry Potter novels - groupings of boys of similar character who live and work together, with older boys serving as "prefects" and examples.   Troop 8 runs a very well-developed patrol method structure, which keeps patrols intact from the moment a boy joins.   Troops that do not emphasize patrol method will establish shorter-term, same-age, or temporary patrols for logistics reasons, but the boys won't really get to know each other or rely on patrol leadership.


The outdoors is our playground and adventures are our motivation in Scouting.   Troop 8 is extremely active in the outdoors, with a year-round schedule.  A number of our leaders have National Outdoor Leadership School experience or serve as leaders in the University of Michigan's Outdoor Adventure program.  We were the first troop in the area to implement Leave-No-Trace camping practice, and introduce boys to "technical" outdoor skills ranging from rock and ice climbing to telemark skiing to whitewater kayaking.   Troops that do not emphasize the outdoors as much will tend to run monthly car-camping outings to local parks and scout "camporees," and perhaps not run a full program in the summer or winter months.



One of the things that distinguishes scouts worldwide is a uniform.   The uniform helps identify us as brothers and sisters in a common movement no matter what troop or nation we live in, or how well-off we are.   Troop 8 uses the scout uniform for some events, especially when we're with other scouts or involved in a formal activity, but we would not be considered a strongly uniformed troop.    It is not uncommon for boys to come from school or sports out of uniform for a meeting, and on outings we expect appropriate outdoor-wear rather than the uniform.   A more strongly uniformed troop will insist on more rigid uniform compliance in a military-style fashion, including wearing full uniform for travel and some camping.


Well, this isn't really a BSA method, but it seems to belong here.  Troop 8 encourages boys to participate in a variety of service with the troop.   Some of that is service to younger scouts within the program, but we also do a variety of work for different community agencies.   On the scale of troops, we'd be in the middle of the road in terms of service, with a few more active service troops doing major long-term projects or specializing in things like disaster relief.


What makes us different?

Compared to other troops, you'll find that we offer one of the most diverse and challenging outdoor programs, drawing from the curriculum and methods of the National Outdoor Leadership School and the Experiential Education Association.   We place a greater emphasis on skills development and learning than many troops, and work very hard to use youth participant leadership in patrols to help boys develop not only skills, but judgment and decision-making confidence.    Our adult leaders are dedicated friends and mentors.     Your son will be exposed to the best in outdoor ethic and skills, with a quiet but firm subtext of personal responsibilities and values.


However, we are not an Advancement-focused program, and do not offer "rapid advancement" the way some troops do.   We do not participate in the BSA's First Class Rank in a year program.  We have  a number of Eagle Scouts, but they work long and hard to earn Eagle by age 17, representing the achievement of a talented young man.   And if you're looking for a military-style approach to uniforming and oaths/laws, we will not be a good fit.


What kids are a good fit for Troop 8?

Scouting here at St. Thomas is a great program, but no one can offer “one size fits all” for kids.   We share your desire to find a program which matches your son's interests and needs.   A scout troop should be a happy "home away from home" and a fun adventure.   Over the years, we've observed some trends in the boys who find us to be a happy home.   There have been exceptions, of course, but these trends might help as you are looking at programs.

We find that we work well for:

  • Bright kids, quirky intellectuals, and quiet kids who are active but not into the competitive sports scene.
  • Athletic boys who balance recreational sports with other interests.
  • Kids with diverse interests (we have lots of band kids).
  • Kids who actively enjoy the outdoors.
  • Boys who enjoy digging deeply into activities and working to excel.
  • Boys with mild to moderate challenges, Aspergers, ADHD, etc.  who are physically active.

The big rule is that we tend to be a happy home for kids who come and participate frequently.   There is often a great deal of  synergy between Troop 8 and school, sports, science projects, college essays, and the like, where the troop introduces boys to a subject they persue in other venues, or we give them a practical outlet for the skills the've developed in a more abstract classroom.   For us, climbing systems are an application of trigonometry and vector forces, and it's not unusual for troop scouts to give public comment at council meetings or write op-eds for the paper about things like mountain bike access to parks!   Our adult and youth leaders are medically savvy, and are good at helping boys and families work with medical conditions like allergies or chronic conditions.



We find that we don't work as well for:

  • Tier 1 athletes for whom sports is a consuming interest, with year-long travel-team commitments.
  • Less active boys with primarily indoor interests who are not comfortable with outdoor athletic / adventure pursuits.
  • Boys who want to use scouting as an “occasional” activity when there is a hole in their schedule.
  • Families for whom external advancement recognition and getting quickly to Eagle is of consuming importance.
  • Parents looking for a highly organized, parent- or adult- run experience or are uncomfortable with youth taking responsibility and leadership roles.

