Care and Feeding of the Chartered Organization

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Marriages end for a lot of reasons, but one recent survey suggested that the biggest cause is poor communication. And the second biggest cause–the inability to resolve conflict–is closely related to the first.

What’s the connection with Scouting? Poor communication also leads to divorces between Scouting units and their chartered organizations. What begins as a close partnership based on a shared interest in serving young people gradually turns into a distant, even broken, relationship. Eventually, the Scouts become just another group that uses the organization’s building, no different than Alcoholics Anonymous, the neighborhood watch committee, or that aerobics class that plays its music too loud. When trouble arises, the Scouts find themselves on the outside looking in.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your relationship strong. Here are my top six:

  • Put key leaders on your mailing list, including the institutional head, the chartered organization representative, and others with a common interest in kids, such as a church’s youth minister or a service club’s youth-committee chairman.
  • Invite those same leaders to showcase events like courts of honor, troop banquets, and outings held close to home.
  • Before your district executive’s annual meeting with the institutional head, share any concerns with him or her so they get addressed. (And make sure that meeting actually happens; it can all too easily fall to the bottom of the D.E.’s priority list.)
  • Find ways to collaborate. If the chartered organization holds an annual day of service, a major fundraiser, or some other big event, ask how you could participate. Working side by side with organization members at a soup kitchen, for example, is a great way to build relationships.
  • If your unit is chartered to a church or synagogue, make a big deal of Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath. Show up in force and look for ways to integrate Scouting into the worship service.
  • Be sure you have organization members involved in leadership positions in the unit. If nothing else, recruit members to serve as merit badge counselors or to judge your annual chili cookoff.

How have you foster a good relationship with your chartered organization? Post your ideas in the comments section.

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