Parents Information Page

The mission
Troop youth leadership structure and the patrol method
Our Program


Welcome to Troop 402
We're glad that you've chosen Troop 402 for your Scouting Experience. By nearly any measure, we believe that this Troop delivers the Promise of Scouting for our youth participants. In the pages that follow, we hope to give you the information to make the most of your Scouting experience. For parents and youth that are new to Boy Scouting, this can serve as an introduction to the way the program operates. For those who are new to Troop 402, we hope to summarize the aspects of our unit that make it unique, and help in our mission of turning boys into men with good character and values.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. Scouting is a values-based program with its own code of conduct. The Scout Oath and Law help to instill the values of good conduct and honesty. A boy who spends one year in a Scout troop will learn lifetime skills. He will learn basic outdoor skills, first aid, citizenship training, self-reliance, and how to get along with others. Scouting will prepare him to live a more productive and fulfilling life. That all sounds wonderful to us as parents, but it would be a tough sell to a Scout-age boy. What makes all of these high-minded ideals palatable to youth is fun and the presentation that

Scouting is a game with a purpose. Fun is the game. Values are the purpose. Learning is the Process.

Boy Scouting is open to any young man between the ages of 11and 17 who is willing to abide by the Scout Oath and Law.

The Oath Scout
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Scout Law

A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

A visitor to our weekly meeting would notice that things don't always run smoothly, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Troop 402 is a boy run troop. That means that the boys make their own decisions about what activities are on the calendar, and how the meetings are run. They do their own planning and make their own mistakes. Firsthand, the boys gain the experience, the skills, the rewards, and the headaches of leadership. When things work well, the adults just sit back in their rocking chairs and observe. That doesn't mean that the adult leadership roles aren't demanding or that the Scouts are without supervision. The role of the adult in such a program is to facilitate, to teach, to guide, to demonstrate values, and to assure that the program meets guidelines for safety and BSA policy.


The Boy Scouts of America is a big organization, and as mentioned earlier, Troop 402 is a medium sized troop. As with all organizations, there is a certain level of bureaucracy involved. This section attempt to explain the structure and relationships of the organization on three levels:

Troop adult leadership

All Scouting units (Troops, Cub Scout Packs, Explorer Posts or Ships) are sponsored by a Chartered Organization. The Chartered Organization pays an annual fee to BSA, provides facilities where the unit can meet, and agrees to supervise the program (and the leadership) of the unit. In return, Scouting provides a structure that the Chartered Organization can incorporate into its youth development program and goals. Typical Chartered Organizations are churches, synagogues, Parent-Teacher Associations, and civic organizations such as the Lions Clubs or VFW Posts. Overall responsibility for the Troop's operation belongs to the Troop Committee, headed by the Committee Chairman. (Think of them in corporate terms as the board of directors.) The Chartered Organization's representative is part of the Troop Committee. There is no limit to the number of adults that serve on the Committee, and all parents are encouraged to serve in this capacity. Besides general troop oversight and approving troop leaders, Committee members also serve on in Boards of Review, which every Scout faces as the final requirement for any rank advancement.

Working more closely with the youth members are the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters. These adult positions supervise, coach and mentor the boys in Scout craft skills, problem solving, leadership, and rank advancement. Troop 402 follows the BSA ideal that Boy Scout Troops are boy run, giving youth the opportunities to learn by doing (and making mistakes). They will intervene directly where safety or BSA policy are at issue, but prefer to work through the youth leadership structure of the Troop. All Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters are registered with BSA and pay the annual adult registration fee. They are also expected to participate in BSA-provided leader training opportunities, including Scoutmaster Fundamentals, and Youth Protection training.

Also working directly with youth are Merit Badge counselors. There are over 100 Merit Badges dealing with particular skills or vocations, from Computers to Pioneering; Space Exploration to Wilderness Survival. For rank advancements beyond First Class, a certain number of Merit Badges must be earned, some elective, and some proscribed as Eagle Required. To earn a Merit Badge, a youth member works with an adult expert (by interest or vocation) in that subject area to demonstrate a level of proficiency and complete the requirements specified in a BSA-produced booklet for each badge. Each badge thus requires a Merit Badge Counselor. We ask every adult in the troop to complete a Resource Questionnaire and to serve as a counselor for one or more badges. This provides an opportunity to share knowledge, and enthusiasm with an interested Scout. Counselors must complete an Adult Leader application to be registered with BSA, but do not pay an adult registration fee. They are also expected to participate in BSA-provided Youth Protection training.

