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A committee member (MC1) from our troop asked during a meeting for a copy of the troop bylaws. The CC stated that they were way out of date, over 30 pages long, and needed to be edited down to about 3 pages. MC2 said that he had a copy or access to a copy and would gladly get that to MC1 and no objections were made by the CC. Some time went by and this copy never materialized. When the MC1 emailed a request reminder to the MC2, a reply was sent back stating that the CC did not want any disbursement of the bylaws and that they would be changed at the next committee meeting. Therefore no bylaws would be available for viewing until then.


Is this normal?

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Doesn't matter. You're running a youth program to serve your community under the umbrella of the Charter Org. Throw the bylaws in the trash and work as a team to have a functional unit. If you can't work as a team without resorting to parsing a bunch of (most likely poorly written) rules, let the COR know he or she needs to apoint a new committee. Resist the urge to indulge in petty dramatics over bylaws. Do what is right for the unit, the scouts, and the CO.



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Sounds like the new CC is a little like JMHawkins.. If the old bylaws were indeed 30 pages long, then someone did get over zealous with by laws at one time.


I disagree with JMHawkins that NO bylaws are needed. Take the post still circulating about how to deal with a homosexual recently aged out Boy Scout and his boyfriend on an outing.. If the unit had by-laws against unmarried couples sleeping in the same tent, or about only registered leaders.. Or non-registered adults allowed up to x amount of times before they needed to registered to continue to go.. etc.. The unit could deal with the issue better..


Also many units need bylaws wrapped around finances, in order not to get swindled, or have people get a free ride..


But, 30 pages is excessive.. I think your CC is correct that it should be a lot shorter..


Now the question is, what is the best way to redo the bylaws?.. Hand out the old one and remake new ones from it, or start from scratch?.. Somewhere in those 30 pages may be some good bylaws created due to having been in sticky situations, where the bylaw was to prevent history repeating itself. But, looking them over may keep people from streamlining and getting rid of the excessive.


Question is, is there a reason the person wanted the bylaws? Like a dispute, that the person thinks he can win by pointing to some troop bylaw?.. If the bylaws are old, and not being put in practice, then they can not win the arguement that way.. He might have a chance is the bylaws are being followed. But, it sounds like they may have been made up under the reign of a different committee, and are not in use.


Bylaws are only good, if they are short and concise so that you can review them every year, and have the committee keep them useful accurate and relevant. Once they have not been looked at for 10 years and need dusting off, they are no longer the troops by-laws, but historical memories of the way things use to be.

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Is this normal?


This past weekend, I have just sat in a meeting of a different nationally recognized organization, where bylaws had an addendum posted. Between a conference of distinguished people, the bottom line was a few hours of arguing just to add two sentences. In my opinion, All to prevent one stupid person from doing one stupid thing. I considered taking the floor and asking "really?, are we really going to vote over this?" Two hours wasted, just to make a few people happy with blockading another person.


From reading another event at different forum. A Scouter was humiliated for violating bylaws.


I have heard reference to, "It's in the bylaws" so many times, for so many different reasons. I've even attended executive meetings where the bylaws were edited, and suppose to be distributed after the meeting. I have asked for a copy of these bylaws for few years. "Where are these bylaws?" I have been promised they will be emailed to me. Years later I am still waiting.


Do the bylaws have what a person may or may not do? Do they have guidance and absolute rules on how an event may occur? Probably so, but how do I or any other Scouter know. This Scouter probably did violate the bylaws, rules, guidance. I am not doubting that occurred. But, It is a darn shame that Scouter didn't know about the contents of the bylaws before they violated them.


As a personal story. Many, many years ago, I had been called to traffic court twice. Once for running a stop sign. There was no red/white stop sign physically there, no steel pole, no hole in the concrete, nothing. But per the city plans, there was suppose to be a stop sign on that corner. And according to the traffic cop I violated the law.


A few years later, I got a ticket for speeding. I told the traffic cop, that I was driving 55 the current speed limit. Of all things the traffic cop whistled to his partner, whom pulled the 40 mph sign out of the weeds and ditch. The traffic cop recommended this could all go away for an immediate 40 dollars. I told him to write me the ticket.


Attending both traffic courts, I told two judges how this was immoral. Both times I heard, "You aren't from around here, are you?" and "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". And I ended up with two traffic fines.


There may be a valid reason for creating bylaws. To protect the integrity of the group as a whole. But bylaws are no good if they are not distributed or equally practiced.



ScouterCa asked, Is this normal?

Sadly, I sometimes believe it is akin to Murphy's Golden Rule. "He who owns the gold, makes the rules"


Good Luck! Hopefully you and others will abide by your bylaws. But more so, hopefully the bylaws will be published, distributed, and administered fairly!



Scouting Forever and Venture On!


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It might be a poor way to run things. It might result in unnecessary hard feelings among adults. Depending on the back story, it might be worth saying "you know what, I don't need to be on this committee. I'll just let my son enjoy his scouting experience without me being involved in this unit." It probably isn't worth a big argument. If you lose, that's no good. And if you win, what will you have to show for it?


(PS: If there really is going to be bylaw revision at the next meeting, then I suppose the current bylaws will necessarily be made available at that meeting. How could they be revised, if no one knows what they currently say. Perhaps your curiosity can be satisfied, and hopefully the underlying issue addressed, at that time?)

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Bylaws are for people who are not trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, ...


The only time they get dragged out is when someone wants to prove a point to further their argument.


Any group that needs by-laws is a group that has experienced, is experiencing or will experience problems. They need them keep the group together.



