In 2016 Troop 166 celebrated it’s 60th year as a Scout Troop.
Scout Troops differ because of who they are, how they treat each other, and what they do. The roles that leaders, boys, and parents take, their traditions, and a number of other things all combine to create a healthy environment – or not. The basis of our belief in our superiority is primarily that:
We do more and we get more out of what we do.
There are other things though, and anyone who is thoughtfully evaluating Scout Troops will first deal with the issue of Why Scouts at all. If you are reading this, you are probably thinking positively about your boy joining The Boy Scouts. It is our job to get all the really great boys and really great parents within range of Wedgwood to join Troop 166. However, we have members from as far away as Leschi in South Seattle, Shoreline, Ballard, Greenwood, Lake Forest Park and other neighborhoods from a diverse cross section of the City. We think that shows that we must be doing something right. Our kids attend public and private middle and high schools, and represent a range of religious backgrounds including various denominations of Christian and Jewish faiths. In the recent past we have also had Buddhist and Hindu members.
When you look at a Troop, you should look for the things that are important to you and your son. Scouting isn’t the best option for every boy or every family – but it’s a good one, so it bears studying. Look at the organization – because the friends who may join with you today may not be there tomorrow, and if you decide to remain, you will want to be comfortable with the group you join because you like it – not because your friend liked it.
You will have already weighed things like proximity to your home, school and other activities, friends, existing scouting relationships, etc. Some other factors we believe you should evaluate about different Troops include:
We believe we do very well compared with other troops based on these measures. It is our intent here to point out our strengths and the things that might make us different than another troop. We don’t just talk about monthly outings and long term hikes, – we really go. Our boys really do run things – and sometimes that can be a problem – but they really do run things because that is the basis of the Patrol Method.
- Our Scoutmaster has been with the Troop since November of 1961. We have parents who’ve raised 3 or 4 sons in this troop.
- Boys do, adults coach. Leadership cannot be lectured about successfully – it needs to be learned through experience. It is often easier for adults to do things themselves, but if they do, the boys don’t learn. We believe in mentoring.
- The troop is run by an elected Senior Patrol Leader and his assistants. The rest of the boys are divided into patrols, and each has a leader and an assistant. Together with a Scribe, Historian, Quartermaster, Bugler, Librarian, and the other ‘officers’, this group makes up the Patrol Leader’s Council (PLC). They meet monthly to plan the troop’s activities. Elections are held three times each year in October, February, and June.
- Troops have been known to split up over how far to go with the Patrol Method. Some adults want to do more, and believe it is in their troop’s best interest for them to do more and the boys less. We believe that it takes a balance, but in the end it is our experience that if the boys think the adults will ‘just do it’, the first thing they do is go limp, and the next thing they do is quit. To that end, we try to put as much decision making into the hands of the Scouts as safety permits.
- By virtue of the continuity and the mentoring, there are a group of positive traditions that continue to be supported like remaining competitive at Camporees and at Camp, Long Term outings, etc.
- We turn out a good many Eagles, and the younger scouts look to them for guidance on how to behave, and what to aspire to.
- During the School year, we meet every Monday night at Wedgwood Elementary School, except on school holidays – in which case we meet at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church. On the Monday after an outing, there is no regular Troop meeting, but there is a Patrol Leader Council meeting where the Scout Leadership meets to plan the next month’s activities.
- Three times a year we have Courts of Honor – where we meet at the Church and present the awards, install new leaders, show slides, and eat things.
- Please look at our Outings Page and calendar
- We really do go somewhere every month. We plan an array of destinations so that we mix in back packing trips, with car camps, and bike hikes. Some outings are tougher than others. Sometimes we stay in cabins or shelters at State Environmental Learning Centers or Mountaineers Lodges, and sometimes we camp out in tents or under the stars. Troop policy is to not repeat monthly outing locations over a 7 year span. Thus a Scout will go to a different place every month during their time with the troop. Of course, the PLC can vote to override this if there is an outing they wish to repeat before 7 years has elapsed. It’s their vote that decides.
- The adult outdoor committee comes up with suggested destinations, and the Patrol Leader Council then reviews it and tweaks it to their liking. Then the Scout leader and a parent volunteer produce a trip bulletin, and arrange the logistics to go.
- Over the course of several years, we mix in a diverse range of geographic destinations from Oregon to Canada with a lot in Washington.
- We develop the skills necessary to have fun safely and really stretch the boys – backpacking, hiking, camping, canoeing, survival skills, winter camping, skiing and snowboarding skills … We also develop some mean Hearts and Risk Players too.
- Other troops may say they go each month – but if they do, where do they go? and how many kids participate? how much do outings cost?
- New boys who are young (usually Webelos) enter the troop in a “New Boy” patrol. The Troop Guides are their leaders, and their primary job is to get them make sure they have fun, make sure they learn how to function as a Scout, and to get them to 1st class ASAP.
- We believe a relatively speedy advancement is a good thing because it keeps them focused and learning. A boy who is advancing is ‘invested’ in Scouting. As they get older, and other demands outside scouting inevitably start heating up and requiring more time – like school, sports, social activities, music, church, etc. – the boys who are ‘invested’ are more likely to remain in Scouting.
