New Member FAQ

When joining the troop you should have received a Troop 204 Handbook. Many questions are answered in depth in there. Please ask the Troop Committee Chairman if you have not received a copy. The following is a brief recap of frequently asked questions.



  • Does my son need to buy a backpack? Our troop does mostly “Cadillac” camping, i.e. we don’t usually have to carry our gear very far from the parking lot. Therefore, a backpack is not a necessity. Some boys, however, find them convenient because it keeps all their gear in one easily carried bundle.
  • Does my son need to buy a tent? The troop has tents available for each of the patrols. Some boys prefer to buy their own. Two boys must share a tent as part of the “buddy” system used in scouting.


  • What is Class A? Class A consists of either the scout shorts or scout pants, scout shirt, scout belt, troop neckerchief, and scout socks. Class B is the same except a scout-related t-shirt or jeans may be worn.
  •  When does my son need to be in Class A versus Class B? The Class A uniform is worn at formal activities (such as Courts of Honor), while traveling on troop outings, or whenever visible to the public or to other troops. Class B may be worn to troop meetings and is generally worn once the troop has arrived at the campsite for a weekend trip.
  •  Why does the troop always travel in Class A? The uniform represents the positive influence Scouting has on our youth and creates a visible image in the community. By wearing a uniform a Scout reaffirms his commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting.

Service Hours

  • What are service hours? Service hours are ways for the scout to give back to his community, church, or school. Scouts often help out in their church nursery; assist at the library, etc. Service hours are a requirement for advancement for certain ranks.
  • Do I just tell you what my son did for his service hours? The scout should ask the Scoutmaster for approval of his proposed service before he performs it. When complete, the scout should inform the Scoutmaster or give him a letter from the organization recognizing the assistance and the Scoutmaster will sign the requirement in the scout’s handbook.
  • Why is participation in luminaria required? Luminaria distribution is a service that the troop provides for the Town of Cary. It gives back to the community. Also, the small profit that the troop makes on each kit helps fund the troop’s budget. The whole troop benefits from the funds raised and so the entire troop is expected to participate.

Monthly Outings

  • If my son is signed up for a trip and gets sick do I get a refund? In most cases the answer is no. The reason is that the outing fee covers the cost of the campsite rental, equipment rental, propane costs, etc and these costs will still be incurred. Likewise, the grubmaster has already spent the food money for the patrol for the weekend. The one exception would be if there was a per person charge for an activity and the minimum amount of participants has been met such that the supplier is not charging for people not in attendance.
  • Should I give my son’s medication to a scoutmaster to administer? No. The scout must take responsibility to administer his own medication. However, if there is a real concern about the effect of missed medication the scoutmaster in charge of the trip will be willing to monitor the administration of medication for your peace of mind.
  • Why does my son always come home with a tent or cooler to dry? Any time the tents are damp when the troop packs up they must be taken home to dry so they won’t mold. Also, if the coolers were not properly washed out and dried they may also come home. The Quartermaster strives to be fair when assigning these items to be taken home.
  • Why can’t I write one check for food and outing fees? The food money is going to be given to the patrol’s grubmaster to purchase groceries while the outing fee is given to the Treasurer to pay for campground rental, equipment rental, etc. Since they are going to different people they need to be paid separately.
  • Why does the money for food for the weekend have to be cash? The parent of the patrol grubmaster doesn’t want to have to go by the bank to deposit these checks before they go to the grocery store to buy the weekend’s food.
  • Can a parent go camping with the troop on the monthly outing? Any parent is welcome to go on the trips with the troop. On rare occasions there may be a limit on participants and registered leaders would be given preference. When accompanying the troop, however, always keep in mind that you are there under the direction of the Scoutmaster as a leader and not as your son’s parent.
  • Is it a good idea for me to go camping with my son the first year? Usually it is a good idea not to go on the outings with the troop during your son’s first year. This gives him the opportunity to learn how to work with his patrol and do things for himself without having the ability to rely on you.
  • Why do the outings cost so much? We strive to keep the outing cost down to a minimum by having a variety of trips during the year that are chosen by the boys. There are a lot of components to the outing cost such as the campground fee, propane, rental costs for specialized equipment, mileage reimbursement to the drivers, etc. Each outing is supposed to be self-supporting although the troop committee does help subsidize some of the more expensive trips.
  • What does the outing fee cover? The outing fee covers the campground fee, equipment rental, mileage payment to the drivers on the trip, propane cost, etc.
  • My son is grubmaster this month. Does the troop have coolers to send home with the grubmaster to put the cold items in? The troop does have coolers to put the perishable items in. They should be picked up the Monday night before the trip so the food is already loaded in the coolers when you bring your scout on Friday night and the cooler may be loaded on the trailer without delay.
  • How do we transport the food the grubmaster has purchased? The troop has a 30 gallon container to put each patrol’s non-perishable items in. These are also picked up the Monday night before a trip so they can be loaded prior to your scout’s arrival at the church on Friday night. Please keep the size of these in mind when purchasing food.
  • My son has never been grubmaster before. Will someone help him decide how much food to buy? One of the troop guides assigned to the patrol will go on the grocery trip with your son and help him decide how much and what types of food to buy. The scout and troop guide should arrange a time to get together to do the shopping.
  • If there is money left over after the food is bought does it get returned to the boys who went on the trip? Typically this is not an issue because the amount collected for each weekend is not that large. However, leftover funds may be used to purchase extra supplies such as aluminum foil, matches, dishwashing soap, or bleach for the next trip.
  • My son is the grubmaster for his patrol and one of the scouts has not paid his food money. Should we go ahead and buy for him anyway? The scout without the funds should make arrangements to bring the missing funds to the grubmaster’s house by Wednesday evening so that grocery shopping may be done either Wednesday night or Thursday night depending on other activities. If the grubmaster doesn’t have the funds by the time they go shopping, they should not buy food for people that have not paid. The scout should then plan on bringing his own food for the weekend. This way the grubmaster’s parents don’t run the risk of not being reimbursed for funds they expended on the scout’s behalf. After all, responsibility is one of the traits that we are striving to develop in all our scouts.
  • What is the Scoutmaster’s cell phone number in case I have to get in touch with my son this weekend? The Scoutmaster’s cell phone is listed on the roster, which is available on the troop website.

