The latest in a series designed to help Scout families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works,
and how to get the most out of the experience. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.

The Charter Organization: Fostering an Enduring Partnership

So, what does a Charter Organization do? The organization enters into a contract with the BSA annually through which it commits to follow the BSA rules, policies and regulations, maintain and support a unit committee of at least three people, and ensure appropriate facilities for regular meetings of the unit, and approves all adult leader applications. Each organization has an executive officer and provides a Charter Organization Representative (COR) to work with the unit directly. The COR, together with the unit leader (Cubmaster or Scoutmaster) and the unit’s committee chair work to sustain and support the unit. There is no expectation that a Charter Organization provide financial support, though many offer help with annual charter renewal fees, provide support to Scouts who might not otherwise be able afford Scouting, and help with the acquisition of equipment. Many provide meeting and storage space. Often, they provide tax-exempt status to the unit. In a sense, the unit is a franchise of the BSA and the Charter Organization is the franchisee.

We are beginning the process of annual charter renewal which requires that units reaffirm their Charter Organization relationships. Historically, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church have been among the largest providers of Charter Organization support, both nationally and within our Council. For a variety of reasons, both church organizations are transitioning out of that relationship which affects a number of units in the Bay Lakes Council. They hope to continue a positive and strong working relationship going forward, but will not continue to serve as Charter Organizations. This is also the case for the Elks Lodge in our area. In some cases, this may require units to find other places to meet in addition to securing a new Charter partner, and certainly adds to the work of charter renewal; it is essential that units begin this process now. To help alleviate the stress from the urgency of finding a new Charter Organization, the Bay Lakes Council is taking steps to be available to serve in that role temporarily, though it is best if units secure new Charter partners by the time of charter renewal, December 31st.

Finding a Charter partner may seem daunting, but every family in a unit may be of help. Any non-partisan civic organization, church, temple, synagogue, labor union, service club, fraternal organization, business or other organization can serve as a Charter Organization, so long as it commits to the terms of the relationship. Families in the unit can certainly suggest candidates from among their contacts. A Charter Organization can serve more than one unit, and in many cases, will support a Pack, Troop and Crew. Ask a current Charter Organization if they are willing to take on another unit. The District Executive and staff at the Center for Scouting can help facilitate conversations with potential Charter partners, provide information regarding the relationship and expectations, and put interested parties in contact with other Charter Organizations if they want to learn more.

If your unit is searching for meeting space and is asked to enter into a facility use agreement, we suggest that you consult with staff in the Center for Scouting to make sure that the agreement is acceptable to the BSA. The United Methodist Church has worked in concert with the national BSA to develop a relationship agreement that among other things, permits continued use of church facilities for meeting and storage which is acceptable to both parties. Similar agreements are being considered by the Catholic Church diocese by diocese, but have not yet been finalized. Questions regarding facility or relationship agreements should be directed to the Center for Scouting.

Charter renewal provides an opportunity to examine partnerships and relationships, reaffirm continuing commitments to the principles and aims of Scouting, and assure that our youth have a rich and rewarding Scouting experience through quality programming, leadership opportunity, fellowship and fun. While the Charter Organization has always played a role in the life of a unit, this year perhaps more than in the past, it is helpful to embrace our partnerships and strengthen our working relationship with our Charter Organizations, and if necessary, cultivate a new working relationship to sustain Scouting and our units for many years to come.

Thank you once again for entrusting your youth to Scouting and sharing your time, talent and treasure.  In all that we do, let us not forget that Scouting is really for our youth, for their life-shaping, life-changing Scouting experience. Scouting matters!

Paul Shrode