Charter Presentations for Scouting Units

This is an arcane bit of trivia from the Scouting movement. Traditional scouting groups like packs, patrols, crews, posts, and so on, are chartered through a community organization that is already involved in education and service to youth. This approach arose in England when LTG Robert Baden-Powell collaborated with others to establish an organized scouting movement.

The scouting group renews its charter every year here in the US, and the local Boy Scout council issues a charter to the sponsoring community organization, called the charterd organization.

The local commissioner is a volunteer who visits individual scouting groups on behalf of the local council. Commissioners are usually organized into districts and communities, and take care of packs, troops, crews, etc., in their own neighborhoods. Charter renewal gives the commissioner an annual opportunity to meet with a chartered organization’s leadership, report on the benefits produced by their scouting units, and thank them for their sponsorship.

So, here are my thoughts on how to present a charter.

Chartered Organizations

The first “scout troops” organized themselves around LTG Robert Baden-Powell’s earlier book Aids to Scouting (1899). The book uses the term “scouting” in its classic sense: a soldier who “scouts” the local terrain and enemy positions. B-P wrote the book for military professionals who needed to train others how to travel across enemy country, blend in to the local population, and spy on the enemy.

Following its publication, several schools organized groups of their students to study and practice the skills in B-P’s manual. Many young teens may have also organized scouting groups on their own. BP spoke with organizers of other youth movements (like the YMCA and the “Boy’s Brigade”) and decided to establish a “scouting” program that was “sponsored” by these existing organizations. These sponsors became the first chartered organizations.

This led to the “Browsea” experiment – the first Boy Scout camp – in 1907, and the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908. Two years later, an official scouting movement arose in the US with the incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America. Here, the Boy Scouts organized their troops around chartered organizations, which served as sponsors of a sort and at least provided the troop with meeting and storage space.

Chartered organizations may be any community organization that wants to promote youth. When I was a kid, our Cub Scout pack was chartered by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) in my grade school. My Boy Scout troop was chartered by a church. The church we attended actually chartered a different troop – location and boy membership (i.e. friends) being more important than religious affiliation, at least when Scouting is concerned.

Charter Presentation

When I was a unit commissioner and had to present charters, I struggled a bit. I found suggestions for charter presentations that involved 30-minute, highly-scripted ceremonies. I doubted many chartered organizations really wanted to sit and wait through all that, especially if we repeat it every year. So I looked closer and focused on what was really required:

  1. Explain briefly what the charter indicates: it’s permission from the local and national councils to operate the scouting program in their organization. The district and council volunteers provide guidance and help, but the main responsibility rests with the chartered organization, and the unit leaders they appoint.
  2. Bring representatives from the pack, troop, or whatever, to summarize the good things resulting from the unit’s existence – number of youth served, major advancements (especially Eagle Scouts), and service activities performed. If they’re all busy, you can report for them, but it’s best to have a live representative (adult, youth, and preferably some of both).
  3. Thank the unit representatives for the service of their adult leaders.
  4. Thank the Chartered Organization Representative, whether present or not, for serving as the representative of the unit at the district and council level.
  5. Thank the chartered organization members (or their representatives) for their previous support of this scouting unit.
  6. Present the charter to the leader or lead representative of the chartered organization. For a religious group this may be a priest or pastor. For veteran organizations this may be the post commander. For most other organizations it is a president or chief executive officer.

The whole process may take 5 minutes or less, especially if the unit representatives keep their reports short and to the point.

When I do a charter presentation like this, I don’t like to use a fixed script. I sketch the role of chartered organizations and chartering in general terms. I speak directly to the audience to convey that I mean what I say about their important role in supporting Scouting. I don’t read from a script because it dilutes the importance I want to give what I say.

The Actual Presentation

When I finally present the charter, though, I try to give it extra weight by saying something formal (a.k.a. pompous). This is a 1-2 sentence presentation speech that I actually memorize. I must say it directly to the organization’s chief instead of reading it from a card. I replace the underlined parts below with the appropriate names, titles, unit numbers, and so on.

Titled name of organization’s chief, in acknowledgment of the support of the scouting program by Chartered Organization’s name, and on behalf of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, I present you the charter for the units identified by type and number (i.e. Pack 123 and Troop 456), and I pledge the cooperation and support of the Name of Scout Council and our Name of Local District volunteers. Thank you.

Every commissioner is different, and the individual words aren’t as important as the heart and enthusiasm that drives most scouting volunteers. If this doesn’t capture the spirit you want, then rewrite it. In any case, copy out the words you need to say, substitute the proper names, titles, and numbers, and be able to recite it from memory.

The Script

When I first put together this charter presentation I created an actual script. Since I know some people will feel more comfortable with specific words instead of making up their own, I include the recharter script here in Microsoft Word’s more-or-less portable RTF format.

Feel free to use, modify, and distribute the script as you see fit.

By the way, other ideas

Here are links to other charter presentation ideas:

Creative Commons License
This article by Rick Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

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