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Troop 57 - Orinda, California - Aklan District - Mt. Diablo Silverado Council - Boy Scouts of America - Troop 57

Troop 57 was founded over 50 years ago in Orinda, California, in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.  As of January 2017, Troop 57 has 48 Scouts, from fifth grade through high school, ages 11-17.  Troop 57 is chartered by St. Marks' United Methodist Church, our camping equipment shed is next door at Holy Shepherd Lutheran Church, and we usually hold our meetings at the Orinda Intermediate School's multi-purpose room at 80 Ivy Drive, Orinda.  As listed in our "Eagle's Nest Hall of Fame", 151 Scouts from Troop 57 have achieved Scouting's highest rank, Eagle Scout.

Troop Vision - Developed by the Scouts, 2016

We see success in Troop 57 as a boy­led troop that participates in fun, adventurous outings, improves the lives of others through service, and installs the values of Scouting into boys for the rest of their lives.

Orinda Boy Scout Troop 57  Orinda Intermediate School, Orinda CA

Meeting Schedule - During School Year

  • Weekly Troop 57 meetings are held the first three Tuesdays each month from 7:11pm to 8:30pm.  This starting time is a legacy from when the troop used to meet in front of the 7-11 store in Rheem.  For many years this was the normal meeting place.  Now, the troop meets in the Orinda Intermediate School on Ivy Drive in Orinda.  Meeting leaders and patrols conducting the flag ceremony arrive and organize at 7pm.  There is no Troop meeting on 4th (and sometimes 5th) weeks.
  • The monthly Troop 57 Patrol Leaders Council (PLC), attended by Patrol Leaders and scouts in leadership roles, meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Round Table Pizzeria.  At these meetings, the boy leaders plan the Troop's activities, assign roles for leading activities for the coming month's Troop meetings and outings.  Scouts bring money for pizza for dinner. 
  • The monthly Troop 57 Parents' Troop Committee meets the Thursday following the PLC at 7:30pm at St. Marks' Church on Moraga Way, Orinda.  All parents are encouraged to attend.  This meeting is the coordination point to support the boys for upcoming outings, merit badge advancement, camps, etc.

What to Look for When Joining a Scout Troop

For prospective Scouts and their parents, choosing a Boy Scout Troop is an important decision.  Here are 10 questions to ask, or things to notice when visiting troops, to help you make the right decision:

1) Are my boy's friends in the troop?  Your son will stay involved in Scouting longer, and have more fun, if his buddies are in the Troop.  Sometimes this happens automatically when coming from local Cub Packs.  Sometimes, your son might want to ask his friends to join in, or participate in a troop with others from his school.  Troop 57 Scouts tend to attend Del Rey Elementary, Glorietta Elementary, Orinda Intermediate School and Miramonte High School in Orinda.  We also have Scouts from other nearby towns.  Many join Troop 57 from local Cub Scout Pack 52 at Del Rey Elementary and Pack 225 at Glorietta Elementary.  Some boys join Troop 57 never having been a Cub Scout - there is not a prerequisite that you must have been a Cub Scout to join Boy Scouts.

2) Does the Troop have the same values and beliefs as my family?  All Boy Scout Troops are chartered by a community organization, civic organization or church.  We are chartered by St. Marks' United Methodist Church, are non-denominational and hold Troop Meetings at a Orinda Intermediate School.  All Scouts in all troops are trained to respect the beliefs of others (as part of the Scout Law).  Troop 57 welcomes any boy willing to try to live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

3) Is the Troop boy-led? That means boys, not parents, lead the Troop, supervised by our Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmasters, and parents. Scouts decide the agenda of troop meetings and lead the activities, and plan the outings.  Parents provide support to make events happen, which might include getting trained in first aid, getting in shape for a backpacking trip, or driving Scouts around the neighborhood during the annual food drive. Consistent with Scouting’s ideals, Troop 57 is boy-led, which is different than sports and most other youth programs in our area.  “Boy led” means priority is given to the growth and learning of the boys, even if that means the activities are more choatic and include making mistakes along the way.   This gives Scouts leadership opportunities -- and mistakes can provide a great source of learning.  Parents who tend to "jump in and fix" when they see something wrong will want to choose a different posture here.  When visiting a prospective troop, notice who is leading the meetings and activities -- if it's boys, your son will have an opportunity to grow into that role.  If it's adults, a youth leadership opportunity is lost.  You will find both kinds of troops.

