We’re glad you’re interested in joining T186!
Here are a few things to consider when joining the troop:
Get to know us first - come for a visit
Joining Boy Scouts is a bit like deciding on taking a job at a big company - you have to find out about the culture of the particular unit you’ll be in. There can be huge cultural differences between units in any large organization: you can’t say what it’s like to be in Boy Scouts any more than you can say what it’s like to work at Boeing (are we talking commercial side? military? assembly line? software? materials R&D? Phantom works? cafeteria?).
Each BSA unit (troop or pack) is chartered to an outside organization - usually a church, sometimes a PTA group or VFW post, etc, and that organization ultimately calls the shots on how the unit is run. Troop 186 is “parent chartered” - the parents of the scouts ARE the chartering organization. This means that we are fully self-determining, and it means that the only common interest of T186 families is in providing our sons (and daughters in the 186 Venturing Crew) the opportunities for developing outdoor and leadership skills that the scouting program delivers so well. We’re not interested in anyone’s politics or religion, we’re exclusively about Scouting and being there for our kids. We take pride in being a little different than what most people imagine when they think of what a Scout troop looks like.
So, come check us out, talk to the scoutmasters, talk to the parents, have your kid participate in a meeting. We might be a good fit for your scout - or we might not, but we can point you at some other excellent troops in the area with other takes on Scouting.
Transitioning From Cub Scouts to Troop 186
Best advice: Jump in right away. Even though we are scout led (more on that below), parents are essential to make sure our scouts have the best possible experience. Our season follows a typical school year – it starts in September and ends in June - and includes regular meetings and weekend outings. However unlike the Pack, we have a very busy summer camping schedule, and there may be some outings of interest such as scout camp (see below for thoughts on that). No rest for the active! This is not Cub Scouts, not really even Cub Scouts kicked up a notch.
Troop organization: We are organized by patrols, similar concept to dens in Cub Scouts. However, our Troop organizes the patrols vertically, which is to say multi age and rank so that the older boys can lead and teach the younger boys. This means the incoming Webelos will eventually be broken up into different patrols by the Scoutmaster, though for the first half of the first year they will be together in a special new scout patrol. Once split into actual patrols in the spring, they will still hang out with their own age buddies in most instances. So the patrol just gives them another place to belong, it doesn’t restrict access to their friends. Scouts should recognize that the patrol method breaks down if they do not participate. 186 is not a good fit for scouts who are unwilling to be active. Parents play a crucial role as support. We expect parents to drive scouts on an outing at least once a year. See “How to Help” below for more support roles.
Troop Leadership: T186 is “Scout Led” - our Scouts run this troop with the parents as mentors. We give the scouts a chance to lead, and a chance to fail safely. It’s not always pretty but it’s ultimately incredibly useful to the boys.
Advancements: Rank and age is not a 1:1 automatic ratio. We suggest getting a jump on it, but there are many paths to Eagle rank. We’ve had Eagle Scouts who joined up at age 14 and did it in under four years. In general, if your son keeps showing up he’ll advance. We do our best to make it fun, so he’ll keep showing up, and keep advancing. We do like to see a scout make it to Eagle, but it’s not easy and it’s not actually the point of the program. The point of the program is getting outside, and developing life and leadership skills.
How to Help: You can have an immediate impact in this Troop - scouts and parents both. Attend meetings, get interested in what you see, ask questions and sign up for something. Adults: volunteer to help lead (“assistant tripmaster”, in scout parlance) one of the monthly outings, or assist in running a merit badge seminar. The most important thing for parents is to get involved. This troop would not function without parent involvement. Parents age out with their scouts each year and we need parents of new scouts to jump in and help make the troop go. It may seem confusing or complicated at first. You will soon discover that we are a passionate and welcoming group of parents who are simply doing our best to ensure our boys get the most out of this amazing troop. Volunteering parents have a fantastic time together and our sons all benefit by seeing us do our part. Don’t sit out and wait a season – we can use your skills!
