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58 page constitution, bylaws aaarrrrggggghhhh

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Just got a copy of the Troop bylaws

58 pages long,



standing rules

and a parent guide thrown in for good measure.



old, outdated, includes uniform info (red tabs and red topped socks) and old advancement stuff.


So we need to scrap this thing and start over.


who had a good, reasonable, fairly short bylaws for their troop?

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Here's one with just two short subsections:


On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country

and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong,

mentally awake, and morally straight.


A Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent

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Well the troop has been in existence for over 80 years,

the constitution, bylaws and standing rules predates most of the adults in the troop.

they are most likely changing COR's at the end of the year, since our existing one is going thru bankruptcy. so along with that, they will redo the bylaws. they want something in writing about how their meetings are run and finances, and are people appointed, elected, who gets to vote on things. stuff that we should just "know" but well we deal with adults who need things all spelled out and just cause the BSA documents for troop committees says this or that, it may not apply to us cause it doesn't have our troop name on it. yeah, it's going to be an interesting upcoming months.


My biggest thing is to let them have some kind of document to satisfy those who want to read it in print with the troop name on it--even if it's a copy and paste of everything BSA already gives us as guides for troop committees. But I don't want them to overstep the bounds turning this into (more of a) committee lead troop. A good set of bylaws MIGHT help with that. might not.

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What is your position in the unit 5yearscouter?


A parent guide is a good thing but should not be part of the bylaws.


Constitution? For what purpose?


Bylaws should be no more than when meetings are, what dues are, etc. that kind of stuff!


Other than that, the Oath and Law should suffice.


Who is "they"?

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Not a bad idea to have a set of standard operating procedures when it comes to finances (requirements for 2 signatures on checks, etc.)


Beyond that, you don't need a constitution, you don't need by-laws, you don't need calendar events set in stone.


But if they insist, then make is short and simple.


Start off with the Scout Oath and Scout Law as Shortridge suggests. Simply state that the Scout Oath and Law governs the operations of the Troop in all respects and applies equally to the Scouts, Program Leaders, Committee Members, Parents, and Siblings when they are in attendance.


Next, state that the program will be developed and run by the Patrol Leader's Council under the guidance of the Scoutmaster and his assistants, and the Committee's sole responsibility is to support the program that the Scouts come up with, and that they do not have veto power over the program decided on by the PLC.


Next, state that operations of the Troop will be run in accordance with the following BSA guides: G2SS, Scoutmasters Handbook, Troop Committee Guidebook, Senior Patrol Leaders Handbook, Insignia Guide, Boy Scout Handbook, Den Chiefs Handbook, Advancement Requirements Guide, any and all current Merit Badge Pamphlets, Patrol Leaders Handbook, and any other official BSA publications and any questions will be answered by referring to the appropriate BSA publication.


Put that on one page - put a fancy Troop XXX heading on it if you desire, and viola - je suis finis. Hand it out and stick to it - if any parent complains, suggest they find a new Troop, because frankly, they're going to be a barrier and problem to the rest of the boys, who are now going to get the program as the program is intended to be run, and who needs some schmuck who can't handle simplicity and collaboration without a detailed list of rules ruining it for the boys.

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Bylaws are a fun topic! Keep in mind that Troop bylaws cannot supersede BSA Advancement Policies and Procedures; which I bet will eliminate much of those 58 pages

Put your Troop sticker on the cover of BSAs Troop Committee Guidebook. Buy a few copies of Roberts Rules and have them in arms reach distance at any committee meeting.

Google troop committee guidelines and youll find all sorts of ones out there.


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Methinks that any troop that has 58 pages of rules and regs is probably an adult-led program and needs a complete overhaul according to BSA policy and procedures.



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If your troop is like most troops, your real challenge will not be switching to official BSA publications. The real challenge would be changing troop practices to meet the scouting program as documented by the BSA.



#1 Keep it brief. Anything too long just won't be read.



#2 Document carefully that which is unique to your troop


- practice

---- where and when the troop meets

- Money

---- dues, prorating, boys life subscriptions, ...

