A Guide for Parents

A Game with a Purpose

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, called Scouting “a game with a purpose.” When something happens in Scouting, it’s generally done with deliberate intent, in support of our mission statement:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

The Scouts BSA program is guided by three aims: character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. These, in turn, are supported by eight methods, listed in random order to emphasize that each one is equally important:

  • Patrol method
  • Ideals
  • Outdoor program
  • Advancement
  • Adult association
  • Personal growth
  • Leadership development
  • Uniform

Youth Leader Program

A key principle of the Scouting program is the emphasis on youth leadership.  Scouts are put in patrols, which are groups of 8-10 Scouts ranging in age from 10½ to 14 years old.  The patrol is led by an older, more experienced Scout, who is the Patrol Leader.  Patrol Leaders are elected by their fellow Scouts at summer camp in early July. The Senior Patrol Leader is the Scout who is responsible for planning and conducting the Troop activities.

Each year at summer camp, the Scouts vote to fill these important positions. After being elected to one of these positions, the Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader choose assistants to help them.  Several other older Scouts in staff positions assist him, and together they provide most of the planning, organization and leadership of the Troop. These include Quartermasters who maintain and distribute Troop gear such as tents, cooking equipment, and food.

The Chaplain Aide is responsible for the invocation at Court of Honors and for a small non-denominational service at camp.  Instructors are used in the training of both new and older Scouts in various Scoutcraft areas, both at the weekly meetings and campouts.

In order for the program to have continuity and meaning, it is important the boys attend the weekly meeting on Tuesday nights, and attend all of the camps. Weekly meetings are from 7:01 PM to 8:30 PM. The exception to this is the meeting immediately following a camping weekend. This meeting is an Advancement Night and lasts from 7:30 PM TO 8:30 PM. Full Scout uniform is required for all regular meetings. Advancement nights are casual.

Each member is required to have a full uniform. A full uniform is a Scout shirt and Scout pants. Scout shorts are permitted, but they must be worn with Scout socks. Uniforms can be purchased from the Scout Shop located in the Lake Erie Council Unit Service Center at the corner of E. 22nd & Woodland Avenue, in Cleveland. We maintain a uniform exchange within the Troop. Uniforms in the exchange are free of charge to our members. Since boys grow so quickly, donating to and issuing uniforms from the exchange makes sense. We do not require neckerchiefs to be worn except for Courts of Honor and special Community Service projects.

From the Boy’s Perspective

A key principle of the Scouting program is the emphasis on boy leadership.  Scouts are put in a patrol (group of 8 – 10 Scouts) that is led by an older, more experienced Scout (the Patrol Leader). At meetings and camps, activities are planned around the idea of patrol participation. Much of the planning, organization and leadership of the Troop is provided by the older Scouts. It is up to the youth leaders to not only plan the activities for camps and Troop meetings, but to also execute those plans.

Participation in all Scouting events is at the discretion of the individual Scout. However, to have the most positive experience in both learning and advancement, a goal of 95 – 100% participation in Scouting events is strongly recommended. If a Scout has a conflict with an event, the Scout should advise their Patrol Leader and an adult leader. Many times, arrangements can be made to accommodate late arrival to camps due to athletic or other outside commitments. Many of our Scouts actively participate in school athletics, youth groups, and marching band, while still having time for family and social obligations.

The Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC)

As a Patrol Leader, the Scout is a member of the Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC), and the Patrol Leader serves as the voice of his patrol members. Patrol Leaders should present the ideas and concerns of their patrol, and in turn share the decisions of the PLC with his patrol members.

The PLC is made up of the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), who presides over the meetings; the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL), all Patrol Leaders, and the Troop Guide. The PLC plans the yearly Troop program at the annual Troop program planning conference. It then meets monthly to fine-tune the plans for the upcoming month.

The Tuesday following a campout is an Advancement Night and Camp Planning session. In addition to planning the monthly campouts, the PLC also plans and carries out the weekly Troop meetings.  Honest evaluation is the only way the Troop will continue to improve. It is the responsibility of all Troop leaders to continually review our program and look for ways to make it even better.

The Troop’s Expectations of your Scouts

Your Scout is expected to be in regular attendance for meetings and camps. You should also expect him to attend community service projects that occur from time to time. He is expected to conduct himself according to the principles of Scouting as embodied by the Scout Law. He is encouraged and offered every opportunity to learn Scout Skills, to demonstrate what he has learned, and to complete the steps required to advance in rank. At all times he is free to move at the pace the he and you, as parents, agree is appropriate for him. We would like to see every Scout advance through the ranks and become Eagle Scouts, but only about 6.5% of the boys who enter Scouting achieve this lofty goal.

