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Pine Tree

Training Course · May 27-30, 2022


Lynn Guthrie


The Pine Tree is the Indian Nations Council’s own junior leader training course and has a long history of developing young leaders. All Scouts First Class and 13 years old are eligible, with their Scoutmaster’s approval.


Pine Tree Troop 135 is scheduled to take place from May 27-30 at Bartlett Training Center. 



Q: My son/daughter’s Scoutmaster encouraged him/her to sign up and go to Pine Tree. But now he/she is having second thoughts. He/she’s not sure he/she wants to do this. He/she tells me he/she’s heard that it’s kind of like a boot camp. Is this true?

A: No. In the early days of Pine Tree, decades ago, a lot of ex-military scout leaders ran the course. It was very strictly run, in many ways similar to a boot camp for young cadets. Although the course has a strong military tradition, it has gradually changed over the years to become a very positive, spirited growth experience for youth. It is natural that young people are sometimes intimidated by the old stories of Pine Tree that still linger on. The formations we have are formal and we do take these things seriously. But at the same time, we do them with a great deal of fun. And very soon the boys catch on that this is yet another game of Scouting with great lessons to teach. When they find out that they are not the targets of gruff old fists, but part of a powerful, wonderful contagious spirit that makes the camp rock, they can’t get enough of it. When the course begins, you will see the boys silent and watchful. But when you drive up, you will be able to hear the cheers from the parking lot. In all my experience in Scouting (25 years), Pine Tree remains one the three most favorite things that youth value in their entire Scouting experience (along with OA and Philmont). That says a lot – especially when you consider it happens over a single weekend.


Like a lot of other things in life, part of what a Scout gets out of the course depends a lot on the attitude of the Scout coming into it. Scouts determined not to do well or participate will not have fun. Fortunately, this situation is rare. Generally, older boys do better than younger ones. They are mentally and socially more developed and better able to grasp what is going on. That’s why there is an age requirement. Youth who are a little intimidated to begin with soon catch the infectious spirit of the course. They are helped and coached in this by the superb youth and adult staff that we have been able to recruit. These youth and adults are tremendous leaders in their own troops and have been part of successful programs. So they have the practical knowledge to help each boy succeed and learn new leadership skills.


Q: My son/daughter got a letter saying he/she is an alternate. What are his chances of getting in?

A: Do not give up on getting into the course. Alternates are assigned a number depending on their order of registration. We have a full course and cannot accept more than 64 candidates. However, every year we have three or four drop out. Some contact the Scout Office and say they can’t do it. Others don’t show up at all. Anyone who contacts the Scout Office will have the opportunity to go to the next Pine Tree course (in this case, the Fall) or they can get a refund. As each drops off, alternates are brought onto the course in the order that they have registered. At the end of the week before the course, the Scoutmaster will call each remaining alternate and tell him his chances. If these remaining youth show up prepared to come in, they will be called on to replace any no shows. Once again, they are called in the order they were registered. Obviously, this is a gamble. Sometimes, we have up to three no-shows. Other times everyone shows up and the alternates go home. All I can do is give you the odds when I call.


Q: My son/daughter says he/she needs a special Pine Tree uniform. But he/she can’t tell me exactly what is needed. Where do I find out?

A: You should have gotten a sheet in the mail that details all this. If not, you can always go to the Council web site. Go to and click on the “Equipment List” link on the bottom of the page. You don’t have to buy a new shirt. However, all the troop patches and everything else that’s not on the list needs to come off. The Pine Tree Troop numerals need to go on in place of his/her current troop number. If he/she is an Eagle Scout, he/she is allowed to wear the Eagle Scout square knot. No other awards. It’s a good idea to have him/her bring 2-3 Scout t-shirts. This is considered the “Class B” uniform. We wear them a lot. But during formations, meals, chapel, and campfires, we are always in Class A, rain or shine.


Q: What does my son/daughter need to bring?

A: It’s all on the equipment list. Please note that you don’t have to buy everything on the list. Many items that he/she will need, you can borrow. Talk to your troop or Scoutmaster. Your son/daughter will definitely need a cot. We don’t have any extras. He/she will also need rain gear. He/she will need some sort of plastic cup that he can take with him around to his different classes. Hydration can be an on-going battle. We provide plenty of drinks all day long, but he/she will need something with him/her, at all times, to drink out of. We do have shower facilities and encourage the candidates to take them. Cold weather can also occur so make sure he/she brings a warm coat if the weather may be cold. Don’t forget the insect repellent. Oklahoma and ticks go hand in hand. It’s a good idea to have him/her bring a book bag type pack to carry his notebook, cup, and any personal items he’ll need at any time during the day. The boys are out of their patrol sites a lot.


Q: How do you handle medicines and any medical issues?

A: We have a professional emergency physician on staff full time. He deals with everything from cuts to tummy aches. It is seldom that we have to take someone to the hospital (I remember only once in my seven years on staff). But if we do, our doctor will supervise the situation. That is why they have to have a physical, so we can deal with the problem expeditiously. If your son/daughter has medications, as so many kids do these days, we generally let the youth keep them and administer them themselves. It is a good idea to let the patrol advisor know. But generally, youth this age are responsible enough to handle this on a more timely basis themselves.


