Troop 531’s Unique Approach to Welcoming New Scouts

Troop 531's Trail to Adventure: A Crossover Celebration

Scouts BSA Troop 531, located in North Phoenix and proudly chartered with Trailhead Youth Foundation, embodies the adventurous spirit and growth that defines Scouts BSA. Founded in October 2019 with just five boys, the troop quickly grew under the guidance of Scoutmaster Jess Rankin and the dedicated team of leaders. Fast forward to 2024, and Troop 531 stands proud with 71 Scouts and 10 Scoutmasters, with five of the original six boys now achieving the prestigious Eagle Scout rank.

Troop 531 engages in an annual planning meeting with a special PLC-only campout every April setting the stage for a year of thrilling adventures. The troop’s calendar is packed with diverse activities, from sailing in the San Diego Harbor to rappelling an 80-ft cliff. In February, the Troop is gearing up for their own version of “Shark Tank” called “Scout Tank” as part of Entrepreneurship Month – a testament to their innovative spirit.

As youth transition from Cub Scouts to Troop 531, the troop’s commitment to making the journey seamless and memorable shines through. The Crossover event is a grand affair, marked by Troop 531 swag and a warm welcome. What makes Troop 531 truly special is the post-Crossover camping trip, where new Scouts experience their first night camping “on their own.”

Jess Rankin, Scoutmaster, highlights the significance: “Troop 531 has a strong bond with Pack 531, and our unique camping trip is designed to let the new Scouts experience their first night ‘on their own’ with our leaders and experienced Scouts.” The night includes setting up tents, learning Totin’ Chip training, a night hike, and a campfire session with a musical twist, featuring everything from ’80s hair bands to the timeless Rick Astley. As Rankin puts it, “The Crossover Ceremony and that first night of camping with the Troop should be special, not only to celebrate the accomplishment of earning the Arrow of Light (the highest rank in Cub Scouting, prepares a Webelos Scout to join a Scouts BSA Troop.) but to make their first Scouts BSA camping trip a great one!”

The troop’s support extends well beyond the initial Crossover. Experienced Scouts use the EDGE method to teach Trail to First Class skills, fostering a sense of camaraderie among patrols (a mix of experienced and new Scouts). For parents, Troop 531 provides learning opportunities, encouraging them to play the role of a supportive coach at home and familiarize themselves with the Scout Oath and Law. A combination of Troop Parent Committee, Scoutmasters, and digital platforms ensures seamless communication and support.

Independence is a key focus for Troop 531, especially for Scouts experiencing their first camping trips without parents. The period between Crossover and June, when the troop heads to Camp Geronimo, becomes crucial. With intentional planning, registered Dads, and a balance between structure and fun, Troop 531 ensures Scouts build maturity and self-reliance.

Jess Rankin sums it up, “With a well-planned camping trip, the Scouts should be so tired, dirty, and having a lot of fun that they forget about video games and the fact that they just spent another couple of nights away from home.”

Troop 531 is more than a troop; it’s a trail to adventure.