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Transitioning to Scouts BSA

Dear AOL Parents,

Bridging to Scouts BSA is exciting and a big milestone! However, with so many troops in our area, the process of finding the right one can be overwhelming. Here are some tips:

In October, our District will host a Roundtable and invite all the Meridian District Scouts BSA troops to have an information table. Do attend! It’s a rare opportunity to speak to all of them under a single roof and start narrowing down your selections. The AOL Den Leader will also forward invitations from local Troops to open house or recruiting events. Be on the lookout for those.

The district has a great search page that allows scouts to see all the troops within a certain mile radius with both map and list views:

Once you have your top picks, visit the troops. Attend a few different ones to get a feel for their differences. If you and your scout are not sure, and you have permission from the troop to attend, go back again and again. Sometimes visiting a troop during non-recruitment meetings can help you decide.

When interviewing a troop, here are some questions to consider:

  1. When and where does the troop meet? If it doesn’t work for your schedule or it’s too far, think carefully. Scouts BSA troops meet weekly and often depart from the same location for outings. If you can’t easily get your scout to their meetings, it can become a problem down the road.

  2. Is there a diversity of ranks throughout the troop? A troop with all low-ranking scouts means there’s holes in youth leadership, or they’re having trouble retaining older scouts. Conversely, all Life and Eagle Scouts means the boys will soon graduate and disappear on you.

  3. A good troop should be scout-led with sufficient adult supervision and support. Look behind the scenes; does the troop have a strong committee with all the adult and scout leadership positions filled?

  4. Do the adult leaders have their training, and are they attending District meetings? All troops need leaders proficient in scouting skills.

  5. Check the troop calendar; does the troop have an active calendar with frequent camping and outings? The activities are not only fun, they’re needed for your scout to complete their requirements and advance.

  6. A well-functioning troop should have active youth leadership. Youth leaders who plan and lead meetings, activities, and outings contribute to a more engaging and empowering experience.

  7. Consider the types of activities the troop participates in. A good mix of outdoor adventures, community service projects, and skill-building opportunities can create a well-rounded scouting experience.

  8. Inquire about the troop's approach to rank advancement and merit badges. A troop that supports scouts in their advancement journey and encourages personal growth is ideal.

  9. Scouts BSA offers a wide range of merit badges. A troop that offers diverse opportunities for scouts to earn merit badges related to their interests is a plus.

  10. After narrowing down to a few troops, take your scout to visit them. Did you both feel welcomed? Were the scouts engaged and doing something interesting, or were they disorganized and bored? Who’s  leading the meetings and activities? Hopefully the older scouts!

  11. How does your scout feel? Choose the troop together. Your scout might have a few good friends in a troop, which can make all the difference in keeping him motivated.

  12. Don’t miss your deadline! The popular troops fill quickly. To make your application stand out, have your scout include a letter with their application. Mention all the wonderful things they love about scouting.

  13. Great troops need strong adult support; be willing to help! Let the troop know how you can contribute. Complete and include your Youth Protection Training certificate so you can start immediately.

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