Merit Badges

  • How does my son get a blue card? When your son asks the scoutmaster for a merit badge blue card they will discuss what merit badge counselors are available for the badge in question. The scout should obtain a blue card from the scoutmaster indicating the start date of the badge before any work is initiated. In some cases, instructors for formalized classes will obtain blue cards for all the scouts in the class. These classes may be held on merit badge weekend or those announced in the Bugle.
  • Can I sign off on the requirements for a merit badge? Unlike cub scouts, the parents do not sign off on requirements unless they are a registered merit badge counselor for the merit badge in question. In the latter case, work should always be done along with another scout.
  • Can my son work on merit badges as a first year scout? Yes. He will work on merit badges at summer camp and on a merit badge weekend. However, outside of these two events his first priority should be to finish up with the rank requirements through First Class before focusing on merit badges.
  • How do I know which partial merit badges my son has and what requirements he has left?Your son may request a sheet showing his progress toward the next rank and what requirements are left on partial merit badges from the Advancement Chair at any time. Should there be items that are not appearing on this sheet, the scout should ask his merit badge counselor as they may not have reported everything to the Advancement Chair.
  • How do we find out who the merit badge counselor is for a particular merit badge?The Scoutmaster has a printout of the current list of merit badge counselors at the table on Monday nights.
  • What is a merit badge weekend? The troop has a history of putting on one merit badge weekend each year if voted on by the scouts at summer camp. This is an outing that concentrates on the Eagle required merit badges. There are normally 4 sessions of classes offered over the course of the weekend and the intent is to work on a number of the badge requirements. Recognizing that all work is not much fun, there are “fun” merit badges also and the evenings provide a lot of free time for the scouts to enjoy.

Rank Advancement

  • How do the requirements for the various ranks get signed off?A scout must see a skill demonstrated, learn it, and demonstrate that he has mastered it. His troop guide, junior assistant scoutmaster, or an assistant scoutmaster can sign these requirements off for him.
  • Who does the scoutmaster conference for each rank? Any assistant scoutmaster may do the scoutmaster conference for ranks up through First Class. Your son should ask for a scoutmaster conference when he has finished the requirements for a rank. In Troop 204 only the Scoutmaster handles scoutmaster conferences for ranks above First Class.
  • How do I request a Board of Review? You don’t. When the scoutmaster conference is completed the Scoutmaster will contact the troop committee to request the Board of Review. The scout will be informed of the date of their Board of Review. For each rank, there will be only one Board of Review on one night for each boy – having two Boards of Review in one night will not be scheduled or allowed.
  • Why is there a participation requirement for Scout Spirit at each rank? A main foundation of Lord Baden Powell’s vision for the boy scouts was the patrol method. This means that everyone chips in to tackle the necessary tasks and also to support each other. Without attending a certain amount of troop meetings and outings the scout is not able to get as much out of their scouting experience because they don’t get to bond with their group, form a team, and master the basic scout skills.
  • How does my son request a position and when? Your son may start holding positions of leadership at any time although it is usual for them to focus on Patrol Leader or Assistant Patrol leader until they achieve First Class rank. The scout may ask the scoutmaster in charge of the First Year program to become a Troop Guide or Den Chief. The Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders are elected by the troop and become eligible to become Senior Patrol Leader. For all other positions, the scouts should ask the incoming Senior Patrol Leader. It is not necessary to wait until close to the March or September Court of Honor to request a position. Waiting too long may result in all the positions already being filled.


