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Additional Charter Org. requirments for membership

Our Chartered Organization just sent a list of new membership requirements to our units. All of which put additional burdens on parents or guardians of potential scouts. If the parents don’t comply, their kids are out.
This seems to go against the general mission of scouting to provide the scouting experience to any child who would otherwise qualify to participate.
Like many units these days, we struggle to recruit new families and maintain our numbers and many of the adult volunteers feel these new rules will continue to drive families away. Is this overreach or within the general providence of the chartered organization?

Can you share the requirements? Some may be OK while others may be in violation of the charter agreement between the Charter Org and the BSA.

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Every scout must have one parent or guardian register and an adult leader with the unit.
Annual driver’s license checks to validate legal drivers licenses for all adults transporting scouts to and from meetings.
Proof of auto insurance for all adults transporting scouts to and from meetings, if not your own kids.Policies must meet BSA minimum liability requirements.
No adult who has not been registered, YPT trained or CORI checked can transport scouts to or from meetings or events, if not your own kids.
If you don’t comply, you will be asked to find another unit.

I don’t know that requiring all families to have at least one registered adult leader does or doesn’t violate the rules.

I know that the license and insurance requirements are pretty common, and might even be required when transporting scouts for scouting events. Our unit requires this for sure.

I’m not sure about requiring people to be registered in order to transport scouts, but I know that some chartering organizations require that all adults who have in-person contact must be background checked, some require background checks in addition to those required by the BSA. That rule might be imposed from the charter’s parent organization.

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Yep, Our Archdiocese has its own youth protection training and background check requirements that apply to any adult working for any parish or volunteering at any parish. That requirement is nonnegotiable, and we have had to remove adults from leadership positions when they declined taking the training.

Yeah, I’m not opposed to having additional requirements, they have also requried CORI background checks (in MA) for years. My concerns, and those also expressed by the rest of the pack volunteers are 2 fold.

  1. They cannot enforce their requirements around transportation, unless we are carpooling to an event as a unit. In that case, I have no problem with it. However you’ve got no right to tell Mr. Smith that Timmy cannot ride to his den meeting with the Jones family because Mr. Jones has been vetted or doesn’t carry the insurance minimum. That’s a family issue, outside the scope of scouting/church.
  2. And we also feel that requiring a parent to register as an adult leader is overreach. The scouting program itself does not mandate this, why should the charter org. be able too? I feel this takes away from the program. Are we really going to tell a first class or life scout that he’s out of the troop, because his mom didn’t register as an adult leader?

I agree there is no way to enforce #1 and transportation to/from an event or the departure point for carpooling is up to the parents to arrange, not the unit.

For #2, I suggest speaking with a council professional to get their take on it.

Regarding transporting scouts to and from scouting events (which includes meetings), the BSA has required for years that anyone who is transporting a scout to and from a scouting event be listed on that scout’s Part A of the AHMR (the spots for names at the bottom). I understand that we’re not technically permitted to release scouts to someone who isn’t on that list. The way the form is written, it says “to and from events”. A unit meeting clearly qualifies as an “event”, although that might not be exactly what the BSA contemplated when they phrased it that way. I personally don’t see why transporting two scouts who are friends to and from a unit meeting is materially different than transporting two scouts who are friends to and from a campout, assuming that the driver isn’t staying at either event. If the permission is required for the campout, it seems like it would be required for a meeting as well. I agree that it’s difficult to enforce, certainly on the transportation “to” the event. However, leaders could, theoretically, refuse to release a scout without proper authorization on the form, based on the way that the BSA documents are written. I wouldn’t be likely to do it. Maybe the right solution is to provide each scout with a copy of Part A authorizing the carpooling parent. Then, it seems (at least to a layperson) like the liability for releasing the scout to the carpool moves from the leadership/chartering org to the parent who authorized it.

I don’t know what the extent of the charter’s ability to enforce certain policies is (my personal libertarian streak already balks at some of the BSA’s rules/policies). However, I can see concerns from the charter and/or leaders that they might expose themselves to liability by releasing a scout to someone who isn’t authorized to have the scout, or to someone who doesn’t have proper licensing/insurance. Again, in many cases it’s not the individual parents who might sue, but their insurer could easily try to pursue cost recovery for medical payouts (for example) through subrogated claims against the people who permitted the scout to get into the car. It’s a dirty trick, to say the least, but I know it’s possible for that to ensue.

