FAQ for New Scouts
Who signs off on my advancements?
In general, when a Scout learns and masters the task in a requirement, he demonstrates it for another Scout, who will initial and date his Boy Scout Handbook on the page (in the back) for that requirement. The troop has established that a Scout who approves the advancement must hold a rank that is two ranks above the one that is being signed off. Thus, Tenderfoot requirements must be approved by First Class or higher Scouts, Second Class requirements are approved by Star or higher Scouts, and First Class requirements must be signed by Life or higher.
Some items are normally approved by adult leaders. Each rank has a requirement to show scout spirit, which is normally approved by the Scoutmaster or an Assistant Scoutmaster at the Scoutmaster Conference. The Board of Review space will be initialed by all members of the board.
A Webelos Scout who has earned the Arrow of Light Award has now completed nearly all the requirements for the Scout badge and may join a Boy Scout troop. The boy and his parent should still complete #9, which requires the pamphlet exercises on child abuse to be completed with a parent or guardian. Boy Scout joining requirement #10, participate in a Scoutmaster Conference, must be completed with the Troop 407 Scoutmaster. This may be done either before crossing over (during the preparation for Arrow of Light) or after crossing over, if the boy did not have a conference with the Troop 407 Scoutmaster while a Webelos Scout.
When should I wear my uniform?
BSA only specifies one uniform, the Field Uniform (sometimes still called “Class A”), which consists of the official Boy Scout uniform shirt, pants or shorts, belt, socks, and hat (hats are not worn indoors), Troop neckerchief and slide, and appropriate footwear (leather or canvas shoes, neat and clean, or hiking shoes or boots). The Field Uniform is customarily worn:
- To most troop meetings (see below for exceptions)
- while traveling to and from campouts, and for dinner and chapel while at the campout
- at a troop or Eagle Court of Honor
- when participating in a public event such as flag ceremony or parade
- when sitting for a Scoutmaster Conference or Board of Review
The patrol leaders’ council may decide to allow Scouts to wear an activity shirt to troop meetings instead of the uniform. The activity shirt is the Troop 407 green t-shirt, sweatshirt or hoodie. The activity shirt is normally worn on campouts when the uniform isn’t required.
At formal events such as a Court of Honor, the Merit Badge Sash may be worn over the right shoulder. If a Scout is a member of the Order of the Arrow and is rendering special service as an OA member, he may wear his OA sash instead of the Merit Badge Sash. Both sashes may not be worn at the same time, nor may either sash be worn draped from the waist or belt. Scouts and adults who still have them also wear their beads from their belts at formal events. The beads mark participation in troop events and is a rich tradition of the troop.
The Insignia Guide contains information on how to wear the uniform correctly and where all insignia should be placed.
What is the youth leadership structure of the troop?
Unlike Cub Scouts, which is run by the adults, Boy Scouts is a boy-led organization. The fundamental unit in Boy Scouting is a small group of about six to ten boys called a patrol. Patrols may seem to be similar to dens in Cub Scouts, but with one important distinction: Boys in a patrol elect their own leader from among themselves. The patrol leader’s job is to help the boys in the patrol succeed by helping them advance, defining and supporting their roles in the patrol, and to represent the patrol on the Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC). The patrol leader appoints an assistant patrol leader and also designates other members to ongoing or per-event functions, such as quartermaster or cook. Patrol leaders are elected by patrol members at twice-yearly troop elections.
The top youth leader of a troop is called the senior patrol leader. The senior patrol leader is elected by all the boys in the troop at the twice-yearly troop elections. His job is to chair the PLC, appoint assistant senior patrol leaders and other troop officers, and to support the patrol leaders in their duties. He also chairs the annual troop program planning conference and conducts Troop Leadership Training with the support and participation of the Scoutmaster.
Other troop officers include the quartermaster, who is in charge of the troop’s equipment; the scribe, who records the happenings of the PLC and at troop meetings, and takes attendance; the librarian, who maintains the troop’s library of handbooks and merit badge pamphlets; the chaplain aide, who plans and conducts religious services at campouts; historian, who keeps a written record of troop activities; troop guides, who help new-scout patrols get settled in the troop and with their advancement; instructors, who teach Scout skills; and den chiefs, who assist Cub Scout den leaders.
Every Scout in the troop (except for the SPL, ASPLs and Troop Guides) is a member of a patrol. Patrol members can choose their patrol name, have a patrol flag and cheer, and camp as a patrol on troop campouts. As a new Scout, your patrol leader, troop guide and members of your patrol will do everything they can to make you feel at home in the troop and help you learn what you need to know to succeed.
As you may have figured out, the role of a leader is not to rule from above and give orders, but to support and serve those he leads and give them the tools they can use to be successful.