The Troop also regularly needs adults to serve as drivers, to help purchase patrol food and other materials for outings, and to serve as guest speakers at meetings; In short, we need you. The rewards are terrific! Besides getting a chance to see and enhance the growth in your own boy, you see other youth of similar age and gain an understanding of kids that you may not normally have. While none of the troop positions are paid (there's a joke that those who are paid to do something are professionals, those who aren't paid are volunteers, and those who pay are called Scouters), the excellent leader training programs can help you be a better parent and provide skills that you can use at your job.

Troop youth leadership structure and the patrol method.

We've made much of the fact that this is a boy run program and that one of Scouting's goals is to develop good leaders. A big part of how that is done is to give every youth an opportunity to be a leader. Every six months, new boy-leaders are chosen, most by election, some by appointment. The Senior Patrol Leader is the youth leader over the entire Troop. He generally appoints a cabinet of one or more Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders, Scribe, Librarian, and Troop Historian. Several other staff positions are appointed on the basis of skill or interest, including Bugler, Den Chief, Troop Guide, Chaplain's Aide, and Webmaster. You often see the Senior Patrol Leader and his Assistants abbreviated to as the SPL and ASPL, respectively.

This document makes mention of the word Troop more often than anything else. The Troop, in this case Troop 402, refers to the roughly hundred-or-so youth members and the adults that support them that belong to a group chartered to the Knight's of Columbus #3991. The Cub Scout equivalent was a Pack and the Explorer equivalent is a Post (or for Sea Explorers, a Ship). Virtually all record keeping is done at the troop level. For all that, the most important level of the organization isn't the troop it's the patrol. Every boy in the troop is part of a patrol, and the patrol works, cooks, and tents together on outings. The smallest group within the Troop, each patrol contains 8 to 12 boys reporting to a Patrol Leader (PL) and Assistant Patrol Leader (APL). Patrols are generally composed of boys that are about the same age and rank. Several new patrols are formed each spring with each class of new Scouts. Occasionally, patrols are combined or reassigned as necessary to keep the number of scouts in each patrol at the right strength. As with the senior Troop leaders, most Patrol Leaders and Assistants are elected every six months. In the new Scout patrols, the positions rotate more frequently to give each boy an opportunity to lead and see the relative leadership skills of fellow patrol members.

Roughly every few months, the Senior Patrol Leader, his cabinet, and the Patrol Leaders meet to plan for upcoming meetings and events. This is called the Patrol Leaders' Council, or PLC. These meetings take place before the regular troop meetings on the dates marked on the Troop calendar. Each fall, the PLC holds a meeting to determine the monthly themes and outings for the following year.

Training opportunities for youth leaders include  Junior Leader Training (JLT), an intensive weekend program conducted by the District. Brownsea is the youth leadership training offered by the Council.
A youth that has earned the Eagle rank and is at least 16 years old can be recognized for his experience and skill as Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (JASM).

The BSA structure has more layers than what is presented here, but this can serve as a field guide to the most frequently encountered terms and layers of the scouting hierarchy. Troop 402 is part of the Elk River District, which is part of the Middle Tennessee Council. The District level delivers many of the Council training programs and offers monthly leader Roundtable meetings. Most Camporees and Merit Badge Clinics originate at the District Level. This is the first level at which one encounters a Professional (paid) Scouter, the District Executive, though he/she is far out numbered by a cadre of dedicated volunteers.

Middle Tennessee Council.
The Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America serves over 45,000 youth in the Middle Tennessee Region. The mission of the Middle Tennessee Council is to foster the character development, citizenship training and physical fitness of young people through an emphasis on outdoor program experiences, and in ways to prepare them to be responsible, contributing members of society over their lifetime by instilling values based upon those found in the Scout Oath and Law.

National Office
Sometimes referred to as Irving, owing to the office's location in Irving, TX, the National Council determines the standards that all U.S. Scouting units follow. The National Council also publishes most of the Scouting literature, including Boys Life; oversees a Supply Division that provides uniform components, patches, equipment and other official paraphernalia; and operates national BSA facilities, such as Sea Base in Florida, Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Base in Minnesota. All applications for the rank of Eagle are processed (and hopefully approved) at the National Council office.

Our Program

The Patrol Leaders' Council lays out our program up to one year in advance. Though the events change to reflect the interests of the PLC, some things have remained rather constant. The following events, and exceptions to regular events, are noted on the troop calendar

For Scouts:
Troop Meetings are held every Monday from 6:30 PM to 8:00PM
Boards of Review are conducted at the discretion of the Scoutmaster.
Courts of Honor are planned  three times a year.
Weekend outings are planned monthly (except for June, due to conflicts with Summer Camp). These trips are generally scheduled by the PLC. Departure times vary but are generally around 6:00 P.M. Friday evening, returning after 11:00 A.M. on Sunday
Summer Camp is generally scheduled for one of the third week in June.