Regarding fairness of requiring registration from one adult in each family, I can kinda see both sides on this. We have single-parent families where the parent is constantly running just to meet ends meet. That parent has limited time, particularly if they have more than one child, to engage with the program. Other families may have limited resources, making it cost-prohibitive to register both the scout and an adult leader. Some parents might not pass a BSA background check for whatever reason, and therefore be ineligible to serve as leaders, no matter that they might wish to or even be good role models for turning their life around from whatever past misdeeds disqualified them.

On the flip side, if everyone treats the program as the BabySitters of America, just dropping off their scout and dashing, then there aren’t enough leaders to maintain the program. We’ve had similar issues where adult leaders whose scouts have long aged out of the program are still around, partly because they support the program, but partly because of a sense of duty to support the program, given that others haven’t stepped-up to replace them. Many units struggle with trying to get enough leaders to be able to operate the unit.

In the end, I would say that if any conditions imposed by a unit or their chartering organization are too onerous, finding another unit might be the only feasible solution. Unfortunately, in some communities, there isn’t another unit available, or not one that’s reasonably accessible.

I agree with @edavignon that getting a local BSA professional’s opinion on the items that are concerning you could be valuable.

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Our charter partner has had similar guidance in place for years. However, it is guidance, not hard and fast rules. Exceptions are handled on an individual basis. And, back when it first started there wasn’t YPT. Current charter partner rule on YPT is that every parent/guardian must complete YPT whether they are registered or not. “Submit your certificate(s) with your child’s application!” Hard to enforce who rides with whom to and from meetings but we make everyone aware of the guidance and we do ask for copies of DL and vehicle registration (but not insurance).

Requirements vary by program. In particular the Cub Scouting program is a family program, not a babysitting service. In the Lion and Tiger program the participating parent (or legal guardian) is recorded as a parent, not a registered leader.

Parents participating in longer camping events are now required to be registered leaders to meet youth protection requirements.

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Local government rules and laws (not the BSA) may effect what an organization has to do to run a scouting program,

  • Covid-19 social distance rules
  • youth protection rules and adult training requirements
  • minimal age to drive others laws
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Any parent that denies taking youth protection training or submitting their information for verification should be suspect in my opinion. I know I wouldn’t let my kids anywhere around that type of person.

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Here is why you want background checks on anyone transporting scouts: claims of sexual assault or bullying years later.

If you are cub master or scoutmaster and choose to allow someone without a background check to transport a scout, and years later that scout claims the parent played porno DVDs or audio, then the BSA or chartered org can say “we told all leaders to only allow vetted adults. Not our problem.” And then you are the leader named in the suit.

Imagine this audio, “ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this cub master ignored the rules that would have kept little David safe. By ignoring this rules David is suffering a life of turmoil and you must award David the sum of $1million payable by his former cub master.”

That’s the kind of stuff that kept me up at night when I was scoutmaster.

While it feels invasive, we had one scout turn adult who I found out had a problem with dealing drugs. One who was a current heroin addict, and two with recent DUIs. While the systems are in place to find those things out, the responsibility then falls to you as a leader to use those resources to find it out. Now, those guys were mostly great and had no issue with the troop or staying on the up and up with the troop. And nobody else ever knew. But it then fell to us at the core three to decide in each instance what to allow those adults to do.

But also, to have only vetted adults do the driving, etc, you can better explain and enforce the two deep leadership rules.

I’m not against youth protection regulations and standards, in MA all adult volunteers actually have to have a CORI background check thru the local council and our charter org is a Catholic church and the archdiosese already requires their own CORI as well.
What I object too, is the requirement that we are forcing parents to register as “volunteers” or their kids cannot participate, under the guise of child protection. It’s an attempt to force parental participation. As much as we struggle to find willing leaders, this mandate is not going to change anything and I feel like it may limit interest in a program that is already struggling to find new participants.
At the pack level, we fully expect family participation and always require a parent with a child at all events. I think this will be less of an issue at the pack level particularly the transportation requirements. It is almost 100% families driving themselves.
Where this will really hit and cause damage is at the troop level where scouting is often a much more independent activity with less family participation. We piloted this adult registration last year and the results were so bad that it was tabled. More than half of the parents never bothered to complete an application, never mind participate more. Our committee chair chased them for months before giving up in frustration. Under this new guideline, he’d be forced to tell more than half our scouts to find another troop. We also already struggle to find parents willing to drive the scouts to their events and campouts, its going to get even harder now.

