NOTE: The cur­rent Troop 356 Hand­book is avail­able here.

Sound advice from some other par­ents In this sec­tion, adults who have watched their boys grow into young men within Troop 356 and have gone on before you, share some valu­able advice for new and prospec­tive par­ents on this page. Here are the top­ics cov­ered: Sur­viv­ing as a Troop 356 Scout Par­ent
Troop 356 Hand­book
Reg­is­tra­tion and Camp­ing Fees
What Should Par­ents Do?
Going Camp­ing With the Troop
Scout Lead­er­ship
Scout Advance­ment
Scout Growth
Adult Train­ing and Resources
Con­tact Infor­ma­tion

Sur­viv­ing as a Troop 356 Scout Par­ent

Troop 356’s goal is to help your son become a young man of good char­ac­ter, with strong orga­ni­za­tional and lead­er­ship skills. Boys who lose inter­est in Scout­ing tend to be those who are dis­or­ga­nized, lose things, and don’t know where they are headed. You can help your son avoid those traps with these proven ideas.

Every Scout who crosses over into Troop 356 receives a three-ring binder with the Scout’s name proudly dis­played on the front. The binder con­tains help­ful infor­ma­tion for the Scout includ­ing the Troop 356 Hand­book. Scouts should keep track of their Scout mate­ri­als and records through­out their mem­ber­ship by keep­ing them in the binder. The binder also con­tains plas­tic 8 ½” x 11″ base­ball card sheets for badge and rank com­ple­tion cards, totin’ chip cards, and unsewn or unworn patches. Addi­tional binder pages are avail­able at Wal-Mart, the Scout shop and many office sup­ply stores.

When your son earns his first rank advance­ment, he will either attend a Court of Honor to receive his patch and com­ple­tion card, or it will be given out at the reg­u­lar troop meet­ing if it will be a while until the next Court of Honor. Dur­ing that cer­e­mony, the Scout’s mother (or other adult attend­ing) will also receive a pin.

Although the boys will be told about upcom­ing activ­i­ties and events at the weekly meet­ings, the Troop 356 web­site can give you addi­tional infor­ma­tion about the Troop’s activ­i­ties. You can also find the nec­es­sary forms for each event. Make sure you reg­is­ter your email address with the Troop so you can get up-to-date infor­ma­tion about Troop activities.

Write troop events from the troop cal­en­dar on your fam­ily cal­en­dar so con­flicts can be min­i­mized. Atten­dance is the key to keep­ing up, advanc­ing in rank, and lik­ing Scout­ing. The most up-to-date cal­en­dars are found in Scout­Track and on our web­site, and they can be printed for your convenience.

Attend the troop meet­ings and share your time and skills to strengthen the troop. You will know what is hap­pen­ing and how your Scout relates to your troop. You can help pro­vide a more com­plete expe­ri­ence for your son if you are involved. Don’t worry about not know­ing much about Scout­ing, all the adult vol­un­teers had to learn, too. Please don’t be bash­ful. It is impor­tant to remem­ber that every adult involved in the troop is a vol­un­teer. Your help will be appre­ci­ated by each and every one. Remem­ber, “If every­one does a lit­tle, no one does a lot.” Over the years, we have found that each par­tic­i­pat­ing adult adds his or her own spe­cial strengths to the lead­er­ship team, and has a lot of fun while help­ing the boys grow and develop.

Teach your Scout to call his leader (Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader or Scout­mas­ter) if he won’t be able to attend a sched­uled activity.


Troop 356 Hand­book

Troop 356 has writ­ten poli­cies advis­ing every­one of what is expected in order to be a mem­ber of Troop 356 and par­tic­i­pate in Troop activ­i­ties, con­tained in the Troop 356 Hand­book. Every Scout and parent/guardian should read the poli­cies and be famil­iar with them. Both the scout and his par­ent or guardian are required to sign an acknowl­edge­ment that they have read and will abide by the Troop’s poli­cies. The cur­rent Troop 356 Hand­book is avail­able here.


Reg­is­tra­tion and Camp­ing Fees

Troop 356’s dues are $100 per year, plus an annual BSA reg­is­tra­tion fee of $20 that includes a sub­scrip­tion to Boy’s Life mag­a­zine. That includes all Troop 356 insignia plus all ranks, merit badges, and other awards.

Troop 356 charges for most cam­pouts and other events. This money goes to pur­chase fuel for the vehi­cles, food for the par­tic­i­pants, pay camp­ground fees, and other neces­si­ties. If the Scout has accrued Scout Money, he can use that towards his event fees.

