How to start a scout unit at your church
SCOUTING IN YOUR CHURCH
Accepting the fact that face-to-face remains the most effective means of outreach, churches must evaluate all available outlets for such encounter. Once a thorough evaluation is made of outlets for children and young people, many discover a largely untapped resource—scouting. Let us consider five reasons for scouting in your church.
First: Scouting has youth appeal. Scout programming is challenging, action and skill-oriented, constructively competitive, balanced between scholarship and practical application.
Scouting appeals to many non-church youth as well as church youth. Even if the church has a fine youth program, chances are the organization relates mainly to existing young people in the congregation. Scouting offers the opportunity to extend the church ministry to the community.
Second: Scouting structure provides ample time for leaders to have personal guidance to youth. Under the leadership of a Christian, a young person may be helped with his personal and spiritual needs. This guidance may range from answering simple questions to serving as surrogate father for the child of a one-parent family.
Third: The age-graded program of religious education is designed by the various denominations and supported by scouting. They may be encouraged to work toward the religious emblem of their denomination. Requirements vary by religious body, but each calls for service within the local church and for counsel with the scout’s priest. During this counseling period the priest is able to discover any spiritual needs and to offer guidance for the scout’s pilgrimage. Without this program, many young people would not bring themselves to the counsel of the priest.
Fourth: Scouting teaches duty to and reverence for God. The scout oath (or promise) is the pledge to “do my duty to God…” The twelfth point of the scout law states, “A scout is reverent.” These commitments to the prominence of God in one’s life form a cornerstone of the Boy Scouts of America. When properly interpreted by a Christian scouter to his young scouts, even the unchurched begin to understand their need for God.
Fifth: The unit, or troop, is church-owned and church-administered. The unit can be uniquely faith based as long as the stated principles of scouting are not violated. Imagine the outreach potential of a unit whose sole purpose is to reach unchurched young people in the community. These young people might quickly join a scouting unit but would be hesitant to attend a regular church service. What an opportunity exists for these youth as well as for existing church members.
B.S.A. and Your Church
When a church becomes a chartered organization, Boy Scouts of America offers many supports to help with the new troop. Scouting can become an integral part of the church’s program by placing considerable emphasis on those aims and methods of scouting that appear to be most pertinent to the church’s goals and purposes.
Some of the support the local B.S.A. Council agrees to provide are:
Professional Staff: members who serve as trained full-time advisers
Council Office: a service center for advice, materials, and records
Training Courses: both formal and informal training for leaders and committee services of a member of the district (B.S.A.) training team or committee available during the organization of the troop.
Camping Facilities: for both year-round and summer camping
Volunteer Helpers: a troop commissioner to serve the partner organization and its units. A district (B.S.A.) committee for additional help in advancement, training, camping, and health and safety.
National Services: Boy Scout program helps in handbooks, informational, pamphlets, the scouting magazine, Boy’s Life, national programs, activities.
The chartered organization’s responsibilities are briefly outlined so the church knows what is to be expected from his organization.
Scouting Coordinator: the delegate of the church and the troop to scouting administration of the local council. This is the organization’s voice in scouting and another source of help for the troop. He is the manager of all the programs of the B.S.A. for the church.
Troop Committee: the adults who administer the troop program. They are responsible for recruiting the scoutmaster, aiding him in recruiting his assistant, and giving support to that leadership.
Meeting Place: the church either must provide a meeting place on a regularly scheduled basis within its facilities or find a proper place elsewhere.
Continuity: the B.S.A. wants to help chartered organizations to continue their association with scouting. The best troops are with chartered organizations of long duration. General supervision by officers of the chartered organization is necessary to maintain quality.
Organizing a Boy Scout Troop
Step 1 The Church Agrees to Use the Boy Scout Program
The purpose of this is to decide to have a Boy Scout troop in the church, and to set a date for the troop organizer to meet with him to plan the details for organizing the unit. It may be helpful to have a specific example of how scouting can help the church accomplish its objectives and goals for youth.
Step 2 An Organizer Confers With the Church Head
The fully trained troop organizer now meets with the head of the potential chartered organization. At this meeting, the organizer and the church leader explore the details of how the new unit will be formed. This is the time when the organizer explains how scouting can become an integral part of the church’s program by placing considerable emphasis on those aims and methods of scouting that appear to be most pertinent to the church’s goals and purposes. He also explains what kind of support the scouting council will give the new troop.
During the discussion, the church leader appoints an organizing committee consisting of five or six people. The chairman of this organizing committee will become the church’s voice in scouting and later will become the scouting coordinator. A date is set for the organizing committee to meet.
Step 3 An Organizing Committee Meets to Plan the Organizing of the New Troop
The objectives of this meeting are to prepare a proposal for official action of the governing body of the organization to organize a Boy Scout troop, to outline the job of the troop committee, to select members of the troop committee, and to set a date for a meeting of these committee people. This process is equally effective for obtaining committee members as it is for locating a person who can become an effective scoutmaster.
Although the minimum number of troop committee members is three, troops organized with larger committees are stronger troops and last longer. It helps the organizers to see the importance of appointing a committee that is not only qualified but large enough to do the job effectively. (Both men and women serve.)