- Just about everyone who makes it to Star sticks it out and gets his Eagle.
- Some boys however are just not turned on by rank advancement or merit badges. They stay in Scouts because they like the activities and enjoy the social aspects of it. This is fine – its supposed to be fun. We have had many boys who join at 11 and graduate with their friends when they reach 18, and never get past first or second class. The opportunities are there to advance, but if they don’t want to, it is their choice.
- Check our Summer Camp page
- Almost the entire troop goes to Summer Camp every year, and we usually go to Camp Parsons. The PLC votes, and they usually go to Parsons because it is older, bigger, and (quite frankly) better than the other camps. Bill Montgomery is also one of the senior staffers at Parsons.
- We have had at least one – and on occasion two long term outings each year. We alternate a long term hike with a Canoe trip, and throw in a long bike hike every couple of years too. After Camp these long term outings are probably the single most memorable activity we engage in, and the fact that we go on these every year is a big factor that differentiates our troop from others. There is nothing like seeing a 12-year-old boy on the last few days of a 60-mile hike through North Cascades Wilderness where they have struggled and risen above their self-imposed limitations.
- As we describe in the Troop Primer, and Costs and Fund Raising, it costs a little over $500 per year to fund the activities of a Scout. To defray (some) of these costs, develop speaking and selling skills, and an increased appreciation of responsibility we conduct several fund raisers each year, and we expect all the boys – and parents – to participate to the greatest extent possible.
- I don’t know of any parent who relishes this kind of activity – but the learning is there for the boys, and the troop spends the money on subsidizing summer Camp and monthly outings. So the boys fund raising is really for themselves. We currently sell Brown Bear car wash tickets in the Fall, and Cedar Grove compost in the Spring. We strive to sell things that parents, friends, and relatives would probably buy and use anyway. We avoid things like magazines that ‘everyone’ sells.
- We need our parents (or guardians, or other adult members of boys families) to be involved. Parents are needed to drive on outings, and some are needed to attend outings. Parents ‘sponsor’ outings – which only means that they do the organizing needed to make sure the permits get purchased, a budget set, drivers lined up, and tour permits are completed.
- There are a number of jobs, and the Troop Committee Chair will corner you and find out what you know how to do, and how you can help. Merit badge counseling, serving on a committee, mentoring, ‘pushing’, – there are many ways to get involved.
- Finally, as much as the Troop needs involved parents – individual scouts need involved parents even more. Behind every Eagle Scout are involved adults. Any boy needs help from time to time in staying on task, and getting through tough periods. Adults – because we are old, wise, and experienced – can see the benefits of things like that College Scholarship fund for Eagle Scouts – and help them persevere.
- We are all busy. No one that any of us knows has any shortage of commitments in their lives. We understand the realities of balancing conflicting priorities and schedules.
- All of our leaders are trained by the Boy Scouts, and we encourage as many parents as can spare the time to get trained as well. Training the leaders and the parents means that the leadership remains dynamic and in-touch, the programs work better, and the continuity is maintained.
- If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Many of us coach or teach things because our children are involved in an activity. To improve our own performance as baseball coaches, ski teachers, or Scout leaders we go to clinics and training sessions.
- Each year the troop participates in several service projects. They usually take place on weekends, but can happen after school. We rake leaves for the church that is our sponsoring organization, for example. To earn a “50 Miler Award” the scouts must not only hike or canoe over 50 miles, they must also perform 10 hours of service – like clearing brush from wilderness trails.
- Every Eagle Scout must create, organize, and execute a material Service project. One of their tasks is to recruit members of their troop to work for them to get the project done. The boys are expected to support the projects of their fellow scouts – and in return they can expect support when it is their turn.
- On occasion, the Chief Seattle Council or the District asks members of our Troop to serve at major functions such as the annual Scout Breakfast. It is an honor and a privilege to be asked to serve at these events. Only a few troops are even asked. Our troop is asked to volunteer because we earn the recognition based on our performance at summer Camp, at Camporees, on service projects, and at the large functions.
- In addition to the recognition noted just above, we are pleased to be able to point with pride to the numerous instances where people have gone out of their way to tell us how much they enjoyed having our troop around.
- The Director of Camp Parsons has noted that our boys looked better, and were consistently dressed better at Camp. Our Troop consistently wins awards such as Honor Troop at Parsons, and we have a tradition of doing well in the Hulabaloo Races and the Octopus Canoe race.
- The Rangers in Desolation Sound in Canada have had some difficult experiences with US Scout Troops – and went out of their way to tell us at the end of a week’s canoe trip that they enjoyed having us around, and would welcome us back when we came.
- The Mountaineers sent us a note after a recent outing at their ski lodge in the Cascades thanking us and telling us how much they enjoyed having us around.
- Troop 166 was honored to be the Color Guard at a Seahawks game.
- We are ranked as a ‘Quality Unit’ because more than half our boys go on at least 15 nights of outings each year, and we meet other objective measures the Council establishes to grade the Troops.