How is your troop different from other troops?
We focus on high adventure in our troop. High adventure is the ultimate in outdoor experiences above and beyond the lower-keyed summer camp programs. Most high adventure expeditions have one or more purposes that involve several days to a couple of weeks in a remote outdoor setting. It typically is meant to include activities like backpacking, hiking, sailing or canoeing. We take pride that our troop can offer you with multiple opportunities for summer camps and high adventure. We normally have at least 2 summer camps and at least two high adventure trips every summer. Some of our high adventures have been at exotic locations such as Alaska. Hawaii, Switzerland, New Zealand and the Galápagos Islands. We feel high adventure is necessary to keep older scouts engaged in scouting. It also provides challenges and growth for the scout.
Who can become a Boy Scout?
Any boy 11 years old or who has completed the fifth grade is eligible. If you were a Cub Scout and earned the Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old, you too may join Boy Scouts. The maximum age for a Boy Scout is 18 years old.
Can I transfer from another Boy Scout Troop?
Yes, Scouts do transfer into Troop 285 for a variety of reasons, including: address changes, school or activity conflicts, or to participate in our strong activity and advancement programs.
Must I first be a Cub Scout to join Troop 285?
No. Prior Scouting experience is helpful, but all that is necessary is to meet the age requirements.
When do you meet?
We meet every Monday at 7 PM at the scout lodge but one meeting per month is the Troop Leadership Council (TLC) and is usually after a campout. The meetings last about an hour. Scouts normally do not attend the TLC unless they are in a leadership role.
What is a Committee/Troop Leadership Council Meeting?
This is a meeting once a month where troop leader, committee members and troop parents meet to discuss and plan upcoming events and campouts. The scouts in leadership roles also meet at the same time and the Senior Patrol Leader gives the council the scout perspectives and feedback on the last month’s activities.
What are scout leadership roles?
These are scout positions of responsibility in the troop which include Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Advancement Chair, Quartermaster, Chaplain, Order of the Arrow Representative and Den Chief. These positions last for 6 months except Den chief which lasts for a school year and must be applied for by the scout. The scout must be a First Class scout to hold a leadership position and those positions are required to earn the ranks of Star, Life and Eagle.
We have decided to join Troop 285, what do I do now?
The first step is to register. You will need to fill out the BSA registration form, the BSA medical form parts A and B and pay dues. Contact our registration committee member.
What will happen at our first meeting?
Your son will be placed in a patrol headed up by a patrol leader and a patrol dad. A patrol is a group of 8 – 10 boys.
What is the purpose of a “patrol”?
A significant part of the Scouting experience is to get plenty of HANDS ON activity. From knot tying, to cooking on a fire and stove, to learning how to use a pocket knife or axe… Scouts "DO". In order to make sure everyone gets a chance to DO, boys are divided into smaller groups within the Troop so that everyone gets ample opportunity to participate. This is part of what the BSA calls, "The Patrol Method". Within a patrol-sized group, boys do not get "lost among the crowd" or feel as though their opinions (and votes) don't matter. Each plays a critical and important role in the Patrol's success.
Are new Scouts mixed in with existing patrols or put into a new patrol?
New scouts are placed in the Lone Star patrol for 6 months usually when the Cub Scouts cross over to boy scouts in March. After 6 months they are placed in mixed age patrols.
What happens at a troop meeting?
Troop meetings are designed for the scouts to learn about the troops announcements regarding upcoming trips and activities, request and have Boards of Review for rank advancement, work on getting rank requirements signed off, work on scout skills, receive presentations or just play games.
How should my son dress for a troop meeting?
He will need a full scout uniform. Troop 285 recognizes two kinds of uniform: Class A and Class B. The Class A consists of the official Boy Scout uniform shirt, olive green pants or shorts, belt, olive green socks, Troop neckerchief and slide, and appropriate footwear (leather or canvas shoes, neat and clean, or hiking shoes or boots). The Class B Uniform substitutes the troop T-shirt for the official BSA scout shirt. The class B uniform is generally worn during summer months. You can buy new or used uniforms. Get a larger size so your son can grow into it.
Should a parent/guardian attend Troop meetings?
YES! This is a great opportunity to get to know other members of the Troop 285 family and to hear, first-hand, news of upcoming events and activities. Active parents are the single most important factor that will determine how successful their son will be in Scouting!
What are scout ranks?
