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The Right Troop

When looking for the “right troop” there could literally be hundreds of different questions you could ask the troop. Of those questions, there are a few which could be categorized into the following:
1. Meetings
2. Campouts
3. Parent Involvement
4. Finances
5. Time
6. Equipment
7. Troop Rules
8. Troop Makeup

(Things to keep in mind)
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The below list is by no means an exhaustive list but should give you a good idea and may also inspire some others. This is the best time to understand how the troop functions and if it will match with what you and your family can accommodate. If you go into this with your eyes wide open there will be less chance for surprises and dissatisfaction with your choice. There is no such thing as the perfect troop and you will search forever if you are waiting on finding that perfect troop. Your family will have to figure out what you can live with and what you can’t so you need to be honest with yourself as well as the scoutmaster. He/She will be honest with you. 🙂

(Meetings)
When does the troop meet? Does it get out on time usually? Do you meet on holidays? Who creates the agenda? Do the scouts need to be in Class A uniforms for meetings? Does the troop do dues? What materials do the boys need to bring with them for meetings? Do the scouts run the meetings? What happens during a typical meeting? Are the scouts expected to work on requirements at the meetings? Do parents stick around for meetings?

(Campouts)
Does the troop provide equipment on campouts? Tents? Lights? Mess Kits? What equipment is needed by the scouts to bring on campouts? How is food decided, purchased and cooked on typical campouts? What if my kid has allergies? What if my kid doesn’t like what is decided on for the food on a campout? Can I bring my own equipment? Can parents go on campouts? Is it expected? What are the times you usually meet Fridays and come home Sundays? Does the troop have packing lists for the different seasons/types of campouts? When/where is summer camp (week long)? Do the assistant scoutmasters take care of their own food?

(Parent Involvement)
Are parents expected to attend troop meetings? committee meetings? campouts? Are there adult volunteer positions needed in the troop currently? What do committee members do in the troop? What do assistant scoutmasters do in the troop? Am I expected to drive my kid to and from campouts? Am I expected to help drive/transport other scouts? How does that work for insurance?

(Finances)
What is required to buy when my scout(s) start the troop? What uniform parts do I need for meetings? Does the troop require dues from the scouts? weekly? monthly? Where does that money go? What fundraising does the troop do? What is the average amount the scouts made last year? How does the fundraising dollars get distributed? What can those funds be used for?

(Time)
How many campouts a months? How does the troop do service projects? Are all assistant scoutmasters required to go on every campout? Does the troop encourage the scouts to go to other district merit badge days?

(Equipment)
What is expected for a first time scout to bring on his/her first campout? Does the troop have equipment me/my scout can use on a campout? How does that work? Are there good packing lists the troop can give me?

(Troop Rules)
Are there specific troop rules we have to abide by? What’s the rules for scouts wanting to earn merit badges? Do they need to be a certain rank first? Who can sign off on rank requirements when my scout completes one? Can parents go on campouts? What’s the rule for assistant scoutmasters signing off rank requirements for their own children? Rules on transportation?

(Troop Makeup)
How are patrols organized? Age? Rank? Friends? Are they ever shuffled up or is it once in that patrol always in that patrol? Can my scout move patrols if there are problems? What’s the expectation on participation in other organizations and scouts? Is it frowned to join things like band?

About the author: tzizak
Tony Zizak is a long time scouter, Eagle Scout, and the scoutmaster of Troop 119 Ellettsville, IN. He has served on Wood Badge staff as a Troop Guide. He has been to scout camps across the country and was a certified Program Director, Aquatics Director and a Scoutcraft Director. As a youth Tony received his Vigil Honor and served as a Lodge Chief for Tseyedin Lodge #65. Reach out to him for any questions you may have on any of his articles posted

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