When it is your Scout’s turn to buy camp meals for his patrol, help him learn how to make good pur­chas­ing deci­sions (using coupons can help keep costs down). Costs should not exceed $10–20 per week­end per boy, except when spe­cial cir­cum­stances war­rant more and we always know that in advance. Look in the Boy Scout Hand­book for more infor­ma­tion on a Scout’s respon­si­bil­i­ties in this lead­er­ship task.

The events cost dif­fer­ent amounts depend­ing on many fac­tors. The adult lead­er­ship in Troop 356 deter­mines a non-profit bud­get well in advance of each of these events and com­mu­ni­cates the costs to the troop. The troop’s phi­los­o­phy is to break even when­ever possible.



Par­tic­i­pate in fundrais­ers. Reg­is­tra­tion fees do not make the troop finan­cially suc­cess­ful, fundrais­ing does. Rather than raise our reg­is­tra­tion fees, Troop 356 uses fundrais­ers to pro­vide addi­tional oper­at­ing cap­i­tal. Our most suc­cess­ful fundraiser is sell­ing Christ­mas wreaths. We have also con­ducted sev­eral very suc­cess­ful din­ners. The funds gen­er­ated allow us to pro­vide Troop 356 Scouts with a finan­cially sound pro­gram and to pur­chase equip­ment when needed.

Some troop fundrais­ers allow the boy to accrue Scout Money as an incen­tive. This is vir­tual money that can be applied towards Scout event fees such as cam­pouts, and rewards the Scout for his efforts. Some enter­pris­ing boys have actu­ally paid for their sum­mer camp this way!


What Should Par­ents Do?

Par­ents play an impor­tant and vital role in Scout­ing. You should encour­age your son to work on advance­ment and to par­tic­i­pate in Troop 356 pro­grams. If you think of Troop 356 as a glo­ri­fied babysit­ting ser­vice, you can be cer­tain your son will not think much bet­ter of the pro­gram and will most likely not be happy with his expe­ri­ence. With­out excep­tion, every Eagle Scout we’ve seen earn his rank has had at least one par­ent who has actively par­tic­i­pated in the troop.

Scouts should not be expected to earn their Eagle rank with­out some help along the way. It is a tough set of require­ments for them to ful­fill, but the Eagle rank is within every Scout’s reach. You are invited, and encour­aged, to attend troop activ­i­ties, from troop meet­ings to cam­pouts, from Courts of Honor to com­mit­tee meet­ings, as often as your sched­ule will allow. Troop 356 needs your active par­tic­i­pa­tion to keep the pro­gram alive.

Par­ents may not sign off any rank advance­ment or merit badge require­ments. Advance­ment in all ranks is signed by the reg­is­tered Scouts or Scouters appointed by the troop (typ­i­cally these are uni­formed adult lead­ers, Eagle Scouts, and Merit Badge coun­selors). How­ever, par­ents should be famil­iar with the require­ments for advance­ment, espe­cially for the Scout and Ten­der­foot ranks. Some parental par­tic­i­pa­tion is required for some of the ini­tial ranks. From the day your son joins the troop, he can be work­ing towards advance­ment. If your son com­pletes a require­ment, teach him to fol­low up in get­ting it approved and signed off.

As far as how quickly your Scout advances, nat­u­rally every­one pro­gresses at a dif­fer­ent pace. How­ever, if a new Scout reg­u­larly attends troop meet­ings, goes on at least half of the cam­pouts, goes to sum­mer camp, and does a lit­tle bit of read­ing in the Boy Scout Hand­book, he will learn every­thing he needs to know to progress through the ranks all the way to First Class in his first year of Scout­ing, and have a lot of fun along the way.

If you have spe­cial skills, hob­bies or abil­i­ties, please learn how you can become a merit badge coun­selor and share your knowl­edge with our Scouts. Thanks to the efforts of some of our Troop adults, the boys have been exposed to expe­ri­ences that would prob­a­bly not be avail­able any­where else, or at least not inexpensively.

There is always a need for more adult lead­ers. Each year, as older Scouts leave the troop, the troop also loses adult lead­ers. These posi­tions must be replen­ished from among the par­ents of newer Scouts, or the life of the troop can be threat­ened. The Scout­mas­ter and Assis­tant Scout­mas­ters sim­ply can­not do it all, nor can the Troop Com­mit­tee. It takes many adults will­ing to enjoy the Scout­ing expe­ri­ence and pro­vide a safe haven for youth to make a healthy, suc­cess­ful troop.


Going Camp­ing With the Troop

Camp­ing is the heart of Boy Scout­ing. While par­ents (and some­times whole fam­i­lies) accom­pany our Scouts on cam­pouts, all Scouts camp with their patrol and not with their par­ents or fam­ily members.

Scout Tent­ing and Meals — Scouts tent with their patrol in a patrol site sep­a­rate from the other patrols. Patrols plan their own menus, and cook and eat together as a team. Each Scout has his own tent. Adults do not eat or tent with a Scout patrol.

