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General Information

Welcome to our general information page. Here we hope to introduce you to our troop and provide answers to basic questions that you may have. More in depth information on many of these topics can be found in other sections of our web site. Start here, and then continue to explore our web site.

As you start, realize that selecting the right Boy Scout Troop for you may be the most important decision of your scouting career. Rest assured that there are many very good troops in our area, and you should visit several troops to find the one that is right for you.

Unlike Cub Scouts, where Packs are organized around a common gathering point like a school or a church, Boy Scout Troops are organized around common values, philosophies, and interests. Boy Scout Troops do not necessarily draw youth from a specific church or school, but rather gather a set of youth with similar interests. Each Boy Scout Troop has its own unique character, traditions, and activity focus. There are troops that focus on activities like spelunking, backpacking, high adventure, etc. Picking a troop that focuses on activities that interest you is key to staying in scouting and on the trail to eagle. All too often, a boy selects a troop because it's the one his friend selected, or it's just down the street ... only to find that the troop doesn't match his interests — the result being a lost scout. While it's always good to have a friend or two to join you as you begin your new journey, you will quickly find yourself quickly developing new friends as you work in the patrol method and cook, eat, and sleep with your patrol every month.

Troop Meetings

Our troop meetings are on Thursday nights from 7:00pm - 8:30pm. We meet weekly, except for the fourth Thursday of each month. The fourth Thursday of the month is our Patrol Leader's Council (PLC) and also the Troop Committee meeting. On those months that have five Thursdays we generally have a special event — usually a movie night. We are a full-year troop, we continue to meet and have activities over the summer months when school is not in session.

Our troop meetings are broken into 3 main sections.

  • A troop activity time where the entire troop focuses on instruction for a scout skill.
  • Patrol time where the patrols may practice a scout skill, prepare meal plans for upcoming campouts, or work on any other patrol activities.
  • A merit badge time where merit badges are offered during the troop meeting. We try to offer all of the Eagle required merit badges except for swimming, environmental science, and first aid. Generally there is a choice of three merit badges to work on, two Eagle required and one other merit badge for the older scouts.

There are generally not patrol meetings outside of the regular Thursday meetings. The exception is that some of the older scouts in the venture patrol may schedule outside meetings to prepare for upcoming activities.

We hold our meetings at St. Theresa Catholic church in Ashburn.

Driving directions to the church.

Camping

The troop camps monthly. The weekend following the third Thursday of the month is our camping weekend. We generally depart for camping trips between 5:00pm and 6:00pm on Friday night and try to return home before noon on Sunday. In December, we forgo the routine weekend camping trip for a day hike due to the busy holiday season. The troop attends summer camp the last full week of July each year. This replaces a weekend camping outing in July. Our other exception is June, were we camp the first weekend of the month to avoid the family vacation season once school is out.

Note that we do not stop for dinner on Friday evening, nor do we prepare a meal — it is important that your son eat before departing for the camping trip.

The troop is likely considered a "low impact" camping troop. We generally camp in a place where we have a short walk from the cars to the camp site. Our camping includes a variety of experiences from tent camping to sleeping on military vessels. Our trips are generally to sites within an hour or two of the Ashburn area.

It is very important for new scouts to participate in the camping trips. Don't fool yourself, Boy Scouts is all about camping and the outdoors. For new scouts, invaluable opportunities to learn scout skills and achieve advancement requirements are provided on the camping trips. Scouts who do not camp with the troop will quickly fall behind their peers on the advancement trail and are missing the best that scouting has to offer. Friendships and camaraderie are quickly developed along with self confidence as the scouts operate together following the patrol method.

Camping transportation is provided by parent volunteers. Troop 997 has a very active regiment of parents. While all families are expected to share the load with transportation, there are generally more than enough adults camping with the troop to provide adequate transportation for the scouts.

The next question of course is 'can I camp with my son?'. Yes, absolutely! The troop welcomes all parents (mothers and fathers) to join us on our camping outings. There are a few simple rules of course.

  • Adults do not tent with scouts. The only exception is a parent/guardian is permitted to tent with their child. Please note however that this is not encouraged except in rare circumstances — you should not plan on tenting with your son.
  • Any adult that wishes to camp is expected to register with BSA. This does not mean you have to be an adult leader, just a registered adult. It allows us to track the adults that are camping and ensure that any adult that has contact with the scouts has had the BSA Youth Protection Training and our charter organization Virtus best practices training. It also insures that we have collected the proper medical forms for adults.
  • You are really camping with the "Old Goats" (the adult patrol), and are expected to honor our boy leadership philosophy. You will be amazed how quickly your son becomes independent and self sufficient along with his patrol, but you must give him the opportunity.

