FAQ for PARENTS
1. What are the eligibility requirements to join the troop?
Girls 11 to 17 years of age, or if they have earned the Cub Scouting Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old or have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old.
2. How much does it cost?
Joining fee for the program year (September - June) is established in August. The value is prorated based on Scout start date during the year. This includes the cost for registration, insurance, and troop dues. Other costs that you will have over time include the Scouts BSA handbook, uniform, camping equipment and fees for various campouts, outings, and summer camps.
3. How do we sign up?
Attend an upcoming troop meeting. Register online at or submit a hard copy youth application form and fees to the troop.
4. What is the Scouts BSA handbook?
The handbook includes almost everything a Scout needs to know. As a ‘Scouting encyclopedia,’ it includes advancement requirements and information to complete them. It also serves as a record of achievement. Scouts should bring their handbook to every troop meeting and activity.
5. What does the Scouts BSA uniform include?
There are two uniforms in the troop. The Field Uniform, commonly known as Class A, consists of the shirt, pants/shorts, belt, socks and merit badge sash. The Activity Uniform, commonly known as Class B, consists of a troop t-shirt.
6. What camping equipment should we acquire?
We recommend holding off on purchasing camping equipment until your Scout has settled into the troop and can really see what is needed for each event. She will work with other Scouts to ensure that she is prepared.
7. What will Scouts BSA Troop 4 Bethesda be doing?
The troop will meet three Mondays per month at Concord-St. Andrews UMC (5910 Goldsboro Road). Scouts will work together to plan and prepare for events and outings, learn skills, and work on advancement requirements. This is also where a lot of information about upcoming activities is communicated. Parents are welcome to attend, observe, and volunteer to support the troop (in the background).
The troop will have an outing or activity once per month during the school year. This may include a weekend campout, hike, skiing or biking trip, or community service project. Scouts practically apply learned skills and leadership while having fun doing it. They prepare for these activities during the Monday troop meetings. Parents are welcome to attend and help with logistics, such as providing transportation. They may also attend to simply enjoy the time together with Scouts and fellow parents.
In the summer, Scouts can choose to participate in a week-long summer camp at Goshen Scout Reservation. Our older Scouts (14 and up) will also have an opportunity to go on a high adventure trip.
As a girl-led troop, the Scouts select, plan, organize, and execute all activities. Adults support them.
8. What are ranks and advancement in Scouts BSA?
Ranks and advancement provide a merit-based system to demonstrating Scout skills and experience. Scouts learn, are tested, reviewed, and then recognized.
In the first four ranks (Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class), Scouts work on requirements emphasizing outdoor skills development. By First Class, Scouts are expected to know and teach all of these basic Scout skills.
The next three ranks (Star, Life, and Eagle) require Scouts to develop skill and knowledge in specialized areas by earning merit badges as well as demonstrate leadership in the troop and service to others.
9. How do I pick a merit badge?
Scouts BSA offer 137 merit badges, from advanced Scouting skills to arts, STEM, and hobbies. Certain merit badges are required to earn the ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle. Refer to the Scouts BSA handbook. To understand the process of earning a merit badge, the Scout should ask their Senior Patrol Leader (SPL).
10. Who is the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL)?
The SPL is the Scout in charge of the troop and is elected by the troop. She is the top youth leader of the troop and is in charge of what the girls do at troop meetings and activities. The SPL is supported and mentored by an adult leader (Scoutmaster).
11. How is the troop organized?
Scouts BSA troops use the ‘Patrol Method.’ Each troop is made up of patrols, usually 5 to 8 girls each. Patrols work together, camp together, cook together, plan together, and play together. They are a team.
Each patrol elects one of its members as the Patrol Leader. Elections are held twice per year. The Patrol Leader appoints an Assistant Patrol Leader to help her, and may appoint other patrol officers, such as Grubmaster (in charge of Patrol cooking) or Scribe (in charge of tracking attendance and taking notes on what the Patrol decides, such as campout menus). The Patrol Leader is responsible for helping her Patrol organize and carry out its responsibilities and activities, and for representing his Patrol on the Patrol Leaders Council. (Patrols made up of New Scouts usually have an older Scout, called a "Troop Guide," to help and advise the New Scout Patrol Leader.)
In addition to Patrol Leaders, the entire troop elects a Senior Patrol Leader, described in FAQ #9. The Senior Patrol Leader appoints an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and other troop officers, such as Quartermaster. Together, the Patrol Leaders, the Troop Guide(s), the Senior Patrol Leader, and the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader form the Patrol Leaders Council.
The Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) generally meets once a month to plan the upcoming meetings and activities. Then, individual patrols will be assigned specific tasks and responsibilities to carry out the plan. During troop meetings, the individual patrols will get together to work on their parts of the meetings and activities, and to discuss the things they would like the troop to do. At each PLC meeting, the Patrol Leader will represent the patrol and talk about what his patrol needs or wants to do.
12. Why will troop meetings and activities seem so disorganized?
The purpose of Scouting is not simply to do activities, but for the GIRLS to LEARN the skills necessary to do the activities and to LEAD their fellow Scouts in accomplishing all of the tasks and planning needed. Things seem disorganized because, usually, the girls aren't as efficient as parents or adults are at getting activities planned and tasks completed. The best troops are "girl-led" and use the Patrol Method. Scouts BSA Troop 4 Bethesda will endeavor to be one of the best. Girls will work through their patrols and their elected Patrol Leaders to plan and carry out activities.
The troop adults are responsible for maintaining health and safety, taking care of administrative issues such as advancement paperwork and funds, and providing support (like transportation) for the activities that the girls plan. This is different from Cub Scouts, where the adults actually plan and lead the activities.
In Scouts BSA Troop 4 Bethesda, troop adults and parents play a supporting role rather than taking charge of activities and telling the girls what to do. Sometimes, the hardest thing for new Scout parents is learning to sit back and let the girls do it themselves.
Our girls will have fun developing character, citizenship, personal fitness, and leadership acumen through practical experience, in a safe environment.
13. What role do adults have in the troop?
The Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters work directly with the girls. They mentor, advise, make suggestions, and teach skills (if there isn't a qualified girl to do it). They make sure that the girls are following Scouting rules and policies (including safety rules). The Scoutmaster works closely with the Senior Patrol Leader.
The Troop Committee has overall responsibility for approving the troop program developed by the PLC, for finding money and other resources to carry out the program, keeping records, and otherwise helping the girls carry out a Scouting program.
Parents play a very important role in the troop. They not only serve in official troop positions, but also provide transportation and other support. They are strongly encouraged to participate in some way in troop activities, and to stay informed about troop plans and events. Perhaps the best way for a parent to learn about the troop and what it does is to join the Troop Committee or become an Assistant Scoutmaster. Above all, parents support and encourage their girl’s Scouting activities.
14. What are the expectations for participation and advancement?
As fellow parents, we all recognize the importance of balance between academics and the many extracurricular opportunities that girls may engage in today. Scouts and parents will set the level of participation and pace of advancement to what works best for them. What’s important is that the girls have fun on their Scouting journey.