Our adult leaders are happy to discuss your son's interest, and to work with you on helping him find a happy scouting home, either with Troop 8 or with one of our many brother troops in the area.

Frequently Asked Questions from Potential Scout Families

Frequently Asked Questions for youth and parents who are considering joining Troop 8 or who are just interested in Scouting in general.
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.

What's the time commitment like for our son?

St. Thomas runs a very active program in order to meet the needs of boys age 11 to 18.  That means there's an almost daunting array of activities.  Each boy chooses activities and outings according to his interests and needs at the time.  There’s plenty to keep a 6th or 7th grader busy, and there will be plenty more available when he needs new challenges as a 9th or 10th grader.

The middle school program runs one campout a month and one meeting a week, while the high school program runs two longer expeditions each year with pre-trips leading up to each.  As a rule of thumb, most boys participate in about 2/3 to 3/4 of the activities available to them.  Going below 50% will put them behind their peers in skills and usually lead to them dropping out after a year or so.  The more they participate, of course, the more they get out of the program!  

We recommend that boys try to do at least one of the longer-term outings each year (like summer camp), because these tend to be real "bonding" experiences for their friends and patrol mates.

What's the time commitment like for us as parents?

Cub Scout programs are generally parent-run endeavors.   That can be great fun for a bit, but it does take a lot of time!  The boy scouting program functions like a teen youth program in that there are a number of non-parent adult leaders who have primary responsibility for operations.  This allows us to offer a very special educational opportunity to your son while you get a bit of relief.   You can come on some events you enjoy with your son, and also have the chance to spend some “quality time” with his siblings while he’s away on a weekend campout!

We are of course not a baby-sitting service.  We ask your help with 2 short-term fundraisers each year, occasional driving on a trip (usually twice a year), and filling one volunteer job for the troop that fits into your interest and schedule.   A few parents camp with us, others handle a segment of paperwork, others help organize one of the fundraisers, etc.  We want you to be involved in something you enjoy and can contribute to.  That's a good example to your son, and "many hands make for light labor” for the troop. 

What's the financial commitment?

There are some initial costs for basic gear (sleeping bag, uniform, a bit of clothing, mess kit, etc.), depending on what your son/family already own.  Most boys slowly acquire personal camping gear over the years, usually as the result of Christmas and birthday gifts.  The troop provides all “group gear” including tents, stoves, etc., and has some gear available to loan to boys who need it in their first year or two.  

Dues are set for a six-month period, which covers almost all camping fees (except personal things like ski rental if needed) as well as awards and once a month “fun nights” doing things like Laser Tag and Whirly Ball.   A few trips, like Boy Scout summer camp or downhill ski lift tickets, are separate expenses, but our costs for group rates and camp are generally significantly less than for family trips or other camp experiences.

Additionally, as a parish youth program, Troop 8 exercises a “preferential option for the poor.”  We work hard to make scouting activities available regardless of difficult family financial circumstances. 

Ways to Practice Boy Scouting Before Your Son Joins

Boy Scouting will be a new adventure for your son, with a greater degree of independence and self-reliance.  As a parent, your role will shift from helping him do things to helping him prepare for things, and from coaching to encouraging and cheering!

Lots of parents ask us what they can do while their boys are in webelos to prepare them for the transition to Boy Scouting.   We find that some things boys experience for the first time in Scouting, as they develop a bit more independence and self-reliance.  While that can be a good thing,  you can ease the transition for your son by giving him his first experiences before he joins.  Plus, you can do it while having some family fun and good "teaching moments."  Here are some things to try that have been suggested by boys and parents over the years:


• One of the biggest transitions in scouting is boys developing independence from their family.  To avoid issues of homesickness, we really encourage families to find some ways to provide "parent free" activities and overnights for their son during 5th grade.  Overnights at friends' houses, a webelos overnight without mom or dad, going skiing with a buddy's family up north for the weekend are all good options.  Helping your son develop his own personal activities that other family members don't participate in can also be helpful.

Fitness & Skills

• Having a basic level of fitness will really help your son enjoy his first year in boy scouting.  Try some strenuous family hikes or bike trips on a regular schedule, or any other activity that will develop some aerobic capacity and a degree of physical strength and confidence. 