Conflicts with Other Activities

Troop 997 values the participation of all boys, and strives to not require that scouting be the single dominant activity for a boy. We have numerous "half year" scouts that we don't see during football or baseball or soccer season. The troop accommodates and encourages these scouts. Our philosophy is that we would rather have a scout for part of the year rather than not at all. These scouts remain part of an established patrol and fall right back into the routine when they return to active troop participation.

Fundraising

While we would like to tell you that the troop is independently wealthy, we can't. The troop's only source of income is fundraising. However, this is not a year long door to door candy sales campaign. The troop runs one fund raiser each year — our annual mulch sale. Every scout is expected to participate, along with their parents. The mulch sale requires two weekends each year. In early January, we canvas the Ashburn area to distribute flyers to all the homes to advertise our sale; this generally takes four to five hours for a scout to distribute his share. Then in late March/early April comes the big weekend where we deliver the mulch. Recently this has become a Friday afternoon through Sunday evening job. The good news is that those two weekends generate more than enough funds to operate the troop for the coming year. For new scouts that have just joined the troop from Cub Scouts, we specifically ask that they not participate in the mulch distribution weekend as they are not strong enough to lift and carry the bags of mulch. However, we look for their parents to come out and help.

Not only does the mulch sale provide funds to operate the troop, participation also earns credit towards "Scout Account". The scout accounts are troop funds that are set aside in a scouts name to offset any Boy Scout expense that you choose. Most scouts use the funds toward summer camp fees. They can also be used for uniforms, camping equipment, etc.

You may find during the holiday season that the older scouts who are planning a high adventure base trip may run a separate fund raiser. This is specifically for those scouts to help offset the cost of the trip. The troop as a whole is not expected to participate, and all profits go directly to those scouts, they are not used to support the operation of the troop.

Note that we do not participate in the council pop corn sale.

Patrols

Boy Scout troops are organized into patrols. A patrol is a set of boys that operate together during troop activities. Patrols are similar to Cub Scout dens. However, a patrol is a mix of boys of all ages and advancement levels. This allows the younger scouts an opportunity to learn from the older scouts in their patrol. Troop 997 maintains fixed patrols — we do not change the membership of the patrols on a regular basis.

For Weblos that have bridged from Cub Scouts, we do not immediately place the boys into the fixed patrols. Instead, we operate a Brownsea Island program which places all the new scouts together into a single patrol (the "Owls") for the first six months of their scouting experience. This provides an opportunity to focus on development of basic scouting skills and rank advancement toward First Class through summer camp. There are two Assistant Scoutmasters dedicated specifically to the Owl patrol as well as a set of Troop Guides. Troop Guides are older boys selected by the Scoutmaster to lead the Owl patrol and provide the instruction during Brownsea Island program. At the end of the six months, the Owl patrol is dissolved and the new scouts are integrated into the existing patrols.

Leadership Philosophy

At its core, Boy Scouts is a leadership development program. Troop 997 recognizes this and is dedicated to operating the Troop as a boy lead troop. The role of the adult volunteer is to provide guidance, insure safety at all times, and facilitate the boy's activity plan. However, the troop activities and operation are run by the boy leaders that are elected by their fellow troop members. The boys will make mistakes, and we view this as a good thing — a mistake is one of the most valuable learning experiences. Our philosophy is that the adult role is not to intervene, but rather to let them make these mistakes, without jeopardizing the safety of any one, and then help them learn from that experience.

When you visit your first troop meeting, you may feel that the meeting is haphazard and unorganized compared to a Cub Scout pack that was operated by parents. You are probably right, but it's okay! If it weren't, the boys wouldn't be having the opportunity to learn organizational and leadership skills that will be invaluable to them in their future.

Dues and Fees

Once a year, we go through our annual recharter process. At this time, each boy must pay the BSA registration fee, his Boy's Life subscription (optional), and the annual troop dues. We usually collect these fees in February and March. New Cub Scouts bridging to Boy Scouts pay slightly higher troop dues their first year to help offset the cost of the items that are provided to each new scout. In recent years, the total recharter cost for a new scout was about $105 and about $70 for a returning troop member.

We also collect fees for each campout. "Grub money" ($13) is collected from each boy for the patrol to purchase their meals for the campout. Depending on the nature of the trip there may also be a camping fee that is collected to offset the cost of the activity. This fee is set monthly by the Troop Committee based on the expected cost of the trip and the current troop funds — many campouts have no camping fee.

Finally, each boy must pay his summer camp fee. Summer camp registration is in late February/early March. New scouts joining the troop must pay the full summer camp fee at the time they reserve a slot. In subsequent years, summer camp fees are collected with a series of payments through May, often times offset using funds in the Scout Accounts.