In Scouting, the term "rank" is a PERSONAL measure of his progress along the "Trail to Eagle"… or more appropriately thought of as his "trail to manhood". When a boy joins Scouting, his first rank achieved is "Scout". He then works on the next 3 RANKS; Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class. Within the requirements of these ranks, a Scout learns the SAFETY aspects of Scouting; basic first aid, how to choose a safe camp spot, how to properly dress for an outing, how to find his way with map/compass, what to do if he gets lost, etc… Now a demonstrated "safe" Scout… he is ready for his next period of personal development, which is LEADERSHIP. In the pursuit of Star, Life, and Eagle, a youth is learning (and then mastering) the skills of leadership. By holding leadership positions within the troop, he learns to lead, instruct, and inspire others. He learns to "give back" to others, and also learns his emerging place in Society as a citizen.
How will my son earn scout ranks?
Advancement in Scouting is COMPLETELY under the control of the Scout himself. It is self paced. Buy a scout handbook which has a list of scout requirements. The scout should read the scout handbook to familiarize him with the objectives of the requirements. He then completes the requirements and is ready to meet with either his patrol dad or another adult in the troop that can sign off that he has successfully understood the requirement. We feel that scouting is a marathon intended to teach the scout leadership skills. It is not a sprint. We like the boy to mature while developing leadership skills.
What are merit badges?
Merit Badges are awards earned by scouts, The Merit Badge program helps the scouts learn career skills, develop physical fitness, and provide hobbies that give a lifetime of healthful recreation. Certain scout ranks require merit badges to be earned.
How will my son earn merit badges?
Merit badges must be earned with the assistance of a Council-approved registered Merit Badge Counselor. They can also be earned at summer camps and Merit Badge University. Your son will have to buy or find a merit badge pamphlet in our library and work on all the requirements. Once done he will contact a merit badge counselor.
Why are some eagle required merit badges only allowed to be taught by a troop counselor?
We want to ensure the scout receives the best oversight as these merit badges are important areas to understand when he becomes an adult.
How often do you camp?
We go about once a month for a weekend but not during June and July as those are summer camp months and not in December.
Do parents need to go on camping trips with their scout?
No but a certain number of adults are required on any scout trip so that an adequate number of drivers are available to transport all the scouts. In addition, attending trips allows for bonding with other parents and scouts. You must be a registered and have completed youth protection training to go.
What type of camping equipment will my son need?
That depends on the campout. The troop has some equipment that your son can checkout. Check with the quartermaster to see what is available. Do not buy expensive equipment when he first starts out as he will probably outgrow it. He will definitely need a sleeping bag but be careful; you do not want to send him on a cold weather campout with a summer sleeping bag or a summer campout with a winter sleeping bag. He will definitely need well fitting hiking boots, a water bottle and a flashlight. Ask your patrol dad or an adult leader on what equipment you need for a specific campout such as backpacks for a backpacking campout.
What summer camps should my son attend?
We normally go to Lost Pines in Bastrop Texas and either Wehinahpay or Tres Ritos New Mexico every summer. The first year scouts normally go to Lost Pines but you can attend any of the summer camps. You can also attend more than one summer camp during a summer. If a troop father wants to lead a trip to another summer camp then that is another option. As a general rule, most BSA high adventure treks (Philmont, Sea Base, and Northern Tier) have a minimum age of 14.
Is there a way for my son to earn money to go to camps?
Yes! We have programs for the scout to sell coffee, popcorn, camp cards and fertilizer. There is an opportunity to sell lunch at CokerFest arts and crafts weekend and they can sell programs at the AlamoBowl.
What type of volunteer positions do you have?
We have many that range from taking notes at the Troop Leadership Council Meetings to filling troop committee member positions of webmaster, registration, fundraising among others. Also need volunteers to lead campouts, summer camps and high adventure treks. As older committee members transition out newer members can take their place and can shadow them before they leave. The Troop Leadership Council meetings are a great place to find out what volunteers are needed.
Who is your sponsoring organization?
Coker United Methodist Church.
Who do I talk to if I have a question?
Scouts should talk to their patrol leaders first and if they still have questions they can ask the Senior Patrol Leader. Parents can ask any of the leaders or committee members on our Contact Us page.
Who do I talk to if I have a problem?
Either the scoutmaster or assistant scoutmasters.
Where can I learn more about the troop?
There is a binder for new scout families that has more information.
Who provides my son with his rank and merit badge patches?
The Troop provides all rank and merit badge patches as part of his annual dues payments and receives them at a Court of Honor.
What is Youth Protection Training (YPT)?
Do I need to take it? Youth Protection Training instructs adults in the steps BSA requires to keep our youth safe. It covers a variety of subjects including rules of contact, recognizing and preventing abuse, safe travel, camping, equipment, privacy, and many other subjects. You will learn the rules which all adults in the Scouting program are required to obey. All adult leaders who have contact with youth are required to take Youth Protection Training and remain current by retaking it every two years. This includes any adult who camps with the troop, drives Scouts to and from campouts or events, or works with Scouts in any capacity (including Merit Badge Counselors). Anyone can take Youth Protection Training - you do not have to be a registered leader. Begin your training by visiting the BSA Online Learning Center. Turn in your certificate of completion to the troop Committee.