• The troop does a lot of water activities, which require some swimming ability and comfort in water.  If your son is not a strong swimmer, get him into some swimming instruction now, when he's young and before he's "embarrassed" and tries to avoid water activities.   This might take some real encouragement and "push" from you, but it will be well worth it.  The BSA basic swim check is to swim (100 yards):  3 lengths of a regular pool in good form (crawl and/or breast stroke), then swim one length as a “rest stroke” (sidestroke or elementary backstroke), then float on your back for a minute...all without stopping or getting too tired.   After your son can do at least that, engage him in every manner of water fight and dunking wars at his level of comfort.


• Service is an important part of scouting.  It's important for guys to learn to do hard work and see it through to completion even when they're not "geting something out of it."  Consider doing some service as a family... helping with a soup kitchen meal, working on something for your church, etc.  Something that your son can really contribute to and be recognized for, which is "work" but not a "chore."


Often scouting will be a boy's first experience with cooking a meal and/or cleaning up after one.  Try these simple fun things to prepare your son:

•   Have him do some simple meals for the family at home.  Good ideas are to learn how to cook a good pancake and make basic spaghetti or macaroni & cheese (just on the stove at home, as practice for campouts).  All by himself, start-to-finish, including doing the pancake mix by adding water until it “looks right” rather than measuring.  It'll be messy, but keep it fun!

•  Get him in the habit of cleaning up his dishes and cooking pots right after a meal himself.  We're always amazed at how many young lads have never picked up a sponge to scrub a pot, and that can be embarrassing among peers.  Once that's a habit, make a game of learning how to clean up after #1, using as little soap as possible, and making believe the kitchen sink is a hand-pump that you can’t rinse your dishes in (i.e. clean up using a pot of hot water).


Gear and Camping

 Scout troops are pretty strict about gear in terms of fit, quality, and age-appropriateness.  As you continue to express interest in our program, we'll send you a gear guide and other tips.  Please check with us before any major purchases.  In the mean time, though, you can begin to develop some good habits:

•  Practice packing gear in a small duffle bag for an overnight trip, like to a friends house. Pack it tight so that nothing is tied-on or dangling on the outside.  Show him how, but make sure he does the packing himself. 

•   Pretend that he’s camping one weekend indoors... leave a bedroom window open, have him sleep in a sleeping bag on his bed, make him get changed while lying down in his bed or in his sleeping bag (like he’s inside a tent that’s too small to stand up in), make him use his flashlight when he goes to bed (no lights!), and keep track of all his stuff without a “gear explosion” around the room (everything’s got to be in his duffle, at least somewhat orderly...  like “used” clothes separated from “good” clothes).  If he’s really adventurous and you’ve got a good ground-pad for insulation from the ground, let him try it outside in the back yard on a cold but weather-free night.

•  If you’ve got a small tent he can practice setting up in the basement, go for it!  Then make him take it down and pack it up right.  If he’s good at that, do it in the dark with only a flashlight!

•  Some boys get weirded out by their first experience with a pit-toilet latrine, or with "taking a dump in the woods."   Some even try to "hold it" for the weekend - Ugh!   Help prepare your son by pretending that the bathroom is a really stinky latrine.  Spray something smelly like perfume around in it.  Have him go to the bathroom while holding his nose and "squatting" over the toilet rather than using the seat.  Take him camping to a site that only has pit toilets and show him how you do it.

•  Camping trips come in all kinds of weather.  A few times on "bad weather" days, dress in non-cotton clothes and rain gear, good boots or tennies with warm socks.  Pack up a bookbag backpack with a thermos of hot soup and a water bottle and some munchies, and go for a 2-3 hour hike somewhere fun.... a local park perhaps, or just exploring all the secret paths around your neighborhood.  Have lunch/soup while standing out in the rain, or maybe under a park shelter.  Tromp through any mud you can find on the way home.  Stay cheerful, treating adversity and challenge as adventure!


Information about Joining

So you're thinking you might be interested in skiing, kayaking, shooting, hiking, climbing, diving and all the rest?  


Troop 8 is open to boys who are close to graduating 5th grade (age 11) or older, who are willing to tackle insane outdoor adventures and live up to our scouting code.  We generally accept new members only in the spring, so that you get a summer's worth of camping with us before we hit snow camping and backpacking on skis!   Occasional exceptions are made for older boys who are transferring into the area and those who have considerable prior outdoor experience.  Troop 8 does not accept transfer scouts above First Class rank, but we'll help you find another local troop to finish your Eagle quest.