---- how fundraiser profits are divided

---- when money is refunded

---- if and when you pay for milage

---- reimbursement process / forms / accounting

- policies

---- cell phone policies

---- soda pop policies

---- knife policies (no machettees and such)

- discipline

---- IMHO, ... not really needed beyond simple friendly statement about scout oath and law ...

---- what if things break ... who's liable.

- gear

---- packing list / don't bring list

---- tents (who's are used, can scouts use their own,

- expectations

---- parents (support, camping, support, roles, ...)

---- scouts (oath and law, please don't document attendance percentages ....)




#3 Add a short executive summary guide for parents that quickly points to sources of more information. Best practice is to google until you find one you like. Then borrow and change to match your troop.




#4 Document the sources of the official information




#5 Put copies of the BSA official publications in your troop library




#6 For everything else ... usually redocumenting only raises more questions and adds confusion. If you do need to do document though, you could have paragraph headers such as "Advancement - Service projects". Then the first thing, reference the source and include the quote. For example....



Per BSA "Advancement committee policies and procedures" (BSA publication 33088, ISBN 978-0-8395-3088-6)....


Second Class Rank


For the Second Class rank, a Scout must participate

in a service project or projects approved by his

Scoutmaster. The time of service must be a minimum

of one hour. This project prepares a Scout for

the more involved service projects he must perform

for the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks.


Star and Life Ranks










#7 Or you could approach it as a FAQ section that quickly references the official source.





#8 Or have it as an online document with hyperlinks to the official sources for further reading.(This message has been edited by fred8033)

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I'm in line to possibly take over as committee chair. I don't really want the job, because in any troop changes, I'll be up against 3 guys that are the "old guard" that have been in the troop for many many years. They don't want things to change and do put up roadblocks. Their kids have eagled and aged out and they are coming less frequently, but hit every committee meeting like clockwork.


They were in on the last revision of the bylaws in 2003 or 4 and took out a bunch of stuff. So I guess the bylaws and such used to be about twice as long as it is now. :|


The bylaws are not really followed at this time except what the 3 guys remember. A discussion in committee about what to charge for recharter and they'll say "oh it says in the bylaws that we have to charge $1 a week at recharter and $1 a week for dues at each week's meetings."


So I requested a copy of the bylaws. Finally got a copy of the bylaws (had asked before and finally got them years after the first request). There is, by the way, nothing in the bylaws about what to charge except that the committee is supposed to review the costs of scouting and set the recharter and dues amount each October. so that's not bad and should be retained and actually followed.


I've just taken the position of membership chair. There are all sorts of missing applications, adult position changes without youth protection(so they weren't processed) and non-payments from recharter from October. medical forms were in the file box from 2002. So I shredded 4 garbage bags of outdated med form info and insurance card info.


I'm not taking on the job of redoing bylaws, but I'm doing a bit of an information gathering right now.


Fred--I'm afraid if we get into the details of much of what you state, we'll be right back where we started from or worse.


I'd like to get the committee completely trained all together at the same time on how committees are supposed to run thru BSA guidelines. and then have them discuss what should or should not be changed from that standard to meet our needs--I don't think much should change.


Some things I really want changed like Bylaws don't need to say how the troop elects their COR for instance.

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You've just made it much easier, provided you have, as they say, the backbone to stand by your decisions because you are in a great position to make the changes that you know in your heart need to be changed.


Take the job as Committee Chair. Once you've done that, you tell the three members of the "old guard" that the Troop has greatly valued their services in the past, but you've decided it's time for them to retire. You are the Committee Chair - it's your job to recruit and appoint the Committee Members. Note that I did not say preside over an election of Committee Members - you don't elect Committee Members - you appoint them. You're simply not going to re-appoint these old guard members - that resolves that problem.


Now you're going to be appointed by the COR, right? That's right, there is no election for Committee Chair. The Committee Chair is appointed by the COR (and why is the Troop "electing" the COR? The COR is appointed by the Institutional Head (or governing board) of the Chartered Organization - the Committee/Troop has no say in this process). So when you accept the appointment by the COR, you make sure the COR has your back so that when the "old guard" complains to the COR, the COR tells them that s/he supports the Committee Chair's Committee staffing decisions and it's done. When they try to become ASM's (and chances are that they will try), the COR needs to put a stop on that too - again, your service is invaluable, thank you for all your time, but it's time to retire - might we suggest you put that experience to higher use and consider working with the District, or becoming a Merit Badge Counselor?