What medical forms are required?
The BSA medical form has three parts and must be filled out for each registered scout and adult. Parts A and B are to be completed at least annually by participants in all Scouting events. This health history, parental/guardian informed consent and hold harmless/release agreement, and talent release statement is to be completed by the participant and parents/guardians.
Part C is the physical exam that is required for participants in any event that exceeds 72 consecutive hours, for all high-adventure base participants, or when the nature of the activity is strenuous and demanding. Service projects or work weekends may fit this description. Part C is to be completed and signed by a certified and licensed heath-care provider—physician (MD or DO), nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. It is important to note that the height/weight limits must be strictly adhered to when the event will take the unit more than 30 minutes away from an emergency vehicle–accessible roadway, or when the program requires it, such as backpacking trips, high-adventure activities, and conservation projects in remote areas.
Part D is required to be reviewed by all participants of a high-adventure program at one of the national high-adventure bases and shared with the examining health-care provider before completing Part C.
The form is online and is in the Portable Document Format. The fields are fillable on your computer and the completed form can be saved. We advise that you keep the originals and provide a copy to the troop. Also submit a copy of your insurance card.
What is a Scoutmaster conference?
When a scout is finished with all the requirements for his next rank, a Scoutmaster conference is required. Along with a Board of Review, these are Scouting's method of checks and balances. It is the scout’s responsibility to request a Scoutmaster conference and provide answers to questions that are found in the advancement section of the troop website before the conference. The Scoutmaster will go through and review to be sure that the scout's handbook is signed off properly and will review with the scout many of the requirements he has gone through. The Scoutmaster will also talk about the requirement which speaks to living the Scout Oath and Law in his everyday life. If the Scoutmaster feels that the scout is ready for this advancement, he will sign the scout's handbook. If the Scoutmaster feels that there are any deficiencies, they will be clearly outlined with what needs to be done to correct them, and a follow-up conference date will be set. Class A uniform is not required but the scout handbook and pen are required.
What is a Board of Review?
When a Scout has completed all of the requirements for a rank and had a scoutmaster conference, he must appear before a board of review. A board of review for the ranks of Tenderfoot through first class consists of three to six members with at least one adult leader and two older scouts with ranks above first class. The higher ranks of star and life consist of 2 or more adult leaders. There are questions on the troop website that are asked at the board of review for each rank. The board asks questions to determine if requirements were met for that rank. A scout must sign up for a Board of Review and a signup sheet is on the bulletin board in the back of the scout lodge. Scouts have to be in full Class A uniform with a merit badge sash, have the board of review questions sheet printed out with your son’s name on it and bring any required items such as a compass, knife, pen, etc.
What is the Order of the Arrow?
The Order of the Arrow is the BSA's National Scouting Honor Society. OA members exemplify brotherhood, cheerfulness and service, and assist Scouting through camp improvement projects, service to units, and assistance with council and district events. Scouts are elected to the OA by fellow youth members of their troop, and must have met certain requirements including achieving First Class rank and experiencing a minimum number of nights camping.
Can scouts bring knives on campouts? Is there knife safety training for the scouts?
Scouts may not use their knives until they receive a Totem Chip. A Totem Chip is a card that you receive once completing training on knives, axes and saws. Refer to the scout handbook for the requirements for receiving the Totem Chip.
Can the scout’s parent sign off their own scout for rank advancement or merit badges?
Not for advancement but for merit badges, the parent must be a merit badge counselor and the merit badge is being taught in a group setting.
What is a Court of Honor?
It is the presentation of rank advancement and merit badges earned over the prior advancement time period.
What is the Troop Committee?
The Troop Committee is made up of interested parents and other adults. The committee’s main priorities are approving Troop programs and activities as planned by the Patrol Leaders’ Council and Scoutmaster, and providing Troop program support as requested by the Scoutmaster, especially transportation and adult leadership for outings.
Does a Scout have to attend every meeting and campout?
All Scouts are encouraged to be in regular attendance at all Troop and Patrol activities and campouts. Attendance at meetings and activities is considered necessary to demonstrate “Scout Spirit.” A Scout must be active in Troop meetings and campouts to be eligible for ANY advancement. Scouts sometimes have other activities that conflict with Scouting. That’s OK, just come back when you are done! Let the Patrol Leader know about the conflicts in advance.