Adult Tent­ing and Meals — Adults tent in an adults-only area sep­a­rate from the youth patrols, but close enough to pro­vide a safety over­sight. The adults plan their own menu, and cook and eat together as a team.

Adult/Youth Tent­ingBSA youth pro­tec­tion poli­cies for­bid an adult and a youth (below age 18) shar­ing the same tent. While these youth pro­tec­tion poli­cies allow a father and son to tent together (if no other Scout or adult shares the tent), it is our Troop’s guide­line that Scouts tent with Scouts, and adults with adults. If a father tents with his son, it is our expe­ri­ence that the Scout will lose out on many oppor­tu­ni­ties to make deci­sions and be part of the patrol.

Smoking/Drinking — Dri­vers may not smoke while Scouts are in the car. Adults may not smoke or use tobacco prod­ucts, nor drink alco­holic bev­er­ages dur­ing a Scout activ­ity. Adults who must smoke or chew are required to do so dis­creetly, out of sight of the Scouts.


Scout Lead­er­ship

Boy Scout activ­i­ties are based on what the BSA calls the patrol method, where Scouts learn team­work, lead­er­ship, and most Scout­craft skills from their peers. It is impor­tant that adults not be in the mid­dle of patrol activ­i­ties such as site selec­tion, tent pitch­ing, meal prepa­ra­tion, and any­thing else where boys get to prac­tice decision-making.

A key dif­fer­ence between Boy Scout­ing and Cub Scouting/Webelos is youth lead­er­ship. Look for the word “leader” in a Scout’s job descrip­tion, and you will begin to appre­ci­ate the dif­fer­ence. The respon­si­ble per­son for a Cub/Webelos den is the adult Den Leader. The respon­si­ble per­son for a Boy Scout patrol is the youth Patrol Leader.

This isn’t token lead­er­ship. A Patrol Leader has real author­ity and gen­uine respon­si­bil­i­ties. Much of the suc­cess, safety, and hap­pi­ness of six to ten other boys depends directly on him.

Adults should not inter­fere with the func­tion­ing of youth lead­ers, even if they make mis­takes (we all learn best from our mis­takes). Step in only if it is a mat­ter of imme­di­ate safety or if the mis­take will be imme­di­ately costly. If at all pos­si­ble, dis­creetly involve a uni­formed adult leader first.

Boy Scout­ing teaches lead­er­ship. And Scouts learn lead­er­ship by prac­tic­ing it, not by watch­ing adults lead.

So what do we adults do, now that we’ve sur­ren­dered so much direct author­ity to boys? Well, we have a really good time and still stay busy.

The under­ly­ing prin­ci­ple is worth repeat­ing: Never do any­thing for a boy that he can do for him­self. We allow boys to grow by prac­tic­ing lead­er­ship and by learn­ing from mis­takes. And, while Scout skills are an impor­tant part of the pro­gram, what ulti­mately mat­ters when our Scouts become adults is not how well they remem­ber to use a map and com­pass, but whether or not they know how to offer lead­er­ship to oth­ers in tough sit­u­a­tions, and that they live by a code of con­duct that cen­ters on hon­est, hon­or­able and eth­i­cal behavior.

When a par­ent goes on a cam­pout, he or she enjoys really, really good food and cama­raderie while pro­vid­ing an exam­ple the Scouts can fol­low with­out hav­ing to tell them what to do. The adult tents are some dis­tance from the youth. That way they aren’t right next to a boy patrol where our mere pres­ence could dis­rupt the learn­ing process.

If you go camp­ing with us, we hope you will visit the patrol sites, talk to your son and the other Scouts, ask what’s going on and how things are going. At the same time, remem­ber to give the guys room to grow while you enjoy the view.

Don’t hes­i­tate to show a Scout how to do some­thing, just don’t do it for him. Don’t jump in just to pre­vent a mis­take from hap­pen­ing (unless it’s seri­ous or involves safety). Encour­age Scouts to make their own deci­sions; ask them what they think should be done or how THEY are going to solve a prob­lem. We all learn best from our mis­takes and a big part of our job as adults in the troop is to pro­vide them with a SAFE envi­ron­ment in which they can make mistakes.

And above all, remem­ber to let the youth lead­ers lead. That’s their job, not ours.

Camp­ing with the troop is more fun than you prob­a­bly imag­ine and is some­thing you should do if you can. The Troop’s adults are men and women who are com­mit­ted to being a part of the troop and con­tribut­ing to its health. Every­one pitches in and the work­load is shared.