Then as Committee Chair, you get your new Committee, the folks that you've appointed, fully trained. Then hold an informal backyard get together (Maybe a potluck BBQ - you supply burgers/brats, everyone else supplies sides, buns, etc.) for the Committee members and Program leaders (SM & ASM's) and as part of the festivities, ceremonially burn the current set of "Bylaws" and announce a fresh start. If someone asks about a new set of "Bylaws", hold up a Troop Committee Guidebook, Scoutmaster's Handbook, Patrol Leader's Handbook, Senior Patrol Leader's Handbook and Boy Scout Handbook and announce "These are the new Bylaws" - then just move on.



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More and more as I look over the threads that having been coming up as late, it seems to me that we (Volunteers in this organization.) Are being hit with so many rules and regulations that I see a time when there are just so many that it will become impossible to know what to do and what not to do.


At work we have just had a big fuss over a poorly written side agreement between the local union and management.

The way it was worded made it very clear that both sides were right! The end result was it was clear as mud and both sides were upset.

Crafting rules and regulations is not always easy.

We only have to look at some of the things that the BSA has come up with to see that.

I have never been a great lover of books of rules and regulations. Kinda strange that I work in a place where just about everything is covered by a rule, regulation or policy.

There was a thread the other week about a Den Leader and how he managed the money from a fund raising event.

This got my little gray cells working.

I have served on a lot of different Scouting Committees. For the most part these have been very informal. More a meeting of friends who get together to help get the job done.

A few times Council Executive Board meetings have got hot and heavy and there has been the need for people who know about this kinda stuff to chirp up and share with us know nothings how things ought to be handled.

Trying to come up with a set of rules for the youth members is to my mind un-needed.

The Oath and Law cover the big stuff.

What's left is covered and can be found in other BSA publications, most times as a recommendation or suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule.

Troops tend to go a little over the top when it comes to rules about attendance. When it seems the BSA has come up with its own definition of what "Active" is.

Troops waste a lot of trees setting rules for uniform. What the uniform is can be found without too much hard work, but again the BSA has made it clear that it isn't necessary to have or own a uniform in order to be a Scout. With that in mind, it seems kinda wrong that a Troop would demand it.

The BSA does a fairly good job of setting out what is expected from the guy and girls who work with our youth members.

With all this in mind if I were to try and set down on paper a set of rules, I think they would have to do with how and what the Troop Committee does.

Even then I think that I could cover all that needs to be covered on one side of a sheet of paper.

Of course a CO might want to add a few rules and regulations that it might have.


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More and more as I look over the threads that having been coming up as late, it seems to me that we (Volunteers in this organization.) Are being hit with so many rules and regulations that I see a time when there are just so many that it will become impossible to know what to do and what not to do.


Yah, I'm with Eamonn on this, eh?


I think that when troops create these guides they're tryin' to fulfill a real need. We might look at a 58 page booklet as excessive, but there are literally thousands of pages of BSA materials, from multiple guidebooks to supplementary training. The SM Handbook is 180 pages. The TC guide is 40. G2SS is well over 100 when yeh include da materials it incorporates by reference. ACP&P is 60, but then yeh have to add in da Requirements Book which is a couple hundred. And the Rules & Regulations. And that odd Unit Fundraising form with its page of very fine print. And da Tour Plan with its instruction guide and fine print. And the new medical form with its multi-page FAQ. And... And...


If we're honest, only a few of us complete crazies who hang out on internet forums actually read and keep up with all that stuff, and we frequently see folks here who quote old stuff or don't really understand where things fit in context. For a troop, a 58 page concise guide seems like a really great deal compared with thousands of pages.


So probably we should avoid the simple-sounding answers of "just follow the BSA materials" (which themselves are at times self-contradictory) or "you need nothing more than the oath and law." Units need a concise, easy-to-read guide that informs new parents of the basics of what they need to know about unit operations, and committees need the same for new committee members.






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