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Does anyone else hear an ax being shapened?


When folks start scurrying around for copies of bylaws which are never otherwise used, it ain't a good thing.


Sounds like the CC is trying to avoid a fight. Drop it.

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Well jblake BSA may wish to instill trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, etc.. But not everyone who is registered in scouting (or has a son in scouting) follows that policy..


The Treasurer who runs off with troop funds.

The parent who sold popcorn, but does not give the money from the popcorn sale to the troop.

The parent who signs off on all their sons meritbadges whether they are registered as an MBC for the merit badge or not.

The Adult leader who uses the committee meeting to sell insurance.

The parent who drops off not only the scout but his siblings to the pack meeting and takes off, and comes to collect them an hour after the pack meeting has ended..

The parent who chooses summer camp is the best time to take their son off medication to see if he is controlable without it.


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No axes being sharpened, no major issues being discussed.....everyone automatically goes to the dark side.....


MC1 has been in the troop probably a little over a year, done a lot for the troop as far as getting things organized, records updated where there were none being kept, etc.


CC is not new. He on his way out in the next six months or so on his own accord. He is the type that is amicable yet perhaps a bit controlling, tends to make decisions for the committee and announce that the committee decided xyz, etc. Hence the denial for access, I suppose.


Bylaws have come up now and again in committee meetings, yet no one who has been in the troop for less than 4 or 5 years, and of those only a slect few has been allowed to seem them. MC1 was only asking to continue the organizing job and go over them before the next committee meeting to have a feel for them and see what could be cut out of them. Wasn't really a big deal. They are still going to be reviewed by the committee.


I guess my question should have been elaborated as is this normal to deny committee members or anyone access to the bylaws (most organizations publish bylaws for everyone to see). I can see from a lot of the posts that it is normal.


I too agree that the bylaws should be short and sweet so to speak. I guess I just don't understand the secrecy nor the if you want to see them there must be a problem responses on here unless that is an ongoing theme. I've seen many troops put them on their website, they are short and to the point, easy basic guidelines for the troop.(This message has been edited by ScouterCa)

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If the bylaws are being utilized and reviewed and kept up-to-date and pertinent, then they should be open for anyone in the troop to view.. Posted on a website if you have them..


Like the Crew21_Adv states you can't hit someone over the head for not following procedure, if the procedures remain secretive..


little johnny finishes up all requirements for Eagle scout, but not such a good attendance record.. A month befor 18th birthday, he asks for SM signature on Eagle App.. SM says "No".. you failed our super-secret attendance bylaw, that we will not let you know what it is, but you did not meet it.

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Per the Advancement - (which use to be that if you were registered you were an active scout).. Now only if the troop has some sort of "The Scout meets the units reasonable expectations" otherwise the alternative is that outside activities count.. If challenged at an arbitration, the troops best defense is having those expectation written in bylaws that are easily accessable to everyone (ex. posted on a website, or passed out in the welcome package.)


Is your strong Unit Leader or COR going to police the parking lot to make sure parents of cubs come to the pack meeting with their kids, or are they going to announce the Pack expects parents to attend the Pack meeting.. Is it a Pack rule? Then it is a by-law..


All by-laws are is what the unit expects from it's parents, scouts and leaders.. If you put it in writing and tell people up front this is what is expected, right when they join, then you have no arguements later on.


For fundraising we always had the option of selling x amount of popcorn, or at recharter time, the cost was the recharter fee plus the amount the troop would have gotten from the profit of the popcorn.. Every year it was challenged by people who did not want to sell, or to pay.. The same people who argued over it the last year, and the year before that.. But it is in the bylaws they were handed when they joined, and verbally reminded of it at the start of popcorn season..


Scouts themselves make up rules of conduct example crews may make something up about members who are dating.. Boys in a troop may make something up about scouts who do not pay their weekly dues.. Boys in a pack may make something up about bullying.. What do you think those are???.. They are by-laws..



Does not matter if the rules is set by the COR, CM, or committee to govern the adults, or the rules are made up by the youth. They are by-laws. By-laws by the youth to goven the youth, are normally maintained by the youth.. By-laws by the SM or committee may or may not be written down.. It all depends on if you feel there will come a time that the rules will be challenged..

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The purpose for bylaws in any organization is to define how that organization operates. Bylaws are, in fact, necessary and required for pretty much all organizations. Bylaws will define things like membership, officers, meetings, and the like. I'm a parliamentarian. I am familiar with bylaws. I have been involved in writing and revising bylaws for several groups.


Bylaws, however, do not deal with behavior issues or issues of policy/procedure. That is NOT their purpose. For instance, what moosetracker mentioned are things that DO NOT BELONG IN BYLAWS, but would (if they were appropriate) go in a policies/procedure document.


Bylaws should be available to ALL members of an organization, whether you provide them to members in a "members book" or on-line or the like.





Bylaws are NOT needed for Troop Committees because the information that would be those bylaws are found in sources like the troop committee guidebook. IF they were needed, the BSA would provide a set of model bylaws and expect all troop committees to create their own set and submit them and the like. (this is what other organizations do that require their constituent bodies to have bylaws). They don't. So they aren't needed or required.


And, frankly, 9 times out of 10 when people are talking about "troop bylaws" or the like, what you have are really policies and procedures documents A GOOD PORTION OF WHICH set down policies/procedures that are NOT what the BSA says should be done.


If you want to create a policies/procedures document for your unit, go ahead. Just be sure you understand:


* they are not bylaws

* they should not try to overrule any BSA policy.

* EVERYONE has a copy of them



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