We’ve found that adults ask a lot of the same questions when signing up their scout with our group.

Here’s the answer to the five that come up most frequently:

What is the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA)?

BPSA is a fully inclusive co-ed, back-to-basics traditional scouting program started in 2006. BPSA’s “Introduction to Traditional Scouting” provides a nice overview of the program. There’s lots more to learn at bpsa-us.org. The 7th Trailblazers is a charter of BPSA, serving northwest Austin. Other groups in the area include the 183rd Tonkawa in Cedar Park and the 96th Riverine in southwest Austin.

The BPSA and the 7th Trailblazers are 100 percent volunteer. We rely on the involvement and support of families in our group, and families who volunteer to coordinate the national program. Because of this, BPSA groups don’t receive the same level of service as scouts involved in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. We have to do a lot of work (providing uniforms, finding experienced adults to teach special proficiency badges, etc.) on our own. That’s why we ask every family behind the 7th Trailblazers to support the group in some way, like volunteering as a leader, serving on our parents committee, providing extra financial support, or being willing to volunteer for special activities (sewing neckerchiefs, shopping for food, taking pictures, managing social media, etc.).

The 7th Trailblazers is made up of five groups, or “Sections”. Our youngest group are the Chipmunks (ages 3-5). They are followed by the Otters (grades kindergarten, first and second) and then Timberwolves (grades three, four and five). The Pathfinder group starts in the sixth grade and runs up through the end of high school. Our group also has a Rover crew, ages 18 and up for adults who love what we do and stand for and want to remain a part of scouting.

We also have a committee of parents and community members interested in supporting the group. We call this the “Group Auxiliary.” Contact the Group Scoutmaster (Mark Novick) or Auxiliary Committee Chair (Katie Lipson), if you’d like to get involved.

When are meetings & how are they supervised?

For Spring 2021, all our meetings will be virtual (via Zoom) with asynchronous elements scouts will engage in (with appropriate parental help). We hope to be able to move to socially-distant outdoor meetings in Fall of 2021.

When we resume in-person meetings, we will generally meet at United Christian Church (UCC) on Parmer. Though we are not affiliated with any religious organization (being open to all beliefs), UCC has been host to the 7th Trailblazers for the last six years and also hosts our annual pre-Thanksgiving Bread Fundraiser. We meet on Sunday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:45. Meetings are always supervised by a minimum of two trained adults (one male, one female) who have had background checks performed by the BPSA. We follow the “Code of Ethics and Youth Protection Guidelines.”

Typically we try to plan three group camp outs each year, with one taking place in the fall and two in the spring. In addition, we participate in the BPSA Texas Hullabaloo multi-group campout, bringing the total to two in the fall and two in the spring. For Spring 2021, there will not be any group campouts, but we very much look forward to hopefully resuming them in the fall!

How do I sign up & how much does it cost?

Once you decide that this program is right for your family and you speak with our Group Scoutmaster, we encourage you to see our “Getting Started” guide for next steps!

What gear does my scout need to participate?

All scouts will be expected to have a uniform shirt and hat that they wear to all meetings. That said, scouts do not need a uniform to start attending meetings. You can download the New Member Guidebook which has information on the various uniform requirements as well as images for badge placement on the uniform shirts/hats. To start, all we ask is that all scouts show up to all meetings wearing close toed shoes – we’re an outdoor group and proper footwear is a must!

What kinds of things will my scout be doing?

Basically, we’re teaching traditional outdoor skills appropriate for each age section and doing community service while building self-esteem, citizenship, leadership and group social skills.

Environmental stewardship is critical to our curriculum, teaching the value of always leaving a place better than we found it. We think of this as ‘fun with a purpose.’ We spend a lot of time outdoors in all kinds of weather and have a high level of physical activity.

The curriculum we use is the same that our grandparents would have had as scouts, but we update it for modern health, first aid, safety and environmental standards. The handbooks (available for free download at www.bpsa-us.org) describe the foundation of our curriculum, however our group at times does activities of interest that are not referenced in the handbooks. Our emphasis on outdoor activity means that scouts are exposed to the elements, and certain risks are higher than other youth programs.

Scouts and families should take precautions against tick bites and tick-borne diseases, chiggers, mosquitoes and sun exposure and be prepared for wind, rain, heat, cold, etc. You can see images of the diverse activities of our group on our Facebook page. Events and activities will be communicated about at meetings, through email, and through our group newsletter. We strongly encourage you to enroll in our group newsletter, which can be done here.