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FScouter

Troop Policies

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Im in the process of writing a set a troop policies. The purpose is to help avoid misunderstandings between committee members, other adult leaders, boy leaders, parents, and the charter organization. The basis of the troop policies will be the official BSA rules and regs found in the various BSA publications. We will expand on those rules and regs and apply them to the real life scenarios found in the daily operation of a troop.

 

Some of the topics to be covered are: troop expenses, money-earning, boy accounts, dues, uniform, discipline, adult leadership expectations, program, transportation, and family involvement.

 

Do other troops have written bylaws or policies? What kinds of topics should be included or excluded?

 

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We actually have two documents. The first is a basic Orientation for new families which goes into uniforming, advancement, program, meetings, fund raising, registration, and all the "business" functions of the troop

 

The second document is a discipline form which goes into detail up front about possible discipline problems at troop meetings, weekend campits and summer camp. It also gives the ramifications of the infraction. So far we have only had to use this policy once in 20 years or so.

 

If you would like a copy of each, Email me your mailing address and I will gladly send one to you.

 

eagle90@earthlink.net

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I suspect that few troops have written policies. Most would benefit by having at least some things written down. The one area not mentioned that should be covered is expectations for youth elected to leadership positions. Above all keep it simple and cover only those things that need to be covered.

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There are many good examples on the net. I've had quite a bit of success with my search engine. I'm writing a manual for both our Pack and Troop.

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Just my two cents...I posted on another site sometime ago regarding this very same issue. Writing troop policies and rules and regulations can be a daunting task. It can also be quite dangerous unless the author(s) remember that the basis of all rules and policies in Scouting must come from that which is published by the BSA. For my purposes in Scouting, as a Committee Member, SM, ASM, and other leader positions, I always tried to remind those helping to author such things that all policies and rules should be written such that they point directly at the Scout Oath, and the Scout Law, no matter the subject. Your list sounds pretty thorough, and could be divided somewhat into adult oriented and Scout oriented subjects. But making sure that both ends point to, or come from, the Oath and Law, will serve to reinforce both of these tenents for all leaders and Scouts...and non-participating adults.

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Our troop has policies on the following--Scout Spirit, Service, Leadership, and one or two more. Anything else is done on an as-needed basis. The policies we do have, however, prove useful come BOR time.

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This is going to be a very long process. I don't want to discourage you but it will take many meetings. I can say this because our committee just completed this task a year or so ago. It will make your life easier. I would suggest trying to get your hands on as many other Troops Bylaws and Policies as you can. Look them over and decide what ones fit your needs. You will find that you don't need what every other troop needs. We actually have 12 sections to ours, they are as follows:

1. Bylaws and Policies

2. Membership and Training of the Committee

3. Meetings

4. Voting

5. Committee Positions

6. Merit Badge Counselors

7. Camping Leadership

8. Fundraising and Finances

9. Service Projects

10.Uniforms

11.Behavior Expectations

12.Medications

 

We also have what we call New Parents Informational Packet wich includes the following:

Section A

1. Charter information

2. Adult leaders & phone numbers

3. Committee Members & numbers

Section B

1. Introduction

2. Youth Protection

3. Parent responsibilities

4. Communication

5. Behavior Contract

Section C

1. Advancement

2. Service projects

3. Merit Badges

Section D

1. Finances

In addition to these we also have a behavior contract which the parent must read with their child and there are 4 signatures on. The boy and parents sign, then the Scoutmaster and finally the Troop Committee Chair will sign. This puts everyone on the same page with the same expectations. When we go camping or on a trip the boys are reminded of their contract as the parents are too. We have only had to use these a couple of times. It took many meetings and months for use to get these in place but it is worth the time. If I can help you any further let me know and I'll give you my e-mail address. I hope this helps you.

Yours in Scouting

featherswillfly

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I agree with jmcquillan and others who emphasize "keep it simple" and "stay within the BSA policies".

 

So many of the topics mentioned by others are already covered in the Scout handbook and other manuals.

 

We have always shared lots of info with parents such as calendar dates, budget and finances, rosters etc. in our newslwetters. In 26 years as a unit leader the only "rules" we needed were behavior rules set by the PLC. It is reviewed and revised every 6 months as troop leadership changes. It's always between 10 and 15 bulleted lines that carry a very easy to remember discipline. Violate a rule and you will not be allowed to return to a meeting until your parents meet with the Scoutmaster and Committee chair. Everything else we needed is in the Boy Scout Handbook.

