First Year Scouts
The fundamental Scouting skills are what all the subsequent years are built on. The skills that you learn leading up to first class will carry you through the ranks to Eagle and also give you the knowledge you need to delve into high adventure.
During your first year with 845 a strong emphasis will be placed on learning the skills up through first class. I'm sure you've browsed around the website a bit so you know we won't be heading to the library to do this. Throughout the year, Scouts work on skills at meetings and then apply the skills while on the next campout.
When we have a new round of scouts come in we'll put together a weekend called BSA 101. On this introductory weekend Scouts learn the very basics of setting up tents, cooking, starting fires, packing and anything else needed to slingshot them into the fastlane of normal 845 weekend outings.
Most of our first year scouts also attend at least one summer camp with the troop. This is also a fantastic opportunity to not only get a solid week of camping under their belt, but also to advance in rank, and grab a few merit badges while they're at it.
As a first year Scout here's some things you should do:
- Get all your registration and medical forms filled out and turned in
- Get a full uniform
- Look through your book and become familiar with the Scouting program and the first few ranks
- Pick up some of the basic gear like a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and some warm clothes
- Go on trips - This is what scouts is all about so go on as many as you can
- Start working your way towards First Class, you should try to get there in your first 18 months
The first year in Scouts can be quite a blur since there is so much going on and each month is a new activity to prepare for. One thing is for sure, it'll be alot of fun for both you and your son. In no particular order, here is some useful info to consider.
With a troop of our size we're always looking for help and that doesn't always mean going on the camping trips. Here's a few ideas of where you could help out:
- Assistant Scoutmaster (camping in the cold might be involved here)
- Parent Committee (lots of positions available here)
- Merit Badge Counselor
- Court of Honor chef
You can help your son out by:
- Making sure his registration paperwork is filled out
- His med forms and insurance card are on file
- Go through the Scout book and complete the joining and Scout requirements
- Put the monthly outings on the family calendar
- Go through the gear list and start to pick up some items for the first few trips
Since we usually get alot of questions about this, here's how a weekend trip works. The trips are placed on the calendar every June and in the month leading up to the trip we prepare for that outing. Our trip coordinator puts out a permission slip with a trip cost and specific information that should be signed and turned in a few meetings before the trip.
On the night that we leave for the trip we usually meet at the Church around 5:30 pm. Your son should have a bag dinner or have eaten beforehand. We'll get all the guys into cars and carpool to our destination. After a usually epic outing, we'll head homeward bound. If we're a couple hours away we'll stop for lunch. On every trip we'll try to call all the parents when we are about 30 minutes out. Once we get back to the church we need to unload and clean the van, put troop equipment back in the shed, and send home patrol boxes with the appropriate people to get cleaned.
There is plenty more to know so come on by a few meetings and ask any questions as they come up.
Troop 845 does a lot of trips and a lot of big trips, so if you're in our Troop chances are you'll accumulate quite a stash of equipment by the time we pin an Eagle on you. Lets start with some of the basic gear that you'll find useful in your Scouting career:
- Backpack - You'll need this for every outing. You can go with an internal or external frame pack and should make sure you try it on before you buy it. It should be about 3000-4000 cubic inches, you don't need anything in the 5000 cubic inch range
- Sleeping bag - Use what you can get your hands on for the first few trips, but when you get to the point you want to invest in a good sleeping bag you should get a 20 degree down bag with a fill of 700 or 800. REI makes a nice one. Make sure you keep it dry on outings.
- Sleeping Pad - Get some sort of ground pad to insulate you from the ground. The inflatable ones are a bit more expensive but are really nice. Go with the Thermarest 3/4 length ultralight bag.
- Tent - Get a basic two person free standing tent. The big 6 person mega tents don't really work on most of our trips. The REI Half Dome or Quarter Dome is a nice option
- Boots - A good pair of boots is essential and some of the bigger boots can take a long time to break in so many Scouts will outgrow them before they are even broken in. Trail runners can be a good option for most of our trips as they are low cut, light, and easy to break in. Salamon, Garmont, and Vasque make some nice models
- Socks - get Smartwool, nothing cotton
- Pants - polyester long underwear and brushed nylon over pants are a good start
- Shorts - Get some synthetic outdoor shorts that you can hike, climb, swim and bike in and that dry fast
- Long Sleeves - Layers is the way to go. Go with a light synthetic top, a heavier fleece, a maybe a down jacket in really cold weather
- T-Shirt - Get a synthetic T shirt that you can wear for everything
- Rain Jacket - Get a light weight, breathable waterproof jacket for every outing. Marmot Precip is a classic favorite
- Hat and gloves - some basic fleece hat and gloves should suit you for most outings
- Headlamp - a flashlight will do for a while, but when you have a chance get a nice LED headlamp, a Petzl Tikka XP is a good choice
- Stove - The MSR Pocket Rocket is the preferred stove in our troop
- Mess Kit - You only need a one quart pot for all your cooking and backcountry needs. Titanium cookware is nice and lasts a long time
- First Aid Kit - Use your Scout book for some basic items, make sure to have a blister kit
- Water Bottles - You should have a three quart carrying capacity. Get a 1 quart Nalgene and two one quart platypus bags.
- Compass - get a basic compass from REI
- Bandanas - These can be used for any and everything, have a few in your pack
After you've built up a bit of a stash of gear you may want to get some more specialty items like: Gaitors, trekking poles, or a water filter.