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This has been an enlightening thread. I now realize we operate out committee by consensus. I do understand following the bylaws but the bylaws cannot be in direct conflict of BSA policy. If BSA has a rule (advancement for example), the bylaws cannot set a different standard for the same thing (for example, you can't require that a boy going for Eagle be at least 17 years old and have been SPL for 2 years because those are not the BSA requirements).

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"but the committee does not exist in reality." This is what we have. I have a great Committee in my one person Committee Chair.


What's good about this is that without adults getting together monthly to pontificate about what's right or wrong with the troop we avoid the petty childish fights among the adults. Adult posturing for higher ranking in the social order is usually worse in the committee meeting room than in the troop meeting room.


The bad part is that the committee chair and I have about 2-3 times the work load that in a fully functioning committee we might have.



Beavah, is right. If we had a functioning oversight group of mostly non parents to steer and direct the unit that would be ideal. I have seen it both ways. Newly arrived Cub Parents read online that the SM is selected my the committee. This gets transformed into the SM is the babysitter in chief and reports to the committee. Uck!


PLC's meetings are the best. We sit we they talk, they talk some more, the SM nudges the SPL to bring the discussion to a conclusion. From what I have seen the PLC has more investment and commitment to run a honorable and fair program than the adults.



Back to your question. In our troop the SM and the PLC have control over the checkbook. Now every item we spend the CC knows about but the "committee" does not control the checkbook.



How much money we talking about $100 $1000 10,000? and what is it for?






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Nah, Hawkrod, it's not that simple, eh?


Da troop committee is the chartered organization's entity, not da BSA's. So in general, da TC bylaws must adhere to the chartered organization, not the BSA, and the BSA program guidance definitely does not "trump". So while da BSA suggests that committee members be selected by a nominating committee, some are open, some may just be appointed by da COR/IH, etc.


Advancement would not normally be an issue for bylaws, it's just a program element. It is a special case, since da BSA has ownership of the trademarked awards, and can insist on conditions for their use (mostly through choosing to award 'em or not award 'em at its own discretion).


But practically speakin' we're talkin' about volunteers time and a customer's effort, which da BSA can't mandate. Even with advancement, local units have different expectations, as we see in postings here quite often, eh? And a lad who enjoys his troop and his scoutin' friends is going to go along with their expectations.



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Hawkrod - your comment


(for example, you can't require that a boy going for Eagle be at least 17 years old and have been SPL for 2 years because those are not the BSA requirements



I was in a troop that put in their bylaws that in order to acheive Eagle you had to be SPL (not for 2 years, just hold the position). When I was new I heard this and was concerned because it was a very large troop, and an elected position, and some could repeat the SPL position. Seemed like some could get all the requirements BSA stated, but never serve as SPL. The committee chair said they had a provision for that.


We left that troop, but I talked with some in the troop on occasion. This great scout, with an awsome personality as a camp counsilor, just barely made eagle in this troop. He was very close to 18 but never got a chance to run for SPL, because the troop played games on who was eligable for elections so he never was eligable.. But, they were holding his eagle, due to a positions they made sure he didn't get a chance to hold. His father who had never been in scouting finally got involved, and threatened the troop leaders into reporting how they ran their troop , if they did not recind this unfair policy. They finally reluctantly let him have it.


I was not surprised he had this difficulty, he was marked by the troop as one they did not want to see make eagle when he was around 14, because until that age he did not take interest in his advancement and was at like tenderfoot or first class. Then he took interest but they had already marked him as "not worthy". I sat in on his BOR and they told me they didn't like this kid, so planned to make the BOR hard before he entered the room.


I was happy to meet this young man again, and see what a fine young man he had turned into, even having spent his scouting years in this type of troop.


I don't know if Beavah is right about this being acceptable or not, but I would not stay in a troop that made bylaws so as to pick and choose who they wanted to make the Eagle rank.

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And this is where Perry Mason says "isn't it true...." Yes a troop can really write anything they like into their bylaws but the CO agrees to abide by the BSA program and so a set of bylaws like that is in violation and any DE or UC should be able to get that fixed quickly but your example is exactly why I used my example, I have heard it before.

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I've sat in on many committee meetings, and the only time I saw a real vote take place was in regards to a large expenditure for a new trailer. I say real vote, because one unit committee always comes to a concensus but then for some reason takes a vote. I've never actually seen a nay vote on anything.


