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should Scouters join their COs

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I ask this because it was brought up in another thread but also because it comes up from time to time with our own CO.


We are chartered by a civic organization. This is an international group and one of their international focal points is youth service. The local chapter though, is very small, very old, and very inactive. There's a disconnect between them and us. They do complain about and to us a couple of times a year (in the fall and in the spring, when we need signatures for new leaders primarily). One of their complaints is that they want some of us to join them. Note they have no interest in joining us! The COR has never in recent memory come to a meeting or activity or Court of Honor and it isn't for lack of invitations!


Honestly, it isn't that I'm opposed to what their group allegedly stands for, but literally the only activity our CO does each year is to do fund raisers (they then disburse the funds to other community groups - though not to us). I honestly haven't got time or interest in joining a group where that's their only activity. Oh - and they have a long, drawn out, dinner at a nasty smoky dive bar in town once a month, if that counts as an "activity." I've been to a couple (as troop representative, trying to build bridges) and I have no desire to return. I'd much rather spend the limited volunteering time I have, serving scouts in some manner.


Is that bad? Yeah, probably. But it is still true.

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In the other thread, the CO declined a request to help pay a leader's wood badge fees because of a lack of commitment. A lot of posts suggested it was because the leader would probably be moving to Boy Scouts from Cub Scouts in a short time. I just meant to suggest that perhaps it was a lack of commitment to the CO, not necessarily the unit. Joining the CO is definitely a way to begin to show commitment to it.


If the CO is a civic organization, I feel it is important that at least some of the unit membership are also members of the CO. Lisabob, in your situation I feel it would be very valuable for at least one adult troop leader to be a member of the CO. I don't see how it could do anything except help the relationship, especially since the CO has suggested that.


That said, the troop I'm registered to is a Catholic Parish. I'm a Catholic but I'm not registered to that parish. I'm registered to another parish where my children go to school. When my children graduate from the school, we'll probably transfer to the parish that charters the troop. It's a lot closer to where we live. There are however, several members of the troop (adults and scouts) that are members of the parish and so there is some continuity between the CO and the unit besides the COR.


I think a lot of relationship (or lack of) issues between a unit and its CO are because of an "us vs. them" attitude with the unit leaders especially, and to a lesser extent of the CO's leadership. When the unit members are members of the CO and involved with the CO, then this "us vs. them" attitude tends to diminish.


SWScouter(This message has been edited by SWScouter)

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My answer is "Depends." Scouters being in the Chartered Partner should be a two-way street. Not everyone is going to fit every chartered partner.


Dad X is Conservate Jewish by specific profession of faith. The local troop his child is in is chartered by a Presbyterian church. Am I going to drop one to join the other? Probably not.


Mom Y is a CPA. Her son attends a Troop chartered by a a local law firm, because they were both Eagles and believe in Scouting. Is she going to change professions and join the firm? Probably not.


Mom and Dad Z have hung out their business shingle in, and are becoming involved in, their local community. The local Rotary Club charters their sons' Pack and Troop. Mom and Dad are the Advancement Coordinator and an ASM, respectively. The Rotary Club is looking for new members. Might there be a fit for Mom and Dad??? Quite possibly...


Carpenter A is retired from the trade, but he knows A LOT about small building design and construction. Collaterally, he's worked concrete, helped the electricians, and painted in his day. He's a member of Church B, which charters Troop 123. Might he be a Merit Badge Counselor for several trades MBs, and also help kids who are planning Eagle Leadership Service Projects??? ...


Mr B is a member of the local VFW. He's the services officer for the local Post. He's very, very good at helping Veterans get what they are entitled to from the VA. Frankly, he's swamped. That "one hour a week" we want, he truly cannot give. Even so, he's been asked to speak at a Court of Honor or two. His tale is riveting.


The perfect relationship is symbiotic. Most unit/CP relationships aren't yet perfect.

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My troop is charted to one of our local Rotary clubs. I was a member of the unit for 3 years before I got to know any of the Rotarians. Now I are one. They invited me to attend a meeting to report on the troop. At that meeting they asked if I'd be interested in membership. I was and I did join a month later. I get to work on the youth programs Rotary has and love every minute.


Since my joining the group and becoming active, the Rotary Club has increased thier support of the unit, and has included the unit in thier plans for service and fund raising. It's really paying off for the troop and for me.


Personally I would encourage the symbiotic relationship that John in KC espouses.

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Yah, Lisa'bob, what you describe I've come to see as very common in lots of older social/service clubs.


