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Welcome to our Troop! We are very happy you decided to join us. We have a great group of boys and parents, and we’re dedicated to delivering a quality Scout program. You probably have 1,000 questions. Here is some general info to help you learn more about the troop.


Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts, is the traditional program where boys develop survival skills, confidence, and ethics through scout-planned activities. We are all about the outdoors: camping, hiking, canoeing, and more. We also have activities focused on service and leadership. As your Scout progresses though the program, he will earn merit badges and work toward the highest rank in Scouting, Eagle Scout. 


Troop 20 is a boy-led troop.  That means, unlike in Cub Scouts, the parents *do not* run the Troop! The scouts are supposed to run things. The scouts make the decisions about their activities, plan their activities, and communicate those plans.  Keep in mind, boy-led is not always efficient!  It can be a little chaotic and disorganized. Sometimes, the boys don’t do a great job communicating. Sometimes, they plan a meal on a camp out, but forget to bring the right cooking equipment. Sometimes, they will decide to go on a hiking trip that is impossible to complete in the time allowed.


We have found that many important lessons in life are learned through experience. Please be patient and remember that scouting is essentially a leadership program. These boys are learning to lead, but they are still in the learning process. We let them act as leaders and make decisions. Sometimes, they make mistakes. The adult leadership team steps in as needed, making sure activities are safe, and to coach and give advice. But whenever possible, we try to let the scouts be in charge. That is how they learn. And the crazy thing is… it works!

Meetings and Activities

We meet on Monday nights at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church on 10th Street in Cookeville. We usually have a meeting if public school is in session. If it is a holiday or a snow day, we usually will cancel our meeting.


Meetings run from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. We meet in the basement-level classrooms on the southwest corner of the church campus.

The first Monday of each month is the Patrol Leadership Council meeting. The PLC is the group of scouts and patrol leaders who run things. They are elected every six months by the entire troop. If your scout is not in a leadership position, he does not have to attend the PLC meeting.


During regular meetings, scouts might be doing activities that are based on a monthly theme, like learning first aid or working on physical fitness. They might be working together on merit badge requirements. They might be working on requirements to move up in the scout ranks. They might be planning future outings.


We try to have at least one big outing per month, where we all go camping, backpacking, visit a climbing gym, or go on a field trip.


Several times during the year, we will participate in a service project. This could be helping a fellow scout on an Eagle project or serving the community in some way. A certain number of service hours are required for each scout rank.


Every summer, we go to Boxwell Scout Reservation in Gallatin, TN for one week, usually the last week of June. More info below.

The troop also tries to have one high adventure trip each summer.  These are camps for the older scouts – they are more rigorous adventures. In 2022, we backpacked 50 miles on the Appalachian Trail. In 2023, we went to Philmont Scout camp in New Mexico for more backpacking.  In 2024, we’ll go to Northern Tier in Minnesota for backcountry canoeing. In 2025, we are going to Sea Base in Florida for sailing and snorkeling. These camps offer incredible opportunities for our scouts!


Many new parents ask about attendance and conflicts with other activities. Attendance at scout meetings is not mandatory. Many scouts take a few months off when they participate in a sports activity. Once the season is over, they resume with scouting. We encourage scouts to attend as many meetings and activities as they can, but we understand modern life with its many commitments. That said... a scout who does not attend regular meetings will understandably not progress through the program at the same rate as boys with regular attendance.


Rank Advancement
Scouts BSA is different from Cub Scouts. In Scouts BSA, “moving up” does not happen automatically every year.  The boys need to complete a list of rank requirements to move up in rank.  Summer camp is a great way to do this because there are specific classes designed to satisfy rank requirements.


Once completed, all rank requirements must be approved by an adult leader other than the scout's parent. The list of rank requirements can be found in the back of the Scout Handbook.


Once all the requirements are met for a particular rank, the advancement chair will schedule a Board of Review, which is a meeting with the scout and three adults in the Troop. During this meeting, the scout will answer questions and demonstrate that he has achieved the rank.