As CC, I will sometimes call for an official vote on something we've reached consensus on in order to record it in the minutes. Usually I'll only do this if it's a subject that I feel might be controversial outside the committee (e.g. approving budgets or large expendatures like the trailer you mentioned), or because some outside party needs the documentation (the bank wanted official minutes approving granting a new person signing authority on the checking account before they would do that). Of course, calling for a vote is a good way to find out if you really do have consensus - it's awfully easy to assume everyone agrees with you. Asking "Okay, should we vote on it?" can prompt someone who still has reservations to speak up.


I don't think we've ever decided a controversial issue by vote. It's always been by consensus. OTOH, we've never had any controversial isses that we couldn't reach consensus on. Our committee lives may not remain quite so charmed forever though.



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Yah, consensus works great... until it doesn't :p. Usually when some new folks come in who don't buy in to the view of da current leadership.


so a set of bylaws like that is in violation and any DE or UC should be able to get that fixed quickly but your example is exactly why I used my example


Yah, Hawkrod, I know you've admitted to being a bit literal or black and white about these things, eh? That works for many things, but not for this. The BSA owns the program, but the CO owns the unit. They license da program, but they don't have to use all of it. They can choose not to use advancement at all, or to integrate it with their religious education program or any of a dozen different things. Even within da program, they can put age restrictions on holding certain positions of responsibility for advancement. So in terms of committee operations, it's their show, not the BSA's, and neither the DE or any of us Commissioner types can do much about it.


Yah, sure, there are a few things, like advancement, where there's an appeal structure in place to allow us to give a lad an award if we think he met da requirements but the unit disagrees. But even then, we can't "make" the unit change, eh? They don't work for us, they work for the CO.


Done well, of course, da relationship is a partnership between the CO and the BSA, though the BSA is the junior partner. As junior partners we provide services and can make suggestions, but we really don't tell 'em what to do. Quite da opposite, eh? It's the CO's who have the votes to tell us what to do.


But if yeh want black and white, it's that the members of the committee are volunteers for the CO, not for the BSA, and in their roles as committee members they owe their loyalty and duty to the CO, not to the BSA. I always tell folks it's important to understand who you owe duty to, so as to avoid conflicts of interest.




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I agree with your concept Beavah, I am just saying that the CO has a commitment to fulfill as well, based on the requirements laid down in the charter. I have yet to come across a CO that intentionally and willfully disregards their commitment once they are fully aware of it. That being said we know that a heck of a lot of them just are not aware of the commitment that they made.

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Yeah, the troop I gave as an example of changing Advancement policy was "self-chartered".. Therefore the committee could run rampant over changing whatever they want to.


But there is "enough" that you can change that the Council will come in and clean house.


Until then as Jblake said "Move down the road". But if the troop is way out of line with BSA policy log a complaint with the DE. If they get enough complaints about unfair practices, they will do something about it.

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"Junior Partners" can't generally fire the "Senior Partners", can they? The BSA has the option, at all times, to pull the charter of the organization.


The CO agrees to offer the program that the BSA provides - and gives the CO limited options to tweak it to their organization. A CO can decide that it won't offer the advancement portion of the program, but they can't change the requirements for ranks (we can argue somewhere else if a CO should say advancement won't be earned).


There are also certain things that the CO must adhere too. A CO can't opt out of mandatory background checks for the volunteers.


In most cases, committees shouldn't need to vote on anything. The program as the PLC has planned it, with input from the SM, is presented to the Committee. It's not the job of the Committee to approve the plan - it's the job of the Committee to help get the plan moving. When the Quartermaster says that 3 tents are in very bad shape, can't be repaired, and need to be replaced, the Committee doesn't vote to replace three tents. They come up with a way to replace 3 tents. If the old tent's are no longer available and it's time to go to a new model, it's not the Committee's job to vote on what kind of tents to get - the Committee should go back to the PLC (through the SM) and ask the PLC to do the research and choose the new style tents (the Scouts have to live with them, not the Committee). In the course of the year, the only thing a Committee may need to vote on something is informally, after the meeting, where the Committee is going to go for a bite to drink and a coffee/tea/soft drink/adult beverage after the meeting to just hang out as friends for a bit.


A Unit doesn't need bylaws. The BSA provides every thing you need to operate the unit. The only "bylaws" you need are The Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

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Nah, we've had this discussion before, eh? The BSA most certainly does not provide everything yeh need to run the unit. Money for example ;). Information on how to use it most effectively to achieve da CO's goals. How to deal with behavioral issues. Or any of the many things we discuss on this forum on a regular basis. ;) Including how to structure and run a troop committee.


If yeh have a committee of like-minded folks who share a vision, what Calico and I and others have said holds true, eh? Yeh run by consensus for the most part. However, when yeh don't have that sort of agreement, consensus breaks down. That's when yeh need bylaws and votes, so that one or two dissenters don't hijack the process for the rest of the group. Even when yeh do have a good group, yeh still want to maintain some policy controls, like how money is handled.