Essential Items

Each boy must have a complete BSA Class A uniform — this includes a scout shirt, scout pants or shorts, a scout belt, scout socks, and dress shoes or hiking boots. The Troop furnishes a neckerchief and slide which is also part of the Class A uniform, as well as a set of troop numbers, and a set of epaulets for the scout shirt. Dress for general troop meetings is a modified class A uniform, often referred to as "belt up" — the scout shirt, neckerchief, and BSA belt. The full Class A uniform is worn for special occasions like a Court of Honor (awards ceremony) and is also required to take part in a Scoutmaster Conference or Board of Review (the last two steps to achieving a rank advancement) as well as for an Eagle Project Proposal Review. The troop does not require a BSA hat as part of the Class A uniform.

The troop will provide each new scout with a red Troop 997 t-shirt that can be worn as a BSA Class B uniform on campouts. The troop also occasionally purchases a limited supply of items such as Troop 997 sweatshirts that can be purchased directly from the troop.

You will need a Boy Scout Handbook, which is traditionally supplied by your Cub Scout Pack as you bridge from Weblos to Boy Scouts. The handbook is your lifeline to advancements! You should have it with you at all times (troop meetings, camping trips, etc.). In your handbook is where all of your advancement requirements will be signed off. Be sure to write your name in your book, and writing it on the side is also a good idea. Your handbook is the only record of your advancement process, a lost book results in you having to complete the requirements again!

You can purchase BSA items either online from the National Supply Division (see our Scout Info and Resource Links page) or from one of the local retailers that sell BSA items.

  • Riders Hobby in Sterling
  • Leesburg Hobby and Crafts in Leesburg

Camping Equipment

The troop provides the shared patrol equipment for campouts. This includes tents, propane stoves, propane lanterns, dining flies, and cooking kits. Mom's and dad's, we do not supply tents for adults that camp with the troop — if you plan to camp with the troop, be sure to bring a tent (we recommend a backpacking tent or a small dome tent, not a family size tent). Scouts, give your tent to your parent — scouts sleep in the troop tents with their patrol members.

Each camper requires, at a minimum, personal eating items, a sleeping bag, a flashlight, a pocket knife, a duffle bag to carry your gear, rain gear, and a water bottle is a good idea. Let's take a closer look at these items.

  • Personal eating items. For your first campout, a sturdy plastic plate and some sturdy plastic silverware will work just fine. Don't go out and buy one of the metal mess kits!! — the parts get lost, they are noisy, and they are hard to clean. Many of us like the lexan plastic items if you want to purchase something right away.
  • Sleeping bag. We don't camp on Mt. Everest; a low cost bag from Walmart will take you a long way. You have two choices, down or synthetic. Down is warmer than synthetic, as long as it is dry! Can your son keep his bag dry during a weekend of rain? A synthetic bag will keep you warm even if it gets wet, and is much cheaper. We do camp in cold weather, so you should look for a bag that it rated for 20 degrees. In warmer weather, a fleece blanket is a comfortable substitute for your cold weather bag.
  • Flashlight. Okay, we said flashlight, not light house! If it takes more than two batteries, it's probably too big. If it takes "D" batteries, it's probably too big. Lots of guys get by with a mini maglite style flashlight. Don't spend a lot, you may find that you prefer a head lamp style light over a hand held, but see what everybody else has first.
  • Pocket Knife. Your very fist campout you will earn your Totn' Chip. This allows you to carry a knife in camp. Don't carry a knife until you have earned this! Now, we said pocket knife, we aren't hunting bear, and don't plan to get stranded on a desert island. You should look for a good quality but simple knife. A folding knife with a 3 or 4 inch blade is more than large enough to meet your needs (and doesn't exceed our restriction on size of knives!). You will see a lot of guys with the Swiss army knives — most of them the simple ones ... can you use more tools than you have fingers?
  • Duffle bag. You will see lots of guys with backpacks. Your choices are endless, and so are your decisions. We don't hike into our campsites, start out with a duffle bag and then decide what you really want.
  • Rain Gear. We do camp rain or shine. A garbage bag with a hole in it is not likely to keep you dry during a weekend of rain. A $5 plastic poncho is always a good idea for a day pack, and gets many scouts thru a rainy weekend. Camp with nothing less than that as far as rain gear.
  • Water bottle. You have lots of choices here — Nalgene bottles, day packs with a bladder. You won't see any of us with canteens, don't buy that cool BSA canteen. What do you need — an empty Gator Aid bottle is a great water bottle for your first campout.

Don't hit the camping store and go crazy. Our best advice to you is to buy the absolute essentials, and then see what the other scouts use on campouts and decide what will work best for you. Soon you will probably want a day pack with a water bladder, a sleeping pad, ... . These are best purchased after you have seen what everyone else has and can get a better idea of what will work for you.

How to Join

See our Contacts page. Your next step should be to attend a troop meeting and check us out. Our Scoutmaster can be contacted to confirm our meeting time. Click on the link to your left for a Join Scouting application.

BSA Youth Application


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