Your Son's Role:

Your Role:
Help your son get to meetings and outings.

                            It's OK for you to have fun too!

One long-time Scouting parent wondered aloud (only somewhat jokingly) whether her checkbook should have a khaki cover. The parents of many a new Scout may have similar feelings as they confront an array of costs related to registration, uniform, Summer Camp, physical exams, dues, and so on. While the total cost can be daunting, we ask you remember that cost should not be an obstacle to any boy that wants to participate. The Troop has many resources available to make the program accessible to those of modest means. This includes the council's annual popcorn sale, Scouterships and camperships to cover the cost of particular activities, trip payment plans, fee waivers, equipment loans, and experienced uniforms and gear.

Costs that you can expect include the following:
Annual Youth dues (prorated for those who join in mid-year) (Includes: national BSA registration, insurance,  and  Boys'Life magazine)
Annual Adult Registration (national BSA leader registration only, includes Scouting magazine)
A new scout will need a uniform shirt,  neckerchief slide, and handbook. Purchased new, these will total about $45, though a sizeable number of previously worn uniform shirts and trousers can be found. Uniforms are available from the national Scout Shops. Other outlets are listed in the Nashville Business White Pages under Boy Scout.

The Scouting program is an outdoors program, and being comfortable in the outdoors requires a certain level of equipment. A full discussion of equipment needs and preferences is beyond the scope of this letter. For new Scouts, the Troop has enough equipment to lighten a parent's load. A few of our outings involve drop in camping, where each patrol brings items that normally wouldn't be brought on a backpacking trip. Troop-supplied tents are available.  Outdoor outfitters can rent you a sleeping bag or backpack, if necessary, permitting you to defer those purchases, or evaluate your options before making such an investment.

Summer Camp (1 week). Cost varies by facility and whether the Scout takes advantage of early sign-up discounts, but figure about $130, plus another $25-50 pocket money for craft supplies, merit badge pamphlets, and snacks.
The highlight of many Scouting careers is a trip to a National or World Jamboree, or a High Adventure trip. Troop 402 seeks to provide as many of these opportunities as possible for our youth members. While costs are carefully contained to provide maximum value for youth participants, such trips are still significant investments. The Troop will often provide installment payment plans and fund earning opportunities for participants.


Good communications are a hallmark of any successful organization. If at any point you have questions regarding the program or your son's participation in it, feel free to contact any uniformed leader, the Scoutmaster, or Committee Chairman. (Names, addresses and phone numbers are listed in your Troop Roster.) We may not have an immediate answer for you, but will work diligently to obtain one. If you are not satisfied with the answer you receive, we can provide you with the names of the troop's Chartered Organization Representative, Unit Commissioner, or District Executive, who can assure that your concerns are fairly and appropriately resolved.

Much of the communication goes in the other direction. You can expect to hear from the Troop in many ways:
In regular weekly Troop meetings on Monday nights, the last few minutes are used for announcements. Where appropriate, handouts are also distributed at this time

The Troop planning calendar contains most troop events, laid out up to six months in advance.

Troop Newsletter - is a goal that we are still working towards. It will contain news, updates to the calendar, reviews of past outings, highlights of upcoming events, and the contributions of various Scouts and leaders.
Troop voice mail. We are currently evaluating a messaging service provided by the local phone company to update estimated return times for those on Troop outings and calendar changes. This service is currently not working, though we will alert you when it is available.

Telephone trees. For late-breaking changes to the troop schedule, the Senior Patrol Leader should contact each of the Patrol Leaders (or assistants) who are then responsible for contacting the boys in their respective patrols. In keeping with the concept of a boy-run troop, we recommend that the boys make the phone call to clarify the details for any particular event. Generally, they should call their Patrol Leader, assistant, or SPL; for Eagle service projects, contact the youth responsible for the project.
Our latest means of communication is the troop home page on the World Wide Web. Computer-equipped Scouts or their families can find us at

***  Recognizing that the Web is a public medium, it is our policy to not provide youth contact information or other private data in that forum. With that constraint, we welcome suggestions in how the Web site can best provide the information you want and need.

Boys Life magazine is a monthly magazine for boys.
Scouting magazine is a BSA national publication sent monthly to all fee-paid adult Scouters.