As a member of a patrol, your Scout will learn to work together with his patrol members in an atmosphere of teamwork. As he learns and grows, he will have opportunities for leadership positions in the Troop. Leadership is an opportunity and a responsibility, not a reward or a popularity contest. Scouts in positions of leadership are expected to have near perfect attendance and to exhibit Scout Spirit. As with any organization, we cannot operate without our leadership.

New Scout Patrol

The Boy Scout program is very different from the Cub Scout program, mostly in the fact that it is youth-led. If Scouts are coming from a well-run Webelos program where they were given responsibilities and decision-making opportunities, they will shift into a Troop environment easily.

The Parent’s Role in a Successful Troop

We want and need parents to support our program in a variety of ways. All of our meetings and camps are always open for parents to visit and observe. We do discourage parents from attending meetings and camps on a regular basis until your son becomes acclimated to the Troop. Experience has taught us that parents tend to be overly protective of their sons, and the boys tend to be more reluctant to join in, if their parents are present. It is important that your son begins to develop independence and that you also begin to learn to let go.  We offer an excellent opportunity for both things to happen in a controlled, supervised atmosphere. Watching your son(s) grow and mature into fine young men is the reward that keeps leaders in Scouting.

Once a Scout achieves one of the leadership positions such as Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Assistant Patrol Leader, or one of the many staff positions, there will be additional responsibilities and ways that parents can contribute to the Troop. Remember, being a Patrol Leader is probably the toughest job in Scouting! Also remember that these are boys leading the activities – things might not always run as smoothly as they would like – but they will learn from the experience.

Your son will be expected to set a positive example by properly wearing his Scout uniform to every meeting. Periodically, your son will host patrol meetings in your home. Each week, your son may be responsible for communicating the information regarding the upcoming meeting or campout to his fellow scouts. You may find yourself scheduling family outings and vacations around campouts, High Adventure trips, or other Troop activities.

You may find yourself driving boys to camp more often. It will seem like your son is constantly busy doing things for the Troop, like working on Eagle Projects, other service to the community, preparing for an upcoming campout or meeting, or helping another Scout. Your son will need your understanding and support to help him over any rough spots.

At a minimum, we require that parents help the Troop by volunteering to drive either to or from a camp twice a year.  You are free to volunteer more frequently if you desire.  In addition, we have a Troop Committee, which meets several times a year to assist the leaders in running the Troop.  Parent volunteers can serve in any of the following roles: Committee Chairmen, Fund Raising, Advancement, Transportation, Treasurer, Secretary, Eagle Court of Honor, Food Purchasing, Refreshments.

Parent’s Role in the Advancement Process

The first role a parent can play is to encourage their sons to advance at their own rate in the Scouting program. Every boy requires motivation from time to time. Remember, Scouting, unlike school, does not require a boy to advance. Scouts usually enjoy the program better if you let them advance at their own rate. Do offer to expose them to helpful resources that can help them to reach their own goals. The second role a parent can play is to help with Advancement Nights (usually the first meeting after a camping trip) by either teaching a skill, or checking the boys’ understanding of the Scout skill, so the boy will receive credit for knowing the Scout skill in question. We have materials developed for parents to use in these endeavors. Ask your Scoutmaster or one of the assistants to help. The only stipulation is that a parent cannot approve or sign off for their own child.

It is important that every parent remember that Troop 701 is a volunteer organization. Nobody gets paid for the time and effort devoted to the program of the Troop. It is important that each parent contribute their assistance and talents in the following areas: advancement, camping, refreshments, fund raising, secretarial or some other area such as hall monitor, or putting on a special program utilizing your contacts or professional skills.

Parent’s Role in Troop Transportation

Parents are expected to help drive to at least two camps a year. Sign up for driving is managed through our TroopWebHost page. Without parents to support our transportation needs, the Troop would not be able to camp each month. This is a critical function to making our Troop’s program a success. When a parent has signed up to drive to a camp, they are expected to drive even if their son is not going to camp. Should we have sufficient drivers for that trip, every effort will be made to let the parents that don’t have a Scout at camp to be excused from that trip.  All help is greatly appreciated by the Troop.

