Charter Renewal

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Dr. John W. Lea IV
Southern Region Commissioner

Scouting is unique among youth organizations. One of its most unusual characteristics is that it doesn’t own or operate Scouting units. The ownership of packs, troops, teams, and crews is vested in community organizations or other groups. The Scouting movement provides the program, technical help, and special facilities. The chartered organization provides an adequate, safe meeting place and dedicated, capable leadership. Additionally, the chartered organization agrees to and adheres to the principles and policies of the Boy Scouts of America.

Since 1916, when the U.S. Congress granted a charter to the Boy Scouts of America, the BSA has the approval to grant charters to organizations. The BSA renews its charter annually. Likewise, chartered organizations renew their commitment to Scouting and their local council each year. As commissioners, we are in an excellent position to help and lead the unit charter renewal process.

The charter renewal process is an important, fundamental task. A great deal of unit loss is related to the process of renewing the unit’s charter. Among the commissioner’s duties is to help the unit be successful, and one way a unit commissioner can help is to ensure the unit’s charter renewal process is completed on time. The commissioner is responsible for the on-time charter renewal of all of their assigned units.

One of the early warning signs of a troubled unit is its failure to renew its charter on time. Making sure the charter renewal process is done correctly is also the responsibility of a commissioner. A good commissioner follows up early to ensure timely completion of the charter renewal process. It is also important that there is  a charter renewal plan in place with goals of zero time lapses and zero dropped units. If we lose a unit, we lose membership.

What can we, as commissioners, do to help the unit complete the charter renewal process? We can ask the following questions:

  1. Does the unit use online rechartering? Online charter renewal provides a more accurate and efficient process. Does your district need to hold online rechartering training? That’s a good place for the district commissioner staff to jump in and help organize, instruct, and even teach the course. What about a district charter renewal party? How about a district roundtable on charter renewal?
  2. Does your unit have delinquent fees holding up charter renewal? Can the unit commissioner help collect those fees?
  3. Is the charter renewal process pending because direct contact leaders need Youth Protection training? Can the unit commissioner conduct the training for the unit leaders at the next unit meeting or unit committee meeting?
  4. Does the charter need certification signatures from the chartered organization or council?
  5. Is there another issue that is holding up the charter renewal process? The commissioner staff can help offer a solution to solve the problem. Don’t forget that the district commissioner staff has all the resources and support of the district committee. It is the district committee’s responsibility to set up the district for success and that means successful units!

Bottom line: Do what needs to be done. Discover who has the charter renewal forms and what is holding up the process; consult with your district executive; and if necessary hand-carry the forms through the renewal process.

Finally, complete the process with the charter presentation. The charter belongs in the hands of the chartered organization, not the unit. It is important to capture the interest of as many of the members of the chartered organization as possible. Remember, the BSA gives an annual report to Congress. The charter presentation ceremony is the unit’s opportunity to report to the chartered organization. If possible, stage the presentation during a regular meeting or activity of the chartered organization. Thank the chartered organization for the opportunity to present the charter and for accepting Scouting as a program of action for its organization.

Commissioners must help stop the loss of units. When I see year-end membership percent losses and last-year unit losses, I begin to think of ways commissioners can help. We must STOP THE LOSS! Remember, it is the commissioner’s responsibility to ensure that a unit is healthy; a lost unit can’t be healthy! The unit commissioner has the tools to renew the unit’s charter and keep it healthy. Let’s get to work.