 

 

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My Troop has policies in place. They mostly deal with what is and is not acceptable behavior. We also have a document that details what the consequences are for unacceptable behavior. The new Scout & parents must read & sign both. They are given a signed copy & the original is kept in the Troop records.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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The idea of a parent/Scout information guide separate from by-laws sounds good. The guide would be a brief discussion of what is expected of the Scout and his parents. The by-laws would be directed more to the adult leaders and the troop committee. By-laws would cover issues that are not addressed in official BSA publications, or that are not specific. There are a number of thorny issues that have come up that a good set of by-laws would help leaders deal with:

To what degree and with what frequency shall the treasurer report on the troop finances?

What portion of the proceeds from a money earning project shall be allocated to the boy account and what portion shall be used for general troop purposes?

What kinds of expenditures need to be approved by the committee before being paid?

Is a full uniform REQUIRED, or optional as the Scout may be motivated? For what types of activities?

Shall the troop collect dues from Scouts?

To what degree shall the troop financially assist Scouts with limited resources?

To what degree may the troop committee conduct business outside regularly scheduled meetings?

May a parent with a revoked driver's license drive his own son to a Scout activity?

May the Scoutmaster sign off his son's rank requirements?

Is training for committee members required or optional? Assistant Scoutmasters?

Shall the troop fund the cost of Boy's Life for Scouts?

Is two-deep leadership REQUIRED while driving Scouts to activities?

Shall the Scoutmaster be authorized to make the Scouts do push-ups as punishment for misbehavior?

May a Scout bring his little brother to Scout meetings?

 

 

 

 

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One man's opinion; I could be wrong.

 

Answers to FScouter's issues:

 

- Treasurer should report finances at each committee meeting (Troop committee guidebook)

 

- Apportioned fund raising? Determined by the troop committee when the money earning application is processed...no boilerplate policy really works here; too many different situations

 

- committee approval of expenditures? If you put trustworthy people in charge of the money, you shouldn't have to micromanage this, up to a certain dollar amount determined by your checkbook balance. Ours is $50.

 

- Can't require a full uniform...BSA doesn't.

 

- Dues are encouraged to teach value of money. We don't have them in our by-laws now, but I'm going to try to add...

 

- Financial assistance: The old TV ad comes to mind here: "not looking for a handout, just a hand". I think the troop committee should plan sufficient opportunities for Scouts to earn the money for their Scouting expenses (money earning projects), that there shouldn't be resource issues. If that's flat not possible, check into council "campership" programs, help from the chartered org, or the troop "sucks it up" (a Scout is helpful).

 

- committee business outside meetings? On emergent or emergency type issues that can't wait for the next meeting, we do "virtual meetings" to decide specific things by e-mail. Only as an exception. Most things that seem "on fire" can actually wait until the meeting. This assumes all members are honest brokers. If any are doing end-arounds outside of meetings, that's a whole 'nother ball game.

 

- revoked driver's license? Better not be doing it if the troop is listing the driver/vehicle on the back of the tour permit. If it's just a troop meeting drop-off/pick-up, he ain't yours until he gets out of the car. However, you could offer to arrange pick-up/drop offs by someone who is legal. Why's he revoked -- DUI? This could be a chocolate mess!

 

- Yes, a Scoutmaster can sign off the advancement requirements for any Scout in the troop, including his son's. A Scout is trustworthy, right? If either one is cheating, the rest of the troop will know it almost immediately. That's why most adult leaders are overly fussy on their own kids crossing the "T's" and dotting the "I's" -- gotta be above reproach. My son's Personal Fitness exercise period went from 12 to 18 weeks 'cuz he missed workouts on some cold days. Some people think being the Scoutmaster's son is great...my son would probably tell you it's not that great. He's the first one at meetings, the last one to leave, and gets away with absolutely nothing that even slightly resembles corner-cutting in the program. Moreover, I know whether he's showing Scout Spirit more than any of the other Scouts, since we live in the same house, go to the same church, have the same relatives, I see all his school progress reports, his little sister rats him out, etc. I feel sorry for him sometimes...but not too often.