Merit Badges
There are Eagle-required merit badges, and there are elective merit badges.  Some merit badges take a lot longer than others, especially the Eagle-required ones.  If you search online for Merit Badges, you can find the list. There are over 100 of them! The Troop will work on some together. Others can be done at special day camps during the year called Merit Badge Universities. It’s also very common to earn merit badges during summer camp, or even independently (under guidance of a merit badge counselor). Here is the process:

  1. Scout chooses a merit badge. 
  2. Scout gets Scoutmaster approval and gets a "Blue Card"
  3. Scoutmaster helps Scout find a merit badge counselor.
  4. Scout works on Merit Badge.
  5. Counselor approves completed merit badge and signs the Blue Card.
  6. Scout turns in Blue Card to Scoutmaster.


The Blue Card is the documentation that shows a Scout is working on and has ultimately completed a merit badge. It should be kept with the scout’s important documents.

Summer Camp
Summer camp is a key part of the scouting experience. It is strongly recommended!  The troop spends a week together at Boxwell Scout Reservation, near Gallatin.  This usually takes place in the last week of June. Scouts will be busy in classes all day, either working on rank advancements or earning merit badges. There is hiking, swimming, campfires, and frequent visits to the trading post for slushes. They sleep in canvas tents and eat in a mess hall. The boys have a terrific time just being together in the outdoors.

A few months before camp, we will give the scouts a list of what to pack, what to expect, etc. We will need a few parents to attend summer camp with the boys, but we recommend that parents of first year scouts stay home. Let your scout form friendships with the rest of the boys.

Uniforms and Handbook

An important part of being a scout is the uniform. It unites us as a troop. It shows pride in our scouts and their accomplishments. It publicizes our organization. For these reasons, we require uniforms from the waist up – Shirt and Neckerchief. This is what we call the Class A uniform. Uniform shirts can be purchased from Scout Shop online, at the Scout Shop in Nashville, or at Cumberland Mountain Outdoor Sports (CMOS) in Cookeville.  We advise that you buy your shirt one or two sizes too large for your scout. He will grow a lot during his scout years! Let us know if you need financial assistance.  Official olive-green scout pants look great and we encourage them, but they are optional.  You may find less expensive pants at Academy Sports, Walmart, or even eBay.


There are a few patches that need to be sewn on the Class A shirt. We’ll give some of these patches to your scout when he joins the troop, but some will need to be purchased.


The official black Scout neckerchiefs are available for purchase from the Troop or the Scout Shop. Neckerchief slides can be purchased at the Scout Shop, or you can make your own, or simply tie your neckerchief in a knot.


In summertime or during certain activities, scouts are allowed to wear what is called the Class B uniform… it’s a Troop 20 T-shirt or any other Scouts BSA T-shirt. They can be purchased from the Troop.


The Scout handbook is also required. It contains all information and checklists of the scouts moving through the program. You can buy this online, or you may be able to find it at CMOS. 


We recommend buying a protective cover for the Handbook because it needs to last a long time. You can find a cover at the Scout Shop, or you can buy a Bible cover. Scouts can keep important papers in it, a pencil, etc. This is an important record of your scout’s achievements. Keep it safe!

We use an app called Band for group messaging, and Email. Band is for SCOUTS to communicate with each other. Adults primarily use email.

Private communication between adults and scouts is not allowed.  The scout’s parent must be CC'd on all emails or text messages.

[email protected] is the group email list. This is where you will get general announcements and news about the troop.


ScoutBook is an online platform where you can see your scout’s progress through the ranks and you can view all earned merit badges and badges in progress. We try to keep ScoutBook as up to date as possible, but when in doubt, we refer to the scout’s actual paper Handbook. This is why it is so important to keep that Handbook protected.

Costs and Fundraising
We are aware of the increasing costs of activities, and scouting is no exception! The annual fee for scouting is called the “recharter” fee. It all goes to Scouts BSA headquarters. It pays for the national organization, the cost of the scout program, and some insurance. None of it goes to our unit. None of our leaders are paid.

Scouts $82 per year

Brand new scouts have a one-time sign-up fee of $25

Adults $62 per year

The Troop does *not* collect annual or monthly dues. Most of our activities are pay-as-you-go. If the troop goes camping, we count up the number of campers, and split the cost of the campsite reservation and the food. If your scout drops out of a camping trip AFTER committing to going, the troop will not refund the money.

You can pay via Venmo or with cash/check. Whenever you pay for something, please indicate very clearly what it is for, and which scout is paying. For example, just sending “$30” is not helpful, but “$30 for Bobby Smith - spring campout fee” is very helpful. With 25 people paying for multiple activities, it can get confusing and we don’t want to lose track of any payments. Please help us keep track of everything so we credit you correctly for the things you have paid for.