If you're a 5th grader, or an older guy looking to join, we hold a number of events throughout the fall, winter, and spring which are open to guests and possible recruits.   In the fall, these include "fun nights" like trips to Whirly Ball, visits to our troop meetings, or our guys visiting you on a cub campout.   In the winter, we'll have some events which are day trips, like joining us for a day of downhill skiing or other fun activity.    By March and April, you'll be joining us for swim nights and some meetings, and then at our "Crossover" joining campout in May you'll become a full-fledged troop member who can come on everything!    At the end of May, admissions to Troop 8 are usually "closed" until the following year.

Are you interested?  Great!   Then the first step is to let us know how to tell you about stuff.   Follow the link on the bottom right to sign up for a web account as an interested parent or scout.




Sign Up for Information

One of the first steps if you're thinking about joining Troop 8 is to sign up online so that we can send you more information!  By giving us your contact information you'll be informed of upcoming events that are open to potential new members, and will receive forms and information by email or snail mail that explains the paperwork process of joining up.

Unfortunately, do to spam, we have turned off the feature of allowing any user to apply for an account. If you're interested in troop 8, e-mail bobgeier@troop8.org, and he will get you setup.



Joining Paperwork and Forms

Welcome to the Boy Scouts of America and to St. Thomas Troop 8! We hope you will decide to become a member of our organization, and join us for meetings, activities, outings, and a lot of fun. By now we expect you’ve read all the other information on our program, and you know all about our extensive outings, the kinds of things we can help you learn about the outdoors and other fun hobbies, and the sort of service work we perform. If you’re still interested, we’d like to welcome you aboard!

In order to do that, though, we have to ask you to take care of some paperwork and agree to a few things which we feel are important to what we do. Don’t worry, they’re not too hard! And if you have any questions, call us!

The requirements

In order to join Troop 8 and the Boy Scouts, you must be nearly done with 5th grade and fulfill each of the following requirements (see the Scout Handbook). Troop 8 generally accepts new scouts only in the spring (or early fall for older boys).  Troop 8 does not accept transfer ranks above First Class.   To participate in ANY outing while you work on finishing the requirements, you MUST have the first two steps completed and returned to the scoutmaster:

  • Turn in a health report & medical history form signed by your parent. 
  • Have your parent sign and return an outings permission slip.
  • Turn in a completed and signed Boy Scout application form. Make sure both you and your parents sign!
  • Your parents must come to an orientation meeting for new parents, and read through the document Notes on Religious Values in Scouting.
  • After you have done all of the steps above, have a personal meeting with the scoutmaster called a “scoutmaster’s conference.”

Boys who are joining Boy Scouts for the first time (as opposed to transferring from another troop) must also do the following (which webelos scouts will recognize from the Arrow of Light requirements).

  • With your parent(s), complete the exercises on protecting yourself from child abuse and drug abuse.
  • Repeat the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Demonstrate the Scout salute, sign, and handshake.
  • Show how to tie a square knot.
  • Understand, be able to explain, and agree to live by the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, the Scout slogan, and the Outdoor Code.
  • Describe the Scout badge and what it means.

At your scoutmaster conference, the scoutmaster will ask you about these things as part of the conference. You should also bring your Scout Handbook, so it can be signed officially!



Startup Scouting Equipment

Congratulations, you’ve chosen to join a very active, very outdoor-oriented troop. In order to have fun in the wilderness (no matter what the weather!), it’s important to live up to the scout motto: Be Prepared. That means having the right gear for camping and for in-town scouting.

A few words about gear. The troop does maintain some “loaner” gear if you don’t have your own personal stuff yet, or can’t afford to buy it all at once. We’re also really picky about gear quality and fit for some outings, so it’s important that you talk to one of the adult leaders before you go buy anything expensive, because there’s some stuff we won’t allow. Most guys start out with the things marked R (required - we don’t have loaners) and SR (strongly recommended - we have a few loaners), then build up from there. We will always provide what’s necessary when family means cannot.   Most families find that over the course of the first year or so, normal purchases of jackets, pants, shoes, etc. can "double" as scouting and in-town gear with careful selection.

The troop also arranges several discount group purchases each year through local and on-line vendors Bivouac to help families. As we hear of them, we will send information about special sales out via email. We encourage families to patronize our Troop+8+Recommended+Outfitters as these businesses we've found to sell reliable gear and offer decent assistance and prices over the years.   Many local vendors have long-term relationships with the troop, and deserve your support.  