Scoutmaster Conference

It is important to remember what a Scoutmaster Conference is all about. It is our chance as adult leaders to know and develop a relationship with each Scout. A different Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster works with each rank, so your son will eventually meet with all of the adult leaders. Once a Scout has completed all of the requirements for a rank, it is his responsibility to schedule a Scoutmaster Conference with the adult leader who does that rank.

This conference is not a test, it is a chance for the scout and the adult to talk about his Scouting career to that point.  Once the boy successfully completes this Scoutmaster Conference, the adult leader will sign it off and your son will be eligible for a Board of Review.

Boards of Review

Scouts are not to schedule their own Boards of Review. Once they have completed the Scoutmaster Conference for the rank they are seeking, the adult leader they met with will sign off on the conference and notify the Troop Advancement Chairman that your son is ready for the Board of Review. The Advancement Chairman will let him know when the Board of Review will be scheduled.

The primary purpose of a Board of Review is to review a Scout’s advancement record and determine if he is qualified to be passed on to the next rank. The Board consists of three or four adults and is an important part of the Boy Scout experience which benefits both the Troop and the Scout. It is an important way for the Troop committee to gain feedback on Troop activities, as the Scout is usually asked what he liked best or least. It is also an excellent chance for the Scout to gain experience in the interview process, a skill which will help him when he begins looking for a job as he gets older.

As a Scout grows he advances through the ranks from Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class Scout, First Class Scout, Star Scout, Life Scout, and finally Eagle Scout. For each rank, the Scout must fulfill requirements that are outlined in the Scout Handbook. He must be an active member of the Troop, and he must pass a Board of Review. For the Ranks up to First Class a board of peers conducts the reviews. For Star and Life Scouts, the Board is made up of parents. For Eagle Scout, a member of the District Staff must also be present. The purpose of the board is to verify that the Scout has fulfilled his requirements, has grown as an individual, and exemplifies the principles of Scouting in a manner appropriate for the rank being earned.

Troop 701 has established some guidelines for Scouts in preparation for a Board of Review:

  • Wear the complete uniform, including merit badge sash and Troop neckerchief. The appropriate dress uniform for the BSA is the field uniform, sometimes called a “Class A” uniform.
  • Each Scout will be asked to repeat the Scout Oath and Law, as well as the Outdoor Code. Older Scouts who cannot successfully repeat all of these may be asked to come back.
  • The members of the Board of Review will ask questions that are pertinent to the rank your son is seeking. Some will be about skills he has acquired while working towards this rank, while others might focus on how he has made Scouting a part of his everyday life.
  • After he has answered all of the questions, he will be excused while the Board reviews his qualifications for the rank he is seeking.

While he will not be awarded the rank until the next Troop Court of Honor, the official date of rank will be the date of this Board of Review.  The time requirements for the next rank begin when the Board approves his advancement, not when he gets recognized at the Court of Honor.


Should it be necessary, Scouts will be disciplined in constructive and non-corporal punishment means. The majority of the time discipline is handled by the Senior Patrol Leader or Patrol Leader under the guidance of the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmasters. If a Scout is so unruly or causes serious mental or physical harm, the parents will be notified and the Scout will be sent home with the parents. If this occurs on a high adventure trip, appropriate one-way commercial transportation will be utilized and the cost covered by the Scout. Communication with the parents will be completed prior to the Scout’s return. The final decision rests with the Scoutmaster or trip leader.

Troop Court of Honor

We have two Troop Courts of Honor each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The fall Court of Honor generally awards all of the merit badges, camping awards, rank, and special awards that were earned at Summer Camp, and is our largest one. This is an important part of the Scout program and we need to have all of our Scouts and their parents in attendance. All of us like to receive recognition for our efforts and this is especially true for young people. You will find that if you show your son that advancement is important to you, he will usually find it is something important to him also.

Service Projects

Service to the community and others is an important part of the Scouting program. As Scouts, the boys are expected to be very active in this area. It may be through a Troop service project for our sponsoring organization, participating in an Eagle Project, helping out with the Cub Scout program, or just service to the community.

Not only will your son feel good about himself as he helps others, but he will also be providing valuable support to the community where we live. We have set a goal each year of “1,000 Hours of Service” to the community. This will include hours for the entire Troop and family members who take part in the service projects.

Community Service Award

To earn the “Community Service” award, a Scout must participate in four service projects and accumulate a minimum of 12 service hours. The first time a Scout earns the award, he is presented with a “Community Service” patch for his uniform. Every time the award is earned after that, a service pin will be awarded indicating how many times the Scout has qualified for the award.


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