Understanding the Charter Organization

charterEvery Unit within the Boy Scouts of America has a Charter partner or Charter Organization.  These organizations come from within the community in which the unit belongs.  It can be a Church, a School, or a Civic group like the Elks, the VFW, or Lions Club just to name a few.
In many cases these organizations sign on to be a Charter Partner without really knowing what their responsibilities or function is.  They are approached at some point with the “ask” to be the sponsor of a Scouting unit and because they understand that this is a good idea, they agree.
Charters are granted by the Boy Scouts of America for the period of one year.  This contract is able to be renewed annually as long as the Charter Organization meets all of the requirements and agrees to the conditions of the Charter.
Many Charter Organizations and it’s representatives do not understand their Charter agreement nor do they take the time to really understand the Scouting program.  While this is not always the fault of the Charter Partner, often times they just don’t know what they don’t know, nor do they take the time to learn, the units typically do not create that need for the Charter Partner to learn and gain an understanding of their role.
To most units, the Chartering Partner is just a signature and place to meet.  This relationship, while often times meets the needs of the unit and the Chartering Partner is not how the system is designed to work and does not allow for the full benefits of Scouting to be realized.
So what is the role of the Charter Organization (CO)?  The CO is responsible to the Boy Scouts of America in its agreement to host a Scouting unit.  The CO is to conduct Scouting in accordance with its own policies and guidelines as well as those of the BSA.  In other words, the CO can apply rules based on the values, beliefs and standards of the organization.
The CO must include Scouting as part of its overall program for youth and families.  The CO should use Scouting as an extension to provide programs within the organization, not to compete or conflict with that organization.
The CO is to appoint a chartered organization representative who is a member of the organization and will represent it to the Scouting district and council, serving as a voting member of each.  This is an important function of the Charter Organization as it has a voice and vote at the District and Council level that is often not used.
The CO select a unit committee of parents and members of the organization who will screen and select unit leaders who meet the organization’s leadership standards as well as the BSA’s standards.
The CO must provide adequate and secure facilities for Scouting units to meet on a regular schedule with time and place reserved.
And finally the Charter Partner is to encourage the units to participate in outdoor experiences.
These are the responsibilities of the organization that has received a charter from the Boy Scouts of America.  Again, often overlooked and not held to the standard of the Charter.
The CO is not at fault most of the time here, we Scouters rarely take the time to have the Charter Organization Representative (COR) trained.  We use them for their facility and their signature and that is all we typically expect from a “Good COR”.
The COR is a great resource for our units.  They are the link to the CO which can provide many opportunities for the Scouts of our units.  Merit Badge counselors, Board of Review panelist, service opportunities, and much more.  The COR is a voice at the table on the district committee.  I often hear unit leaders that complain “The District” this or the District that”… well, you have a voice through your CO in the District.  If you are not happy or your CO is not happy about the direction an issue is going, remember, they sign on to conduct Scouting in accordance with policy, so if they are not satisfied that Scouting is not holding up its end, they have the right and the seat at the table to change things.
The COR should be trained so they know what to expect from Scouting and the policies they are to uphold.  They should know what “right looks like” in order to pick the right leaders.  Contrary to popular belief, they parents of a unit do not hire and fire the leaders.  The Committee Chair in concert with the COR is the final authority on the selection of adult leadership.
This is a critical task to ensure that the Scouting program is being delivered as promised.  If the CO has any issues, they have the right to address them with the unit and change, replace, or move leaders within the unit.
The CO and the COR also have a role in the annual budget.  All funds, equipment, and supplies belong to the Chartering Partner.  They have a say in how it is being used.
As you can see, there is a great role and responsibility of the Chartering Partner and the Charter Organization Representative.  They need to be trained and in the loop.  It is easy to see a unit why some units keep them out of the loop, but that is not the right way to do it.
The Boy Scouts of America grants charters to organizations within our communities.  They do this to keep the units local and under the control of local interests.  This decentralization assists the BSA as well as organizations within your community.  Those bonds strengthen both the BSA and the Chartering Partner.
Get to know your CO and COR.  Invite them to be trained and provide that opportunity.
Understanding the role of the Chartering Partner and its representative will strengthen your unit and build lasting relationships in the community.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

3 comments

  1. My troop was sponsored by a local Baptist church in our town and it was a very successful relationship. We were very blessed that the church took an active role in the troop. They gave the troop a significant amount of money that we were able to use for both gear and to subsidize the cost of camping. They allowed us to use church buses for longer trips ( like Philmont from Nashville ) and opened the congregation to us when we needed help. Church members volunteered to assist us with all sorts of tasks when we needed them. Our Scoutmaster was an Army Reservist and when he was recalled to active duty for the first Gulf War a congregation member stepped up and took over for him. I cant imagine what our troop would have been like without the support of the church.

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    1. As long as your COR is a member of the Lions I do not see why not. Our COR sits on a the District meetings of the local VFW district. The COR should be a member of the organization which charters the Unit. It is not always the case, so I would check. But as stated.. I don’t see why not.
      You may also check and see if the Lions have a Boy Scout or Scouting Liaison or Scouting representative position on the Board.
      Thanks for the comment

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