Q: When does the course start?

A: Your son/daughter needs to be at the Bartlett Training Center no later than 4:00 p.m. on the opening day. We open the gates and start the induction process at about 4:30 p.m. No shows are filled with alternates as soon as possible. If your son/daughter’s slot has been filled by an alternate, he/she has lost his/her position on the course. At that point, he must return home and try for a future course. (Money will be applied to a future course or returned through the Scout Office). This is a very popular Council event. We have had every spot filled several weeks prior to the course start date. We cannot accept any more than 64 candidates at a time. So please plan ahead and be there on time. If you use the Cherokee Turnpike, it is about an hour drive from Tulsa. If you have any doubt about how long it will take, error on the side of being early. Once the gates close, the only adults allowed in camp are adult staff members and members of the Pine Tree Commission.

Q: When is it over?

A: Closing formation is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. It is held outside the Bartlett Training Center on the flag pole parade ground. Gates open between 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Parents, relatives, and friends are encouraged to attend. This is a graduation celebration and these young cadets are very proud of what they have earned. Please bring your cameras. Parents generally stand or sit outside the troop formation square. We encourage you to bring camp chairs as the closing ceremony takes about half an hour. Water will be available from large coolers to drink, but like the boys, you’ll need to bring your own cups. Restrooms are available in the Bartlett training center. Once the troop is dismissed, the youth will go into the Bartlett Training Center for their certificates. To get their certificates, they will have to return any items they have borrowed from the Quartermaster. The boys will have already packed their personal gear and will be ready for the trip home.


Q: How do I get to the Bartlett Training Center?

A: The Council web site has directions. The Bartlett Training Center is a part of the Mabee Scout Reservation. The Bartlett Training Center is just across the street (west) from Camp Garland, which is about a mile south of Locust Grove off Highway 82. If you are coming from Tulsa, take Highway 412 east towards Locust Grove and get off onto the Cherokee Turnpike. From there it is a short distance until you get off at the Highway 82 exit. (If you don’t have a Pike Pass, it will cost you a quarter.) Go south (right) on Highway 82. A short way after you go up and down some hills, you will cross the Spring Creek bridge. Immediately after that crossing, and to the left, make a left turn onto a paved road going north. This road winds around through some farmland and then up and around some wooded hills. Near the Garland entrance, just before it, you will see a flashing pedestrian crossing sign. Turn left into the large iron gate marked Bartlett Training Center. The gravel road will wind around the south side of the massive parking lot.  There will be a metal building with open garage style doors with some adult staff members who will be helping to induct candidates when the gates open approximately 4:30 p.m. This will also be the parking lot you will come to pick your son/daughter up at the closing ceremony on Monday (Spring) or Sunday (Fall).


Q: I’ve heard on the TV that severe weather is headed to Locust Grove. What do I do?

A: Stay calm. We have this sort of thing every year. I only remember one year in my tenure on staff where we had sunny weather all weekend. During the weekend you can bet on a good monsoon that will blow down a few tarps and sometimes flood the campsites. They generally come during meals. In case of really severe weather we have someone in the Dining Hall monitoring the weather on a portable radio, TV, or both. We also have evacuation plans to get the kids into safe areas if there is an imminent threat. We can use the Bartlett Center as a shield if we have the time. But we also can get the kids down in ravines adjacent to their campsites if there just isn’t time. The youth and senior staff members in charge of each patrol coordinates this. So although we are out in the elements, we do watch things pretty closely. With social media these days, we plan to post things with updates if the weather turns for the worse. Cell phone service to Mabee Scout Reservation is very spotty. But we have access to internet if emergency postings are needed. If you have concerns, please use this for any updates. We have also contacted local police and rescue facilities around Mabee Scout Reservation, so these people are aware that we have about 100 people at the Training Center for the weekend.


Q: My son/daughter really wants to be on staff. How does that happen?

A: Increasingly, more and more graduates of Pine Tree have expressed an interest in being on staff. In the past we’ve had sign-up sheets, but the sheets often get misplaced and very often phone numbers and names are completely illegible. The Scoutmaster and the Key Three youth are the ones responsible for selecting youth staff. That process starts several months before the course. If your son wants to be on staff, have him print his name and phone number on a piece of paper and have him hand it directly to the First Assistant Scoutmaster of the course. It is customary for the First Assistant to become the Scoutmaster of the next years course in the same season, and staff selection is one of his first and most important responsibilities. The First Assistant will be working with the following Pine Tree Scoutmaster to help find an appropriate time for your son/daughter’s interview. Pine Tree must be very selective when it comes to staff. To be on staff is a great honor. On the other hand, it is no dishonor not to be selected. There are only 11 youth leadership roles and the SPL role is filled by a returning staff member. But it is certainly worth trying for.


Q: Are switchback pants allowed?

A: Switchback pants have been approved for Pine Tree by the Pine Tree Commission. They are recognized by “National” as a class A uniform component.

What are not allowed, are the sewn-in black belts that come with the pants. We are requiring that the black belts be removed from the pants and replaced with the traditional green web belt. Apparently, the black belt has two small stitches in the back of the pants to keep the belt in place. When the two stitches are removed, the belt can be removed as well.