 

- The only training required is Youth Protection. Everything else is optional, but encouraged.

 

- Boys' Life? Our troop funds it, but we can afford it. I think it's worth it, since it's another way to get the program into the home where the parents can see it.

 

- Two-deep? Required for trips and outings, according to the Guide to Safe Scouting. If a parent is driving a son to a troop meeting, not required. Personally, I like four-deep...

 

- Push-ups? I wouldn't permit them in Boy Scout troops...too close to corporal punishment or hazing, and too subject to abuse. Also, doesn't solve a problem and requires absolutely no application of brainpower on the part of a leader to fix a situation...treat the cause, not the symptom.

 

- Siblings? As a rule of thumb, I wouldn't allow it...I'm assuming the little guy's not old enough for membership. There's a reason why the minimum age is 11. Is he babysitting? Then, he can't concentrate on the meeting agenda, and it may be a distraction to the other Scouts. I don't know the exact situation; there may be extenuating circumstances...

 

We have by-laws and a new parents' guide, and I meet with every new family soon after they come on board so there's no misunderstandings...

 

-

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fscouter,

You raise some very good points. most of which are covered by the BSA in; the troop committee training, Troop Committee Challenge; The scoutleader training, Scoutmaster Asst. Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training; the budget training video, The Ideal Year of Scouting; the youth protection manual, The Guide to Safe Scouting, and in the policy manual, Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures.

I highly recommend that evryone first get trained and learn the program before they write local rules that could be conflict.

 

About the only two points that are not already covered specifically by the bsa but are covered indirectly are ...

 

Q.To what degree can the committee do business outside of the regular business meeting?

A. The Troop Committee is not a legal entity. It is a subcommittee of it's charter organization. as such it is not bound by the open meetings act. Any adult is free to act in the best interest of the scouts as long as the resources of the troop are not used inappropriately and they are keeping the Committee Chair or Scoutmaster informed.

 

Q. May a person with a revoked drivers license drive their own son to a meeting.

A. Hasn't your Secretary of State already made that decison? Hasn't it already been determined that for this person to be operating a vehicle is a danger to the public? In our role as participating citizens do we not have a responsibility to the scout as well as to the community to report this individual to the authorities? I'm curious as to how often this happens that a unit needs a standing policy to address it!

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The distinction has been drawn between written policies and a parents' manual. A parents' manual can be very useful, and in effect be a means of communicating policies. We have few written policies, but we do provide information to parents.

 

Another vehicle for communicating policies and other information is the troop's web site if you have one.

 

Here is another area of concern that has gone unmentioned. Who has the authority to approve outings and put them on the troop calendar? We had a situation in one troop I was involved with where a dad got up at a meeting and simply announced an outing that conflicted with a major activity. This bothered a lot of people and the committee adopted a policy that no outing could be announced or undertaken without committee approval.

 

This leads to another related issue. Who has the authority to modify, or even reschedule, an outing? Has this ever been an issue with some of you folks?

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eisly,

Doesn't the Patrol Leaders Council determine a troops program in Boy Scouts? That's what it say's in the Boy Scout Handbook, the Scoutmaster Handbook, the Troop Committee Guide, and the Junior Leader Handbook, not to mention every training course in Boy Scouts. Why not just say to the dad "That's not our decision, thats why it's called Boy Scouts not Adult Scouts." The role of the troop committee according to every resource in scouting is to support the boys decisions not make them.

 

National's goal today is 100% trained adults. Your local training team can show you how this program has all the paperwork and rules you need without needing to come up with more.

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I agree with jmcquilan on the oath and law. In fact I would fight tooth and nail against any written policy for the Troop internally.

 

How can we conduct reasonable discussions based on oath and law if we are following someone else's procedures? This can be messy, emotional and a long and rocky road but it is an excellant learning tool. Every disagreement then goes back to our reading of the oath and law for guidance about what is reasonable for us to do.

 

I could accept bob whites six monthly revisions for large Troops simply so that things can get done instead of endless mediation; but it is not, in my mind, the best solution for the individual scouts moral development.

 

Non-scouting adults and organisations are a different matter. We have no shared oath and law to work with. Policy documents for external Troop matters are needed.

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