Top 10 Things to Look for in a Troop
- Fun – It’s got to be fun! Most of the activities within the troop have to be understood by the Scout as a fun, friendly, pleasurable, and rewarding experience. If a troop is too
strict and regimented the Scout will loose interest.
- Program – this is key to a well-run troop. The program has to be planned out by the troop committee with input from the Scouts. This should be done annually and tied to a budget. The program needs to include all the elements of Scouting, weekly troop meetings, monthly outings/events, weekend campouts, and yearly summer camps. The activities have to be new, exciting, and fresh to keep the Scouts interested.
- Adult Leadership – All troops should have “Trained” adult leadership. Trained leaders are crucial to any well-run troop. The training provides the leader with the knowledge to understand the aims and methods of the Scouting program. The training presents a wealth of advice and recourses to run a successful program. When you visit a troop, look for the trained patch on the leader’s uniform.
- Youth Leadership – The Scouting program is designed to have the youth elected and appointed into leadership roles. A troop should have periodic elections to fill those positions. In addition, the troop should provide leadership training for those roles. The troop should conduct Junior Leadership Training (JLT) and/or send Scouts to council JLT training. Look for the trained patch on the youth leader’s uniform.
- Boy-Run Troop – the whole philosophy of Scouting is for the Scouts to run the troop. The adult leaders are there to provide guidance, counsel, and support. The weekly meetings, troop campouts, and troop activities should be planned and executed by the Scouts and the junior leaders. The troop should encourage and strive to have its junior leaders run the troop. When observing a troop in action, see if the Scouts are running the program or the adults.
- Patrol Method – A troop should divide its Scouts into patrols of not more than 8. These patrols act like a team within the troop. They will elect a patrol leader and have periodic meetings either at the troop meetings or at a separate time and place. The troop should provide competitive activities at meetings and outings for the patrols to work as a team. This allows them to demonstrate their Scouting skills and plan for camping events or district camp-o-rees. The troop should also have functioning monthly Patrol Leaders Council, which plans the troop activities.
- Meetings – Weekly troop meetings are pretty much the norm in Scouting. The troop should have a calendar for the year with the dates established for regular meetings.
- Uniform – the field uniform is an important part of Scouting and should be required in troop functions, like: ceremonies, religious activities, troop dinners, and district & council events. An activity uniform, which usually consists of a scouting T-shirt and Scout shorts or pants, is commonly used for troop/patrol meetings, day activities, and weeklong camps. Troops may define or require uniforms in different variations, but should have some defined requirements and periodic inspections.
- District & Council Involvement – A troop should have representatives attending monthly district roundtable meetings. The district and council provide a wealth of experience and knowledge to help the troop run a great program. They are a wonderful resource for information on training, activities, advancement, planning, and ideas.
- Recruiting – A troop needs to bring in new Scouts. New Scouts provide the older Scouts with opportunities to mentor and teach them what Scouting is all about. It helps them build leadership and charter. The best source for new Scouts is from the Cub Scouts Webelos program. A troop should have established a working relationship with local Cub Scout pack(s) to help bridge graduating Webelos to Boy Scouts.