Outings: In contrast to what you may have experienced with Cub Scout camping, we don’t have just a handful of campouts - we have at least one a month, but at smaller venues with smaller groups, and it’s not expected that your scout be on every outing. In most cases the outings are camping events with hiking, packs, mess kits and tents rather than heated cabin camping with a commercial kitchen. The parents camp near but apart from the scouts - parents are now members of the “Old Goats” patrol and are relegated to the other side of the camp. This leaves the boys to camp, cook and sleep under their own organization - generally only the Scoutmaster goes over to the scouts’ camp, and the scouts are discouraged from coming over to the old goats and scrounging for forgotten food or gear (and the goats are discouraged from providing it). The boys don’t learn anything with the parents hovering around and bailing them out all the time. Obviously if there’s any risk of actual harm the parents step in, but a little discomfort is enlightening.
Camp Parsons and Young Scouts
Without question Camp Parsons is the highlight of the year. BUT: some first year scouts do have a hard time at Parsons, even if they’ve been to Camp Orkila or the like many times before. Boy Scout camp is physically more challenging and much less structured, and we’ve seen younger guys run themselves ragged and reduced to paralytic homesickness by midweek, which isn’t great for anyone involved. It’s not for everyone just coming out of the 5th grade - choose wisely!
But if he’s up for it, It’s important to pay the Parsons fee to the troop by May 25 before the troop sends in its camp roster even if he won’t be officially joining the troop until after May 25. And you’ll need to get a medical form completed, which involves a physical exam with his usual physician (medical forms also available via the “Forms and Templates” link on your left) .
If your son is coming from a Cub Scout pack and participating in a Crossing Over ceremony, we’d like to be there to welcome him to the other side in full T186 style. Please let us know!
Please read the Troop handbook so you'll be up to speed on how the troop works and what will be expected of your son (and you). We're a pretty easy-going troop, but there are some fundamental things to know that will make your experience much more enjoyable and productive.
If your son does decide to join T186, there are a few simple steps you’ll need to take before he can become a scout, and get started with the troop.
1. Fill out the BSA application and write a dues check
The BSA application is required of all scouts. You can find the application form by following the “Forms and Templates” link on your left. Leave the amounts at the bottom for registration and Boys’ Life blank. Once you fill it out you will need to mail it along with a check for $170 payable to Troop 186 to the troop registrar, Tom Hughes, at 4343-53rd Ave NE, Seattle 98105. The check covers troop dues, BSA registration, and a subscription to Boys’ Life. If joining before March 1 dues are good through August of the current year; if joining March 1 or later dues are good through August of the following year. You can, alternatively, bring the check and application to a troop meeting and give them to the Scoutmaster who will mail or deliver them to the registrar.
2. Provide your contact information
You’ll need to get your contact info into the troop database by entering it in the spreadsheet here. We need:
Advise the registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org when you have done so. Copy the address into your email program if the link doesn’t work. If your scout doesn’t have an email address, this is the time to get him set up. A lot of troop communication is via email, and he’s responsible for knowing what’s going on. You’re his backup, but he should be taking charge of scouting.
3. Get added to the troop’s Google Group email list
When - but only when - those steps are completed will your son will be an official member of Troop 186. He will be added to the roster on the website and to the Troopmaster advancement database, and he and you will be added to the troop Google Group so you'll receive all email updates and announcements. Membership in the troop Google Group also grants access to the secure areas of the troop website, including rosters and outings signups.
4. Subscribe to Calendar; Health and Medical Record
You’ll also want to subscribe to the troop outings and programs calendars - see the “Calendar” link on your left for details. You do not need to fill out a BSA Health and Medical Record to join, but your son will need one to attend Camp Parsons in the summer - most folks get that done in the spring.
For general information about the troop please contact Tad Allyn, email@example.com.
For questions about the paperwork for joining please contact Tom Hughes, firstname.lastname@example.org.