Scout Shop Items

There are a few items you need to have as a Boy Scout. These can be purchased from the Council office on Huron Parkway (just North of Washtenaw).

  • 1 The Boy Scout Fieldbook (orange cover) (recomended)   This offers a good introduction to outdoor skills we use.
  • 1 Uniform: Shirt, patches (Greak Sauk Trail Council, troop 8, patrol). Troop 8 does not wear a neckerchief, but we'll issue you a "Figure-8 knot" instead.  Troop 8 also considers olive green scout pants optional, though we like the new nylon scout pants with the zip-off legs.   However, any  tan or olive khaki dress/casual/outdoor pant is acceptable (not denim). R

Except for these items, we can not recommend any other gear from the scout shop.

Outdoor Clothing

Troop 8 camps in a wide variety of weather conditions. To ensure the comfort and safety of scouts, we require equipment checks prior to most outings. The following items are generally expected for most outings year-round. The troop is able to provide a limited amount of gear-for loan when necessary, but we would encourage you to consider these items for purchase.

  • Several pairs of stretch-wool or wool polypropylene socks. Good year-round for protecting feet in all kinds of conditions.R
  • One pair lightweight, high-topped hiking boots, appropriately treated to ensure they’re waterproof. These have become much less expensive recently, and are well worth it for dry feet and foot support both in camp and on hikes.SR
  • 1 pair “Midweight” polypropylene long underwear tops & bottoms. Polypro goes by several names, including Capilene, Thermax, and “wicking fabrics.” If there is any one clothing item which will greatly affect your comfort in the outdoors, this is it. The best invention of the 20th Century. Useful year-round. R
  • 2 Synthetic “fleece” jackets or pullovers. More versatile than wool sweaters or lined jackets.SR
  • 1 Set of nylon wind or rain gear, both jacket & pants. (We do NOT allow ponchos) We promise there will be LOTS of cold, rainy days on campouts.  You should look for jackets and pants that are marketed as "waterproof breathable" fabrics.  High-tech name-brand fabrics like Gore-tex or Ultrex are great after you stop growing, or if there are lots of younger siblings, but cheaper knock-offs are readily available.  On trips that are not base-station car camping, we will not allow non-breathable rain gear. R

Because so much clothing (including blue jeans, sweat clothes, and flannel) is made of cotton fibers, we tend to see a lot of cotton on campouts. Please understand that while cotton is soft and cool on a sunny day in the summertime, it makes very poor outdoor clothing in other conditions. Cotton, when wet, holds a great deal of water and acts as a NEGATIVE insulator, actually cooling the body more than if it were unclothed. Sweat clothes, in particular, become baggy and very difficult when soaked. We therefore expect scouts to own non-cotton outdoor clothing, either wool or synthetic. On most campouts, a layered insulating system of non-cotton clothing will be required for comfort and safety.

Camping Gear

  • Sleeping bag and water-resistant stuff sack to put it in. Bags should be synthetic, tapered or mummy cut, with no cotton flannel lining. Most boys use a cold-weather bag (0° F) year round.  Please don’t skimp on the stuff sack - these cost very little, and are infinitely better than garbage bags which are easily torn. It’s best to get one that’s “too big” for the bag, so there’s room for extra gear, and so it’s easier to stuff. R
  • Sleeping pad (closed-cell foam or open cell foam inflatable. Plastic chamber-type inflatables are too easily punctured and take too long to inflate) R
  • Headlamp-style Flashlight  R
  • Pocketknife (swiss army variety is good - scout must have Totin’ Chip safety training to bring)
  • Compass (no need to be expensive - just one of the small plastic jobs with a 1-1 1/2” needle and a straight edge).
  • Watch (Water resistant to at least 6m depth, with alarm)
  • Day pack (like bookbag backpack) R
  • Water-proof duffle bag with good carrying straps (for car-camping trips), or personal backpack SR
  • 1 Set of personal eating-wear (kept in a small nylon “ditty bag”).  A full set includes a spoon, plastic bowl, 12 oz. insulated mug with lid, and a nylon bag to carry all this in. We strongly recommend that boys not use aluminum “mess kits.” R
  • 1 Water bottle. We require wide-mouthed plastic "Nalgene" style bottles. R


You can look in our recommended publications section on the web site to find a number of fun outdoors and resource books that you might enjoy.   However, we do want to strongly recommend getting a copy of Wilderness First Aid: Emergency Care for Remote Locations. This book is the “official” Troop first aid text, which replaces the information in the BSA literature.  SR

Group Gear

Troop 8 provides all group gear for your trips.   This includes 2-man North Face tents, stoves, pots, pans, first aid kits, lanterns, rain flies and other gear for the patrol.   We do not recommend scouts purchase their own tenting or cooking equipment until they are Venturers in high school. Occasionally, scouts inquire about bringing their own tent on a campout. This is OK with the permission of the patrol leader, provided the scout is familiar with the tent setup, the tent is appropriate for the type of campout we are doing.