The organization had a heyday. They did a lot durin' the heyday. They got a bit cliquish, or maybe let recruitment languish because they were doin' too much other stuff. Over time, their membership dropped. The old guard stayed around as friends and keeps things runnin', bein' loyal to each other and the organization. But now it's really hard to get new members, because younger folks just see an old clique that's hard to break into and hangs around in smoky pubs, eh?


Deep down, those members would like to see their organization vibrant, with young folks around again. They just don't know how to make it happen. And they're a bit scared and might even be slightly resentful because it will be different; they won't be in control, etc. Those two sentiments struggle in all these old organizations. I know, eh? I'm part of a couple ;).


Nah, I don't think it's an obligation for you or any other scouter to join the CO. But it just might be an opportunity. Bring in a few people. Bring in a few new ideas without steppin' on their "tried-and-true". Let 'em see kids around again, and take delight in rememberin' the youth they promised to serve.


Yeh might find that you're a great resource for each other.


Takes time, fer sure, and most scouters don't have that much to spare :). But if yeh think of it as a kind of ongoing unit service project that both the adults and kids engage in, yeh might be surprised by da rewards.



and a real old Beavah, too


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I think it is important to understand how the Charter/Unit relationship is supposed to work.....by the book....not in reality.


An organization either decides on their own that they want a unit and contacts the council to find out how that happens or a DE or other professional calls on organizations trying to recruit them. Once it is determined that the organization will charter a unit, the organization is charged with appointing a COR. The COR then begins recruiting leadership for the unit beginning with the Committee Chair. The Committee Chair begins recruiting Committee Members and a Scoutmaster/Cubmaster who in turn recruits ASM's/DL's. Everyone has to be approved by the COR while the CO guarantees to meet certain standards for providing an acceptable meeting place and ensuring things like x number of outings per year. In this "by the book" scenario, the CO is totally involved in the start up of the unit and the selection of the leadership and they continue to work together since the unit is an extension of the organization to the surrounding community.


How many of you out there still have that kind of relationship with your CO? Some, but not most. As the years go by, a disconnect eventually happens more often than not. Our unit has been around for 45 years and I can guarantee you that there is probably no one around in the CO or the unit who were there when the unit began. Usually it is the unit who is trying to get the CO to "buy in" to the unit once again and improve the relationship. In Lisa's case, it sounds like the CO wants buy in from the unit. That is rare and many units would jump at the chance of bettering the relationship with their benefactor.


That being said, there needs to be a fit for involvement with the CO. I'm Baptist and not interested in joining the Methodist church who charters our unit. I've been known to enjoy food and the occasional cigar, but doing a long dinner at a dive bar wouldn't be my cup of tea either. But maybe someone in the unit wouldn't mind it. We are fortunate to have a large pool of adults in our unit and can usually find someone to fill most every niche.

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The Charter Organization can require membership as a condition of participation in the scouting unit that they own. Look at LDS. But I also know another church in our district which does it, a Methodist parish I think it is. They have a Cub unit and a Boy Scout unit. I think one has 60 boys and the other has about 80.


If your CO is floundering for lack of membership, it would be in your unit's best interest to see if you can do something about it.

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This is kinda interesting. When I moved back home about 15 years ago We were in the process of switching from the Lions because their membership was in decline. We switched over to the Ruritans. We met at the Presbyterian church- I think we had met there since the troop was reorganized in the late 70s. I eventually became a member of the church. Our CO relationship was amiable but not really active.


In the meantime, the pack had changed from the school, to the VFW, to the PTA and then to the Methodist church. I re-married a year and half ago, and we were flipping between my Presbyterian church and and her Methodist church in a near-by town. Neither of us was exactly happy with that so we tried out the local Methodist church, which is actually where I went as a youth (and still know a lot of folks), and last fall we decide to become members.


Now, the Ruritans here have really become sports oriented. They do a really good job with the local baseball teams and they maintain a great park (which has had several Eagle projects). The Methodist preacher has a son in the troop and he approached us, so we mulled it over for a while, then decided to move the troop and crew over. I has been about six months, and it is a good relationship. Being under one roof, the troop and pack have more contact.


So- given this and the other remarks, the answer to joining the CO is: join the CO if and only if it is something you would do regardless of Scouting; if it isn't fun or interesting you will not stick with it.



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Sometimes it's impossible. Women can't join a Masonic Lodge. Some people of one race or another can't join a particular Masonic Lodge. Men can't join Easter Star. Then there's the place of worship thing too.


And NO, I'm not a Mason.


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