Scout Advance­ment

As a Scout begins to learn some of the skills of Scout­ing, he can advance in rank.  The ranks are:

  • Scout
  • Ten­der­foot
  • Sec­ond Class
  • First Class
  • Star
  • Life
  • Eagle

The spe­cific require­ments for each rank can be found in The Boy Scout Hand­book.  In gen­eral, if a Scout attends troop meet­ings, goes on cam­pouts, and goes to sum­mer camp, he should have no prob­lem attain­ing First Class rank in a year or so.  Each boy pro­gresses at his own speed.

To attain a rank, the Scout must ful­fill the require­ments for that rank and have the require­ment signed off by an adult leader or des­ig­nated Scout.  Once all the require­ments have been met and signed off, the Scout can request a Scout­mas­ter con­fer­ence by mak­ing an appoint­ment with the Scout­mas­ter. (Many Scouts and Ten­der­foots tend to be shy; encour­age your son to work up the courage to ask the Scout­mas­ter him­self.)  The Scout­mas­ter con­fer­ence is not an inqui­si­tion; it is a chance for the Scout­mas­ter and the Scout to talk.  The Scout­mas­ter will then either ask the scout to brush up on any areas that need work, or pass the Scout on to a board of review.

Again, the board of review is not an inqui­si­tion.  It is com­posed of sev­eral adult lead­ers who talk to the Scout about the require­ments for the rank, and also about more gen­eral top­ics such as how he is doing in school, his likes and dis­likes, and his goals and aspirations.

Once the Scout passes the board of review, he is duly rec­og­nized by receiv­ing the emblem of his new rank to sew on his uniform.


Scout Growth

Never do any­thing for a Scout he can do for him­self. Let him make deci­sions with­out adult inter­fer­ence. Let him make non-injurious mis­takes so he can learn from them. Be will­ing to help Scouts learn and teach with­out criticism.


Adult Train­ing and Resources

The Boy Scouts of Amer­ica pro­vides an out­stand­ing hand­book for adults and an excel­lent train­ing course to help us under­stand the goals of Scout­ing and how to attain them. The adult man­ual is called the Scoutmaster’s Hand­book, and it’s worth your time to become famil­iar with it. Manda­tory adult train­ing for indi­vid­u­als who will be active with youth is offered in our area sev­eral times a year, and online adult train­ing is avail­able on the BSA web site. It’s also a good invest­ment of your time. Troop 356 strongly encour­ages each of its uni­formed adult lead­ers to be famil­iar with the Scoutmaster’s Hand­book, and requires that each com­pletes sev­eral manda­tory train­ing classes.

If you wish to par­tic­i­pate in Troop activ­i­ties you will have to reg­is­ter with the BSA, have a cur­rent Med­ical Form on file with the Troop, and be ready to help out and have fun.

All par­ents and guardians must review and be famil­iar with BSA Youth Pro­tec­tion poli­cies.

The cur­rent National and Coun­cil train­ing guide­lines are:

1. All reg­is­tered adults, includ­ing Merit Badge Coun­selors, are required to take Youth Pro­tec­tion train­ing within two weeks of reg­is­tra­tion and before meet­ing with youth. This is an on-line course and is also offered in a class­room set­ting at times through­out the year . This Youth Pro­tec­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion must be renewed every two years. This course cov­ers the pro­tec­tion of youth, BSA Guide­lines in asso­ci­a­tion with Health & Safety for our youth, as well as pro­tec­tion for leaders.

2. Fast Start Train­ing in the appro­pri­ate pro­gram area is also required for all unit serv­ing reg­is­tered adults. This cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is only required once in the pro­gram area of reg­is­tra­tion (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Ven­tur­ing, Var­sity, and Sea Scouts) and does not expire. This course cov­ers all types of Scouting.

3. This is Scout­ing is essen­tial for all lead­ers in all pro­gram areas and is avail­able on-line, replac­ing New Leader Essen­tials as part of basic train­ing. This course cov­ers all types of Scouting.

4. In order to be a fully trained leader and obtain the “Trained” patch in Boy Scout­ing, the fol­low­ing courses are required:

  • Youth Pro­tec­tion

  • Boy Scout Fast Start Training

  • This is Scouting

  • Scout­mas­ter Spe­cific Train­ing or Troop Com­mit­tee Challenge

  • Out­door Leader Skills (OLS) (Not required for Com­mit­tee members.)

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, visit the Gulf Stream Coun­cil and the BSA web sites.


Con­tact Infor­ma­tion

Con­tact infor­ma­tion for Troop mem­bers can be found on the Scout­Track web­site. When you join the Troop, be sure to sup­ply a cur­rent email account. The Troop web­mas­ter will add your email to Scout­Track, and you will receive a mes­sage con­tain­ing login infor­ma­tion so that you can access Troop infor­ma­tion. You will also receive emails from Troop lead­ers via Scout­Track inform­ing you of upcom­ing events.