4) Does the Troop go to Camp?  New Scouts really learn about Scouting - and experience their first independence - at camp.  Look for a Troop with a full range of scouting activities.  Recent Troop 57 outings include summers at Camps Cherry Valley and Emerald Bay in Catalina, Camp Wente in Northern California and Camp Wolfboro in the Sierra foothills. In 2016, Troop 57 Scouts attended Camp Wente, and in 2016, Camp Wente, Cherry Valley Scout Camp in Catalina, and Philmont Scout Ranch High Adventure Base is Cimarron, New Mexico.

5)  Are there outings throughout the year?  Troop 57 puts the "outing” in "Scouting".  We typically have 1-2 outings each month, which are determined and organized by the older scouts, with support and guidance by adult volunteers and trained adult leaders.  The troop does local day hikes and the "Rim of the Bay" hikes, which involves climbing (or, some would say "bagging") the six highest peaks surrounding the San Francisco Bay:  Mt. Diablo, Mission Peak, Mount Tam, Mt. St. Helena, Mt. Wittenburg, and Pinnacles National Park.

Troop 57's 2015-2016 Outing Calendar

  • September - Advance Camp, Contra Costa Fairgrounds -- opportunity to earn from over 50 Merit Badges offered
  • September - Yosemite Half Dome trip 
  • September - Pinnacles National Park Overnight
  • October - Point Reyes - Overnight backpacking campout 
  • October - Aviation Merit Badge, Buchanan Field
  • November - Urban Search and Rescue field trip, Oakland
  • January -  day trip, Winter Camp Awareness Training on the USS Hornet
  • January - Ano Nuevo State Park campout at Memorial Park in Loma Mar
  • February -- Sunol Backpacking Campout
  • February -- Snow Camping / Klondike Derby
  • March -  Tahoe Ski Trip
  • March - Troop Challenge Prep Weekend
  • April - Troop Challenge Weekend (Annual Camporee)
  • April - Angel Island Backpacking campout 
  • May - Manresa State Beach overnight campout
  • May - Big Basin campout
  • May - Troop BBQ - Orinda Oaks Park. 
  • July 24-30, 2016 -  Wente Scout Camp, Willits, CA
  • June 2016 - 50 Mile backpacking trip 
  • August 2016 - pre-50 backpacking trip

6) Do they do high adventure trips?  Ideally, younger Scouts are mentored by older Scouts, with supervision from trained adults.  When visiting a troop, how many older Scouts do you see?  What is the training of the adults?  Our troop has found high adventure trips keep older Scouts challenged and engaged with the Troop - and developing bonds with others who become great friends. Our troop does 25- and 50-mile backpacking trips, weeklong backpacking (e..g, Log Cabin Camp just outside Yosemite), and 2-week high adventure expeditions at Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico.  When there's snow, we go snow camping (bit of a challenge in the last few years, fingers crossed for 2016!). 

7)  Is a boy expected at every Troop meeting?  Does scheduling work if he's on a sports team?  We realize boys have busy schedules.   We are flexible in our troop meetings/attendance policy - and you'll get out of Scouting what you put into it. We expect older Scouts to lead one event a year. The best way to develop friendships, learn new skills, achieve rank advancement or become a well-respected leader in the troop is to attend Troop meetings and outings. Boys participate and advance at their own pace.  Outings help Scouts advance and earn merit badges related to many of the outings.  Many Scouts in our troop are on cross-country, football, water polo, crew and other activities -- and their attendance is reduced during part of the year, but they are active with the troop, go to camp, and continue to advance at their own pace.  It works here.

8) Where does the Troop stand on BSA's membership policy? 

Troop 57 is inclusive for Scouts and adult volunteers. We welcome members who are willing to live by the Scout Oath and Law, and membership for adults and youth will not be denied on the basis of race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, ability, and/or sexual orientation.  Our chartered organization, St. Marks' Church, has the same values.