You would think that the Oath and Law would be enough for the BSA, eh? Yet councils and the national organization have bylaws and policies nonetheless. They provide important structure, and can help in disputes, or help prevent impropriety, or just keep the loudest voice from dominatin' the group. Seems like what's sauce for the national and local scouting organizations should also be sauce for the units. ;)


Yah, there are a few things, like YP, that are conditions of the program. And there are a few things, like awards, that the BSA "owns" in terms of trademarked IP that it therefore has control over. For the rest, it's the CO's program. They're the customer, the BSA is the contractor they hire for support services. We need them, they don't necessarily need us. And we don't tell 'em how to run their program, because that would make us liable for their program, eh? We don't want that.


Yep, da BSA can at some point decide that a particular customer is such a pain in the neck that they just choose not to do business with 'em anymore, just like a junior partner can quit. It happens very rarely, has to go all the way to National for approval. Far, far more often, the CO decides not to contract with the BSA any more. Doesn't cost 'em anything, but hurts scouting a lot.


That's why we commissioners and DE's don't go into units to "fix" things the way Hawkrod suggests. We're friends of the unit. We provide support services that they paid for to help 'em with their program. We make suggestions, but we don't tell 'em what to do.




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By the time members of groups start looking for rules, regulations, and by-laws to prove their positions, it means that the conflict has gotten to an irreconcilable level. Obviously someone's got to go. This is not an issue of voting rights, it's an issue of who's gotta go.


This is where a group of parents go off and start a new troop/pack.....


It's called the divorce level of conflict. Thinking one can think up a wonderful solution to the problem is nothing more than a fanciful game. If the inability to work together has gotten people this far into conflict, it's going to take a small miracle to get them out.


Hopefully, E-Mtns's question is only for informational purposes and not because the SM is causing problems, or wants to cause problems, or the CC is giving the SM a hassle and using the Committee to back him/her. All this adult bickering does not do anything to help out the scouts and most often does more damage than necessary.


Your mileage may vary,



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There is little to add to what Beavah has written. I have acted as "instructor" for Troop Committee Challenge for several years. I put instructor in quotes because I try to get the participants to instruct themselves. I am there mainly as a facilitator.


But I digress.


On by laws, I advise that there is no requirement for them, but many units find them helpful to clarify who is a member of the committee, what is a quorum and things for which a formal vote might be required. It is certainly correct that most committee business is done by consensus, but one needs to be prepared to be more formal when touchy subjects come up such as disciplinary matters.


Removing either an adult or a youth from participation in the unit is a serious decision and some degree of formality is best put in place before the need arises to ensure fair treatment all around.


The tale written above about a troop imposing additional requirements for Eagle is apalling. I too would not stick around such a troop. I don't know how change could be effected in such an environment.


It is correct that the SM and ASMs are not members of the committee and do not vote. However, I advise that such volunteers should certainly participate in the committee discussions. I point out that (1) these are the people doing most of the work and (2) you don't want these people getting the feeling that their views are completely ignored.


Our troop currently registers at least one parent from each household that registers a boy in the troop. This creates the possibility of a disgruntled faction arising and seizing control of the committee. That is the obverse of the situation where the committee consists of only a few unidentified people who essentially operate as a mysterious cabal.


Ultimately all successful and effective troop committees run on trust and good faith. If those are absent, there are larger issues with the unit that mere organizational changes cannot heal.

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I've attended both pack and troop committees for a number of years (over 10 years of elapsed time), and I cannot recall any vote we've ever taken in either organization. Maybe I'm just lucky.


As for by-laws, or troop policies, or troop logistics - you can call it whatever you want, but you do have them. They may be unwritten, but I can see an advantage in putting them down on paper. Somewhere you have a rule that says what your dues are, when your troop meets, when your PLC meets. You might have information on who owns the troop trailer, whether you have your own EIN, when your committee meets, whether there are any forbidden items on camping trips, etc. How do you pay for trips? Etc. I'm fine with having some of these documented - I'd even say it's a good thing.

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More food for thought;


It is written in the bylaws that late youth arrivals are to enter the meeting quietly and sit at a table in the back of the room.


Last summer following the proding of the new SM the boys voted to change to the so-called troop method. They haven't had a PLC meeting since. The SM and Committee plan and execute the program. Last winter the SM divided the youth members into patrols of his liking for the Winter Camporee and it just happened again. One SA thought he does it to even the skill levels of the patrols or to put it another way STACK THE DECK.


I'm disgusted at the level of control the committee and SM is seeking to implement.


Chew on that for a while.

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