Volunteer Information

St. Thomas runs three levels of outdoor program, described below.  Volunteers are welcome at all levels of the program.  Willingness to work with young people in a fun, high-energy, and challenging environment is a must, as is a commitment to Leave No Trace wilderness ethics.  Prior basic camping or more advanced experience is a bonus, but we can provide training in any areas you haven’t experienced before.  Lots of our volunteers learned to climb, paddle, tele, or bike with us!   There’s nothing like a promise to a bunch of kids to stop you from making excuses and get outdoors!

Are you a UM or Eastern Student?  Former Scout?   We are especially encouraging of young adults in their 20's and 30's to join our program as volunteers.   You bring something special - a vision for our guys of what it's like to be a really cool college student and young adult! 

Male and female leaders are welcome. Pack 8, Venture 8 and Troop 8 are youth programs of St. Thomas Church. They are open to youth and adults of any faith who are respectful of our beliefs and mission. Venture 8 and Troop 8 use resources licensed from the Boy Scouts of America.

Interested?  Call or Email the St. Thomas Scouting Coordinator Bob Geier at 904-2984 or bobgeier@troop8.org

Pack 8 Program

The Pack 8 program provides a program of family fun and learning for boys in grades 1-5.   In the early grades, the program focuses on fun activities like Pinewood Derbies and short, family-oriented outings.   In grades 4-5, the program begins to introduce more self-directed activities and car-camping outings with adventurous day trips. 

The Pack 8 program is strongly tied to the parish elementary school, and primarily serves those families.

Troop 8 Program

The Troop 8 program provides an introduction to outdoor adventure sports, hobbies, and leadership skills at a level appropriate for rapidly growing middle school youth.   The program offers short 1-2 month sequences which introduce a wide variety of human-powered outdoor activities while building up a solid set of basic wilderness skills. Activities culminate each month in weekend or week-long trips where participants get a chance to use newly found skills in a real-life adventure.

Troop 8 is a hands-on outdoor leadership school, not a guided tour like many camp experiences.  High-school aged youth leaders select activities, make contacts, plan for gear and routes, and help manage safety under the direction of our volunteer adult coaches.  Participants travel in small groups called “patrols” to develop teamwork, strong group dynamic, and leadership, and to practice sound Leave No Trace ethics. Older youth serve as instructors and mentors to newer members. The program also emphasizes citizenship and service, putting newly learned skills to use to benefit the community.  Troop 8 gives over 1,000 hours of service each year.

Recent Activities

Downhill skiing, Backpacking (on foot & ski), Lake & River Canoeing, Whitewater Rafting

Road Cycling, Mountain Biking, Orienteering, Climbing

Shooting Sports, Light Plane Aviation, Model Rocketry, Amateur Radio

Venture 8 Program

Venture 8 is an outdoor skills and leadership program for high-school aged youth who have developed basic skills through Troop 8 or other programs and are ready to move up.  Venture 8 operates on the Wilderness Education Association model, and works to develop the skills and judgment typical of a beginning professional guide. Youth leaders plan and execute two major multi-week expeditions each year, with an active sequence of increasingly complex and fun outings in preparation.   “Core” skills like medical first response are developed to a high level in each expedition, while activity-specific skills receive intense hands-on training.  Safety, hazard evaluation, and rescue are important components of the program.  Skills are cemented through independent small-group excursions and opportunities to lead and teach in the Troop 8 program.   Venture 8 members are solid Class III+ kayakers, rescue-trained lead climbers, avalanche-prepared telemark skiers, WI4 mountaineers, EMTs and FR’s.

Recent expeditions

Backcountry Skiing Colorado            Mountaineering Kilimanjaro and Wyoming        Sailing St. Vincent & Grenada
Cycling & Sea Kayaking Denmark        “Trad” Climbing, Red Rocks, NV             Ice Climbing, Michigan and Ontario       
Whitewater kayaking, PA and WV      Dogsledding Onterio