Chartered organizations are the lifeblood of the Boy Scouts of America. Every professional Scouter should be familiar with this statement in our congressional charter: “… the purpose of this corporation shall be to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies … ” (Section 3). This statement of purpose has enabled the Boy Scouts of America to succeed with one of Baden-Powell’s original ideas. He offered the program to other youth organizations in England as a resource and method whereby they could fulfill their own missions of enabling boys to become useful citizens. But, in the end, he had to accept the responsibility for founding a worldwide movement that was self-sustaining; i.e., not “owned and operated” by others.
The Boy Scouts of America offers its program to any community-based organization whose purposes are compatible with its own.
The Boy Scouts of America is unique both in world Scouting and among all other youth organizations within the United States by virtue of this statement in its charter. The Boy Scouts of America offers its program to any community-based organization whose purposes are compatible with its own if it agrees to fulfill the requirements as stated in the application for a charter.
The word “charter,” used so widely in the Boy Scouts of America, is not always well understood. Informally, the term “franchise” helps to explain what is meant by “chartering” an organization. “Franchise” implies local ownership while still using the corporation name and resources. Professional Scouters may find this analogy useful when explaining the charter concept.
Because the chartered organization concept is so basic to the success of the Boy Scouts of America, every effort must be made to educate the leadership of chartered organizations. Consider using the following tools:
- Foundations for Growth: A Resource for Unit Development, No. 4-925
- The Annual Charter Agreement and Discussion Guide, No. 28-182K
- Community Organizations and the BSA: A Marketing Approach, No. 3-223
Marketing and salesmanship skills are also important. The professional Scouter must be able to do the following:
- Analyze and describe the demographics of the community—economics, youth population, organizational structure
- Know the institutional life of the community—who joins what
- Be sensitive to the values of people and organizations
- Know the purposes and priorities of chartered organizations and prospective chartered organizations
Registering or reregistering a unit is only the beginning of a year-round relationship.
The Boy Scouts of America has an extraordinary support system that should be brought to the attention of heads of organizations. Registering or reregistering a unit is only the beginning of a year-round relationship between that organization and the Boy Scouts of America. There should be regularly scheduled contact with heads of chartered organizations and chartered organization representatives. A good timetable to follow is:
- Personal visits—at least once a year, at charter renewal time
- Phone contacts—at least three times a year
- Mailings—at least every other month
Issues and subjects to be discussed, either by phone, visit, or mail, might include:
- Needs and concerns of the chartered organization
- Scout Sunday and Scout Sabbath information
- Unit leader training opportunities
- Participation of the chartered organization representative in district committee meetings and the council annual business meeting
- Youth Protection training
- Current BSA program of emphasis, e.g., Drugs: A Deadly Game
- Council and district activities
A wealth of community resources becomes available to the chartered organization through Scouters who serve as commissioners, trainers, merit badge counselors, and career specialists, to name a few. As a result, a true sense of community support envelops the organization. The head of an organization wants success. Scouting must be presented as contributing to that success in a variety of ways, such as:
- Community outreach
- Service to youth and the community
- Fulfilling the organization’s purposes and objectives
In short, by virtue of the support system, the chartered organization leadership knows that Scouting cares about them. That is a powerful concept.
If the professional Scouter understands the intricacies of the relationship with chartered organizations, then quality balanced growth can and will be achieved.