Since 2012, Troop 57 has been one of the most active troops in the country working to change BSA’s national membership policy in collaboration with the Aklan (now Briones) District, our local BSA Council, Scouts for Equality, and the BSA National Staff and Board.  Troop 57 Scouts and Adults organized Scouting rallies on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, were interviewed on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's California Report, and the Commonwealth Club's podcast.  We conducted letter-writing campaigns to BSA's national offices advocating change, and testified to State Congressional Legislative committees in Sacramento.  For the past four years, we have served as color guard in the Allies section of the San Francisco Pride Parade to let people know our Troop believes Scouting should be equally available to everyone.  In 2014, BSA National changed their policy to accept all youth regardless of sexual orientation.  The policy was changed for adult leaders in 2015.

An early member of Scouts for Equalty, Troop 57 has received the Inclusive Scouting Award and our troop is registered in the Scouts for Equality directory of inclusive troops.

9) What is the parent time commitment?  For our troop, Parents are expected to volunteer in some way, and no experience is necessary -- training is provided.  We can find a role that works with your schedule and interests.  As a parent, you support the boys in a variety of ways, based on your skills and interest.  For example, Troop 57 parents help by coordinating and supervising events, being a merit badge counselor, being an assistant Scoutmaster, driving scouts to events, taking a leadership role on Troop's parent committee, learning wilderness first aid to support boys on high adventure treks, organizing summer camp logistics, managing finances, conducting fundraisers, etc.  Upon joining, all adults must take an online Youth Protection Training course, which takes about 20 minutes, and is a BSA requirement (same for all troops).  Your annual fees and donations help provide adults like you with training on topics like High Adventure treks, backpacking, first aid, cycling, snow camping, leave-no-trace principles, and many more topics.  While there is a fee for most training, it's a nominal fee that in many instances is less than comparable courses from other organizations, like REI or the Red Cross.  The training is available to Scouts and adults interested in developing their outdoor skills. 

10) What is the financial commitment?  Will I need to do a lot of fundraising?  Annual registration fees are $150/scout per year – which includes Scout and adult BSA registration, advancement books and patches, subscription to Boys Life magazine, the Orinda Intermediate School gym rental fee for meetings, etc.  New scouts are recommended to purchase a uniform at the Scout Store.  We have been a pay-as-you go Troop, meaning most of our parents prefer to write a check to fund our programs, minimizing parent time spent on fundraising activities.  Other troops may conduct fundraising events that take more time, but help fund the annual program so the fees are less.  Our Troop held a Sees candy fundraiset in Spring 2015 and 2016, which was optional, but raised funds for new camping gear. Outings are optional but recommended, and costs are typically $10-100 depending on reservation fees, equipment needs, transportation costs, and occassionally whether a profesional outfitter must be hired.  Summer camps run $350-900/year depending on the camp.  High adventure camps are $1,000-1,800, typically attended by older Scouts For 1-2 weeks including airfare and food. An annual spring fundraising drive, called "Friends of Scouting", requests donations of $250/scout/year to fund about one third of the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council budget, including camp facilitites and training programs for volunteers.  Our goal is that we have 100% participation at some level.

11)   (Bonus!) Who are the adult leaders?  How familiar are they with the Scouting program?  Will they keep my Scout safe, are they teaching the older Scouts?  Troop 57 is run by a core group of a half-dozen adults -- the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters -- supported by a parent committee of another 15-20 adults.  The troop has two Scoutmasters, Dr. Jim McFeely and David Finger.  The Troop Committee Chair, responsible for coordinating the parent support, is Steve Tennant.  How a Scoutmaster works with boys may not be apparent at a Troop meeting, because ideally, the Scoutmaster is just observing how the boy leaders run the Troop. More of that work happens outside the meeting with the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) and Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC).  We are happy to provide more detailed backgrounds on the leaders at a Troop meeting.  Like all BSA troops, we require 2-deep adult leadership on every outing and every adult in the troop must take a 20-minute youth protection training.

Interested in Learning More?

We welcome new Scouts throughout the year.  Cub Scouts bridge over each March and join the troop at the same time, once a year.  If you are interested in learning more about joining Troop 57, please Contact Us.

We hope to see you at an upcoming Troop 57 meeting!