The Troop has a few fundraisers during the year to pay our expenses:

We do scout popcorn sales in the fall.  Popcorn money goes to the general Troop fund to pay for merit badges, rank patches, Troop camping gear, propane tanks, etc. Part of popcorn money also supports our district and council, which maintain the Scout camps that we often visit.

Fall Creek Falls races
We work as support crew during two races at Fall Creek Falls.  This is usually combined with a camp out, to make it fun.  Money goes to the general Troop fund or toward high adventure camping trips.

Other fundraisers
We have participated in other fundraisers during the year when needed – Camp Card sales, RATA knife sales, etc.


We expect our boys to follow the Scout Law and the Scout Oath. We recite them before every meeting:


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


On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.


Anyone who follows the Law and Oath will not run into behavior problems!


We want every boy to be a scout. We know that sometimes, the boys with behavior problems are the boys who need the scouting program the most. Even so, the needs of the entire Troop must be taken into consideration. The PLC, the adult leaders, and the Committee will do our best to manage behavior problems.  Solutions will be developed on a case-by-case basis.


Parent Involvement
The Troop Committee is made up of parents and other adults who are committed to delivering a quality Scouting program to our boys. We meet once per month, usually via Zoom. We support the troop through the behind-the-scenes activities, keeping the troop running smoothly, like making campsite reservations, fundraising, handling recharter, and generally organizing things.  Interested parents are welcome to attend.


In general, Scouts BSA has much less parent participation than Cub Scouts.  You can simply drop your scout off at meetings.  You don't need to stay, but you are welcome to.  If you do leave, please come back no later than 8:00 to pick up your scout.

For scouting activities, whenever possible… DO NOT do everything for your scout.  Let him do it.  For example, give him the packing list for a camp-out, and then let him pack.  If you have concerns, tell him to lay everything out on the floor so you can make sure everything he needs is there. Then, let him put the stuff in his backpack. The next camp out, just give him a packing list, and let him get his gear together. He may forget things. He may be stubborn and not bring a jacket.  He may forget his tent. He may forget underwear. Don’t worry. The other scouts and the adults on the camping trips will help your scout figure out how to fix these problems. That is how they learn!

Even though we don’t need as much parent involvement, we do need some. For example, we need a few adults to go to summer camp with the scouts. Scouts BSA has a rule that any adult going on an overnight trip with the scouts must be a registered adult in the unit. That means, filling out the paperwork, having the background check, taking Youth Protection Training, and paying the fee (though the first year is often free).


We also need general participation:

  1. Committee Members – There are a lot of random tasks on the committee: lead a fundraising activity, coordinate service projects, research camp locations, book campsites, etc.
  2. Merit Badge Counselors – act as teacher and help scouts earn merit badges. If you have a particular set of skills or interests, please consider being a merit badge counselor.
  3. Driving to and from outings – We tend to bring a lot of gear with us when we go on trips, so we usually need a parent to drop off scouts or pick them up.


Eagle Rank
The highest rank in Scouting is the Eagle Rank. Scouts must complete this before they reach the age of 18. We have had scouts complete this rank when they were 16, and we’ve had scouts that just barely finished their Eagle just a few days before their 18th birthday.


Generally, a scout can achieve the Eagle rank after earning 21 merit badges, (14 of which are Eagle-required), and after completing a large service project that is planned, developed, and led by the scout. There is much more to it than that…  detailed information is available in the Scout Handbook.

The Eagle Rank is the culmination of a boy’s career in Scouting. Since our Troop was founded in 2008, we have had 18 Eagles. And many more on the way!


Scouts with active, involved parents are more likely to achieve the Eagle Rank. It’s an advantage to have on a college application or a job resume. Members of the military get a higher rank and more pay if they are Eagles. Eagle Scouts have gone on to become corporate leaders, Nobel Prize winners, governors, senators, representatives, astronauts, generals, Supreme Court justices, and presidents. These are the leaders of our country.


So, please… encourage and support your scout! Volunteer, get involved, and help us create the next generation of leaders for our country.


Thanks for reading, and if you have any additional questions, please reach out to a uniformed adult member of the Troop!

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