Do you need to bridge into the Troop where you are currently a Cub Scout?
Absolutely not! Just because a charter organization has “their own” Cub Scout pack and a Boy Scout troop, a boy is NOT obligated at all to bridge into that Troop.
While all Troops (should) follow the same BSA Program designed by the National Council of the BSA, you will find every troop has a program MUCH different than any other. Some predominantly like to HIKE, others BIKE, some CAMP while others CANOE. Some are “year round” and others take a summer break.
It’s in your son’s best interests to shop around and make sure the place he is likely to spend the next 7 years of his Scouting career is going to be the best fit for him. A boy should have NO pressure placed on him as to which troop to join.
We’re looking at troops. What should we look for? WHAT should you look for when you visit a troop? WHAT are some signs of a “good” unit?
Keep these things in mind:
- How is the attendance? (low enrolment and/or attendance may indicate a troubled program.)
- Were the boys AND leaders in the proper uniform?
- Are boys advancing at an individualized rate?
- Is there a mix of ranks among the Scouts, even in the same patrols? (Right answer is “yes”)
- How many EAGLES did they have last year? (BEWARE of “Eagle Farms”. On average, only 2 per 100 boys in Scouting make it to Eagle. Rates higher than average demand scrutiny as they may be too lax about advancement requirements, or may indicate an “adult prepared” agenda. “EAGLE” is earned by the BOYS making the effort to achieve on their own initiatives, not by being “spoon fed” an agenda of merit badge coursework over a pre-defined schedule.)
- Were YOU welcomed? Did they make you feel genuinely welcomed and wanted?
- WHO is TEACHING? Boys, or adults? (With the exception of “advanced” skill instruction, boys should be running the meeting, not adults.)
- Are they having FUN? Do boys look interested, or bored?
- Are there boys of various ages? (Big gaps in enrollment may indicate periods of a problem program or “issues” with the adult leadership.)
- How long has the Scoutmaster been the Scoutmaster? (A “new guy” may be lacking experience, and “old timers” generally lack “updated program” changes.)
- Is there room for you as a leader or on the Troop Committee?
- Are the boys well behaved? Do they respond to the “Scout Sign” or was someone screaming “SIGNS UP!!!”?
- What trips has the troop had and what do they have planned? Do they do the same thing every year, or are they always trying something new and exciting?
- WATCH YOUR SON! Did he blend in? Did the boys make efforts to include him?
- Watch for different “stages” of the Troop meeting. There should be distinct periods of Skill Instruction, Patrol time, Inter-patrol Activity, and some formal opening and closing ceremonies.
- Finally, what are the facilities like? Is there adequate meeting space.. storage space…space to “do things”?