The organizer distributes adult applications to all who are present and helps them register as committee members. The chairman of the organizing committee registers as the scouting coordinator. After the functions of the troop committee have been outlined, any person desiring to take a specific job on the troop committee is so designated.
Step 4 The Church Formally Adopts the Boy Scout Program
It is important to remember that the person who should present the proposal for official action to the governing body should be a member of the church body and not the organizer or scouting professional. While either of these two people is obviously more knowledgeable about scouting than a representative of the potential chartered organization, the presentation will have much greater credibility and stand a greater chance of being accepted if it is delivered by a member of the chartered organization, rather than by a volunteer professional scouter.
Step 5 Organizer Conducts Two Orientation Meetings.
The first orientation meeting is for all parents, members of the chartered organization, and other interested people.
At the second orientation meeting, the organizer meets with the troop committee and other interested parents and members of the chartered organization. At this meeting, several decisions are made and information is provided. The troop commissioner and a member of the district training team or committee are introduced and take an active part in this meeting.
Step 6 Registration of the Full Committee, Leaders, and Boys are Completed.
Before they can plan for the real business in scouting—working with boys, the adults operating the troop must decide how to conduct the troop and how to work with each other.
The scoutmaster and troop committee should hold an organizational meeting. The scouting coordinator and the church leader should attend since all of the decisions to be made are very much their business.
The following decisions are also made at this meeting
Regular troop meeting time, day, and place
All decisions made here must be written and sent to parents of each potential scout.
All registration forms and fees are collected at this meeting.
Step 7 Four-Week Program for Unit Meetings Are Planned
Use the Troop Meeting Plan sheets to outline the next four troop meetings. All program activity for these meetings should require little or no equipment. Any equipment needed should be provided by the organizer and commissioner by borrowing from another troop.
Plan part of each meeting to help boys earn the Boy Scout and Tenderfoot progress awards.
Use ideas from the following resources:
The Troop’s First Six Months
Scout Program Helps
Boy Scout Handbook
Plan the way the patrols will be organized. The sooner patrols are established, the better.
Step 8 The Troop Begins Its Meetings
The first and most enthusiastic members of the troop often will be boys from the chartered organization. The scoutmaster will want to help them get off to a good start and then bring the troop to a good working size by having the first members invite their friends.
Membership applications are given out at the first meeting, and boys are instructed to obtain the signed permission of their parents to join the troop. Boys are trained in scout skills. When ready to qualify for their Boy Scout badge, they are reviewed by the scoutmaster. After they have qualified, the membership applications are completed.
Step 9 The Application for the Troop Charter is Completed
This occurs at the first official meeting of the troop committee. The troop organizer and commissioner should attend to make sure the papers are completed properly. The scoutmaster certifies the Boy Scout applications for membership and attaches them to the troop charter application. The scoutmaster submits, along with these forms, the registration on fees and subscriptions to Boy’s Life magazine.
The troop installation is scheduled and attendance at this installation is promoted. In addition, at its first meeting, the leaders and troop committee plan for the troop’s first hike and overnight camp. These activities need a great deal of support from the troop committee. It is important that the organizer and commissioner be present at this first committee meeting.
Step 10 the Troop is Installed
The unit is installed with a presentation of the charter to the organization leadership. The charter presentation ceremony should be formal and impressive.
The purpose of the religious emblems program is to give members guidance in achieving the spiritual ideals of the Cub Scout Promise, Scout Oath or Promise, Scout Law, and Explorer Code. It gives them an opportunity to become more aware of what his denomination is doing on a local, national, and world level. It is a chance to serve and grow as a participation communicant. Just as a Scout keeps himself physically strong by camping, hiking, and other outdoor healthful activities, so also he develops spiritually and morally by practicing his religion. There are many different religious emblems available so that every Cub Scout, Boy Scout, or Explorer, regardless of religious belief, has a program to relate to.
To ensure proper religious observance in the unit, the pastor, or youth pastor, should serve as chaplain. The chaplain gives guidance to the youth members and leaders in all religious matters.
One of the purposes of scouting is to bring its members closer to the ideal of their faith and country.
Glossary of Terms
During the organization of a Boy Scout Troop, several key people and groups of people are involved. Following is a list of some of these and their jobs during and following the organizational process:
COUNCIL—a local division of the B.S.A. organizational structure, operated by Boy Scout professionals. (Much like a Metropolis in the Greek Orthodox Church, only smaller in area).
DISTRICT—a division of a council operated by a District Executive and several volunteers.
ORGANIZER—a volunteer selected by the council to help establish the program of Scouting in church, school, or club.
ORGANIZATION—the chartered organization, In this case, the church/community.
ORGANIZATION HEAD—the authority designated as leader in the church, school, or club.
ORGANIZING COMMITTTEE—A group of individuals selected by the organization head to see to the organization of a pack, troop, or post representing the chartered organization.
TRAINER—A member of the district or council training team or committee assigned to help the organizer conduct the two orientation meetings for parents and leaders.
UNIT COMMISSIONER—A volunteer selected by the council to help the organizer with program planning, registration of the unit, and on going service.
TROOP COMMITTEE—The persons finally selected to be listed on the charter application as committee members representing and approved by the chartered organization.