  • What is the PLC? The PLC is the Patrol Leaders’ Council. It consists of the Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders, the Patrol Leader of each patrol, and the Troop Guides, who each have a vote. They are responsible for planning and conducting the troop’s activities. In addition, the other troop positions (Librarian, Historian, Chaplain Aide, Instructor, Quartermaster, and Assistant Patrol Leader) are also encouraged to attend.
  • What is a SMC? SMC stands for Scoutmaster Conference. When a scout has completed the requirements for a rank he asks for a Scoutmaster Conference. This is a chance for the scout and Scoutmaster to get to know one another better. The Scoutmaster gets to review the scout’s growth and work with him to set goals for future advancement. Also, he makes sure that the scout is ready for his Board of Review.
  • What is a BOR? A BOR is a Board of Review. This is the scout’s chance to meet with the troop committee before his rank is awarded. It is NOT to be a retest of the scout’s mastery of the skills for the rank. That is the responsibility of the scoutmasters. Questions may be asked about some of the requirements as a means of getting to know the scouts. In addition, he is asked what is going well with the troop and what he would like to be changed. The committee values these suggestions and will pass them along anonymously to the scoutmasters.
  • What is a COH? COH is the abbreviation for a Court of Honor. It is held quarterly and is essentially the Boy Scout equivalent of the Cub Scout pack meeting. Ranks are awarded during ceremony time, merit badges are passed out, and skits may be presented by the various patrols. This is a time for your scout to celebrate his achievements and so it is very important for his parents and family to attend. In our troop, the March and September COH’s are the big ones. The March COH is similar to the Blue and Gold banquet and honors scouting. The September COH is the one where most merit badges and ranks are awarded since the troop is just back from summer camp where a lot of badges are completed. Also, the first year scouts are typically receiving their first rank advancement by this time. The June and December Courts of Honor are usually smaller and are followed by light refreshments.

Summer Camp

  • Will my son do merit badges at summer camp? First year scouts will focus primarily on rank advancement at camp. However, their schedule will still allow them to work on merit badges.
  • Is it real important that my son go to camp? Yes, especially for the first year because it offers an opportunity to bond with the other first year scouts and to advance in rank together. In addition, they will get to know the other scouts and scoutmasters in the troop better. In subsequent years summer camp attendance allows older scouts to take up leadership roles, experience new activities, and continue merit badge classes. Summer camp allows an opportunity to acquire several merit badges in a short period of time. This will assist in progressing through the various ranks.
  • Should I drive up for the Parent’s Night? Every family is different and you will need to answer this question for yourself. Many times, though, the scout has settled into the groove of summer camp by mid-week and seeing his parents may increase his homesickness and make the rest of the week harder.
  • How long is the physical form good for? The new physical form, required for youth and all adults participating in an outing , is in effect for 1 year from the date of the doctor’s signature.
  • Why don’t you want my son to call me while he’s away at camp? Summer camp is a time for your son to grow independent and expected phone calls would diminish this opportunity for growth. In addition, the camp that the troop has been attending in recent years has one public phone at the Admin building and over 800 boys wanting to use it. During the free time that the scouts have it would be impossible for all 800 of them to use the phone. Calls for emergency purposes are always acceptable.

High Adventure

  • What are these High Adventure outings I keep seeing on the calendar? The High Adventure outings are ones that are directed at boys at least 13 years old and First Class. They are usually more physically challenging than the normal monthly outing. Through the addition of these trips it is hoped the older boys will stay interested in scouting and stay with the troop as role models and leaders.
  • My son is mature for his age and wants to go on these High Adventure outings. Why is there an age limit and can it be waived? Due to the established purpose of these trips an age limit has been established and will be adhered to. Your son’s chance to attend will come.