Nope. I agree with you. That requirement for all adults to be volunteers is impossible. As a scoutmaster I wanted to find ways that BSA did not stand for BabySitters of America, but that’s exactly what some parents want - someone else to take their kids for a weekend.

In my analysis, I found 95% of my families could have an adult do SOMETHING if mandated. Sit on a committee. Help with PR. Store fundraising items. Any little thing. In our suburban white community, I found few excuses valid that said a parent could do nothing. Nothing at all, that is. And in those cases, I really wanted the parent to do nothing and saw that the boy needed to be away from the parent.

If over 50% of your Troop has families that strongly resist helping, then you have bigger problems. You have either rampant entitlement or rampant poverty and inability. Either way, your boys have examples of family leadership that the BSA program can not overcome. In other words, a troop that is resistant to the BSA mission. In that case, you may do better with a smaller troop of highly involved families.

I live in a fairly affluent white suburb as well and I’m not saying we have a problem with family particpation. In fact, I think that probably half our families are already registered leaders and most of the others help out with various things from time to time.
Heck, I have 3 boys in the program, both my wife and I are heavily involved. I’m not even sure why this mandate bothers us so much as you’d think they were preaching to the choir. I just feel like it’s wrong to deny this program to kids who would benefit so much from it, simply because their parents either cannot or will not step up. It may not be a big problem in my community, but its the kids from single parent, or broken homes, those with other detrimental family settings or enduring financial hardship that I think could often benefit the most and we would be exluding them for circumstances beyond their control.
I volunteer because I love the program, what it does for our kids and what it stands for. But that’s not for everyone, I get it. I’m not a baseball coach or hockey coach, but someone else is. I just think you do what you can and take the help you can get. You shouldn’t have to make mandates or force participation on everyone.

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@RichardWhitney - If the chartered organization just wants them to go through the process of being registered, they can register as unit Scouter reserve and have no real responsibilities.

The chartered organization owns the unit and can set any leadership standards that it believes meet its needs.

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I see the national BSA marketing plan is to throw it out and see if it sticks. Councils are expected to take the ball and run with it. One of the problems I see is that most of the professionals are jack of all trades, master of none. Councils are run by Professional Scouters who came through this system. We have had several who you might wonder, “how did they get to this level and then stay there?”
On the other hand, We need to “GET OUT IN PUBLIC TO CREATE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SCOUTING WHERE NONE WOULD EXIST” Have a national UNIFORM DAY. Man woman and child wears a scout uniform if it is not inappropriate. With COVID get the scouts out with signs, “WEAR A MASK, STAY 6 FT. APART” and stand near a big street. Take a public stand on important items that get us national attention, like leave no trace. Getting rid of one use shopping bags. We create shopping bags that have BOY SCOUTS of AMERICA emblazoned on the side. Sell them at cost and get people to use them at the stores. Now we have a repeating billboard that people see every time they go to the store. I am sure there are more items we can do for GOOD PR.

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Nope. That’s a non-sequitur. You still have YPT requirements, including 2-deep leadership and no 9pne-on-one contact.

You address that what-if scenario by putting two adults in the car. Or you tell parents “no car-pooling”.

I just wanted to comment that our troop has had these requirements in place since we chartered in 2017, in addition to the diocese having their own YPT that must also be taken by the one registering adult. Very likely the acceptance of this troop policy will vary by region depending on the demographics, but we have not had any family decline to join us and our troop has grown a bit to over 50 even with limiting incoming to about 8 a year. When the family drops in to visit with their Scout, we have a flyer that outlines our protocol along with the costs of registration fees, dues, and estimated costs of uniform (excluding uniform pants until they become First Class). If finances are an issue, we either accept installment payments and/or waive dues, on a case by case basis.
I’m sorry that this might not be helpful feedback but I just wanted you to know that parents may surprise you by accepting the CO’s new requirements. Good luck!
PS I was the past Committee Chair and so followed up with each family as needed when we chartered and rechartered in subsequent years.