Technically, a church COULD just “sponsor a Scout troop” — but if your church does, you’re missing out.
Many churches simply sign the charter agreement and allow a Scout troop (or Venturing Crew, or Cub Pack, etc.) to meet in their facilities, instead of taking advantage of a unique opportunity to (a) connect with the families involved and shape young lives and (b) offer an opportunity for church members to live out servant leadership in front of and among the community.
From the very beginning of the chartering process, the church should be intimately involved in the Scouting program. The Charter agreement says the Charter Organization will conduct the Scouting program according to its own policies and guidelines, as well as those of the Boy Scouts of America. Another part of the agreement is that the Charter Organization will include Scouting as part of its overall program for youth and families.
Does your church do that? Or is Scouting simply “off to the side,” with no integration into the overall church programs?
Someone from the church serves as the Charter Organization Representative — and this person is actually responsible for coordinating Scout unit operations, along with approving all leader applications — not just for the leadership standards of the BSA, but also for the church’s standards for leaders. The approval process for leaders is also to include a committee of at least three parents and/or members of the chartered organization.
As the charter organization, the church is expected to provide adequate facilities; but at the same time, the church is supposed to encourage the units to participate in outdoor and council activities.
In return, the Scout Council is supposed to offer the resources of Scouting to help meet the aims and objectives of the Charter Organization, and provide year-round training, service and resources to the Charter Organization and its Scouting units; along with training and support of the Charter Organization Representative, and help in selecting unit leaders.
Most people are aware that the BSA provides insurance, but the full extent may not be known.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]We often “sell” Scouting to churches and organizations on the basis of the program’s benefits to the youth, which are so well-known as to need no description. However, the Scouting program has multiple benefits for the charter organization and the members of that organization.[/cryout-pullquote]And, of course, the Council is to make available camping facilities, a service center and a full-time staff to help the organization.
We often “sell” Scouting to churches and organizations on the basis of the program’s benefits to the youth, which are so well-known as to need no description. However, the Scouting program has multiple benefits for the charter organization and the members of that organization.
Adult volunteers from the charter organization, naturally, have fun working in Scouting — it’s an opportunity to safely work effectively with young people in a values-based program. It offers the satisfaction of seeing young people grow through mentoring and teaching others, and parents can share common experiences alongside their sons (and daughters, in Venturing).
Scouting’s proven, reputable program has been an opportunity to prepare the next generation of leaders for more than 100 years. The church gets lots of help and resources from joining the large, happy family of Scouting — literature, training materials, training programs for adults and youth alike, youth protection training, and professional and volunteer assistance, for examples.
Through a variety of shared experiences, mentoring, service to others and fun, Scouting can help build intergenerational team-building throughout the church and the Scout unit.
Finally, statistically, of the youth who join Scouting through the church, only 25 percent are United Methodists. Of the remainder, 50 percent come from unchurched families and 25 percent are members of other denominations or faiths. A Cub Scout Pack, Scout Troop or Venturing Crew of 20 members would statistically have 10 youth who are not members of any church, and those 10 members would likely have two family members (parents or siblings) associated with them. Through an integrated Scouting program incorporating the Scouts and their families into the fabric and relationship and service of the church, there’s and opportunity to reach and connect with 30 people. That opportunity scales up nicely — the more Scout groups your church serves as a Chartered Organization, the more people your church has an opportunity to make part of your church family.